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How tall should a tripod be?

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Thread started 05 May 2012 (Saturday) 23:10   
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luciddreamer
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spotz04 wrote in post #14387565external link
Not to add more confusion here. Seeking opinions --

If while measuring one's height and buying a tripod that puts the VF at eye level, why buy a tripod with a center column? Using the column decreases stability, so if that feature is rarely used wouldn't a tripod with just a flat pate on the tripod be better (stability wise) than one with a center column?

I'm trying to decide if for me buying a taller tripod w/o center column is better, versus one with column that's still tall enough w/o having to raise that column. My eye level is 64". I don't see too many situations where I would need to go taller than my eye level because it would leaves me standing on my toes, and therefore now I'm unstable while stretching to look through the VF. Unless, maybe, I might have the column higher than 64" and standing on top of a rock?

Do you think you might want to shoot anything up higher than you? For instance birds in a tree. It's very nice to have a tripod taller than your eye line so that when you tilt the camera up you aren't stooping in an awkward position trying to get the shot off.

Post #16, May 06, 2012 23:56:36


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Foodguy
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A tripod should be as high or low off the ground as you want the camera to be for the image you're trying to make. Seriously.

Post #17, May 07, 2012 01:27:46 as a reply to luciddreamer's post 1 hour earlier.


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hollis_f
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sunking39 wrote in post #14386074external link
I'm trying to decide on a tripod but I don't know which height to choose.

You need one tall enough for its legs to reach the ground :D


I'm 195 cm and it took me several years to be able to afford a tripod that was tall enough and not stupidly heavy (Induro CT313). However, it's still too big for travelling, so I still end up like a hunchback when I go away on holiday - crouching over my smaller, but lighter tripod.

Post #18, May 07, 2012 04:15:40


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hollis_f wrote in post #14391640external link
You need one tall enough for its legs to reach the ground :D

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I prefer tripods tall enough that I do not have to extend the center column (unless absolutely necessary) nor do I have to extend the bottom most section all the way.

Post #19, May 07, 2012 04:18:43


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sunking39 wrote in post #14390747external link
OP here.  ???

1. Whenever I have used tripods in the past, they have been shorter than me. No problem; if I need the height, I extend the center column to eye level. I can pick and choose my poison. Whats wrong with that?
2. Does extending the center column really add that much vibration?
3. What about a tripod with center column all the way down vs a tripod with plain all out no column? Is there a diference? Cause I might like to have the possibility of center column, but if no center column at all gives better results, Ill go with that.
4. Sure, you can just shorten the legs if I need to get lower, but isnt it difficult to judge how much to retract each legs? Wont I be forced to juggle thre legs: "No, this leg is a bit short, ill raise it a wee bit, no, no, too much, a little les, oh gosh, now this otehr leg is too high, etcetera, ad nauseam". Isnt it good to just fully extend all legs?

1. Nothing as long as you understand the downside and take measures to alleviate it like keeping the column as short as possible or using a fast shutter speed etc. I have a travel tripod with a center column but I'm careful when I use it and my pix come out OK.

2. Too many variables to say a simple yes or no, but to make a generalization perhaps the less expensive tripods suffer more than the Gitzos of the world. (BTW Gitzo have recently updated their product line and now you can buy a series-1 through series-5 tripod without a center column and add one later.)

3. A tripod with no center column means you screw the ballhead directly onto the top plate that's connected to the legs. All other things being equal it's a more rigid assembly.

4. Yes it is a pain. Yes it does take time. If you're shooting a lot on uneven ground it may not be worth it unless you have a leveling base bolted into the top plate. I mostly shoot in urban environments so it's not an issue for me. However, when I'm using a tripod it means I've slowed down considerably so fiddling a bit with the legs isn't an issue as it's not that frequent.

Post #20, May 07, 2012 09:08:53


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Lowner
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Setting up a tripod is too time consuming? If thats your attitude are you sure you have chosen the best hobby? Photography for me is a slowish, thoughtful process, even when I'm shooting at a motor racing event.

Post #21, May 07, 2012 09:27:23


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Mark-B
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sunking39 wrote in post #14390747external link
1. Whenever I have used tripods in the past, they have been shorter than me. No problem; if I need the height, I extend the center column to eye level. I can pick and choose my poison. Whats wrong with that?

Nothing. If center columns were so unstable that they were useless and made it impossible to create sharp images, designs would have changed or manufacturers would have gone out of business.

2. Does extending the center column really add that much vibration?

It's true that a tripod with the center column down is more stable than a tripod with the center column extended, but how pronounced that difference is will depend on your circumstances: how high is it raised, how thick is the tube, how heavy is the gear, how long is the lens. I'm sure difference would be more noticeable at 300mm than 30mm.

3. What about a tripod with center column all the way down vs a tripod with plain all out no column? Is there a diference?

Probably nothing significant as long as it's securely locked down and the head is sitting on a decent base.

