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Tripods - Horizontal center column ques.

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Thread started 16 Jun 2007 (Saturday) 18:49   
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crn3371
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I'm going to be making my first serious tripod purchase. Leaning towards the Bogen 3021/488 combo. The one concern I have is the weight issue. If it's heavy and bulky, I'll be less inclined to carry it with me. Bogens 055 magfiber doesn't really seem to shave all that much weight. I've looked at some of the carbon fiber offerings from Slik and Velbon, which get the legs down to about 3.5 lbs, but I loose the horizontal center column feature. For those that have it, just how much do you use it? Is it a big help for macro? I've got a budget of around $400 for legs and head so I'm open to suggestions.

Post #1, Jun 16, 2007 18:49:23




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oldsquawk
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Some people are going to say I'm crazy but if you use the horizontal column as it is intended to be used you will create a situation that actually contributes to vibrations. Nix the horizontal column. The best and steadiest and least vibration prone setup for a tripod is to keep the head as close to centered over the tripod legs as is possible. The Velbon El Carmagne 630A carbon fiber tripod is an excellent, light weight tripod.

Post #2, Jun 16, 2007 20:33:43


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SkipD
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There are times when the horizontal column configuration of the 3021BPro works wonders for me. Yes, one needs to take care to minimize vibration. Sometimes weight (usually in the form of my camera bag) needs to be added to the center of the tripod to keep the center of gravity well inside the location of the three feet. However, the horizontal column feature allows me to do things that are essentially impossible without it.

One example is supporting the camera over a wall. I once used this at the Glacier Point lookout at Yosemite National Park and got a great "straight down" shot over the wall with my camera fully supported.

Post #3, Jun 16, 2007 21:26:52


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JohnJ80
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You see - that is the exact problem: "I once used ...." It seems foolish to me to purchase a tripod because of this capability unless you are going to use it all the time (all being more than 50%). Even then, it is a marginal technique and you have the rules of physics working against you big time. You have to have a very good understanding of the mechanics in place to damp vibration in this sort of a setup - and that means sandbags and all sorts of other tricks to keep the column from resembling a guitar string. A small vibration at the spider end of that cantilevered column will be amplified at the camera end.

Concentrate on getting legs that work for the main types of shooting you do - look at stability, weight and vibration damping. If you have those and then you still decide you need the cantilever arm capability, well most of the top guys have attachments you can purchase to make this work.

See:
http://markins.com/cha​rlie/report4e6.pdfexternal link

to understand what your tripod needs to do for you. When you see the little differences that make a big difference in the tripod performance - when used a more traditional way - you'll want to use a lot of caution before you use a tripod with the column cantilevered out like that.

J

Post #4, Jun 16, 2007 22:26:10


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SkipD
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John - the cost of the horizontal column feature is minimal. I doubt there would be a $10 difference between the 3021BPro and an otherwise identical tripod without the feature.

Having the flexibility allows you to do things that simply cannot be done with a more "conventional" tripod design. One does not need to use the feature on a regular basis, but if the situation arises where it is needed, there is no substitute for it.

There are many things you can do with the horizontal column feature that are next to impossible without something like it. I only mentioned one in my previous post.

Post #5, Jun 17, 2007 08:26:30


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JohnJ80
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I agree with you about the cost. It is more about the limitation of choices that can do the horizontal thing. It is an esoteric feature but limiting in the choice of equipment.

I think if you polled photographers, the amount that use this feature - and then the percentage of time that they use this feature - would be small. There are applications - such as macro (in cases) where it applies. In these, is as much about controlling a razor thin DOF as it is about vibration reduction. Even then, it is necessary to use considerable technique to isolate vibrations etc...

Additionally, it really has severe limitations in terms the physics of the situation. The main purpose of tripods is for vibration reduction. You give most - if not all - of that away by the time that you cantilever your camera out on the end of a lever arm that can have the effect of actually amplifying the vibration. Once you go past 150um or more of vibration over the shutter time, you are in the realm of handholding. So for this, if you use a lens with IS and you do this to control DOF, then it is usable. As vibration reduction? No.

