I have a slight problem with the way manufacturers specify the load limits of the their tripods. Almost all I have seen (maybe all I have seen) specify load limits in kg or lbs, but in all actuality, because the head usually has a rotational device that can twist, why not specify maximum torques allowable on the foot/plate. While the vertical strength could apply to the both elements (perhaps the tripod itself moreso), they also could be specified to withstand a maximum torque as well.
Let's say you have a long lens that has its center of mass a foot away from a line that extends directly up form the ball/foot/plate. If that long lens weighs in at - say - 10 pounds, that a 10 ftlb torque applied to the ball (we'll ignore the distance above the ball for the moment).
The subject came up for me because I have a medium to long telephoto that doesn't have its own mounting foot, so it depends on the strength of the camera body to hold it up above (and out from) the tripod ball. What's worse about this is that it puts the center of mass of the lends farther out form the ball.
As it turns out, this lens (and camera combo) is actually much lighter than I thought it was lugging it around the field, so it wasn't as much of an issue as I thought. But still, lens mount designers can't assume they can predict the mass of the camera that the photographer is going to hang on the lens (and potentially balance the mass over the ball), so why not specify the torque that the tripod
D810, D750, N1-J5, N1-V3 (and a few other cameras) and a BIG handful of lenses.
#1. "RE: Tripod Load Limits" | In response to Reply # 0MEMcD Nikonian since 24th Dec 2007Wed 26-Aug-09 08:22 PM
That is where the leg diameter vs. focal length come in. I would never want to get too close the a tripods maximum load capacity.
I try to keep the load at 1/4 of capacity or less if possible.
Of couse if someone was to give me a Nikkor 1200-1700 f/5.6-8 or a Sigmonster 200-500mm f/2.8 I would be happy to exceed that number by an order of magnitude or more.
The torque is resisted by the tripod head transfering the load to the spyder then legs. This is why a large sweet spot on a ball head is important. As you state the biggest offenders regarding torque loads are lenses without feet like the 24-70mm f/2.8 and the 28-70mm f/2.8.
Longer lenses can be moved foward or backward in the clamp, thus the reason for longer A/S lens feet or plates. This allows for camera bodies of different mass to be balanced as much as possible.
Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!
#2. "RE: Tripod Load Limits" | In response to Reply # 0alillich Registered since 23rd Mar 2008Wed 26-Aug-09 08:28 PM
You're right. For a long time I was confused trying to correlate tripod load limits with common advice about which tripod to use with various big lenses. The Gitzo catalog is the only place I've seen a mention of torsional rigidity. It isn't quantified there, but is a help in choosing among their numbered series. Take a look at page 9. You can get a PDF catalog here:
#3. "RE: Tripod Load Limits" | In response to Reply # 0Wed 26-Aug-09 09:23 PM
I agree with Marty that tripod load limits should not be taken seriously at all. As you point out, for a given mass the package might have a lens sticking a foot beyond the head or it might be a rather squat large format camera that is heavy but is shooting a rather wide angle landscape. Two very different configurations yet payload weight is somehow supposed to accommodate this.
You will find that if you follow the Gitzo focal length recommendations then the payload weight falls into place with the ratings (very conservatively at some small percentage of payload rating). I personally believe that Gitzo is really trying to tell you not to take payload weight very seriously with SLR gear because of the tendency to shoot longer focal lengths than other camera systems.
The best approach is to ask questions about specific gear and to read what has been said in the archives here by experienced users. Although opinions vary and there is some spread of opinion, certain focal lengths tend to be recommended for certain series legs.
Interestingly, there are several contradictory views and theories around the issue of collared vs collarless lenses (of the same focal length). One theory suggests that a collared lens best resembles a tuning fork, held properly at the handle of the "T". The mirror acts as the hammer to make the music . If, however, you hold a tuning fork by one end (more resembling a collarless lens) it will not ring, or will not resonate nearly as well. There is a reason that tuning forks have handles . Counterarguments could be made for issues of droop but that is very dependent on the head.
