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FORUMS General Gear Talk Tripods, Monopods & Other Camera Support
Thread started 23 Feb 2015 (Monday) 00:18
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Best lightweight tripod/head combo?

 
thepaul
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Feb 23, 2015 00:18 |  #1

I'm looking for your opinion on the best lightweight tripod/head combination that money can by.

To be used for landscape photography (rough terrain, placed in rivers, on rocks, etc.). Strapped to the side of a backpack (Clik Elite Sport) for day hikes.

Obviously being lightweight and compact is extremely important, but stability and utility take precedence.

Thanks for taking the time to read/respond.


http://pscott.photoexternal link

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SkipD
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Post has been edited over 2 years ago by SkipD.
Feb 23, 2015 06:18 |  #2

thepaul wrote in post #17445097external link
I'm looking for your opinion on the best lightweight tripod/head combination that money can by.

To be used for landscape photography (rough terrain, placed in rivers, on rocks, etc.). Strapped to the side of a backpack (Clik Elite Sport) for day hikes.

Obviously being lightweight and compact is extremely important, but stability and utility take precedence.

Nobody can give you a useful answer without more information. Obviously, you need something with independently adjustable leg angles, convertible leg tips, and easily cleanable legs but there's a lot more that's needed.

What camera/lens combination(s) do you intend to use on this tripod?
What's the longest shutter speed time you expect to use?
What height range do you feel that you need?
What weight can you tolerate for the tripod/head combination?
What type of head do you anticipate needing? Is precision positioning needed?
What is your budget?


Skip Douglas
A few cameras and over 50 years behind them .....
..... but still learning all the time.

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drumsfield
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Feb 23, 2015 09:34 |  #3

I use a Gitzo 1542T with a Markins Q3 and also carry a Clik Elite Probody bag. Plenty stable for anything smaller than a 70-700mm lens though still capable of handling my 100-400 with 2x TC. For a beefier setup I have a Induro CT214 and Acratech GV2 which is comparable to a 2 series Gitzo. If you're looking for the best money can buy I recommend the Gitzo they aren't cheap and their customer service is horrendous but they are a work of art.


My review of the Inuro
http://photography-on-the.net .../showthread.php?t=1​330954


Canon 5D MkIII | Olympus OM-D | Olympus E-P2 | 16-35L MKII | 24-70L MKII | 70-200L MKII | 85L MKII | EF 50mm 1.4 | EF 100mm 2.8 | 100-400mm L MKII | 20mm 1.7
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Bcaps
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Feb 23, 2015 12:21 |  #4

drumsfield wrote in post #17445565external link
I use a Gitzo 1542T with a Markins Q3 and also carry a Clik Elite Probody bag. Plenty stable for anything smaller than a 70-700mm lens though still capable of handling my 100-400 with 2x TC. For a beefier setup I have a Induro CT214 and Acratech GV2 which is comparable to a 2 series Gitzo. If you're looking for the best money can buy I recommend the Gitzo they aren't cheap and their customer service is horrendous but they are a work of art.


My review of the Inuro
http://photography-on-the.net .../showthread.php?t=1​330954

I have been looking at lighter setups myself recently and the 1542/Q3T was something I have considered. I also considered the Induro CT113 and RRS TQC-14. All have a central column and are on the lighter side of the tripod kingdom:

Gitzo 1542T: 2.2 lb
Induro CT113: 2.7 lb
RRS TQC-14: 2.6 lb


However, like the OP, I also shoot in conditions that will really test the tripods stability. The Induro and RRS seem (based solely on photos) to have thicker leg elements (for the increased weight) than the Gitzo which may translate into greater stability.

My current tripod is the RRS TVC-24 which weighs 3.3 lb. The 1.1 lb savings of the Gitzo is tempting but I do worry that those stick-like lower leg sections would present a problem if setup, say, in a stream with fast flowing water and a 8+ second exposure. I have no issues with my RRS in that situation.

My light-weight backpacking ballhead is the RRS BH-30 which weighs 11 ounces. The Markins Q3T is 2 ounces heavier. I've yet to find a lighter ballhead that is in the same league as the RRS.

