Tripod for 300mm 2.8 (and some macro)?


nicolas1970i

Link Posted 20/03/2010 - 22:35
Just received the Pentax 1.7x AF adapter that's going to fit very nicely on my A* 300 2.8 (...unfortunately haven't been able to try it as my K-7 is out for servicing because of some front-focus issues )

I've still managed to figure out that my trusty Velbon Ultra Maxi F is going to be woefully inadequate at supporting this combo. I'm in the process of finding his successor, and after reading countless tripod threads, I think I'll go for something like this set-up:

. Manfrotto/Benro/Giotto legs, possibly with fully adjustable central column

. a Benro B-1, or equivalent

. a Wimberley Sidekick (unfortunately they don't make copies of those yet ). I like the Manfrotto 393, but it's a little heavy and cumbersome, and it mounts on the central column - I'd prefer to keep the ball head mounted all the time.

However, there are still some issues I'm not quite clear about.

Considering I'll be using the tripod mostly with the tele, and a bit of macro as well:

. How important is the maximum height? I don't think the tripod with central column extended all the way to reach my eye-level (I'm 6'2) would be very stable with a lens of that weight, so I guess I would be using it mostly seated anyway (maybe thinking of getting a small folding chair)?

. Some of those tripods (Manfrottos) can be positioned very close to the ground (~4-5") but can only adjust the colum vertically or horizontally, while others have a minimum height of 10" or more at best but can fully adjust the column at any angle. Which is the best for macro? Are there situations were I'd be hindered by the lack of one or the other functionalities, or do they both cover "all the angles"?

. Looking at the Giottos in particular, I see the carbon versions are about 0.3kg lighter, but 70 more expensive. At this point I'd probably favor the aluminium ones, but are there other advantages with carbon over aluminium?

. I think I'll go for an all-Arca Swiss type plates set-up (that's why I like the Benro head), so that changing lenses is easier - do they come in several sizes? If so, is there a minimun size required for the 9lbs of the A* + converter + k-7?

TIA

hefty1

Link Posted 21/03/2010 - 11:59
For macro work and ultimate flexibility you'd be hard pressed to beat a Benbo tripod - I'm a recent convert after many years with a Manfrotto 055 and I wish I'd bought one ages ago.
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nicolas1970i

Link Posted 21/03/2010 - 12:11
Thanks Hefty,

I've had a look at the Benbos, as they are so highly recommended on this forum, but they're really a little too heavy for me I think

hefty1

Link Posted 21/03/2010 - 13:35
They are heavy and they take some getting used to (it took me a few attempts to get mine set up) but that heaviness also means they are incredibly stable when you have a large camera/lens at very strange angles (which you do for macro work).

My Manfrotto 055 will also do very low (as well as very high) work but it's not as convenient (or quick) to set up and there always seems to be a stray leg in the way just where you don't want it to be.

The main problem with all tripods is weight: To be really stable you need the heaviest tripod you can get. To carry it around you need a much lighter tripod. The trick is to find something that's a compromise between the two extremes - something you can carry without breaking your back, but is heavy enough to actually be of practical use.

Good luck with your search anyway!
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nicolas1970i

Link Posted 21/03/2010 - 13:53
hefty1 wrote:
The main problem with all tripods is weight: To be really stable you need the heaviest tripod you can get.

Ok, that's why I'd probably be looking for one of those with a hook at the end of the central column, so that I can stabilise it with a bag or something.

hefty1 wrote:
My Manfrotto 055 will also do very low (as well as very high) work but it's not as convenient (or quick) to set up and there always seems to be a stray leg in the way just where you don't want it to be.

Doesn't the possibility of adjusting the central column horizontally solve this problem? If not, then I guess that's my second point answered, and I'll go for one with fully adjustable column (which precludes Manfrotto, Benro/Induro/Gitzo copycats, and leaves Redsnapper Vanguard and Giottos in the running).
Last Edited by nicolas1970i on 21/03/2010 - 13:55

hefty1

Link Posted 21/03/2010 - 14:13
It's not the central column that's the problem, it's the three legs that are fixed at 120 degree angles to one another (which is true of all tripods except those of the Benbo / Uniloc design).

To give an example, if I wanted to take a photo of something at the base of a wall then a traditional tripod will only let me get so near before (at least one of) the legs hit that wall and I can go no further in. Moving the centre column to a horizontal position will allow me to push the camera further but at the same time you lose a lot of rigidity (the further the camera is from the centre of the tripod the more it tends to flap around with the slightest touch). With a Benbo design all three legs (and the central column) are moved independently so I could arrange to either have the front two legs splayed at 180 degrees or even pointing up and supported by the wall itself, with the camera always close to the centre and hence very rigid.

Another example of where I've found this design to be helpful is where I have been laying on the ground taking low-level photos. With my Manfrotto it was never very comfortable as to get the camera to my eye I always seemed to have to lay across at least one leg; with the Benbo I can splay the legs out alongside me and have the camera sat slightly offset - much more comfortable!

If you have a shop near you that stocks a wide range of tripods I would recommend taking your camera down there and trying a few out before actually buying one, that way you'll have a better "feel" for what each does and how easy they are to use.
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nicolas1970i

Link Posted 21/03/2010 - 14:27
hmmmm... that's interesting. I hadn't realised Benbo tripods had this feature.

