Tripod and Head for D800 landscape and Macro
First off let me start out by saying I am a serious hobbyist and not a professional. I enjoy shooting landscapes, and macro and occasionally architecture and night photography when travelling.
I am 60+ years old and do not go on long backpacking or hiking trips but I need something light enough to carry on my camera bag when travelling.
My biggest lens for every day use is the Tamron 70-200 f2.8 VR but I do have a Sigma 150-500 that I use on rare occasions when shooting animals and birds when I get the opportunity.
That being said I am considering the following:
Gitzo 2541EX Series 2 (I like the tiltable extension for macro work and the fact that it folds to 21" to fit in a suitcase. I am looking at the acratech GP since it has a leveling head and is very light and I would think the gimbal capabilities would work with my 70-200 with a 2x converter or my sigma 150-500. That setup would cost me around $1200.
For about half that price I was looking at the Vanguard Acra Pro 284 and the vanguard BB200H head. I have read all the articles extolling the virtues of Gitzo and buying one tripod for a lifetime. (I currently have a Benro Travel angel which I bought when I was shooting a D90 and my biggest lens was the 18-200). I still carry that around when walking through a city since it folds to about 16" and fits in my backpack.
If I was a professional and could write off the cost the GITZO would be a no-brainer. As a serious hobbyist I need some convincing that spending an extra $600 is going to be worth it in the long run. And whether either or both of these systems would suit my needs.
#1. "RE: Tripod and Head for D800 landscape and Macro" | In response to Reply # 0Photo_Phil Nikonian since 18th Sep 2002Tue 05-Nov-13 12:24 AM
I too needed a light weight series 2 leg and head set. After doing a lot of review reading and local photo shop trying, I went with an Induro CT213 leg set and a Acratech GP-SS head. So far the quality and workmanship of these products is a perfect fit for me. I have owned several Gitzo CF leg sets, and find that the Induro brand looks to be a great lower cost alternative.
Do not skimp on the head. A good quality ball head will last you a long time and be a pleasure to use.
#2. "RE: Tripod and Head for D800 landscape and Macro" | In response to Reply # 1paulfree17 Nikonian since 14th Jul 2009Tue 05-Nov-13 12:37 AM
I am going to be shooting some animals at a zoo workshop class this weekend so I went ahead and ordered the gitzo explorer and the acratech GP head. I have read a lot on this forum from people saying to go with the series 3 if you shoot over 300mm. I do have the Sigma 150-500 so I am a little wary but the load specification for both the tripod and the head are well within the weight of my setup.
I also know that if the tripod is too long or too heavy I would be less likely to want to use it. The D800 is very good at high ISO so I think I can get a fast enough shutter speed even with the 150-500 that I am not overly concerned.
#3. "RE: Tripod and Head for D800 landscape and Macro" | In response to Reply # 2nrothschild Registered since 25th Jul 2004Tue 05-Nov-13 09:23 AM
Your travel needs and your need to support 500mm are pretty much mutually exclusive. With a single tripod you will compromise one or the other and it sounds like you understand that and made a good decision.
>> but the load specification for both the tripod and the head are well within the weight of my setup.
Tripod payload ratings are meaningless, in terms of how they handle long focal lengths. There is no substitute for leg diameter. I'm not suggesting you made a bad decision, just giving you a heads up as to the compromise you made, which I already said I think you did correctly given your stated needs.
I was thinking about suggesting a Gitzo GT3541LS because I use it (at 700mm), and it is the best compromise I know of between portability and stability.
Be aware that the utility of the Explorer's articulating arm is based on how you use it and how you load it. Some people are not happy at all with it, others are. Most likely find they can't do the extreme articulations they were thinking about when they bought it. It's just the physics of levers and moment arms, and balance. For that reason I rarely recommend them simply because it is impossible to figure out who will and won't like them. Personally I would not use one, but I am a bug about stability and fight my way through the articulation problem in some other way, or just give up the shot.
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#5. "RE: Tripod and Head for D800 landscape and Macro" | In response to Reply # 0
You can save weight by going with shorter tripods and ones without a center column. For travel I have one that only goes to 32" and supports only 8.5 lbs but it also only weighs 17 ounces including its small ball head and it collapses to a length of 15 inches. It cost me $40 and I do not hesitate to strap it under my camera bag.
I also have a 3.5 lb carbon fiber that goes to 62" and is quick leveling and supports 26 lbs. and cost me $750. The quick level feature is great for quickly setting up the tripod for panning or video or panoramas. It replaced a 5.5 lb Manfrotto 755B tripod that was less than half the cost but 2 lbs. heavier. The carbon fiber is nice for cold weather use.
In between I have a Manfrotto 190XDB (supports 11 lbs and weighs 4 bls) with a Vanguard SBH-100 (supports 22 lbs and weighs 15 oz) that is excellent for general use with a moderate load. Total cost of about $200.
Start with the weight you need to support and no more. Decide the maximum height you can work with and not be bothered by the tripod being too short, and the maximum collapsed length and weight and start looking at what is available. The sort function on the B&H website is very useful in whittling down the selection.
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