For me the "Money-is-no-object-backpacking-tripod-setup" would be (all with the BH-30 head):

1. Shorter hikes or base camping with a few longer hikes of 10-15 miles/day: RRS TVC-24
2. Moderate number of longer hikes of 10+ miles/day: RRS TQC-14 or the Induro CT113
3. Thru hiking or longer hikes off trail on rough terrain: Gitzo 1542T


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14-24mm f/2.8 | 16-35mm F/4 | 24-70mm f/2.8 | 70-200mm f/4 | Sigma 150-600mm

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thepaul
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Feb 23, 2015 13:05 |  #5

SkipD wrote in post #17445359external link
Nobody can give you a useful answer without more information. Obviously, you need something with independently adjustable leg angles, convertible leg tips, and easily cleanable legs but there's a lot more that's needed.

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

What camera/lens combination(s) do you intend to use on this tripod?

Gear is listed in my signature

What's the longest shutter speed time you expect to use?

I don't have a top end on longest shutter speed I expect to use. Perhaps the Tripod will dictate that?

What height range do you feel that you need?

I'm 5'10"

What weight can you tolerate for the tripod/head combination?

This is an excellent question. I don't know, but maybe I could run some tests carrying heavy things in my pack. I can see that the term "lightweight" will mean different things to different people.

What type of head do you anticipate needing? Is precision positioning needed?

I don't think precision positioning is needed. That sounds like a something I would want for macro, but this set up is for landscape. If precision means something else in this context, I'd love to learn about it.

What is your budget?

Unlimited.


http://pscott.photoexternal link

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thepaul
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Feb 23, 2015 13:06 |  #6

drumsfield wrote in post #17445565external link
I use a Gitzo 1542T with a Markins Q3 and also carry a Clik Elite Probody bag.

Thanks for the reply and the link to your detailed review! This setup is now on my shortlist!


http://pscott.photoexternal link

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thepaul
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Feb 23, 2015 13:11 |  #7

Bcaps wrote in post #17445843external link
For me the "Money-is-no-object-backpacking-tripod-setup" would be (all with the BH-30 head):

1. Shorter hikes or base camping with a few longer hikes of 10-15 miles/day: RRS TVC-24
2. Moderate number of longer hikes of 10+ miles/day: RRS TQC-14 or the Induro CT113
3. Thru hiking or longer hikes off trail on rough terrain: Gitzo 1542T

Thanks so much for the reply Dave. I never even considered having different sticks for the different situations you outline. This is a really great idea. I will be researching all of the models you list.


http://pscott.photoexternal link

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SkipD
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Feb 23, 2015 15:09 |  #8

thepaul wrote in post #17445911external link
I don't think precision positioning is needed. That sounds like a something I would want for macro, but this set up is for landscape. If precision means something else in this context, I'd love to learn about it.

Although a ball head is a very versatile type of head for field use, some ball heads don't really allow for small adjustments in camera positioning well. If you need to make small tweaks to how a camera is aimed, you may want one of the very best ball heads available (which have no experience with to be able to recommend any) or you could use a geared head like I occasionally use. Another feature that may be very useful to you is a separate release to the horizontal positioning of the head as this is super-convenient if doing a multi-image panoramic set of shots.

I'd say that you want a tripod system that will get the viewfinder to at least six inches or a foot higher than your eye. That way, the tripod can be set up downhill from you and still not be too short.

Don't expect to be extending the center column on a regular basis when choosing the height. Doing that will make the camera/lens less steady.

Having more sections in the tripod legs (to allow it to fold up shorter) causes a trade-off in rigidity because this reduces the diameter of leg sections.


Skip Douglas
A few cameras and over 50 years behind them .....
..... but still learning all the time.

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johnf3f
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Post has been edited over 2 years ago by johnf3f.
Feb 23, 2015 16:22 |  #9

My personal lightweight setup is a Gitzo 2531 and a Triopo RS3 head.
Personally I don't care how small the tripod folds up so I prefer to have fewer leg sections and I liker the extra rigidity offered by a Gitzo 2 series over the 1 series. The center column can be handy for quick height adjustments but I never extend it more than an inch or two.
You have probably never heard of the Triopo RS3 head but it is a little gem IMO. I have added an Arca type clamp and the the combo weighs abut 330 grams. It has the finest lockup of any ball head that I have tried and is fully capable of securely holding any EF lens at any angle even when set up out of balance.
Total weight is about 1850 grams including rubber + spiked feet. I don't know if this is the sort of thing you are after but this setup works for me with lenses up to 300mm or so.


Life is for living, cameras are to capture it (one day I will learn how!).

