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Friday, 20 March 2015


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I participated in the survey. I am a bit of a tripod nut and I would have liked to see two additional questions:

1) how many tripods do you own?
2) what kinds of tripods do you own (list choices from table top all the way through studio camera stand (multiple choices allowed))

I really like tripods and have several from the little Bogen tabletop unit (709B)(?) (one is in my bag pretty much all the time) to a large wooden Reis. In the middle are several other Manfrottos and two Gitzos. It's like a tripod-alooza in the other room. They may be breeding like rabbits. My feeling is that it really doesn't make sense to spend a lot of money on the best lenses I can afford and then not try to get the best performance I can out of them. I don't use one all the time, but I use one whenever I can. I still probably wind up using one on only about 10% of my pictures . . .but the importance to me of the tool is understated by that percentage. This extends to monopods as well. I was in Paris two summers ago and was able to take many pictures in interiors because I had a monopod discretely tucked into my bag. Between the monopod and the high-ISO capabilities of today's cameras you can really make a lot of pictures that were much less likely to come out well in the days of film.

A word about the table-top tripod: they really are dead useful. You can brace one against a wall or column for an almost-full tripod experience. They take up almost no space in a bag. You can place one on a floor or on (gasp!) a table and really stabilize a camera in ways that would be very awkward without one.

When folks ask me how to improve their photography, I invariably say, "use a tripod." I think with a stable platform to work off of there are very few bad lenses out there today. And the difference between the sharpness in the center of the frame between a $3,000 lens and a $300 lens is pretty negligible compared to a picture taken with a steady support and that of one taken without one, except at the very highest shutter speeds or with some pretty powerful strobes. Just my opinion, of course.

I too partipated in the survey. Being somewhat taller(at 6'8) than normal use a tripod infrequntly. The Manfrotto was modified so it was easier to use. And then there is the
disease known as tripoditis is where one
tripod leg ends up being of a different length than the other legs.

Can't get any results from the survey, unless perhaps it would show me results if I put in answers again.

Should mention the most wonderful discovery I have made for camera support: the beanbag. Cloth bag, full of dried beans (or, for longer lifespan, plastic pellets). This basically makes the contours of the camera conform to the contours of something you're resting it on, or pushing it sideways against, or even pushing it upwards against. Doesn't of course add height, but steadies things a LOT with almost no extra mass to lug around. And, they don't charge you professional fees for pressing your camera against a beanbag against the stone columns of a cathedral, the way they do for a tripod. I've made nicely sharp 5-second exposures pressing the camera sideways against a stone column (24mm lens; in fact, 24mm shift lens).

I love my tripod (Manfrotto). I use it on about 90% of my shots, primarily because I shoot (nearly) exclusively at night. The tripod allows me to use a lower ISO, a small f/stop and therefore an extended shutter speed. A great combination, as I then print (or project) very large images. I do add a sandbag into the mix for more stability. There's no way I'd go out for a shoot without my tripod, radio remotes and sandbag in tow. It also slows me down, causing more thought and reflection before I push the button. Not as sexy as a new lens, perhaps, but hard to beat when you need a rock solid base for night photography.

Using a tripod has enabled me to make the most of my aging camera and to postpone buying a new one. I find a tripod indispensable when shooting: 1) at less than 1/focal length shutter speeds or long exposures, 2) time lapse photos, 3) identically framed sequences, and 4) "no parallax" stitched panoramas.

I have four [tri]pods: two gorillapods, a Gitzo monopod, and a Berlebach (Report 823) ash wood tripod. Five, if I count a "beanbag" like DDB.

The gorillapods have seen the most use because they were my earliest acquisitions. The smaller one is just the right size for my GRD4 and good enough for shooting star trails. The gorillapods are versatile because they're light, have a small footprint, and can be wrapped around rails or small posts.

I use the monopod when travelling. Made of carbon fiber, the Gitzo is light, robust, and able to support a camera-lens combo much bigger than mine. I bought the Berlebach online recently, direct from its factory in Mulda, Germany. It's light for its size and collapses to a short enough length to go as carry-on luggage. It's less expensive and not much heavier than similarly speced carbon fiber tripods, better damped, and beautifully crafted. I haven't used it in the field yet, but it has seen action documenting nesting birds just outside our window.

My "beanbag" is a travelling neck pillow. It's big enough to cradle a fixed-lens mirrorrless or a telephoto lens. Placed inside a cellophane bag, it's good to go as a form-fitting cushion for your camera or telephoto when shooting on, say, a damp rock or on the ground.

The problem with using a full-speced tripod is that it requires mounting hardware. For example, a ball mount (I use a panning and levelling base combo), a quick release clamp and compatible plate, and an L-bracket (if your telephoto doesn't come with a rotating tripod collar, or if your ball mount can't be tilted 90 deg). When shooting macros or stitched panoramas, a geared focusing rail (or a pair of them) may be necessary. The mounting hardware can add up costing more than the tripod.

Like most, I'd rather shoot unencumbered. But as an "avid amateur" with not much experience, my technique and my equipment is not quite good enough for hand-held shooting. In my case, using a tripod is an "equalizer" (sometimes, anyway).

Looking forward to the results of Ed Eubank's tripod poll.

Just got around to the survey. Like David Dyer-Bennet I expected to see results at the end. (BTW, my current "bean bag" is filled with aquarium gravel.)

My most-used camera support is my Chevy Astro van. Stopping for photos along the road I try to park the van so I can lean myself or the camera against some part of it. (Stop the engine, of course.) Really helps with the longer lenses. Fence posts and sign posts are also favorites.

I've already said on here how many tripods I own, and how I believe in them, but just wanted to say how delighted I am that I just bought my staff some new Manfrotto 055X 'pods, and they had collapsable head arms that worked great! Made the 'pods as easy to pack as a ball head...

Did anybody point out that you need to turn image stabilization (or shake reduction or whatever your camera's maker calls it) off when using a tripod?

I use a Manfrotto 3020 with either a 3047 or 3055 head. Over the last 23 years, and with almost daily outdoor use, I have used up 3 3055 and 2 3047 heads but the original legs have held up! I do not leave home without my tripod.

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