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Photography Question 
Keith W. DeAngelis

Tripod Buying Advice

Hi there! Please point me in the right direction - I shoot with a Nikon D50 and want to shoot some night photos, as well as macro photography. I plan to purchase a tripod, but wanted to ask the experts what you'd recommend. My criteria includes: reliabilty, durability, travel-friendly (light and compact, and is versatile to do both macro and night shooting. Budget is wide open.
Thanks so much for your guidance!!

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8/20/2006 9:06:54 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  From our Department of Redundancy Department, Dept.

If you search this site under "tripods" or "Tripod buying advice" or something similar, you'll likely get a gazillion hits that more than sufficiently address your question.

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8/20/2006 12:37:26 PM

Michael ORourke
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/3/2003
Just remember to get a sturdy tripod head. A good tripod with a flimsy head is not good.

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8/20/2006 2:04:52 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  Think features and compatability. How much does your camera with its heaviest lens and other accessories weigh?... This is the key component.
You should check to make sure you are not compromising too much on ease of transport at the expense of having a reliable, rigid shooting platform for your intended equipment. Check the specs on whatever 'pod you choose to make sure you're not cutting yourself too short.
What subject matter does your macro photography entail? Do you need your support system to be contorted into weird angles to get your shots? Or will a more standard tripod position fit your needs? There are models available from all of the major manufacturers that will have the ability to support a camera and lens at just about any angle or position.
As mentioned, a good head is an important aspect and should be considered. (There are times when I've tolerated a flimsy head as long as the legs were good but we won't go there.) ;) Many prefer the ball-type heads for ease of use and quick deployment. Others like the ones which have separate tension knobs to control horizontal and vertical positioning. I prefer the latter because I rarely have to rely upon instant camera positioning, and I prefer the extra stability these types of heads provide with my equipment.And always check the legs! Make sure they have tension levers to extend them and lock them into place. I hate the ones with the round screw rings you have to turn. These are a pain for me to work with when I'm in a hurry to get set up.

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8/20/2006 3:27:39 PM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  Hello Keith,
Plenty of advice on (what) to purchase, so I won't go there. The understanding of HOW to use a tripd is equally important. I know that sounds stupid, but many believe a tripod is to hold a camera steady when you can't. This is a flawed way of thinking. Here are a few items to ponder:
1) A tripod, no matter how expensive, exhibits poor stability when extended fully. Hard to believe? Try shooting a long exposure (1/2 sec or so) at 300mm. Shoot it with the pod fully collapsed and then fully extended. You'll see what I mean. SLR mirror slap can vibrate the entire tripod like you would not believe!There are work-arounds for this.
2) Leveling a tripod is critical in landscape or panoramic shots. I don't think the D-50 has grid lines in the viewfinder, so use care.
3) Rubber feet are fine on some surfaces, but are really bad on grass or on slippery surfaces. I have rubber feet AND stakes that I can poke into dirt, grass etc. "Sticking" a tripod into the ground is far superior than letting it sit on top of the ground.
There are more points to tripod usage, but I'm sure others will help out too.
There is no "perfect" tripod... well; I think I own one, but when carried into the wilderness, I risk a hernia! LOL
All the best,

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8/20/2006 4:44:41 PM

Keith W. DeAngelis   As a first time poster and new member -- thanks to you who've taken the time to steer me in the right direction!! Pardon my faux paus of adding redundancy to this board -- I'll chalk it up to my excitement of this new found hobby.

Thanks, again -- Keith

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8/20/2006 4:56:50 PM

Dirck Harris   This is a good site to read up on tripods.

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8/22/2006 4:08:40 AM

George H. Dalsheimer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2006
  In light of new airline restrictions, you may want to consider how you would pack the tripod. I am told that tripods are no longer allowed on planes.

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8/22/2006 9:32:47 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  YIKES !!!! I just flew from NY to SFO Sunday with three equipment cases and a Gitzo 505 Studex in a soft pack. Is this something new this week George? It's not on the TSA restricted list as of now, btw. See the list at:
Latah kids.


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8/22/2006 6:20:20 PM

Richard H. Turpin   I have a Canon 20D, so our cameras are quite comparable in weight. After much research on the web, I selected the Feisol CT-3401 ( To that I added a Manfrotto 488RC2 ball head. The tripod is very well built and it provides a very solid support in my opinion, yet it is light and easy to carry. It is priced a good bit less than most other carbon fiber tripods. I purchased it directly from the company and received it within a week. It comes with a very nice carrying case. The CT-3401 has four leg sections, so it is short enough (with the head removed) to pack in my Rick Steves carryon bag (Is carryon a thing of the past?). It does not include a center post, which is an option. I opted to save the cost and avoid the temptation to raise my camera on a less stable platform with center post extended. In addition to the new tripod, this is my first experience with a ball head and I like it a lot.


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8/23/2006 6:11:43 PM

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