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corndog ­ cabernet
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Post has been last edited over 2 years ago by corndog cabernet. 4 edits done in total.
Mar 01, 2015 15:19 |  #10

I recommend that you not focus too closely on the last few ounces. Your equipment is quite heavy to start with.

I think very highly of both Markins (Q3 is plenty) and Gitzo. Concentrate on which models suit your requirements over what might save you a few ounces.

The Chinese knock offs of Benro and Induro (collet types, not flip levers) are pretty damn good if you want to save a couple of bucks, but stay with Markins.

Just my $.02

And BTW, there is no free ride. For a given type of construction, a lighter tripod will always flex more than a heavier one. 4 leg sections will flex more than 3.




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peter_n
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Mar 03, 2015 09:04 |  #11

thepaul wrote in post #17445097external link
I'm looking for your opinion on the best lightweight tripod/head combination that money can by.

If you work on the principle of you get what you pay for, then your tripod choices are Gitzo or RRS. Those two brands are at the top of the quality heap, so the light weight choices there would be something like the Gitzo GT2542 and the RRS TQC-14.

There's more of a choice in the ballhead department; I've used Acratech, Arca-Swiss, Markins and RRS models and all are quality heads. You need a ballhead with a max. outside diameter of 53mm for the base to work on the RRS TQC-14. If you bring utiity into the equation the Acratech heads have a leveling base built in and they're great in extreme environments because of their open design. Their GPSS model has a base diameter of 53mm but they also make that model with larger diameters.


~Peter

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nebulight
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Post has been edited over 2 years ago by nebulight.
Mar 03, 2015 09:27 |  #12

peter_n wrote in post #17458376external link
If you work on the principle of you get what you pay for, then your tripod choices are Gitzo or RRS. Those two brands are at the top of the quality heap, so the light weight choices there would be something like the Gitzo GT2542 and the RRS TQC-14.

There's more of a choice in the ballhead department; I've used Acratech, Arca-Swiss, Markins and RRS models and all are quality heads. You need a ballhead with a max. outside diameter of 53mm for the base to work on the RRS TQC-14. If you bring utiity into the equation the Acratech heads have a leveling base built in and they're great in extreme environments because of their open design. Their GPSS model has a base diameter of 53mm but they also make that model with larger diameters.

doesn't the GP-S also have a 53mm diameter?


.

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peter_n
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Mar 03, 2015 13:45 |  #13

Yes it does, it's a bit bigger up above the base but the RRS TQC-14 has an awkward looking locking ring on the center column that could foul on any number of ballheads. So I gave the OP the smallest/lightest model number and he can go up from there.


~Peter

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phantelope
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Mar 03, 2015 13:49 |  #14

I'm very happy with my MeFoto roadtrip, I got the aluminum, carbon is not that much lighter. Converts to a monopod too. And to me the ballhead seems quite good, though I usually have other heads on my regular tripod, pistolgrip or one with those two arms you use to move and lock it down, can't remember what those are called.

The MeFoto is quite small when put together, comes with a nice bag, spikes to replace the rubber feet if needed. Very well made for my purpose


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Echo63
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Mar 03, 2015 23:06 |  #15

phantelope wrote in post #17458827external link
I'm very happy with my MeFoto roadtrip, I got the aluminum, carbon is not that much lighter. Converts to a monopod too. And to me the ballhead seems quite good, though I usually have other heads on my regular tripod, pistolgrip or one with those two arms you use to move and lock it down, can't remember what those are called.

The MeFoto is quite small when put together, comes with a nice bag, spikes to replace the rubber feet if needed. Very well made for my purpose

carbon is stiffer than aluminium though, so although the weight is similar, it will support your gear better.


for what its worth, I have two tripods, on really light one, for my compact system (Sirui T-025X, for my Leica M system) and a big heavy Slik for when i work with my Canons.

some days, with no extension in the legs, the Sirui will hold a 70-200 nicely.
then sometimes, the Slik isn't big and stiff enough to properly support a 1D and 70-200 (typically in crappy weather though, windy etc)

no tripod fits all categories, my next tripod will be a big RRS, similar weight to my current SLIK, but a bit taller and a lot stiffer, suitable for big lenses, like the 400 f2.8 and 600 f4 (which i do use occasionally, typically mounted straight onto the centre column without a head - as the ballhead introduces to much flex and vibration.


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Best lightweight tripod/head combo?
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