Tabletop tripods and the next size up
While I love my Gitzo/Markins set-up for my D300 and Nikkor glass, I have also been shooting with some Panasonic and Olympus micro 4/3rd's bodies/lenses this past year because of health conditions. I have enjoyed having access to both systems, and am enjoying the smaller format more than I thought. I purchased a Markins plate to use with the smaller bodies when I want to use my Gitzo, but I also realized that it might be nice to have some type of tabletop or compact tripod to use when the conditions arise.
There are times when I want to photograph items and think that a little tabletop set of legs, like those made by Leica, Kirk, RRS or Manfrotto, would be a nice to have. But, none seem to offer much in the way of a little bit of height, and I have started to wonder weather I might be better served by some of the really compact tripods offered by Sirui, Slik, Giottos and Gitzo. With the latter, I would not extend the legs, so I am not really interested in how they perform fully extended.
My compact cameras/lenses do not weigh nearly what my D300 does, but I am still expecting that either a tabletop or a compact tripod I purchase should perform in a reasonable manner when I am shooting macros or longer exposures. I would also like this setup to be reasonably compact.
I am sure that a Gitzo GT-531 or a Leica tabletop with either a Markins Q3 or a RRS BH-25 probably set the standards for these two types of setups, but I would be interested in hearing what others have used successfully with lighter gear.
One model that has caught my attention is the newly redesigned Sirui T-005X. This new model allows the removal of that dreadful fixed column that plagued the older model. I realize that Sirui is not Gitzo, but if used with its legs (22mm) retracted, I am wondering if this is a step up from the tabletop class? Or, is a compact unit like this more versatile than a tabletop at the expense of stability?
Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated.
#1. "RE: Tabletop tripods and the next size up" | In response to Reply # 0nrothschild Registered since 25th Jul 2004Fri 08-Feb-13 03:00 AM
>> But, none seem to offer much in the way of a little bit of height
I think you need to specify the specific maximum height you are looking for.
The Sirui you mention has an 11" folded length, 5 sections, and an upper leg diameter of 22mm.
In order extend it only a modest amount you are surely down to some very skinny legs. It is difficult to even speculate on the diameter of the lowest legs but I have seen similar tripods in big box stores. Fully extended they literally wave about, for quite some time, with just a slight push on the mount. The bottom legs are literally pencil thin, or likely thinner.
I would also do some research on the inner leg diameters in order to get some sense of the stability (or lack of).
Yes, you will not have to deal with a mirror, which affects every shot. But you should consider the conditions you will shoot in- especially wind, and the shutter speeds.
I have never seen a Sirui tripod so I have no specific opinions on them. I do know that I have never seen a $130 CF tripod that I would use- for anything - certainly not well extended. And I have seen a few, usually in big box stores like Best Buy.
my Nikonians gallery.
#2. "RE: Tabletop tripods and the next size up" | In response to Reply # 1Fri 08-Feb-13 04:27 AM
>I think you need to specify the specific maximum height you
>are looking for.
>The Sirui you mention has an 11" folded length, 5
>sections, and an upper leg diameter of 22mm.
I believe that the maximum height would probably be no more than 12 or so inches. The problem I have with tabletop tripods is that the camera is usually only raised a couple of inches. For instance, when trying to take macro photos of flowers in a small vase indoors or flowers in my wife's garden, I would imagine that most tabletop tripods would offer too little height. With a compact tripod that offers about a foot or so of height with its legs fully retracted, one still has a bit of downward vertical flexibility by splaying the legs.
I would concur that in the outdoors, wind is a significant concern, and I am not sure how any of these units would hold up. Perhaps what I am looking for is a modern version of Gitzo's G0011/12? It appears stable, is reasonably small and light, yet it offers a bit more height than a tabletop tripod. The current GT-531 just does not seem like a replacement for it. I would consider Kirk's Mighty Low Boy, but it is just a bit larger and heavier than I had hoped for. Were the G0011/12's what I am searching for, and what would be their modern counterparts?
#5. "RE: Tabletop tripods and the next size up" | In response to Reply # 2nrothschild Registered since 25th Jul 2004Fri 08-Feb-13 05:42 PM
I've seen and handled a Gitzo "0" series, but it was a few years ago now. Not use now exactly which model.