I once tried to test that with a 70-200. My results were not very conclusive one way or the other and it's not a habit I want to get into (for the sake of the lens and body mounts). As near as I could tell, focal length (and weight with fast teles) is the determining factor, not the mount.
I think the basic Gitzo recommendations are right on target (200mm for Series 2, 300mm for Series 3) if you want to be conservative. I also suspect, based on their discussions of FOV, that their numbers are based on FX, which is historically conservative given the long run most of us had a basically DX digital shooters. That would make those numbers not so conservative on DX. OTOH they fudge a bit, suggesting, for example, you might get away with 300mm on a series 2, for example, but that reflects the reality that there is no simple answer and no obvious "breaking point", and varying requirements such as handling in wind, soft ground, etc.
#4. "RE: Tripod Load Limits" | In response to Reply # 3Mark V Registered since 18th Jun 2004Wed 26-Aug-09 10:59 PM | edited Wed 26-Aug-09 11:00 PM by Mark V
Gitzo Alloy Series 5: The big one that goes to 10'. Legs retracted it will hold a lot more then I weigh, at least a couple of hundred pounds. Fully extended there's at least 8" of torque twist. A 15lb wet noodle.
Gitzo's biggest goof was the Safari, the model with the legs revered. The thin leg was on top against the plate. The idea was it could be used in water and mud. The reality was a wet noodle with joint failure.
Gitzo's with the double telescoping center column. What were they smoking?
Gitzo - The real "classic" held a machine gun.
#5. "RE: Tripod Load Limits" | In response to Reply # 4slothead Nikonian since 11th Aug 2009Thu 27-Aug-09 12:22 AM
1st: Thanks for the link to the Gitzo catalog! What a great document!
2nd: Neil, it would seem (I think this is what you are saying) that the hundred mm / series correlation is (was originally) for film-size lenses. Given the smaller geometry of the digital format, can we "cheat" by shifting the hundred mm / series -1 ? When I put my Sigma 50-500 on my D300, the entire package weighs only 6.6 lbs (3kg) - much lighter than I had expected. I would not want to have to carry the series 5 tripod around to support a 6.6 lb load.
D810, D750, N1-J5, N1-V3 (and a few other cameras) and a BIG handful of lenses.
#6. "RE: Tripod Load Limits" | In response to Reply # 5Thu 27-Aug-09 01:24 AM
Adjusting for DX suggests that, for example, a 200mm lens should be shot on a Series 3 with DX. That is too much for many to take. A 300mm would be split between a Series 4 and 5.
In practice I think most people are using the Gitzo tables directly for DX and are happy with the performance. Many feel the Gitzo tables are too conservative even for DX, wanting to shoot 300mm DX on a Series 2.
Your job is to decide how conservative you want to be, how much you want to spend and more importantly what you are willing to carry. If you won't carry a Series 5 all day then it does you no good at all, and that is why few shoot a Series 5, even with 500 and 600mm exotics. But never kid yourself, at 500mm bigger is always better. That is a very serious focal length, especially on DX, and that is one reason why the typical image you see shot with that lens does not represent what it is capable of.
I really don't have any insight as to how Gitzo feels about small lenses such as your 50-500 verses the F4 exotics. I don't see any clues. Your lens is similar to my 300/4 + TC17 working 500mm. I shoot a Series 2 and Series 4. I would shoot that on a Series 3 without hesitation, but I would also shoot my 500/4 AFS on a Series 3, although I do think a Series 5 would have advantages in windy conditions. It seems to do well with my Series 4 although the lens is new to me. I've shot the slightly lighter 500/4 Ai-P for years on the Series 4. That lens took some time to get used to, but now I shoot it on the Series 4 with very good results, even in a wind with decent shutter speeds.
#7. "RE: Tripod Load Limits" | In response to Reply # 6Mark V Registered since 18th Jun 2004Thu 27-Aug-09 12:54 PM | edited Thu 27-Aug-09 01:32 PM by Mark V
Here's what I have ran into with the light weight tele's. I also believe Gitzo's load limits are based on 35mm film cameras and sometimes Rangefinders.
