Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Going Crazy With Tripods

My Tabletop Tripod Trio

I love tripods, I go all soft and wobbly when I see attractive looking ones, so here is my story with tripods, including the bit I hinted about in my travel to Poland post.


The first tripod I ever bought was my favorite Slik Mini Pro tripod shown below, it has a very nice ball head, it is very well made and sturdy, and can carry a much larger load than it looks capable of, this is my most used tripod, I use it for macros, for carrying flashes, and for low angle shots (both stills and video). It is very compact to take everywhere and fit any bag (It was the only accessory I took with me to Europe), and it also comes with a nice carrying pouch.

The little monster
Carrying the 60D + 85 1.8, it used to carry my 5D3 with the 100 Macro as well
And the carrying pouch


I bought this one on an impulse while I still had the 5D3, I always wanted to try this tripod, I bought it for several reasons:
  • To put the camera very low to the ground.
  • To attach a wireless flash in unique positions (tree branch, pole, etc...).
  • Same for my Zoom H1 mic, I use it in different positions.
But I never intended to hang my 5D3 from a tree branch or a fence, that would scare me to death, however, I can trust it now with the much lighter Sony RX100 or even the OMD. Initially I bought it without the ball head, but later I regretted it because it severely limited the angles and positions I can get, so I bought the ball head, and I am happier now. One thing to note, despite this being touted as an SLR tripod, it could not hold my 5D3 and a 100 Macro lens in normal tripod positions, either flat on the ground or hanging from something.

The ball head is very smooth, it has a quick release plate with a bubble level, but the most annoying thing about either the ball head or the tripod itself, is the screw used to fix it to your camera, you'll need to use a coin to screw it. You can check my Macro Fun @ Home post to see how I used the tripod with the OMD for macro shooting.

Shooting macro with the GorillaPod


This one I received as a gift with an old Yashica Electro GTN rangefinder film camera, I haven't used it yet in real world, only for fun, because it has short legs and it offers no advantages over my other tabletop tripods, except for the very compact size, and the nice carrying strap. I will post about it whenever I use it in a real world scenario.

Very compact, Yashica on the bottom, Slik on the top

Maximum height
Yashica Oldies


This is the first normal sized tripod I bought, prior to it, I used my father's video tripod from the 80's, it was a solid tripod, but it was very heavy, used twisty knobs to release the tripod legs, and it had a non-removable two axis head (the one with two arms, one for pan, the other for tilt).

We don't have good tripod brands sold in Egypt, every once in a while, some local dealer imports a few tripods and sells them. I used this chance and got myself the nice Manfrotto 294 Aluminum tripod kit, which consisted 3 section aluminum legs with quick release, and the 496RC2 ball head with a quick release plate.

The tripod is actually very nice, it can carry up to 5 kg of weight, it reaches a respectable height, it has a ball head with variable friction, a quick release plate, quick release 3-section legs with 2 opening positions, it has two velvet-feeling handles on two of the legs (for when it's cold to touch the metal legs), it is quite compact and light (2.25 kg), and the center column can be reversed for low angle shooting.

All in all, it is an excellent tripod, and I didn't look further, maybe once in a while I would read about a carbon fiber tripod or see a video about a pistol grip and consider that, but then decide against it since it will be a headache to import a tripod to Egypt (remember, these tripods are not sold in Egypt). All I did was buy a cheap tripod bag to make carrying it easier, but I didn't like the bag because it was way too large, and the smaller one would not fit the tripod through the zipper.

A handsome looking tripod, room light, 60D + 85 1.8 wide-open

Reversible column, excuse the picture quality, shot with my old Galaxy S2 in low light


When I went to Poland earlier, I visited the FotoPlus shop in Krakow, it is known for having good prices. I checked the tripod section, and found a carbon fiber one that was very light and impressed me, after I went back to the hotel, I researched the Manfrotto tripods, and I found that the 190 and 055 series, were the best, they are almost identical features wise, except that the 055 series is much larger, heavier, can carry larger weight (8 kg vs 5 kg for the 190) and can go taller, otherwise the 190 series is just as good.

So I went to facebook, and posted my 294A3 tripod for sale (we have very active used photography equipment sale groups in Egypt), and I immediately got a few interests, so I considered it sold and went next day to buy the 190CXPRO3, when it came to the head, ultimately I wanted to get a fluid video head, but I knew they were expensive and large, dismissed, next I wanted a pistol ball head, and I found a good one, but turns out it is too big and large, beats the purpose of having a light carbon fiber tripod in the first place, so I went with the same 496RC2 ball head I had before, it is just the right size and weight, and it can carry up to 5 kg of weight, I needed no more. Additionally, I bought a much nicer Manfrotto tripod bag, it fit the tripod perfectly.

The advantages of my new tripod over the old one can be summarized like this:
  • Much lighter and easier to carry, especially with the new bag.
  • 4 positions for the legs, up to 89 degrees, almost perpendicular, which enables the tripod to go flat on the ground.
  • Center column can turn 90 degrees to get parallel to the ground, useful for shooting top view.
  • Bubble level.
I am pretty pleased with my newest purchase, and I believe it will last me a very long time indeed, my old tripod have been sold to a new happy owner, now I leave you with some pictures.

Manfrotto 190CX Pro3

Carbon Fiber
Flexible leg positions

Tiltable center column

Manfrotto 496RC2 Ball Head

1 comment:

Thanks for your comment. It will be published as soon as we get a chance to review it, sorry for that, but we get lots of spam with malicious links.