My impression was that it was a marvel in engineering, in that it was built to the same standards as your Series 3, only smaller. And I am sure that is why it is so relatively expensive.
I figured it would do as good a job as any 20mm legs could do. And that was before the big emphasis now on high end mirror-less cameras. My sense was that it was a strange solution in search of a problem but it would make for a very nice table top tripod with perhaps only one additional section extended. And that would be for a modest DSLR.
I thought one of the nice features is that it is only a 3 section, where many others try to be all things to all people and go to 4 or 5 sections to arrive at a max height spec that is unusable due to the instability of those necessarily tiny lower sections. I can't say I would ever use the GT-531 fully extended, even with a mirrorless camera.
I think it is a marvel because most other "table top" tripods I've seen are built to a price point in the opposite extreme. And that makes for a bad combination.
Kirk makes a "Mighty Low Boy", which is basically a cut-down "Manfrotto 190" (actually the predecessor). RRS came out with their own version of that, but at a higher price point. I think RRS no longer makes their version?
I never really understood why I would want one of those, rather than use a Gitzo Series 2, or something similar. I would really need the more compact and perhaps lighter weight. The main advantage (for me) of an ~12" long folded length is the ability to shoot low without a lot of leg spread out, which is often a problem on a real table top (unless it is a rather large table).
I'm seeing the same thing you - this is a rather niche market. Both RRS and Kirk have since introduced true tiny tabletop models, obviously intended for mirror-less cameras.
If I were going for the ultimate tabletop I guess I would bite the bullet and get the Gitzo. Only because then I know what I would be getting and know that that very difficult engineering problem was implemented with quality parts. But it is a market I don't search very often because I've never had a pressing need for that. When I want small I just use my old Gitzo Series 2.
Wistful thinking... many years ago, around when the G-Lock/6X tripods were introduced, someone blew out a bunch of the older Series 1's, probably G1227 or G1228, for $75 a pop. Or maybe it was the "0" series - it's been many years now. I always regretted not going for that, even though I had no pressing need. Any Gitzo CF for under $100... hehe.
my Nikonians gallery.
#8. "RE: Tabletop tripods and the next size up" | In response to Reply # 5Sat 09-Feb-13 05:11 AM
Thanks for the additional information. As expected, all of the comments, as well as a few minutes of playing with a cheap $15 promo tripod (which happened to carry the name of a major camera company beginning with "N" ), have caused me to reconsider things. As I have a reasonably compact Series-3 Systematic with a really nice ball head, perhaps I was a bit too quick to dismiss some of my tabletop options. I am not completely ruling out the compact tripods, but Gitzo does not make exactly what I want (a combination of features from the 3320 and the 531), and I am not sure how well some of the more affordable models will perform.
So, I am now considering the Leica table top, Kirk's table top, and one of the two Berlebach compact tripods. I would love to put a Markins Q3 on any of these, but the more frugal side of me says that a RRS BH-25 is about my top end. If budget was not much of a consideration, I could see a case for owning two out of the three of these in addition to my bigger Gitzo. But, budget is a big decision, so I am going to mull my options over before spending any funds.
I had initially hoped for more affordable quality solutions since the height and load factors were less than a DSLR with long lenses, but I can understand that compact does not always equate with more affordable. As my contractor informed me after completing a bathroom remodel a few years ago, a closet has the same amount of corners and walls as a room. It may use less wall board, but it requires almost the same amount of labor to construct. It was a costly lesson to say the least.
#3. "RE: Tabletop tripods and the next size up" | In response to Reply # 0
Ken this might be over kill but check out the Induro HiHat . . .
Visit my Nikonians gallery.
Visit my Nikonians gallery.
#6. "RE: Tabletop tripods and the next size up" | In response to Reply # 3Sat 09-Feb-13 04:44 AM
>Ken this might be over kill but check out the Induro HiHat .
Thanks for the recommendation, Al. Foba makes a similar model. They both look very heavy duty, but also a bit heavier than I want at that size.
#4. "RE: Tabletop tripods and the next size up" | In response to Reply # 0
With my Panasonic 4/3 I use use a Gorilla Pod SLR. It works fine for table top work. I can always mount it on one of my other tripods if I have a need and want more height. It's easy enough to raise the Gorilla Pod up on stacked books, or anything else if a little more height is required.