For that reason, I'd consider this capability bonus points if you decide on a tripod you like for other reasons has this feature. I would not recommend seeking this feature as a prime reason for which to buy a tripod for the reasons above - it looks better than it is.

J.

Post #6, Jun 17, 2007 09:34:23


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Wilt
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crn3371, you dismiss the 55 mag fiber has 'hardly a difference' yet you labor over the weight of the horizontal feature in the Pro. The MagFiber is 2.0, Basic is 2.2Kg, the Classic is 2.3 Kg, the Pro is 2.4Kg. If the weight difference was truly such an issue with you, you ought to be leaping at the MagFiber!

Post #7, Jun 17, 2007 09:36:41


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SkipD
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JohnJ80 wrote in post #3391567external link
... I'd consider this capability bonus points if you decide on a tripod you like for other reasons has this feature. I would not recommend seeking this feature as a prime reason for which to buy a tripod for the reasons above - it looks better than it is.

I never recommend the 3021ProB specifically because it has the reconfigurable center column (vertical to horizontal, that is), but because it is a moderately priced tripod that is strong enough to be usable with many heavier rigs, extremely versatile (a combination of the highly adjustable legs (both length and independent angles), the multi-length column, and the horizontal column mounting. When you look at the whole package, it's hard to beat.

Some folks don't care for the weight, but if they have a lot more money they can get the same features in a carbon fiber rig.

Post #8, Jun 17, 2007 10:18:34


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JohnJ80
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Then we agree.

It all comes back to the saw - you can have stable, light or cheap in a tripod. Pick any two but you can't have all three.

At the $400 for total rig, we are talking about stable and cheap but no light. The 055MF version does not qualify as 'light' at 4.4lbs. For that, I'd save the money and go for the alum version. In that class of tripod - 15lbs load, about 200mm to 300mm focal length, if I want light, I want the whole rig to be no more than 4 lbs. (RRS BH40 + Gitzo 2540) but that is going to be about double the OP's budget.

J

Post #9, Jun 17, 2007 10:23:37


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crn3371
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Wilt wrote in post #3391577external link
crn3371, you dismiss the 55 mag fiber has 'hardly a difference' yet you labor over the weight of the horizontal feature in the Pro. The MagFiber is 2.0, Basic is 2.2Kg, the Classic is 2.3 Kg, the Pro is 2.4Kg. If the weight difference was truly such an issue with you, you ought to be leaping at the MagFiber!

The weight issue isn't that of the horizontal arm. According to my Bogen catalog, the 3021pro aluminum is 5.3lbs, while its magfiber counterpart is 4.4lbs. Less than a pound in weight savings, for over twice the price. The other brands I mentioned are at the same price point as the 055 magfiber but down in the 3-3.5 lb range, which starts to become a significant weight savings.

Post #10, Jun 17, 2007 11:06:54




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Wilt
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crn3371 wrote in post #3391935external link
The weight issue isn't that of the horizontal arm. According to my Bogen catalog, the 3021pro aluminum is 5.3lbs, while its magfiber counterpart is 4.4lbs. Less than a pound in weight savings, for over twice the price. The other brands I mentioned are at the same price point as the 055 magfiber but down in the 3-3.5 lb range, which starts to become a significant weight savings.

I misread the points in your OP! If I understand correctly, you were effectively saying, "Cheaper carbon fiber tripods exist, but do not have a horizontal post...how much do you use your horizontal post?" In response to that question, I also have to state, "Not much".

Post #11, Jun 17, 2007 11:43:19


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Jon
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I don't use it much either. I have 3 tripods with that capability in various forms but that's not because they have that capability. If it came down to two otherwise identical tripods with no other differentiators, I'd go with the horizontal capability, but I wouldn't make it a key selling/buying point.

Post #12, Jun 17, 2007 11:48:48


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