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Need a decent tripod without spending a fortune. Recommendations?


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Planning on doing some bird photography this summer.  With such a heavy lens as the Canon 100-400 I need a quality tripod that I can trust to take the weight and be good and sturdy.  I'm figuring it will probably be a Manfrotto.  I also figure I will need a gimbal head for the tripod.

 

What recommendations do you have that won't cost me tons of money.  Won't be travelling much with the tripod.  Using feeders and home made reflection pool under my maple trees to set up the shots.

 

My budget is running around $300 Cdn for both the tripod and the head.

 

Jill

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Hi Jill, I really love this tripod - Slik 700DX - (legs only...you can add whatever head is best for you).  I use a Manfrotto ball head on mine.  It is well made for the money and I love that it has quick release clamps for extending the legs rather than unscrewing each joint to extend the legs (too time consuming).  I use mine nearly every day and it holds up well! Fully extended, it is about 6 feet tall.  

 

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/557127-REG/Slik_615_317_700DX_Pro_Tripod_Legs.html

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33 minutes ago, Michael Ventura said:

Hi Jill, I really love this tripod - Slik 700DX - (legs only...you can add whatever head is best for you).  I use a Manfrotto ball head on mine.  It is well made for the money and I love that it has quick release clamps for extending the legs rather than unscrewing each joint to extend the legs (too time consuming).  I use mine nearly every day and it holds up well! Fully extended, it is about 6 feet tall.  

 

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/557127-REG/Slik_615_317_700DX_Pro_Tripod_Legs.html

 

Looks like a contender.  Do you use the ball head for birding? 

 

Jill

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22 minutes ago, Jill Morgan said:

 

Looks like a contender.  Do you use the ball head for birding? 

 

Jill


No, just my everyday shooting.  I don’t shoot much wildlife.

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Jill,

 

I currently have two tripods, a GITZO Studex with a Gitzo ball head, bought the head in the early 80's, paid way too much

but it still works as new.  The GITZO is really a lightweight tripod.  Then I have an old Quick Set "Hi Boy" I paid about $30.00

for the legs and I've mounted a GITZO No3 medium format head on the Hi Boy legs.  It is heavy and I do not often carry it

on location, but it will hold a 600 f4 without a problem.  The Hi Boy legs and GITZO head cost me less than $50.00, plus 

$7.50 for the liquid weld that it took to mate the GITZO head to the legs.  Been using that setup for almost ten years.

 

I have a very deep hatred for Manfotto, they cheated me many years ago and I will not purchase any new item produced 

by them.  Note the older GITZO legs are better, just make sure that they slide smoothly.

 

Chuck

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4 minutes ago, Chuck Nacke said:

Jill,

 

I currently have two tripods, a GITZO Studex with a Gitzo ball head, bought the head in the early 80's, paid way too much

but it still works as new.  The GITZO is really a lightweight tripod.  Then I have an old Quick Set "Hi Boy" I paid about $30.00

for the legs and I've mounted a GITZO No3 medium format head on the Hi Boy legs.  It is heavy and I do not often carry it

on location, but it will hold a 600 f4 without a problem.  The Hi Boy legs and GITZO head cost me less than $50.00, plus 

$7.50 for the liquid weld that it took to mate the GITZO head to the legs.  Been using that setup for almost ten years.

 

I have a very deep hatred for Manfotto, they cheated me many years ago and I will not purchase any new item produced 

by them.  Note the older GITZO legs are better, just make sure that they slide smoothly.

 

Chuck

 

I'll check them out. Thanks.

 

Jill

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Benbo make some of the most versatile tripods, often the first choice of wildlife photographers. Similar ones are made by Uniloc

 

I've had one for 20 years and it's still good, and spares are available if required. And there's usually secondhand ones  available. 

They have independently adjustable legs so can be set up in all sorts of ways, on uneven ground, at funny angles and so on. Brilliant bits of kit

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I do not use it a lot but have the MeFOTO C2350 Globe Trotter carbon fibre tripod. Had the MeFOTO Q2 ball head when I bought it.

 

Allan

 

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Jill, if you want to walk around with your tripod, carbon fibre is the way to go. I have a Slik Pro 804 CF that goes into a shoulder sling. It's a bit short for me, even though I'm only 5'9", so check the hight fully extended. I use my Leitz table pod head which adds 5". My Gitzo, 2 Tiltalls, and something else didn't make it out of Mulberry Street. 

 

I only play the game of editorial stock now (no assignments) so I try to use Image Stabilisation and handhold my Sonys. The 804 model is probably discontinued. It cost me about $300.

 

Good luck.

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I also suggest the quick-release clamps. I don't have strong hands but I am an expert at over-tightening anything that screws on and then I can't loosen it.

 

Paulette

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May I again recommend the tests and rankings here:  https://thecentercolumn.com

 

wim

 

edit: If budget is your primary criterion, choose https://thecentercolumn.com/rankings/

and set the price to lowest to highest. Then look for the highest score that comes first.

