I just purchased a Gigpan Epic Pro Robotic Camera mount for shooting panoramas.
I'd like to find a cheapish, sturdy tripod to hold this thing. It's about 8 pounds and my camera setup will probably be 6-7 (D3+70-200) so it needs to easily hold at least 15 pounds.
Weight is not an issue since I'm not going to be carrying this setup very far from the car anyway.
The first pano I'm planning to shoot will be from a hotel balcony so vibration damping would be really nice.
I'm looking at this tripod. It's cheap, has plenty of capacity and includes a leveling ball. It seems perfect for this setup.
Does anyone have any better options or other thoughts?
Visit my Nikonians gallery.
#1. "RE: Need new cheap tripod" | In response to Reply # 0Thu 01-Nov-12 06:29 PM | edited Thu 01-Nov-12 06:30 PM by nrothschild
Wood tripods like the Berlebach are supposed to be good for vibration damping. Most don't want the weight but you seem to have thought this through and understand the compromises you need to make.
I would not go any lighter than that, relatively speaking. In general, it is not a good idea to load a tripod more than 50% of its rated payload capacity. You are already there with the 3032.
my Nikonians gallery.
#2. "RE: Need new cheap tripod" | In response to Reply # 0Thu 01-Nov-12 07:25 PM
Interesting - as I was reading your post I was thinking of a Berlebach. I have a 3032 which I like very much and it might work for your purpose. Neil's caution about the weight is important though - especially with wood. Although wood has a good reputation for vibration damping, it can also be very springy. If you overload the Berlebach, it will be particularly sensitive to torsional vibration/movement and it won't want to stop. Though it's rated for 26 lbs, I found it unacceptable above 16 lbs. Since you're taking panos with a fairly heavy rig that will iteratively pan and stop you may be pushing beyond it's limits. If weight is not an issue, something like the Uni 12 is probably a better bet and still less than carbon, but you would likely have to order it directly from Berlebach.
Visit my gallery.
#3. "RE: Need new cheap tripod" | In response to Reply # 0f11 Nikonian since 23rd Feb 2006Sat 10-Nov-12 09:50 PM
Andy, just to give you an idea of what is available in surveyor's tripods. They will support some pretty heavy theodolites and other survey instruments. The mounting system is definitely not Arca Swiss. They use a large diameter hollow bolt on a swing arm so that an optical plumb can be used. I don't know this site other than they have a range of tripods. You may be able to find a surveyors supply shop in your vicinity and have a look.
#4. "RE: Need new cheap tripod" | In response to Reply # 0Sun 11-Nov-12 12:10 PM
I was checking the specs for my Gitzo GT2530 and discovered it has the same capacity as the Berlebach 3032-26.4lbs.
Would this be suitable? I could take my Markins head off, mount a leveling plate directly to the TB20 and put the Gigapan on top of that.
#5. "RE: Need new cheap tripod" | In response to Reply # 4Sun 11-Nov-12 01:18 PM
I think you have a very unique configuration. You are leading the charge up this hill, and you may not find anyone who has crested that hill here to give you any advice as to what exactly will happen when you do crest that hill .
Here's the problem:
1. When you load up a tripod with more weight, without changing other variables, it performs more poorly.
2. When you increase focal length, even without adding weight, the tripod will perform more poorly and more or less in direct proportion to focal length. This is why Gitzo has developed their chart of focal length verses series.
3. For the most part, as focal length increases, so does weight. The exception is something like a 300/4 verses a 300/2.8, or a something-500 Sigma f/6.3 zoom verses a 500/4.
What you do not often find is significant weight coupled with modest focal length, as you have here, with a 15 lb payload at 200mm or less. Your payload is typically only seen with a 600 f/4, and I can say with virtual certainty that a Series 2 cannot handle that for your application (landscape).
You do have an advantage that, for the weight, the 70-200 is rather compact, where something like a 600/4 has a huge moment arm factor and side profile that adversely affects things, especially in the slightest breeze. A 600/4 acts like a huge lever where the 70-200 acts like a somewhat more modest lever, but still much more lever than a small prime, for example.
You have another complicating problem in that most long focal length work is not done at slow shutter speeds, and we often get into debates that actually touch on this point. Most people don't shoot sports at very slow shutter speeds that require more critical precision, and the same is generally true with birding.
The only common usage for long focal length at slow shutter speeds that I an think of is lunar imaging, but even there the moon is moving and that puts a floor on the shutter speed. You have no enforced floor.
I would assume that your landscape work might need to be done at almost any conceivable shutter speed- that is the nature of landscape work. But where landscape is typically done at under 100mm you presumably will be using longer focal lengths, up to 200mm, in order to extract maximum detail, and then you will simulate shorter focal lengths by stitching. That's what Pano is all about!
