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Thread started 19 Feb 2012 (Sunday) 18:51
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Odd Tripod Question

 
Cotmweasel
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Feb 19, 2012 18:51 |  #1

I tried searching to see if this had already been asked, but didn't see anything. so onto the question...

I do a lot of lightning photos, and now that I broke my junk tripod I'm looking to get a decent one. my question is in regards to carbon fiber, does it conduct electricity as much as aluminum? I mean, I'm generally standing in a field with a tripod so if I could get something less likely to attract lightning I'm all for it (as is my girlfriend :lol:).

Thanks in advance!


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ben_r_
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Feb 19, 2012 19:04 |  #2

Taking my Fluke multimeter out and testing for continuity along various points of my Gitzo GT3541LS I can confirm that the individual legs sections do indeed conduct electricity, but that conductivity is broken once a lock collar is reached. So basically, depending on the rubber mount points of a tripod and the material of the locking collars, sections of a CF tripod will conduct.


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PhotosGuy
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Feb 19, 2012 22:51 |  #3

Cotmweasel wrote in post #13926346 (external link)
...does it conduct electricity as much as aluminum? I mean, I'm generally standing in a field...

More importantly, will it conduct electricity more than you do? ;)


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ben_r_
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Feb 20, 2012 13:48 |  #4

PhotosGuy wrote in post #13927443 (external link)
More importantly, will it conduct electricity more than you do? ;)

Ha ha, well I couldnt tell you the internal resistance of the human body innards, but I can tell you 1 foot of Gitzo CF on the exterior has a resistance of about 40 ohms so says the Fluke which is fairly low.


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mosport72
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Feb 20, 2012 14:10 |  #5

Dave,

sounds like you want one made of wood. But then you are still a good conductor of electricity so you might as well go with CF.

John




  
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Wilt
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Feb 20, 2012 14:18 |  #6

Better far for lightning to choose a path with lesser resistance, than thru your body!


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crn3371
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Feb 20, 2012 14:52 |  #7

I'd be ok shooting far off lightning in an open field. I wouldn't be ok under any circumstances in an open field with nearby lightning.




  
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ben_r_
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Feb 20, 2012 14:54 |  #8

Wilt wrote in post #13930290 (external link)
Better far for lightning to choose a path with lesser resistance, than thru your body!

Very true, but in this case seeing as how the CF tripod legs are only conductive through the leg sections and not through the locking collars I think youd still be the only conductor.


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legoman_iac
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Feb 20, 2012 15:05 |  #9

Why not use your old junk aluminium tripod as a conductor/lightning magnet and keep yourself and camera gear out of harms way? I love my camera, but would far rather it get hit by lightning than me!!!


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Deerhunter229
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Feb 20, 2012 15:51 |  #10

I think it is just a mute point. We are talking lightning here. Not jump starting your car or wiring a light switch. Lightning goes where it finds a path. Conductivity has little to do with it. Any form of static electricity has the possibility to attract it. Best not be standing next to a tripod of aluminum or CF when it strikes it. Have seen a wooden pole in a field split down the middle by lightning. It didn't conduct electricity! I will get my lightning pics from indoors.


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Todd ­ Lambert
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Feb 20, 2012 15:58 |  #11

ˆˆˆPansy ˆˆˆ

LOL ;-)a




  
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bps
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Feb 20, 2012 17:45 |  #12

Dave,

As an avid storm chaser for the last 4 years, I'll throw in my two cents.

CF definitely conducts far less than aluminum. That's cool that Ben broke out his multimeter and tested the resistance. (Thanks Ben!) So on a micro scale level, a CF will keep you safer to some degree. However, I say on a micro scale, because there's a lot more at play than just a 60-inch tripod when lightening decides to strike.

There are some things you can do to help protect yourself when shooting lightening in the field.

When shooting lightening when it's really close (a couple of miles), I do one of two things. I either set-up my tripod just outside of my car and use a lightening trigger or I'll use a bean bag on my half rolled down window. The key here is that I'm in my car, which provides a large degree of safety. As long as your not touching the metal parts within your car, you will be very safe if lightening hits your car. Yes, there's a very remote chance that a lightening bolt could come straight through the roof, but it's very rare for something like that to happen.

When the lightening is more distant (at least 5 miles away), I will often stand out in the field with my equipment. However, if at all possible, I will make sure that I'm lower than other objects nearby. (A slight hill, a power line pole, etc. However, keep in mind that this does not guarantee your safety. Lightening can strike up to 10-15 miles away from a supercell thunderstorm (they're called bolts from the blue), so distance does not really assure your safety.

Lightening triggers are wonderful devices because they fire your shutter when a flash occurs. Because lightening is so quick, the success rate for catching the bolt when it is really bright is nowhere near perfect...perhaps around 30-40% of the time. Another benefit is that you can try lightening photography during the day, which is nearly impossible without a lightening trigger. And perhaps most importantly, it does the work for you so you can remain sheltered in your car.

Aside from all of this, if I were you, I'd get a CF tripod. Yes, they are safer (to a degree), but CF tripods are just plain superior to aluminum tripods in every way.

You should let us help you spend your money...we can make some great recommendations when it comes to RRS and Gitzo tripods! :lol:

Bryan


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stevewf1
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Feb 21, 2012 04:44 |  #13

Deerhunter229 wrote in post #13930847 (external link)
I think it is just a mute point. We are talking lightning here. Not jump starting your car or wiring a light switch. Lightning goes where it finds a path. Conductivity has little to do with it. Any form of static electricity has the possibility to attract it. Best not be standing next to a tripod of aluminum or CF when it strikes it. Have seen a wooden pole in a field split down the middle by lightning. It didn't conduct electricity! I will get my lightning pics from indoors.

bw!


Steve

  
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SkipD
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Feb 21, 2012 05:44 |  #14

Cotmweasel wrote in post #13926346 (external link)
I tried searching to see if this had already been asked, but didn't see anything. so onto the question...

I do a lot of lightning photos, and now that I broke my junk tripod I'm looking to get a decent one. my question is in regards to carbon fiber, does it conduct electricity as much as aluminum? I mean, I'm generally standing in a field with a tripod so if I could get something less likely to attract lightning I'm all for it (as is my girlfriend :lol:).

Thanks in advance!

No tripod will "attract" lightning any more than your body will. The material used in your tripod will make absolutely no difference at all relative to protecting your life in a lightning storm.

Someone mentioned that the clamps in a certain tripod insulated one leg section from another. That may be true for relatively low voltage situations, but with the millions of volts in lightning, the insulated gap is like it's not even there. If lightning can jump the gap between a cloud and ground, it certainly can jump an inch or two across an insulator.


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ettsn
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Feb 21, 2012 07:05 |  #15

SkipD wrote in post #13934699 (external link)
If lightning can jump the gap between a cloud and ground, it certainly can jump an inch or two across an insulator.

+3,000,000


(volts)


:lol:




  
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Odd Tripod Question
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