Glover

Link Posted 21/03/2010 - 15:54
i have recently bough a tripod and head, i was going to go manfrotto but then i found the giottos mtl9351b and mh 5011 head for just 100, and i'm really happy with it.
It comes with another attachment so you can replace the centre column with a small adapter so you can get it right to the floor (about 3" off). the centre column can be set horizontal and vertical, well any angle actually you lock it to where you want it, also which i really like is the centre column lock, you can twist to unlock and the top of the tripod itself spins so you can fully lock the pan and tilt head, turn it to where you want it then lock the tripod again with a twist. Try and find a local stockist and have a look before you commit to anything else, really good for a very good price.
Pentax K-5
DA 18-55mm AL WR DAL 50-200mm Tamron 70-300mm, Auto Chinon 28mm 2.8. sigma 30mm 1.4 DC
Metz 48 af-1
Flickr

tickhiller

Link Posted 21/03/2010 - 19:58
I was concerned about the weight of tripods when I bought mine. If it is too heavy there will always be an excuse not to take it with you. I bought a carbon fibre manfrotto and have an empty bag in my pocket. When I set up, if I need more stability, I fill the empty carrier bag with soil/rocks and tie it to the loop near the top of the tripod. It provides the weight and stability, can be emptied and reused.
Samsung GX10, Tamron 18-250, Tamron 90mm Macro, Sigma 50-500mm, Sigma 10-20mm.
Pentax W30 for when conditions are really bad.
Olympus c3030 for IR when I have the time.

JohnX

Link Posted 21/03/2010 - 20:09
hefty1 wrote:
For macro work and ultimate flexibility you'd be hard pressed to beat a Benbo tripod - I'm a recent convert after many years with a Manfrotto 055 and I wish I'd bought one ages ago.

Which Benbo model did you go for? I was looking at the Manfrotto 055XPROB, (or the carbon fibre equivalent), but what you've written about your experience, etc, has got me thinking.
Last Edited by JohnX on 21/03/2010 - 20:09

Daniel Bridge

Link Posted 21/03/2010 - 20:33
I went the other way to Hefty - I had a Uniloc (essentially the same design as the Benbo), but after a few years (4?) I found it never locked as rigidly as it used to, and when I disassembled it, I found the faces that should grip together when the one bolt is tightened had worn smooth.

It also let me down badly when the thread of the bolt stripped, and the tripod was completely useless. A replacement bolt didn't seem to work, but by then I'd already got myself a 055ProB, and have to say I find it more rigid, and a better all round tripod.

I loved the way you could quickly get the Uniloc into position, and the fact that, as Hefty says, you could get it into some very tight corners and odd shapes, but I wouldn't swap back to one now. Having said that, I wouldn't swap it for a 055XProB either, as you can't split the centre column like you can with the ProB. I often use the legs with just the head on the short piece of column for low level work, rather than having the centre column horizontal.

Dan
K-3, a macro lens and a DA*300mm...

mayday

Link Posted 21/03/2010 - 20:34
nicolas1970i wrote:


. I think I'll go for an all-Arca Swiss type plates set-up (that's why I like the Benro head), so that changing lenses is easier - do they come in several sizes? If so, is there a minimun size required for the 9lbs of the A* + converter + k-7?

TIA

I use a Wimberley Arca Style Plate for my 300


Link to the Wimberley site below:

link
Regards
David

Retired at last - now all that time for photography - you would think: wink:

mayday

Link Posted 21/03/2010 - 20:38
The Benbo, notwithstanding the fact that it is heavy, is a very versatile tripod. However, it is always best to set it up "Without the camera and lens attached" on a few trials first time out of the box, as it has a habit of folding itself up if not set up and locked correctly!
Regards
David

Retired at last - now all that time for photography - you would think: wink:

nicolas1970i

Link Posted 21/03/2010 - 21:07
Thanks for your input, guys.

I'm still undecided about the carbon vs. aluminium issue. Apart from the weight gain, does carbon have an edge as far as sturdiness, stability and vibration dampening are concerned?

On the height issue, I'm completely at a loss. I know I wouldn't want the folded size to be bigger than 25" (same height as my 679B monopod), I'd probably prefer 3 rather than 4 sections, but have no idea what maximum height is required, both for central column extended, and not (I'm 6'2)

hefty1

Link Posted 22/03/2010 - 00:07
JohnX wrote:
hefty1 wrote:
For macro work and ultimate flexibility you'd be hard pressed to beat a Benbo tripod - I'm a recent convert after many years with a Manfrotto 055 and I wish I'd bought one ages ago.

Which Benbo model did you go for? I was looking at the Manfrotto 055XPROB, (or the carbon fibre equivalent), but what you've written about your experience, etc, has got me thinking.

I bought a joblot of tripods/monopods/heads at auction for a snip and the Benbo is the one I'm keeping. I think it's a Model 1 but it's certainly quite an old one (made by Kennett Engineering - the original manufacturers). I took it out this afternoon and shot some photos of it to illustrate my points above:

Up against a high wall




Up alongside a low wall




Laying alongside me "sniper style"




Overall height at full extension




I'm still keeping the 055 too though...
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