Why are we obsessed with tripod height?
I'll ask for forgiveness in advance, maybe I'm a heretic but I just can't come to grips with the idea that an ideal tripod/head combination elevates the viewfinder to the eye level of the photographer....
Isn't that what the average person with a smartphone does: walk up to a scene, raise the phone to where they can see it(eye level?) and shoot? And they walk away with a snapshot.
Yet I see countless threads here from members agonizing over what tripod/head combination to choose so they can walk up, splay the legs to the first stop and not have to stoop or look up.
I have marks on my tripod at eye-level leg extensions for long-lens use where the angle of view doesn't really matter but comfort does. Unless I'm shooting at 200mm+ I mostly ignore them, I'll stretch up and squat down looking for the perspective that gives me the best shot.
Shooting wide I'm almost always close to ground level to get some foreground detail and tripod height is a handicap, I want to get as low as I can. Eye-level height doesn't come into consideration in these circumstances(obviously).
Obviously I'm missing something but the concept that the ideal tripod/head combo jumps out of your car and unfolds itself at your particular eye level just doesn't strike me as a consideration.
So fill me in, what am I missing?
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#1. "RE: Why are we obsessed with tripod height?" | In response to Reply # 0nrothschild Registered since 25th Jul 2004Thu 21-Jun-12 11:25 PM
I shoot a Series 3 to handle big and long lenses. If I am shooting at 12 to 20mm I certainly don't *need* a Series 3 for that shot but it doesn't hurt. I bought the Series 3 to handle the longest lens I have, and sized it to handle the highest height I anticipate needing in the field (higher than eye level), taking into account other considerations such as cost and folded length.
I picked a tripod that handles as many needs as possible given various constraints. If I only shot 10% of my shots at eye level I would still want a tripod that went to that eye level. What percentage of my shots I would take there is irrelevant. If only 5% of my shots were taken with a 500/4 I would still need a tripod robust enough to shoot that lens or I shouldn't bother owning it.
I don't think your assessment of people wanting "tripods to jump out of your car and unfold itself at your particular eye level" accurately reflects the concerns here. I think it is a given that people shoot at many different heights when perspective demands it but only the max height required is generally a concern so it is the height that is discussed.
Very occasionally we get members looking for a tripod that extends fully to exactly eye level, for convenience. Personally I think that is a mistake- an ideal tripod will go well over eye level on level ground. And I discuss the issue of un-level or uneven ground, and I'd say in most cases they end up agreeing with the concept. But that idea is not typical here or the most common "requirement" coming in.
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#2. "RE: Why are we obsessed with tripod height?" | In response to Reply # 02pixels_short Nikonian since 16th Oct 2003Fri 22-Jun-12 03:30 PM
I thought we all wanted a rock solid tripod that goes from ground level to a foot or two above head level that weighs just ounces so we can carry it in and mount everything from a wide angle to a super telephoto.
Mike in Alaska
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#3. "RE: Why are we obsessed with tripod height?" | In response to Reply # 2nrothschild Registered since 25th Jul 2004Fri 22-Jun-12 04:19 PM
>I thought we all wanted a rock solid tripod that goes from
>ground level to a foot or two above head level that weighs
>just ounces ...
and folds down to 12" but only has 3 sections for ease of setup and stability
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#7. "RE: Why are we obsessed with tripod height?" | In response to Reply # 3
#4. "RE: Why are we obsessed with tripod height?" | In response to Reply # 2
"I thought we all wanted a rock solid tripod that goes from ground level to a foot or two above head level that weighs just ounces so we can carry it in and mount everything from a wide angle to a super telephoto."
Neil you have a point, maybe folks are considering max height. But as you've pointed out time and again having a legset that maxes out at head height on level ground isn't going to help you when shooting on the side of a hill. Plus if you're shooting BIF with a gimbal you want more height as well.
I agree with you on the 3-series, it does all I need it to do with the glass I have(up to 300/4 with 1.4 TC) but it gets bulky to haul around. I carried that sucker all over Yellowstone last Summer, swore I'd get another 2-series before I went out West again. The Markins TH-300 looks like it'll make a nice mod to the XLS, make it easier to handle over the shoulder. I'll know next week when it comes in. But I also have a 2531 for shorter lens use(and it comes to eye level for me ).
But go anywhere that's popular with photographers and you'll see the wide majority are setting up tripods at full leg extension regardless of subject matter, perspective or lens. It's like using a tripod has some unwritten rule about having to use it at eye-level.
So I was just musing it over and decided it'd been too long since I started a thread here and maybe someone would get some info they could use.
P.S. I agree with you on your suggestions for Mike's tripod... And it should cost less than a Bogen 190.
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#5. "RE: Why are we obsessed with tripod height?" | In response to Reply # 0
My handle on this are three points to be considered,
1. Is the tripod high enough, (stooping to shoot is a pain), and
2. Is the high enough to allow adjustment for uneven ground when out in the field
3. Will the tripod support my gear, and, as I'm always telling my wife (with selective hearing ability), "It must meet my future purchases like a 500 f4 for example
I used to have a photographic memory but never got it developed
#6. "RE: Why are we obsessed with tripod height?" | In response to Reply # 0
>...... an ideal tripod/head combination elevates the viewfinder to the eye level of the photographer....
- I would say "elevates the viewfinder AT LEAST to the eye level of the photographer", considering the occasions when you are not on a flat field.
- It should also go down as low as to ground level, to consider all possible perspective heights in between.
- It weights the least possible to still adequately support my gear for sharp images, even at slow shutter speeds.
- It folds to a size that fits inside my luggage.
- It deploys quickly.
Bending over not only carries some discomfort and even pain for some of us (the elder), but I am convinced it also has some very negative connotations in most cultures.
I currently shoot with a Series 3 Mountaineer based MAGICA (with a Markins TH-300 replacement hub and Markins Q20, etc.) and it is a very effective real joy.
However, as I make my move to the pro longer guns I am seriously considering the long-awaited Series 4, a great mid ground between a Series 3 and a Series 5.
Have a great time :-)
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