4. Sure, you can just shorten the legs if I need to get lower, but isnt it difficult to judge how much to retract each legs?

Nope. I do it all the time and it's pretty effortless.

Post #22, May 07, 2012 10:37:46


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Owain ­ Glyndwr
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luciddreamer wrote in post #14391054external link
Do you think you might want to shoot anything up higher than you? For instance birds in a tree. It's very nice to have a tripod taller than your eye line so that when you tilt the camera up you aren't stooping in an awkward position trying to get the shot off.

bit silly of me but i hadn't thought of this when i bought mine and only noticed this restriction the other night when trying to take pictures of the moon.

I couldn't afford the expensive carbon fibre ones but wanted one that was light and portable and chose a manfrotto tripod that fit the bill. It isn't as tall as it possibly should be (it is just a few cm below eye level when the centre column is extended) but I couldn't afford more and I know that had i bought a heavier one I#d have ended up never taking it anywhere so would have been pointless.

Post #23, May 07, 2012 10:49:38


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sunking39
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Great answers.

My conclusions. 1.Since Im 6 foot tall, A setup where tripod, base, head and 5Dmkii equal 6 feet. Preferably 3 sections instead of four (Is there a portable lightweight tripod with only 3 sections that can fit my size?).
2. A tripod with an easily removable center column. (or should I just go for NO center column?)

3. Something that comes with a level.

Post #24, May 07, 2012 17:30:01




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SkipD
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sunking39 wrote in post #14395112external link
Great answers.

My conclusions. 1.Since Im 6 foot tall, A setup where tripod, base, head and 5Dmkii equal 6 feet. Preferably 3 sections instead of four (Is there a portable lightweight tripod with only 3 sections that can fit my size?).
2. A tripod with an easily removable center column. (or should I just go for NO center column?)

3. Something that comes with a level.

Regarding point #2:

I very much like the center column that I can mount sideways on my field tripod. It allows a lot of possibilities that just cannot be done without it.

For example:
• I've had my camera supported on the opposite side of a wall (the side with a 600-foot drop) while the tripod legs were on the safe side.
• You can also have the camera pointed straight down over a table with this rig for copying flat documents, drawings, etc. The list goes on.

Post #25, May 07, 2012 17:54:51


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sunking39
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Great point skip, thats something I was originally looking at for my tripod. But then all the comments about center columns made me have second thoughts.
The fact that someone uses this function, has changed my mind once again. I think I would need that feature.
This leads me to the question once again:
How significant is the diference of not using a center column?
Do high end tripods like Gitzo offer the feature SipD just described?

Post #26, May 07, 2012 18:22:58




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Foodguy
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I wouldn't be too concerned about using a center column provided you understand the issue that many have. If you use the center column at it's maximum height as a substitute for not extending the legs, then the camera is left hanging on this skinny tube and it can sway in the right conditions. Depending on what you're shooting, and shutter speed, this may or not be a problem. It's probably, even at full extension, still substantially more stable than a monopod for instance but it's not ideal to use it this way.

A center column is a great tool for raising (or lowering) the camera a few inches without re-setting the tripod legs...but it probably shouldn't be considered a substitute for setting the legs at least close to the height that you want.

Post #27, May 07, 2012 19:30:59 as a reply to sunking39's post 1 hour earlier.


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SkipD
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Except when I'm using the center column of my field tripod horizontally mounted, it's all the way down 99.8% of the time. That's so that I don't get excessive uncontrolled movement of the camera/lens.

Typically, the horizontally mounted column rig is used in less severe situations than I often have in the field (wind, etc.).

Post #28, May 07, 2012 20:05:05


Skip Douglas
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Lowner
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SkipD wrote in post #14395199external link
Regarding point #2:

I very much like the center column that I can mount sideways on my field tripod. It allows a lot of possibilities that just cannot be done without it.

For example:
• I've had my camera supported on the opposite side of a wall (the side with a 600-foot drop) while the tripod legs were on the safe side.
• You can also have the camera pointed straight down over a table with this rig for copying flat documents, drawings, etc. The list goes on.

We are all different. I never ever used the centre columns on any of my tripods, so removing it was an obvious thing to do. I'm still able to use the camera and tripod to copy documents.

Post #29, May 08, 2012 04:12:41


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Owain ­ Glyndwr
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Owain Glyndwr wrote in post #14393079external link
bit silly of me but i hadn't thought of this when i bought mine and only noticed this restriction the other night when trying to take pictures of the moon.

I couldn't afford the expensive carbon fibre ones but wanted one that was light and portable and chose a manfrotto tripod that fit the bill. It isn't as tall as it possibly should be (it is just a few cm below eye level when the centre column is extended) but I couldn't afford more and I know that had i bought a heavier one I#d have ended up never taking it anywhere so would have been pointless.

just looked at my tripod again last night and it is a carbon one. doh! anyways, the deciding thing for me was the weight and it was half the weight of the next biggest one.

Post #30, May 08, 2012 08:21:18


Bora Da! OG
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