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Thread started 06 Feb 2013 (Wednesday) 12:30
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3 leg sections vs 4 leg sections... does it really matter anymore?

 
mafoo
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Feb 06, 2013 12:30 |  #1

EDIT: The title should be: 3 extension vs 4 extension... does it really matter anymore?

With todays modern CF tripods, with sophisticated quick locks, does having an extra joint really effect performance?

Can someone point to a study that has been done anywhere that tests this theory?

It is my assumption, that it no longer matters with respect to stability. The only place were it might have an effect, is in the fact that the last extension would be a little smaller then the same tripod with 3 legs.

But I would suspect that a 4 extension tripod, where the last leg is as wide or wider then a 3 extension tripod, will be as stable.


-Jeremy
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trailguy
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Feb 06, 2013 14:09 |  #2

More joints = less stability. It's simply physics.




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mafoo
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Feb 06, 2013 14:14 |  #3

trailguy wrote in post #15579874 (external link)
More joints = less stability. It's simply physics.

In a lot of cases, a joint is the strongest point of an object, so it's not that simple.


-Jeremy
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Phobosx13x
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Feb 06, 2013 14:28 |  #4

Its more a matter of overall strength. 4 solid extensions with good locks are better than 3 flimsy extensions with weak locks.

The other issue is that 3 sections are normally shorter than 4. Taller is less stable, but not inherently because of the extensions and joints, but rather because of the height. So you have to be careful to lay blame for instability where it belongs.




  
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mafoo
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Feb 06, 2013 14:57 |  #5

Phobosx13x wrote in post #15579967 (external link)
Its more a matter of overall strength. 4 solid extensions with good locks are better than 3 flimsy extensions with weak locks.

The other issue is that 3 sections are normally shorter than 4. Taller is less stable, but not inherently because of the extensions and joints, but rather because of the height. So you have to be careful to lay blame for instability where it belongs.

True.

In my case, I am looking at these two tripods, and wondering if at the same hight, a difference in stability is detectable.

http://www.feisol.com/​0823tripodsdetails-4.html (external link)

As you can see, the difference when collapsed is quite a bit, so the inconvenance of an added lock is acceptable. However if it really does impact stability, I then have to think more about it.


-Jeremy
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Feb 06, 2013 17:48 |  #6

I tried this on Gitzo 3 series systematics. When set to my normal shooting height the 3 section version had significantly better torsional rigidity. You state that the the leg lock can be the strongest point, that may well be true in many cases. If it is the case then with 4 leg sections (as opposed to 3) you introduce 6 (2 per leg) extra stress points and 3 of these are on a thinner leg section than is present on a 3 section tripod. As you can see the more sections the less rigidity.
However, back in the real world, we all have to make compromises. If the collapsed length is important then the SLIGHT loss in rigidity is well worth the added convenience. I notice, from your sig, that you do not use heavy or long lenses so I wouldn't worry about it too much - just go for the short collapsed length of the 4 section or the setting up convenience of the 3 section version - whichever suits you needs.
P.S. a friend of mine has the 3 leg section version and it works very well with my 300 F2.8 IS + extenders, it is a very nice light tripod by any standards.


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Feb 06, 2013 18:59 |  #7

johnf3f wrote in post #15580679 (external link)
I tried this on Gitzo 3 series systematics. When set to my normal shooting height the 3 section version had significantly better torsional rigidity. You state that the the leg lock can be the strongest point, that may well be true in many cases. If it is the case then with 4 leg sections (as opposed to 3) you introduce 6 (2 per leg) extra stress points and 3 of these are on a thinner leg section than is present on a 3 section tripod. As you can see the more sections the less rigidity.
However, back in the real world, we all have to make compromises. If the collapsed length is important then the SLIGHT loss in rigidity is well worth the added convenience. I notice, from your sig, that you do not use heavy or long lenses so I wouldn't worry about it too much - just go for the short collapsed length of the 4 section or the setting up convenience of the 3 section version - whichever suits you needs.
P.S. a friend of mine has the 3 leg section version and it works very well with my 300 F2.8 IS + extenders, it is a very nice light tripod by any standards.

Thanks for this. It would be nice to be able to test these high end Tripods in person. Next time I am in NYC, a trip to B&H is in order :)


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Feb 06, 2013 19:26 |  #8

Jeremy, the ONLY way to be sure that one tripod is sturdier than another is to actually test it. One test I like to perform is to mount a reasonably heavy camera fitted with a long lens to the tripod and then, while looking through the viewfinder, tap the front of the lens. You'd be looking for how quickly the vibration from your tap is dampened. It's amazing how different various tripods - even ones with the "same" construction style - can be from each other.


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Sirrith
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Feb 06, 2013 19:28 |  #9

SkipD wrote in post #15580953 (external link)
Jeremy, the ONLY way to be sure that one tripod is sturdier than another is to actually test it. One test I like to perform is to mount a reasonably heavy camera fitted with a long lens to the tripod and then, while looking through the viewfinder, tap the front of the lens. You'd be looking for how quickly the vibration from your tap is dampened. It's amazing how different various tripods - even ones with the "same" construction style - can be from each other.

Skip, just wondering, why tap the lens and not the legs?


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Feb 06, 2013 19:32 |  #10

Sirrith wrote in post #15580960 (external link)
Skip, just wondering, why tap the lens and not the legs?

That's simple - it's because the most action would be seen by tapping the lens. What you should be looking for is two things. The first is how much the image in the viewfinder moves with the tap (you should be trying to keep the taps the same for all tests, of course) and the second is how quickly the vibration in the image ceases.


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Feb 06, 2013 19:34 |  #11

SkipD wrote in post #15580974 (external link)
That's simple - it's because the most action would be seen by tapping the lens. What you should be looking for is two things. The first is how much the image in the viewfinder moves with the tap (you should be trying to keep the taps the same for all tests, of course) and the second is how quickly the vibration in the image ceases.

I see. I've always thought that tapping the lens was more a test of the tripod head than the legs! Would you recommend doing the test in live view at 10x magnification, or is that a bit unrealistic?


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Feb 06, 2013 19:36 |  #12

Sirrith wrote in post #15580979 (external link)
I see. I've always thought that tapping the lens was more a test of the tripod head than the legs! Would you recommend doing the test in live view at 10x magnification, or is that a bit unrealistic?

I think you'd find some delay in the "live view" image that you wouldn't see through the optical viewfinder. I'd prefer using the viewfinder any day.


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Feb 06, 2013 19:40 |  #13

SkipD wrote in post #15580984 (external link)
I think you'd find some delay in the "live view" image that you wouldn't see through the optical viewfinder. I'd prefer using the viewfinder any day.

Thanks :)


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Feb 06, 2013 20:11 |  #14

I recently bought a Manfrotto 190CXPro4 tripod. (choosing between the 3 and 4 section CF tripods) I ended up with the 4 section because I plan to hike with it a lot and the smaller size, 3 inches, is what won me over to get the 4 section one. Three inches may not sound like a lot, but when your carrying your other camera gear, plus camping equipment, you need to keep things as small as possible. :)

I shoot almost exclusively macro, so I'll almost never need to fully extend it, but even at full extension its very sturdy for what it is (3lb tripod).


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Feb 06, 2013 20:20 |  #15

Awesome. Thanks for the tip. I am heading to the airport in Manchester NH in a few days. I will stop in at Hunt's Photo while I am there, and see what they have in stock.


-Jeremy
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3 leg sections vs 4 leg sections... does it really matter anymore?
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