Best Tripods and Camera Supports 2012
|February 17, 2012||Posted by admin under Tripods and Monopods|
Why Bother with a Tripod?
Whenever I watch television documentaries about wildlife photographers, I always notice the equipment they are using, or, more often than not, the equipment they don’t have-specifically, a tripod. While hand holding a camera is fine on a bright, sunny day with a fast shutter speed, once you slow down that shutter or use a large telephoto lens and then a tripod becomes a necessity. It is the only way to get sharp, defined photographs consistently.
Many photographers argue that using a tripod is a hassle. They are a bother to lug around, they pinch your fingers every time you try to make an adjustment and take too much time to set up and take down. But, despite its shortcomings, for the photographer concerned with consistently high-quality results, a tripod is a must.
The Best Tripods Available
Gitzo Tripods and Monopods
Gitzo makes the best tripods on the market. They range in price from US$300 up into the low thousands. If the price seems steep, remember: a quality camera will only last a few years. Lenses are the same way, yet often even more expensive. However, a Gitzo tripod comes with a lifetime guarantee and will dramatically improve the photographs of most photographers.
Gitzo Explorer Tripod
Vanguard Auctus Plus
If you are looking for a robust tripod for field or studio work, check out Vanguard’s Auctus Plus line, offered as aluminum or carbon fibre. The Plus designation means that these have geared centre-post system called Extreme Support Height Positioning (ESHP) Wheel System. It works very smoothly. The large positioning wheel has a flip-out handle that turns it into a crank if you want to change elevation more quickly. The leg sections use twist locks that will lock/unlock in about a quarter turn, and the leg sections have height markers printed on them. Click levers on the center spider allow the legs to set to 25, 50 and 80 degree spread. The tripod has some nice extras thrown in: a bag, integrated rubber feet and steel spikes, plus snowshoe pads.
Berlebach 2-Section Mini Tripod with Leveling Ball
Tripods made of wood are known their excellent vibration damping, and the Berlebach brand has become synonymous with those big wooden tripods that landscape and nature photographers prize. If you need something smaller, Berlebach also makes a table-top unit. It weighs less then a kilogram, extends to 38 cm but the legs can be spread so that the head is just 10 cm from ground level. The head can be tilted 25 degrees. Amazingly, this little unit has a load capacity of 8 kg.
This kit combines the latest Giotto’s MH-3 series heads and a 621-senes quick-release plate. The MH1300 is in the middle of the MH-3 line, with a ball diameter of 60 mm. You can get models with ball diameters of 50 mm or 70 mm, The MH1300-621G combination weighs just 750 g but has a load capacity of 15 kg.
Induro 470-042 AKP2 Tripod Kit
Three models make up this new line: AKP0 (four-section), AKP1 and AKP2 (three-section). The legs use clip-locks and the sections are grooved so they don’t rotate, and upper sections are foam covered. These come with a matched three-way panhead with quick-release plate. The handles fold, which makes the unit more compact for transport. A threaded accessory socket allows you to attach other devices (claps, etc.) to the tripod. The kit comes with a toolkit and carrying bag.
Induro Adventure AKB Series Tripod Kits
Velbon VS-443D 63″ Aluminum Tripod
This aluminum tripod uses an innovative head design that rotates through 360 degrees but also pivots. The post is geared so if the head is pivoted to a horizontal position, the gearing allows the camera to move smoothly in and out in the horizontal plane – great for video techniques.
The original GorillaMobile, a GorillaPod for mobile devices like cellular phones, pocket movie cameras, music players, etc., has grown into a family of products. Most of the new one are customized for the iPhone but the Yogi and Ori are supports for the iPad 2. This hands-free solution allows you to get the perfect angle for all your activities from chatting on Facetime to capturing the sunset. The newly refreshed version is now available and is compatible with all iPhones.
GorillaMobile Ori for iPad 2
Slik Compact II Tripods
Yes, it’s Survivorman’s tripod. This is a specially the branded version of the Slik Compact II, which has become the official tripod of the Survivorman series. Made of lightweight aluminum, the tripod weighs just 570 grams, knocks down to 37 cm and extends to just a hair under one metre. It comes with a two-way panhead with integrated bubble level.
