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FORUMS General Gear Talk Tripods, Monopods & Other Camera Support 
Thread started 13 Jul 2017 (Thursday) 19:35
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Tripod for Macro?

 
JaySop
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Jul 13, 2017 19:35 |  #1

I'm looking to get more into Marco photography and need a tripod for it. I know I need to get into some uncomfortable positions for shots so a conventional tripod doesn't really work. What I consider conventional being just up and down.
I'm obviously a rookie so bear with me.

I've been looking at the MT055XPRO3 and the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 100.

I'd like something a bit more compact and lightweight as I'd like to be able to pack it into the mountains while hiking. The two I'm looking at seem kind of large.

My budget for tripod and head is about $300.

Am I asking to much to have a portable, versatile, stable, lightweight tripod for $300 or less?




  
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sawsedge
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Jul 13, 2017 22:17 |  #2

The best way to decrease weight without decreasing stability means avoiding aluminum... get carbon fiber. That of course raises the price and might blow your intended budget. I would suggest looking at something like a Feisol 3442. Oben fits the budget better, but I have little knowledge of their quality.

In terms of features, you want a tripod that can go to ground level easily (independent, up to 90 degree leg spread). I have never needed or wanted a tripod with a tilting center column, but in the two tripods you listed, that seems to be the only way to get to ground level. The closer you keep the head and camera to the apex of the tripod, the more stable it will be.

I started with a Bogen 3221 (same as the 3021, but in black, and long since discontinued). The center column on it separated into a shorter piece which allowed lower angles. That Bogen was solid without any legs extended, but a bit wobbly with the legs fully extended. I currently have a Gitzo 3530 and I shortened the centerpost to about the same length as the short Bogen column. I think the Gitzo is a medium weight... 4 lbs for the legs and 1.5 lbs for the head. I think going with carbon fiber cut the weight by about 2/3 of the Bogen. The carbon fiber is noticeably sturdier.

Many say ditch the center column, or avoid them altogether. With a high-quality tripod like my Gitzo, I haven't noticed any additional vibration with just an inch or two of column extension, and that extra degree of adjustment is valuable to me. The taller the extension or the cheaper the build quality, the less likely you are to get good results.

Some like the precision of 3-way heads, but for macro I find a ballhead much easier to use. One of the best values in a ballhead is the Sirui K-series, which are around $150. Most of the other ballheads that I've seen and used are over $300 alone.


- John

  
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Temma
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Jul 13, 2017 23:03 |  #3

I've got an Alta Pro and a Vanguard TBH-300 Ball Head.

I really like the Alta Pro. I haven't used it all that much since 80% of my photography is studio macro, and there's so much play in my living room floor that I HAVE to have the camera and subject on the same platform, otherwise you can literally see the camera and subject move relative to each other when I shift my weight.

I've mostly used the tripod for long distance shots with my 500mm mirror lens. For that, it's been very good.

I especially like that ballhead. It's so much better than the one that came with my ProMaster tripod. I bought it for the ProMaster, then moved it when I bought the Alta Pro.

I don't hike and none of my photography takes me much farther than the distance from a parking lot to the edge of a pond or lake, so weight isn't a real consideration for me.

You can get a better tripod, but you're probably going to spend a lot more money.




  
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Temma
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Jul 13, 2017 23:06 |  #4

sawsedge wrote in post #18401569 (external link)
Some like the precision of 3-way heads, but for macro I find a ballhead much easier to use.

It depends upon what kind of macro you're doing.

For studio macro, a geared head makes it a lot easier to precisely align the camera with your subject. I don't have one, but I plan some day to get one for my tabletop rig.

For field macro, I agree that a ballhead is much more versatile.




  
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sawsedge
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Jul 13, 2017 23:09 |  #5

Temma wrote in post #18401597 (external link)
It depends upon what kind of macro you're doing.

For studio macro, a geared head makes it a lot easier to precisely align the camera with your subject. I don't have one, but I plan some day to get one for my tabletop rig.

For field macro, I agree that a ballhead is much more versatile.

That is a very valid point. I mostly do field macros. I'm eyeing a ballhead that may be nearly as precise as a geared head... I hope. The FLM CB-58FT.


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Temma
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Jul 13, 2017 23:15 |  #6

sawsedge wrote in post #18401602 (external link)
That is a very valid point. I mostly do field macros. I'm eyeing a ballhead that may be nearly as precise as a geared head... I hope. The FLM CB-58FT.

I haven't really tried to do any field macro with the Alta Pro yet, since the only place I see anything worth photographing is in the parking lot of my apartment, and only in the last month or two.

I had no idea that nothing comes out here until after dark, then mostly spiders, none of which will put in an appearance a SECOND before nightfall. Unfortunately, 99% of them are in awkward and out of the way places that would make using a tripod difficult, so I end up hand holding 100% of the time.