Just to be sure, read the review or the test of the resulting tripod. Or change the order for on of the other criteria.

My favorite: https://thecentercolumn.com/rankings/volume-weighted-travel-tripod-ranking/

 

 

Edited by wiskerke
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If you're saying total for both should be around $300 Canadian, I think you're going to have to go used to make your price point and get a decent tripod and head.  If you're shooting from inside your home and won't need the tripod to be that luggable, you might also look at some of the wooden tripods if they'll accept your chosen tripod head.  Berlebach makes decent wooden tripods for cameras and for telescopes.  They're not something to carry on backpacking hikes, but not so heavy that they can't be moved around the house.  I had one for a view camera. 

 

If you meant $300 for the legs and $300 for the head, you've got more possibilities.

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, wiskerke said:

May I again recommend the tests and rankings here:  https://thecentercolumn.com

 

wim

 

edit: If budget is your primary criterion, choose https://thecentercolumn.com/rankings/

and set the price to lowest to highest. Then look for the highest score that comes first.

Just to be sure, read the review or the test of the resulting tripod. Or change the order for on of the other criteria.

My favorite: https://thecentercolumn.com/rankings/volume-weighted-travel-tripod-ranking/

 

 

 

Great site.  I'll spend the next week or so going over the reviews and prices.  I won't need carbon as it will sit in a hide and not go anywhere else. May look for a decent monopod later when I can venture out again to zoos etc and just need some balance for the camera.

 

Jill

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9 hours ago, Colblimp said:

I wouldn't go anywhere except 3LT.  This is the triffid I use:

 

https://www.3leggedthing.com/brian

Probably not a great answer for the original post but I'd agree about 3LT. I have one of these https://www.3leggedthing.com/store/monopods/docz2 which is supposed to be stabilising feet for a monopod but makes a brilliant tabletop / low level / on-top-of-a-wall tripod with a standard head fitted instead of the monopod.

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8 minutes ago, Phil Robinson said:

Probably not a great answer for the original post but I'd agree about 3LT. I have one of these https://www.3leggedthing.com/store/monopods/docz2 which is supposed to be stabilising feet for a monopod but makes a brilliant tabletop / low level / on-top-of-a-wall tripod with a standard head fitted instead of the monopod.

Although the Brian is marketed as a travel triffid, I don't travel with mine,  I use it when I'm shooting interiors.  It's capable of bearing 14kg so perfectly capable of holding big lenses.

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I actually used my monopod. I sat on my back covered patio, shooting a heavy Nikon and 80-400 lens. I had a crabapple tree about 12 feet in front of me, and feeders near. The birds would land in the tree before dropping to the feeder.

I had to be quick to get the shots, and a tripod was not maneuverable enough...I tried it. I could swing the mono quickly from left to right and I had a squeeze head for up and down. Although my squeeze head worked “mostly”, sometimes it would slip downwards due to the weight. A squeeze head is great for lightning-quick adjustments. I just had to work around the slippage, which wasn’t constant but still bothersome.

Shooting birds from a hide would be much like I did from my patio. I did set up my hide a few times, but found it was hot and airless many times. The hide was without a floor and bugs crawled up my legs! :lol: I found if I sat on the patio long enough, the birds initially stayed away, but they’d get used to me and carry on if I were still. They hated the hide because they are shy of new things in their environment. I usually had to leave it up a few days before it was somewhat nervously accepted. Then wind was a problem...I often had to take it down to keep it from blowing away. They accepted me sitting on the patio easier than they accepted the hide.
You might could make a tripod work like a monopod by not spreading the legs.

Of course, it all depends on the narrowness of your birding area. If it is small, a tripod might work. Mine was in all parts of the tree, the lawn, and a nearby close cedar fence. It covered quite a bit of area.

When it was cold, I’d put the camera and lens in a plastic bag outside and let it come to temperature before taking it out to shoot. Then back in the bag before bringing it in to the warm. That kept condensation from happening.

 

D5G4KN.jpg

Edited by Betty LaRue
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On 01/04/2021 at 10:03, Allan Bell said:

I do not use it a lot but have the MeFOTO C2350 Globe Trotter carbon fibre tripod. Had the MeFOTO Q2 ball head when I bought it.

 

Allan

 

 

Forgot to mention the MeFoto has a detachable leg which becomes a monopod. Thus saving weight if you only need a monopod AND it is included in the price of the tripod.

 

Details HERE.

 

Allan

 

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On 01/04/2021 at 14:49, Betty LaRue said:

I actually used my monopod. I sat on my back covered patio, shooting a heavy Nikon and 80-400 lens. I had a crabapple tree about 12 feet in front of me, and feeders near. The birds would land in the tree before dropping to the feeder.