1. You may find it difficult or impossible to find anyone that has done what you are trying to do, in terms of weight vs focal length. And...
2. Depending on what exactly you shoot, and the shutter speeds, you could easily push 200mm to an extreme that would not be a huge problem with a 7lb payload but could be a huge problem at 15lbs.
My recommendation is that you try it with your series 2. If I had to lay odds up front I would put money on your having problems. But I am making a number of assumptions and extrapolations so I could be very wrong.
I would recommend that you have a fall-back position and be prepared to acquire a much beefier tripod, and I'm not sure the 3022 Berlebach is the right answer because, as previously mentioned, the payload ratings are the same. That in itself - wood vs CF with this unusual payload combination, would make for great research in the interests of science
I would have no concerns at all for the safety of your gear- a Series 2 is designed to safely support it. So you have nothing to lose as long as you are committed to using the Gigapan, one way or the other. And you will learn things with the Series 2 that no one can predict unless they've done the same or very similar with that 8lb panning base.
I would, at a minimum, use a Markins TB-21 replacement top. If there is any application where the TB-21 will help, it is here, and I suspect hte relative benefits of the more geometrically stable Markins top will prevail in ways we do not normally see, Among other things the Gigapan will make the whole thing very top-heavy, similar to a gimbal but probably much worse.
One point of research is the attachment thread. Their literature says "can be connected to any tripod" but then specifies a 1/4" thread. I can't believe they built that monstrosity with a 1/4" thread, verses standard 3/8" thread. That might present some challenges with a TB-21. They apparently figure you will mount it on top of a standard head on the camera platform, and the 1/4" thread may actually force you to do that, whether you like it or not.
my Nikonians gallery.
#6. "RE: Need new cheap tripod" | In response to Reply # 5Sun 11-Nov-12 04:03 PM
Wow. That's a lot to take in on a rainy Sunday morning!
So... Based on what we know about tripods, the best way to be sure of good stability is to spend $400 on the 13 pound tripod with the 78 pound capacity?
BTW, the Gigapan Pro will mount to a 3/8" thread. There's a brass reducer in there.
#7. "RE: Need new cheap tripod" | In response to Reply # 6Sun 11-Nov-12 04:17 PM | edited Sun 11-Nov-12 04:18 PM by nrothschild
That is what I would use if I wanted to do this once and be done with it. I would certainly not recommend buying a Series 2 for this but since you already own it I suspect you will learn a lot just by mounting it and taking some practice shots at the worst case 200mm.
Even if you are prepared to buy the 13 lb monster, unless you are in a hurry, trying the Series 2 will open your eyes to the issues we've discussed and may help you make a better decision or at least a more confident decision on a final tripod solution.
Good to hear that it uses a 3/8" thread with a reducer bushing.
my Nikonians gallery.
#14. "RE: Need new cheap tripod" | In response to Reply # 7Mon 12-Nov-12 11:05 PM
I think I have decided I'm putting too much thought into this project. This all started because I had a chunk of money to blow and even though the Gigapan isn't something I will use often it's something I want. Call it an early Christmas present to me.
The new tripod is an unexpected expense but there's enough left in the chunk to cover it.
Plus, based on what I know and have read here I'm not going to be happy unless I get a beefier setup to hold this rig. I weighed it today. Camera, lens and Gigapan add up to 14.5lbs.
So, I've got this in my cart: http://tinyurl.com/bfod4mk
Before I hit "buy", I have a couple more questions:
1) Is this going to do the trick? I think based on our conversations that it will and if I ever get a 600mm lens and Wimberly I will already have my support.
2) This tripod does not have leg stops. Should I spend the extra money ($110?) to get them? It seems like the lack of stops would make it harder to set the tripod up.
Thanks to all who participated in this conversation.
#8. "RE: Need new cheap tripod" | In response to Reply # 5Mon 12-Nov-12 01:01 PM
"One point of research is the attachment thread. Their literature says "can be connected to any tripod" but then specifies a 1/4" thread. I can't believe they built that monstrosity with a 1/4" thread, verses standard 3/8" thread. That might present some challenges with a TB-21. They apparently figure you will mount it on top of a standard head on the camera platform, and the 1/4" thread may actually force you to do that, whether you like it or not."
Neil, you're spot on. Look at this image from the GigaPan website showing the Epic Pro mounted:
That suggests they have no understanding of vibration control. I think an adapter to mount it directly to a solid leveling base would be essential. Berlebach does have a handy solution for the 1/4" mounting hole problem:
Attachment#1 (jpg file)
Attachment#2 (jpg file)
Visit my gallery.
#9. "RE: Need new cheap tripod" | In response to Reply # 8Mon 12-Nov-12 01:31 PM
It was that image that gave me the idea that they were thinking that a ballhead would be sufficient. And, of course, that has the advantage of more easily converting over to a normal head.
