padmoo wrote in post #18539822
I’ve been going through a lot of threads about tripods but I am still not sure about which tripod would be the best for me needs.
I’m mostly taking bird and wildlife photos and would like some more support.
The manfrotto 055xprob seems to get recommended a lot but would it work with my system?
I also read a lot about gitzo’s but they seem a bit overkill?
I’m in the price park of $200-$300 and hope you can recommend one that will last me awhile!
Tripods are a 'measure twice, cut once' sort of deal. Everyone seems to think of them the way they do cameras and lenses..."I'll *start* with this and then buy up later; when the "later" unit was already available. For this piece of gear, it's really more of a trap to go down that road.
I started w/ the 055, as well as it's smaller and more portable cousin the 190. They're both "ok" units...the two biggest problems I had with the legs themselves was that the shims that help hold the leg tubes inside each other tend to get brittle and shatter after 2-3 years, and getting support/parts from Manfrotto in the US is nearly impossible. Plus, the lock units *constantly* needed to be retightened. Given the reasonably high price of even those units in aluminum and the collapsed length + weight of the 055, I really cannot recommend them very highly.
I think you're much better off looking into one of the many Gitzo knockoffs in your price range. Take a look at the sticky at the top of this forum (http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=740131) if you haven't already.
After reading through that thread, 4 years ago, and chatting with ben_r a bit, I landed on this guy from Benro (https://www.ebay.com ...ee4d3a:g:XVcAAOSwBLlVZEBG). I've been extremely happy with it since then. I also had an issue with some shims on this one breaking, but I reached back out to the seller (dc-photo-stuff linked above) and he got right back to me and ordered/shipped the parts immediately.
He offers a ton of stuff directly from Japan that isn't available in the US stores/distributors now (the twist locks, in particular). Flip vs Twist locks is a much debated choice that I'll leave to your discretion; but the Benros are great alternatives to true Gitzos, at a much more affordable price for 90+% of the overall performance.
The other thing that I would strongly urge you toward is making sure that whatever HEAD you get is an Arca-Swiss compatible head vs the more specialized RC2 mounts that most of Manfrotto's budget to mid-range heads. The AS-compatible range of accessories is MUCH wider spectrum and the AS mounts are broadly more easy to use (especially if you are wearing gloves).