I had to be quick to get the shots, and a tripod was not maneuverable enough...I tried it. I could swing the mono quickly from left to right and I had a squeeze head for up and down. Although my squeeze head worked “mostly”, sometimes it would slip downwards due to the weight. A squeeze head is great for lightning-quick adjustments. I just had to work around the slippage, which wasn’t constant but still bothersome.

Shooting birds from a hide would be much like I did from my patio. I did set up my hide a few times, but found it was hot and airless many times. The hide was without a floor and bugs crawled up my legs! :lol: I found if I sat on the patio long enough, the birds initially stayed away, but they’d get used to me and carry on if I were still. They hated the hide because they are shy of new things in their environment. I usually had to leave it up a few days before it was somewhat nervously accepted. Then wind was a problem...I often had to take it down to keep it from blowing away. They accepted me sitting on the patio easier than they accepted the hide.
You might could make a tripod work like a monopod by not spreading the legs.

Of course, it all depends on the narrowness of your birding area. If it is small, a tripod might work. Mine was in all parts of the tree, the lawn, and a nearby close cedar fence. It covered quite a bit of area.

When it was cold, I’d put the camera and lens in a plastic bag outside and let it come to temperature before taking it out to shoot. Then back in the bag before bringing it in to the warm. That kept condensation from happening.

 

 

 

I have my feeder right outside my front door.  It hangs off of a light stand.  The maple tree branches reach right over to the feeder, so the birds tend to wait in line up there for their turn. When I open the front door, they all rush back up in to the trees, but come down again within a few minutes. I can stand with the front door open and take shots, but not comfortable for a long period of time.  I also can shoot from an upstairs window.  These were taken from the window: 

 

female-downy-woodpecker-on-tree-branch-2F6GNMA.jpg

male-downy-woodpecker-on-bird-feeder-eating-sunflower-seeds-2F6GNMN.jpg

 

 

And this front the front door:

 

male-downy-woodpecker-on-bird-feeder-eating-sunflower-seeds-2F6GNN0.jpg

 

But one can't stand at the front door for long periods of time.  I do have a nice Muskoka chair on my front porch which I hope to sit on quietly with the tripod and a glass of wine.  I will put a hide over me if I find that the birds won't come to the feeder.  I do notice birds get used to things.  My friend who breeds Labradors lets her 7 dogs out in the back yard.  Her feeders are just outside the patio doors where all the dogs will lay in the sun.  Birds aren't bothered by the dogs at all.  They are used to them.

 

Jill

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4 hours ago, Jill Morgan said:

 

I have my feeder right outside my front door.  It hangs off of a light stand.  The maple tree branches reach right over to the feeder, so the birds tend to wait in line up there for their turn. When I open the front door, they all rush back up in to the trees, but come down again within a few minutes. I can stand with the front door open and take shots, but not comfortable for a long period of time.  I also can shoot from an upstairs window.  These were taken from the window: 

 

female-downy-woodpecker-on-tree-branch-2F6GNMA.jpg

male-downy-woodpecker-on-bird-feeder-eating-sunflower-seeds-2F6GNMN.jpg

 

 

And this front the front door:

 

male-downy-woodpecker-on-bird-feeder-eating-sunflower-seeds-2F6GNN0.jpg

 

But one can't stand at the front door for long periods of time.  I do have a nice Muskoka chair on my front porch which I hope to sit on quietly with the tripod and a glass of wine.  I will put a hide over me if I find that the birds won't come to the feeder.  I do notice birds get used to things.  My friend who breeds Labradors lets her 7 dogs out in the back yard.  Her feeders are just outside the patio doors where all the dogs will lay in the sun.  Birds aren't bothered by the dogs at all.  They are used to them.

 

Jill

Great! I used to open my patio door a crack sometimes to get a few shots when I just noticed something worthy, usually the sharp-shinned hawk on the fence stalking my songbirds.

Those are nice shots of the female and male Downy Woodpecker, I presume. These are the birds who learned to wedge a sunflower seed into a crack of bark before pounding it open. With the naked eye, I thought they were finding insects, but the magnification from the lens revealed the seed.

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3 minutes ago, Betty LaRue said:

Great! I used to open my patio door a crack sometimes to get a few shots when I just noticed something worthy, usually the sharp-shinned hawk on the fence stalking my songbirds.

Those are nice shots of the female and male Downy Woodpecker, I presume. These are the birds who learned to wedge a sunflower seed into a crack of bark before pounding it open. With the naked eye, I thought they were finding insects, but the magnification from the lens revealed the seed.

 

I like the first one of the male as he is trying to peek around to the other side of the feeder.  There is a song sparrow that you can't see feeding on the other side.

 

Jill

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Your new setup is paying off with nice, clear images. That’s always a thrill when you have hopes before purchasing, to ultimately see great results and your hopes pay off. I’ve always loved these tiny woodpeckers. They were the least shy of the lot.

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