Series 2 Gitzo CF: D300, Nikon 300f4, no worries, add a TC and the series 3 would feel better, especially when surrounded by rocks. The few ounces a TC weighs doesn't make the tripod less stable....it just feels that way.
Series 2 Gitzo CF: D300, Nikon 200 f4 Macro. Normal shooting. No worries.
Series 2 Gitzo CF: D300, Nikon 200 f4 Macro shooting Macro with a close up diopter. A series 3 would be better.
Series 4: For beach, and thick carpet. Sometimes you want the mass, even with a 50mm lens.
Series 0: Legs retracted it holds my weight. There are guys shooting the big guns this way. (Galen Rowell Fan Club ) One wrong move and CRASH!
Extra long legs: More weight, less compact, if you don't have it you wont miss it. But, if you do have it you will find uses for it.
More important is the ball head. The Giottos that worked so well for normal use was next to useless shooting Macro. I upgraded to a Markins.
I'm currently in the process of upgrading the Series 2 to a 3. It's not the weight that stops me.....it's the insane price....and that it's only needed for Macro.
Edit: 30 minutes later. I now own a GT3540 XLS - I always did go for overkill. If I was Finn McCool, Tarzan, or The Governorator, I would carry a Series 5 and just get it over with.
#8. "RE: Tripod Load Limits" | In response to Reply # 3
>I think the basic Gitzo recommendations are right on target
>(200mm for Series 2, 300mm for Series 3) if you want to be
>conservative. I also suspect, based on their discussions of
>FOV, that their numbers are based on FX, which is historically
>conservative given the long run most of us had a basically DX
Neil, how are you?
I just placed on order for a Sigma 50-500 as i was under impression that my GT3542XLS would do a great support job for this lens (even with side-kick on Q20). Now you made me worrying that on D7000 this setup might be a problem.
I still can cancel order on a Bigma to prevent any money loss and disappointments. Please advice
#9. "RE: Tripod Load Limits" | In response to Reply # 8jacsr Registered since 08th Apr 2006Fri 03-Aug-12 08:15 PM | edited Fri 03-Aug-12 08:20 PM by jacsr
As an example I have shot a D300 with Sigma 150-500 on a 3541LS, M20 with sidekick with great success. When I acquired the 500/4 AF-S II I moved to a full gimbal and a series 5. Earlier this year I posted a spreadsheet showing tap test results using the sigma, 500/4 and 70-200vr on the 3541LS and the 5542LS. The results showed that the 3 series handled the Sigma and the smaller Nikon well. You might find the results interesting.
#11. "RE: Tripod Load Limits" | In response to Reply # 8
As a practical matter, I think the Series 3 will do just fine.
Gitzo's recommendations (Series 5 for 500mm) are very conservative - from certain points of view.
If you look at things from the point of view that, for example, 50mm lenses just don't shake or wobble, then even Gitzo's recommendations are not conservative but maybe more like the minimum required.
Most people accept the fact that a 500mm lens will not handle as well as a 50mm lens, no matter what you put under it. This is part of the reason that Mirror Up or Exposure Delay is so critically important with long lenses but maybe not so important or not needed at all with shorter lenses such as a 50.
As a practical matter most people find the weight and bulk, and maybe price, of a Series 5 to be too much, and for that reason at least I rarely see them in the field, even with 600 f/4's, which are much more difficult than your Sigma. Doesn't make it "right" but just a long term observation of mine.
I'm threading a needle here. By the time you get to 500mm, philosophically I believe it is impossible to overkill the support so a Series 5 is the "best" solution, without regard to the price and portability issues. But realistically a Series 3 should do fine, used with the care we all need to exercise regardless. Even a Series 5 won't turn a 500mm lens into an easy 50mm lens, it would just move things further in that direction.
I think I'm saying the same thing as Joe, just in a different way, and from a slightly more conservative point of view. And Joe has actually used one of the Bigma's on the tripods of interest here.
I have found the spikes to greatly improve performance on any soils I shoot on. Take advantage of that and always remove the rubber caps unless you know you will only be shooting on hard surfaces like asphalt or concrete, or indoors.
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