To be fair, without a head underneath the tripod needs to be perfectly leveled since the Gigapan head has no provision to level the horizon or set altitude. A leveling base would be a better option, of course, but adds to the total cost. And leveling the tripod itself can be done, it is just more work and time. Anyone that has shot panos without something like a PCL-1 or a leveling base understands this well
I think it would be interesting to play with that thing for a couple days, at various focal lengths, with and without a head underneath, to see how difficult it is to stabilize .
For sure though, the head they illustrate is not what I would put under that thing, although I can't ID it for sure from the small web images.
my Nikonians gallery.
#10. "RE: Need new cheap tripod" | In response to Reply # 8Mon 12-Nov-12 02:41 PM
Oh come on. It doesn't look precariously perched at all!
I have confirmed that once the brass reducer is removed it's a standard 3/8" thread. I've got it mounted to the TB-20.
Does it make any difference that this thing can take advantage of mirror lockup? It has settings to activate the mirror lockup and allows you to configure how long between mirror up and the shutter being activated.
I guess the only way to know is going to be to try it out. The shoot I am planning is going to be at night. Last year I did a quick and dirty 12 frame pano from the balcony we were on (http://tinyurl.com/bkbs8s3). Exposure was 3s/f8, ISO 200. I will probably bump ISO up to reduce exposure time (mainly to reduce total panorama time) as I am planning between 100-150 photos.
I could try to pick another nighttime spot and try shooting it with the current setup (D3 with 70-200@200mm on Gigapan Epic Pro on top of TB20 mounted on GT2530) and see what I get.
I've got a month before the Dec 9 shoot so there's time.
#11. "RE: Need new cheap tripod" | In response to Reply # 10Mon 12-Nov-12 02:56 PM
MUP is definitely a good option if you're shooting at slower shutter speeds. However, when I take panos (not very frequently) I generally try to fire off the series as quickly as possible. Shifting clouds and changing lighting conditions between shots give me fits during the stitching process - and I HATE to take landscapes without clouds.
Visit my gallery.
#16. "RE: Need new cheap tripod" | In response to Reply # 10Tue 13-Nov-12 10:53 AM
You could get a feel for the setup by simply shooting a newspaper taped to a wall, at about a 1 second shutter speed, and other shorter and longer shutter speeds. That would not simulate wind that you may incur for that night shot, but would be easier than trying to find or access a similar night time scene. You would still want to do that final test...
There is a big difference between shooting a newspaper or other normal contrast scene and the night scene. With a newspaper or other normal contrast scene, you will find that exposures of 1s or more tend to "erase" mirror slap blur because most of the exposure is probably after the end of the major vibrations.
With your night scene the specular highlights of the small intense light sources will probably register very quickly so it is an exception to the general rule that extending exposures past about 1/2 second tends to actually decrease blur.
Just to say that you can learn a lot about how that head handles before doing the night test but in this case you need to test a similar night scene.
You may need Mup. Exposure delay mode may also work but this is the type of configuration where the 1s exposure delay mode may not be long enough. You may need up to 5s or so... just something you need to test carefully.
my Nikonians gallery.
#13. "RE: Need new cheap tripod" | In response to Reply # 0
I am sorry to say that I can not speak in support of cheap! Get the best and suprport your expensive glass and camera with the best. Take it from me, who has suffered the pain of Tripod failure, study in the Nikonians resources and the ProShop the highly recommended Magica (Markin and Gitzo combo) that will give you the best tools for supporting your camera and lenses. Do not skimp in this area!
Visit my Nikonian gallery
See my Website at jdroachphotography.com
See My Flickr Photostream
#15. "RE: Need new cheap tripod" | In response to Reply # 13Mon 12-Nov-12 11:30 PM
I already own a Gitzo 2530 with Markins M10 head and TB20 base plate.
By cheap I meant less expensive than carbon fiber. The saying goes that a tripod can be cheap, sturdy or light. Pick two.
In this case I was looking for sturdy and less expensive vs. sturdy and light.
The tripod I have picked out will cost the same as my Gitzo Series 2 legs but it will have three times the capacity. It will also weigh 5 times as much.
This is a tradeoff I am willing to make since this tripod won't be going on long hikes.
#17. "RE: Need new cheap tripod" | In response to Reply # 0
Just a quick update. I did some testing with my Gitzo 2530 and the D3/70-200 combination. I could see a very very slight loss of sharpness with the D3/70-200 mounted on the Gigapan vs my Markins M10 head.
I did some searching and found a factory demo of a Berlebach Uni 16C from a US dealer for half the price of the new one from directly from Berlebach. Total cost with shipping was only $350 which isn't too much higher than what I was hoping to spend on it.
The only downside is that it's camouflage but for 50% savings I can live with it.
Thanks to all who commented.