Induro BHS Series Ball Heads
These are relatively inexpensive and lightweight ballheads available in three sizes. They use a single action knob to lock the ball and have a built-in bubble level. The quick-release plate system features a spring lock as well as a manual-release button.
Choosing the Right Tripod Head
Giottos Tripods and Monopods
The N series of Giotto’s VGR line has three features that set it apart. First, they are what the company calls a reverse structure tripod: the legs fold 180 degrees up and around the head for storage. Second, the centre column is a two-piece unit, so whenever you need a short column, you just unscrew the lower column portion. And third, one of the legs unscrews from the tripod, and when you attach the short portion of the centre column, you have an instant monopod. The VGRN 8265 (carbon fibre) and VGRN 9265 (aluminum) are five-section tripods with a load capacity of 9 kg. They fold down to 40.3 cm and have a maximum height of 1.7 m with the column extended. The aluminum model weighs 2 kg and the carbon fibre model weighs 1.7 kg. If you want something a bit smaller and lighter, the 8255/9255 models are about a half a kilo lighter, and have a load capacity of 6 kg.
Giottos vs. Manfrotto
Slik 500dx Professional Tripods
Slik has been in the tripod business for more than 50 years, and its products have offered good design and performance at a reasonable price. The 500DX sits somewhere in the middle of the extensive Pro line. It’s made of a lightweight alloy the company calls AMT (Aluminum-Magnesium-Titanium). The 500DX is a three-section model that uses lever-style leg locks. It includes a three-way video-style pan head with a quick-release plate. It the past, photographers tended to shy away from this type of head, but now that cameras also do video, the pan head once again makes sense. The tripod-head combo weighs just over 2.7 kg.
BENRO C-297EX Carbon Flexpod EX
The semi-pro Benro C-series tripods are quite affordable and include useful features: independent leg locks for use on uneven terrain or at ground level, rubberized locking grips with anti-rotation, weather and dust resistance, screw-in rubber or spiked feet and closed-cell grips for comfort. Those with an HVC designation include a center column that can be quickly switched from vertical to horizontal orientation.
Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro Tripod
The 055XPROB makes the famous Manfrotto-patented horizontal center column feature even easier to use. By extending the column to its highest vertical position, it can be swung around to horizontal without removing the head or disassembling the column itself, so switching between framing and positioning setups is more convenient than ever. The ergonomics of the leg angle release mechanism and the quick action leg locks themselves have also been greatly improved.
Manfrotto Tripods: Features and Benefits
Features to Look For
No photographer wants to be limited by his or her equipment, so pay attention to features!
First, above all, a tripod needs to be sturdy. Photographing a fiery moon over Mono lake at an exposure time of seven seconds requires perfect stillness. The slightest shake of the photographer’s hand or the rustle of a gentle breeze would ruin the photograph. A camera needs to sit solid on a tripod without movement when shaken.
A quality tripod should also have a reversible center post so a close up photo can be taken or a low angle shot achieved.
Choosing a Good Tripod
A tripod can be the difference between a winning shot and a loser
Another important feature is the height of the tripod. Quality tripods are taller than their less-expensive competitors. They achieve the proper height without raising the center arm, because a tripod is most stable at the top of its legs. Also, they don’t force the photographer to stoop in order to look through the camera lens.
For people on the go, there are quality tripods made of carbon fiber. These tripods are sturdy, yet ultra-light. Perfect for the wilderness photographer exploring uncharted territory.
Don’t Waste Your Money
Most camera retailers’ inventories reveal a broad array of tripods in all price ranges. Unfortunately, most of the inexpensive tripods (US$20-70) are a waste of money. They tend to be less stable and less rugged.
If your inexpensive tripod falls apart after just two or three treks in the wilderness and you have to replace it frequently, where’s the savings? In the same vein, if your tripod is less than perfectly stable your pictures won’t be as crisp as they could. In that case, you’re better off hand holding the camera while you save up your money for a better quality tripod! If you’re willing to dish out big bucks on a quality camera body and lenses, then why skimp on the tripod?
Once you’ve experienced the crisp, clean results of photographs taken with the assistance of a quality tripod, I guarantee you’ll never want to go back to hand holding your camera again!Incoming search terms:
- best tripods
- best video tripod for the money 2012