The office building where I used to work was torn down recently, so some morning when it's not raining like Korea during monsoon season, I'm going to take the tripod over to the empty lot and see if I can get some low level shots, if anything puts in an appearance.




  
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JaySop
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Jul 14, 2017 18:03 |  #7

So it makes good sense that a ball head is the way to go, trying to catch somewhat moving, or not static subjects is a pain.

It seems like a lot of tripods without a tilting center column wouldn't allow me to get into odd positions as well. They can get low but the legs seem to look like they'd get in the way.

What about the Benro FGP18A? It's not a top end but decent?
I'd like the Gitzo GT2531EX Series 2 but my lack of practical skills dont justify the cost of it.

With the Benro I could see using that up in the mountains to get unique perspectives around water and streams.

Anyone have ones of those?




  
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Temma
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Jul 14, 2017 18:08 |  #8

JaySop wrote in post #18402238 (external link)
So it makes good sense that a ball head is the way to go, trying to catch somewhat moving, or not static subjects is a pain.

It seems like a lot of tripods without a tilting center column wouldn't allow me to get into odd positions as well. They can get low but the legs seem to look like they'd get in the way.

What about the Benro FGP18A? It's not a top end but decent?
I'd like the Gitzo GT2531EX Series 2 but my lack of practical skills dont justify the cost of it.

With the Benro I could see using that up in the mountains to get unique perspectives around water and streams.

Anyone have ones of those?

The nice thing about the Alta Pro is that it has both a pivoting center column and can get low. If you buy an extra center column (I checked, they sell them) and cut it off, you can get VERY low.




  
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Jul 14, 2017 18:51 as a reply to  @ Temma's post |  #9

Temma, have you used one or seen one in person? Seems a bit large. Hard to tell in videos. I don't want to be strapping water skis to my pack :)




  
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Temma
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Jul 14, 2017 19:08 |  #10

JaySop wrote in post #18402272 (external link)
Temma, have you used one or seen one in person? Seems a bit large. Hard to tell in videos. I don't want to be strapping water skis to my pack :)

I own one. I like it, but I don't do any sort of hiking, at least farther than it takes to get to the bridge up the street, or from the parking lot to the observation deck at Rocky River Park.




  
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peter_n
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Jul 14, 2017 21:01 |  #11

Benro make a range of carbon fiber and aluminum tripods that they call the Versatile. They have an articulating center column. I have an aluminum version which I use indoors only. You want light so you may need to look at CF instead of aluminum. Here's an example (external link). I've bought from this dealer - he is reputable. I realize this is over your budget but you may be able to find a used one.


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Jul 14, 2017 21:50 |  #12

You haven't mentioned what subjects you will be shooting. Plants, maybe? Fungi? Lichen, rock formations, water droplets? For shooting bugs, I would not recommend a tripod. They move around too much, plus the wind moves everything.


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JaySop
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Jul 14, 2017 22:28 as a reply to  @ Archibald's post |  #13

I like to shoot flowers, water droplets, and perspective shots of everyday stuff. I'm not into bugs. Flowers do tend to move a bit though with the slightest breeze.

The tripod I'm hoping to find will be used for macro probably most of the time. But I would also like to use it for landscape and scenery and that's why I'd like it to be portable. I realize I should really invest in two tripods but im still in the market for a nicer landscape lens too.

I probably should have put that into the original post.




  
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Jul 14, 2017 22:29 |  #14

peter_n wrote in post #18402342 (external link)
Benro make a range of carbon fiber and aluminum tripods that they call the Versatile. They have an articulating center column. I have an aluminum version which I use indoors only. You want light so you may need to look at CF instead of aluminum. Here's an example (external link). I've bought from this dealer - he is reputable. I realize this is over your budget but you may be able to find a used one.

Is there a reason you use it for indoor only?
Which one do you have and how does it work for you?




  
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peter_n
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Jul 15, 2017 15:30 |  #15

JaySop wrote in post #18402386 (external link)
Is there a reason you use it for indoor only?
Which one do you have and how does it work for you?

Indoors only? Yes: 1. I'm not a macro photog and don't shoot landscapes either. 2. Weight. Its a three-leg section aluminum, so a bit on the heavy side and the first section is long so its awkward to take to places. 3. I have a geared head on it which is much heavier than a regular ballhead. A geared head (as you probably know) allows much greater precision in both axes separately and is really great to use if you are shooting inanimate objects.

Model: Benro A2970T, the T indicates it has twist leg locks. I'm very happy with it although I don't use it that much. But when I need to use the rig the combination of tripod flexibility and head accuracy is just a pleasure to use.


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Tripod for Macro?
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