Visit my gallery.
#7. "RE: Tabletop tripods and the next size up" | In response to Reply # 4Sat 09-Feb-13 04:46 AM
>enough to raise the Gorilla Pod up on stacked books, or
>anything else if a little more height is required.
I had considered using books to adjust height. It is easy enough inside, but not so easy if I am in the field.
#9. "RE: Tabletop tripods and the next size up" | In response to Reply # 7Sat 09-Feb-13 12:55 PM
>I had considered using books to adjust height. It is easy
>enough inside, but not so easy if I am in the field.
True, but that is also true for any other table top tripod. You're accepting a significant compromise with any table top solution in exchange for great portability and convenience. I'm just saying that it works well for small cameras and can be employed more "flexibly" (pun really not intended) than a similar size rigid tripod especially in the field. I consider it a little tripod insurance when I really don't want to carry a tripod. Just wanted to make sure it wasn't overlooked as an alternative. It's such a handy, light, inexpensive device, it's easy to toss into the kit.
Attachment#1 (jpg file)
Visit my gallery.
#10. "RE: Tabletop tripods and the next size up" | In response to Reply # 9Sat 09-Feb-13 05:26 PM
Thanks for the additional info. and the photo. I was going to say that I was going to give it some consideration after having looked at your photo, but a few things have changed unexpectedly since your post, and my immediate needs now have changed. BTW, which M4/3rd's body is that on your tripod? I see the lens is the 14-45, but I cannot identify the body.
#11. "RE: Tabletop tripods and the next size up" | In response to Reply # 10
#12. "RE: Tabletop tripods and the next size up" | In response to Reply # 10Sun 10-Feb-13 09:29 PM
As I mentioned in my previous post, my situation has changed a bit, and I am re-evaluating my needs. Nonetheless, it was recommended that I look at some of the tabletop equipment made by Novoflex. Does anybody have any experience with their tabletop tripods or accessories? It is my understanding that many of their products are considered to be of premium quality and design, but even reputable companies sometimes have a habit of putting their name on products that should never see the light of day.
#13. "RE: Tabletop tripods and the next size up" | In response to Reply # 0
>I am sure that a Gitzo GT-531 or a Leica tabletop with either
>a Markins Q3 or a RRS BH-25 probably set the standards for
>these two types of setups, but I would be interested in
>hearing what others have used successfully with lighter gear.
I am still working on this issue, and have a ballhead question. When we talk about heavy loads, there are the usual suspect that get recommended for their proven track record, and once I saved up the funds, I purchased a Markins Q20 and can say that it is truly a pleasure to use.
Now, when we talk about smaller ballheads, like the two that I mentioned above, I know that rated load capacity drops from their bigger siblings, and their sweet spots tend to be much smaller. I am, however, trying to purchase a compact ballhead that is physically smaller than a Q3, and closer in maximum size to the BH-25. I am assuming that RRS has stripped features off of the BH-25, like friction control and a separate pan control knob, to keep it simple and small, and possibly to compete at a price point. As there are a number of other compact ballheads similar in size (or smaller) and price point, I am left to wonder if my need for load capacity is not great (think Panasonic G3 w/60mm Olympus macro, not Nikon D300 w/105VR), what objective factors should I consider when comparing the quality of other compact ballheads with the BH-25? We have already accounted for load, features and reputation. I am sure there are other factors that I am forgetting, and would appreciate any advice.
#14. "RE: Tabletop tripods and the next size up" | In response to Reply # 13Tue 19-Feb-13 04:40 AM
Well, I had a few minutes this evening to quickly try out one of the compact ballheads I am considering. While it performs reasonably well with a Panasonic G3, I decided to torture test it with my D300 and 105VR to see how it held up. The biggest problem that I encountered was droop when locking down the head. It makes me wonder if people who talk about not having any issues with their use of a compact ballhead to support a large rig are only using them for level shots.
I even mounted the D300 on my Markins Q20, and it showed a tiny amount of droop when asked to hold the camera at a downward angle. I suspect this is why the Q3 is so coveted by those wanting the smallest high performance ballhead, and I suspect that it is not easily possible to design a smaller ballhead with the same capacity. I should have access to another ballhead and compact tripod later this week, and am curious to see how they perform.