Advice on Manfrotto MKC3-P01 Compact Tripod
I'm looking for advice on a budget lightweight travel photo tripod, preferably under $100. This will be mainly used with a D5100/Nikon 18-200 VR lens combo. I found the Manfrotto MKC3-P01 compact tripod online for around $60. Unfortunately, the photo head is not changeable. I do like that its folded height is under is under 20 inches, which will make it ideal for travel. Any alternate budget tripod suggestions, under 20 inches, would be appreciated. I may be able to stretch my budget up to $150, if the tripod specs fall within my criteria.
#1. "RE: Advice on Manfrotto MKC3-P01 Compact Tripod" | In response to Reply # 0nrothschild Registered since 25th Jul 2004Mon 29-Oct-12 01:23 PM
The tripod you picked is, at best, designed for small lightweight mirror-less cameras, not reflex cameras. It has a specified payload rating of 3.2 LBs, which I suspect is quite optimistic.
It isn't really a "specialty travel tripod". It is a tripod built to the lowest possible price point to compete with $50 tripods typically sold in big box stores to unwary consumers. Cheap (in all possible contexts) tends to equal small and lightweight, to minimize costly materials, and, voila!, you have a travel tripod
You list over $12K worth of gear in your profile. You need to spend more than 0.5% of your investment to come up with something usable. I know that sounds harsh but I am trying to reorient your expectations. Even though this is for a D5100, not the D3s listed in your profile, I am assuming you are expecting to get the most out of that camera and lens, just like you presumably do from your D3s.
Good travel tripods are problematic, and expensive when done right. The need or desire for minimal weight leads to Carbon Fiber construction, which puts you into the $300-400 and up class. Gitzo is the Gold Standard, more or less, and commensurate with your D3s and lens investment. Something like a Feisol has made people very happy for about half of Gitzo prices and their customer service record is very good and long established now.
For something less expensive, you might consider the Manfrotto 190 series, either in alloy or CF. I would not use a 190 for general use, especially with your D3s, but for what you specified it is at least reasonably well built, although not as well built as its larger and heavier 055 series brethren. These are "real" Manfrotto tripods, built to a price point, but not the lowest possible price point needed to compete in the unwary consumer market.
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#2. "RE: Advice on Manfrotto MKC3-P01 Compact Tripod" | In response to Reply # 0Ned_L Charter MemberTue 30-Oct-12 01:08 AM | edited Tue 30-Oct-12 01:12 AM by Ned_L
Ben, Neil was pretty blunt. You'll probably consider me even more so, but I need to be honest with you.
Save your money. The tripod you've picked hasn't a chance to hold your camera/lens reasonable still in any conditions. You'll get some good images, but not enough to justify the purchase. It's a waste of money to me at any price.
Travel tripods are always compromises, but this one, and others, even at $150, just aren't going to give you very many useable shots, even when using mirror up, and a remote shutter release.
For the camera/lens equipment specified, I'd get at least the Feisol 3441S and put a Markins or Really Right Stuff head on it. Unfortunately that will cost you about $300 for the legs and at least $350 for the head, plus you'll need a camera plate or bracket for another $50 minimum.
I use a Gitzo GK2580TQR which is a series 2 traveler which comes with a head I've removed. It's at a great price now at $583 after rebate, as its update will be available soon. The update will be a bit nicer, and have built-in spiked feet (extra with this leg set) but won't have any noticeable greater capability. I've put a RRS BH40 Head ($390) on mine plus L-Bracket ($120) (cheaper for a camera plate), plus stud to connect head to legs (a few dollars).
Even at those prices, both these tripods + head are still a compromise, but will do very nicely for lenses to 200mm and a bit beyond.
My general feeling about tripods is to start off with one which will actually do the job, and save one's money until one can afford it. Some don't share my philosophy, but this approach has worked for me, once I realized its value. Budget tripods are not manufactured to hold DSLR's with 200mm lenses, or even shorter lenses for that matter. Some may kind of make do with them, but every time someone tries one of my tripods, they understand what I mean.
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(Edited to add stud info.)
#3. "RE: Advice on Manfrotto MKC3-P01 Compact Tripod" | In response to Reply # 2cockers Nikonian since 25th May 2006Tue 30-Oct-12 12:44 PM | edited Tue 30-Oct-12 12:48 PM by cockers
Ben here's an alternative . . . a bit more than you want to spend, but supports 26 lbs, folds to 17.6" and comes complete with ball head and plate, tripod bag, spikes and tool kit.
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#4. "RE: Advice on Manfrotto MKC3-P01 Compact Tripod" | In response to Reply # 2Tue 30-Oct-12 12:47 PM
Neil & Ned, thanks for your input on the compact pods. I found a reasonably priced aluminum compact pod at a local Calumet Photo store. It included a 3-way head which I immediately exchanged with a heavier duty ball head from my taller carbon fiber pod. The pod is a Calumet brand and is built way better than the Manfrotto I was looking at. With my D5100/18-200 VR combo mounted, the pod setup is sturdy and solid.
#5. "RE: Advice on Manfrotto MKC3-P01 Compact Tripod" | In response to Reply # 4Tue 30-Oct-12 12:56 PM
Al, thanks for the suggestion on the Benro pod. I actually did look into that model as well. Unfortunately, it was out of my budget. Since I already have a heavier duty ball head I could use and to save money, I decided to concentrate my search on compact pod legs instead. Luckily, I found one that will work nicely with my travel setup and not break the bank.