Old 12-30-2003, 01:40 AM   #1
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Default Tripods?

Who here uses tripods? I have used them for railroad photography in the past but I always find them to more of a hassel than anything. I have also considered a monopod. Assuming those might be easier to work with.

Could anyone please share some tips and pointers on using a tripod?
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Old 12-30-2003, 02:58 AM   #2
E.M. Bell
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I will use a pod at times when I am shooting a tele shot, more so in low light and windy days. I know some folks that will use one on every shot they take, guess is just what you like. If you have time to set up a shot its ok, but at times you just dont have the time to set up like that.

One note..stay away from those light and flimsy models...they are not worth the money, and can be as shakey as hand holding your camera. I use a bogen fluid head model that is designed to be use for video cameras....
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Old 12-30-2003, 03:12 AM   #3
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I agree with E.M. Bell they can be a pain in the rear but do come in handy for night shots. I have a Vanguard tripod made for a video camera. I only use it for night shots, or timed shutter shots. They slow down the reaction time for the next shot at good hotspots or action shots.
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Old 12-30-2003, 05:58 AM   #4
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Default Re: Tripods

I have an older cheap tripod, and a Bogen Monopod. The tripod came from Wolf Camera 10 years ago and while it hasn't seen heavy use has held up ok.

Mark Wurst has me convinced (not by talking but by watching his style of photography) that I need a better tripod and a ball-head. The ball-head will allow me to tilt the camera whatever direction I need to and still assure a steady platform for a heavy camera with a heavy lens. I've been looking at the Kirk Quick Release System, and plan to start making purchases when I pay off this last lens.


No, they're not cheap or inexpensive. I've come to realize that moreso than alot of other 'hobbies' photography is one where you really do get what you pay for. The BH-1 ballhead and the QR plates aren't going to wear out anytime soon...quite likely never in the lifetime of the camera/lenses. The QR plates are custom made to fit each body they have listed on their website. A quick release plate, no matter which type will make set-up and tear-down alot faster. I'm still looking at which tripod to purchase, its between Manfrotto/Bogen and Gitzo.

I like the monopod, I'm not sorry I bought it, but I need more practice with the thing. I still get some camera shake with it and don't really use it very much.

If you're trying to choose between a tripod or a monopod and only have one, my suggestion would be for the tripod. Don't purchase a tripod and buy into the "Oh, its light as a feather" routine. You're going to need a little weight in the tripod as was mentioned earlier. Look for a tripod that has a hook hanging down between the legs that your camera bag or something heavy can hang on to give that extra stablility when needed. Just remember a ballhead will add some weight to the setup too.

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Old 12-30-2003, 01:11 PM   #5
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Thanks for the comments!
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Old 12-30-2003, 11:39 PM   #6
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I use a tripod. Mainly for night shots, when there is a time exposure involved. Sometimes it is a pain to hall around, but it is worth it when I decide to use it. I use a Focal tripod currently. It isnít the greatest tripod on the market, nor the most expensive, but it does work for my purposes. It has some weight to it, is fairly strong, and isnít very flimsy. It has a water level on the top, which helps flatten it out sometimes, but the head moves in just about every position imaginable which is nice.

Hope that helps you out.
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Old 12-31-2003, 11:42 PM   #7
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I only use a tripod when doing night pics.
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Old 01-04-2004, 01:39 PM   #8
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Default Tripods

Maybe it's just me, I'm a lousy pistol shot too (not that I couldn't drill ya full of holes mind you, they'd just be sloppy holes), but my pictures look better when a tripod is used, night AND day. I try to use one whenever practical. Most new tripods have a quick release to them, and though you'll hate the thing for a day or two, it will quickly become second nature. Keep the quick release shoe attached to the bottom of the camera at all times and you'll be half way there. A lot of what we are trying to pass off as soft or out of focus, is really just our own bad vibes. If I'm not using a tripod, I try to shoot with the fastest shutter speed possible, when I owned a camera without configurable shutter speeds, I would shoot in burst mode and then use the least wobbliest shot of the three. You may not need a better camera, you may just need better work habits. {I can here Grandma (a photographer for 50 years) now, "A poor workman always blames the tools."} Mr. Guy is correct, heavier is better, and they make better defensive weapons too, always something to consider when in an urban setting. You can get the biggest baddest camera and the million dollar lens, but your pictures still won't look as sharp next to ones taken with the same, or even a lesser, camera + a tripod. A good tripod and head can be had for around 200 which seems expensive, but many of us us spent much more than that for our cameras and lenses and many of us are probably a bit disappointed with the results, because we aren't using tripods. You can't sneak past physics. If you can't swing 200 buy anything that's stable. Monopods make excellent hiking sticks, they aren't excellent at anything else. Oddly enough Wal-Mart has some tolerably good inexpensive tripods and many have a hook on the bottom to add some stabilizing weight (Tip: stabilizing weight doesn't swing). We started out with some inexpensive Sunpacks from BestBuy and they just sucked. Personal prefs are Monfrotto and Bogan. Good thing about the cheap ones is you won't miss them when they're gone, left my first one trackside one early morn, guess it made it's way to a yard sale. Another way to go is with a used tripod, if there's a camera store near you that sells used equipment, it may be worth a look, tripods don't have microprocessors, so an old one will do just fine. Oh and make sure you get one with a level or two on it. Maybe that way the plans to rename this site Leaners.net will be aborted.
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Old 02-17-2004, 11:09 PM   #9
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Okay, I'm a little slow to check up on the forums, but I see that I've been involved with this conversation and didn't even realize it!!!

I use a Gitzo 1227 carbon fiber tripod with an Arca Swiss B1G ball head. The reason for the B1G instead of the smaller B1 is simple - impatience with B&H to restock the latter. What I didn't realize is that the weight distribution of a B1G on top of this light-weighing tripod is similar to that of a shotput on top of a sapling. Nonetheless, the tripod does excellent supporting the head, an F5 or D100, and an 80-200 f2.8 lens. I will often remove the head from the tripod when carrying these items in/on my camera pack, so as not to knock any midgets or children unconscious while walking in crowds.

I can't speak enough for monopods. They're cheap and can be more rapidly deployed than a tripod. The prime application for these, IMO, is with wide-aperature (i.e. big glass) medium telephotos/tele-zooms. Anything above 300mm, you need a tripod, plain and simple; anything below 90mm and its easier to handhold. My 80-200 f2.8 is a bit heavy to hold for longer lengths of time, and I'll end up with the "shakes" within a couple of minutes. If I need extra support, a monopod and a tree work well together.

I would also suggest a quick-release base for the top of the monopod. This reduces the inclination of leaving the camera mounted, and leaning it against another object. I had a nasty $560 repair bill to my F5 last year because of just this - the camera slid down the side of my truck and hit the ground. The repair bill was bad enough - not having my favorite camera for over three weeks was sheer torture!!!

Okay, I've rambled enough.

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