Best still only tripod for under $500
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Old 03-09-2012   #1
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Default Best still only tripod for under $500

I've got $499.99 and I need a tripod.

It will be for my Nikon D800 and heavy lenses.

I wish I had over $1,000 for one of those fancy tripods, but alas i just have $499.

I'm tired of spending $60 over and over on crappy tripods.

This will be for stills only, indoor portraits and outdoor landscapes.

What is the best tripod for under $500?

Yes I could research this on my own, but I like engaging in the social community and talking with others.

And the $500 has to cover the legs and head and any mounting plates, the whole shebang so I can start shooting, all under $500.

Thanks
Josh

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Old 03-09-2012   #2
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Default Re: Best still only tripod for under $500

After a bit of research, this set of legs looks nice:

and then this head to go with it:

and that comes out to $492; and that's for carbon fiber.

Any better value out there I should be aware of?

Thanks
Josh
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Old 03-09-2012   #3
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While carbon fiber is lighter im wondering if maybe I want a heavy tripod since I'll have heavy glass on it.

It seems to me that putting 10 pounds of camera+lens on top of 3 lbs of tripod is just begging for a tip over.

With these carbon fiber tripods is being top heavy now a concern?

Sorry for all the ignorant questions, in not a tripod shooter.
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Old 03-09-2012   #4
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Though equivalent aluminum legs are only about 1.5 pounds heavier and won't clean up as well if sitting in salt water all day.

- Carbon: lighter, corrosion resistant, expensive

- Aluminum: heavier, may not last forever?, cheap.
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Old 03-09-2012   #5
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Default Re: Best still only tripod for under $500

A nice wooden tripod will last forever. Try this Berlebach for $ 299.00, it supports 26 lbs. Berlebach 3042 2-Section Tripod BE3042 B&H Photo Video

This Acratech ballhead for $399 is one of the best ballheads on the market for $399 Acratech GP Ballhead 1155 B&H Photo Video

The grip handle ballhead that you show is annoyingly difficult to use. It's hard to position the camera and creeps when you let go of the handle.

So with these choices you're a bit over budget at $700 but it's money well spent.

Here's a shot of the two together. This is what I use on outside location shoots.

Oops, you'll also need a $39 camera plate to attach your camera to the head. So make that $739. Still a great combination.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Berlebach.jpg (2.6 KB, 304 views)
File Type: jpg Acratech.jpg (3.9 KB, 302 views)
File Type: jpg 3_reflector.jpg (157.7 KB, 300 views)
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Old 03-09-2012   #6
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Thanks for the tips Brooks, I'll look into these.
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Old 03-09-2012   #7
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Default Re: Best still only tripod for under $500

For the budget conscious,

Taiwanese company Feisol started off by making what were essentially quality knock-offs of Gitzo products, but they have their own designs now. Should be more affordable than a name brand high end carbon fiber tripod like Gitzo or relative newcomer (to tripods) Really Right Stuff. Feisol's attachment system for their tripods that are similar to Gitzo's Systemic line actually bears a closer resemblance to the superior Really Right Stuff system than Gitzo's, and I believe Feisol's version was out before the RRS.

If I'm not mistaken Feisol is starting to develop a U.S. distribution network, so you can find them at your favorite dealers.

Induro is a Chinese company making Gitzo knock-offs, and their initial quality was really poor, so I'm very hesitant to recommend them. I know a number of photographers who are happy with their more recent monopods but their original offerings were utter garbage. They have a few original designs of tripod heads, but their monopods and tripods looked like almost exact copies of Gitzo products with some cosmetic changes. Induro can be found almost anywhere and in the hands of some top photographers, so it can't be all bad any more.

Personally I'd recommend Feisol over Induro, just because Feisol seems to (key here is "seems to") have been doing their own R&D and producing their own designs, while Induro appears to have rather limited in-house development and appears to have taken most of their design from other manufacturers' products.
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Old 03-09-2012   #8
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Default Re: Best still only tripod for under $500

If I lost all my tripods and had to start over, I'd buy two original Tiltalls on ebay, keep one in the car and one in the house, and spend the $300+ dollars left over on other things. Price is not an accurate indication of performance and durability. The simple, but good, engineering of the Tiltall and its solid construction make it a lifetime investment. I've been using them for 40 years. Some newer designs seem engineered for convenience and perhaps looks, not for performance or longivity. Others may be even better than the Tiltall, but haven't had time to prove themselves. Just a few bad experiences from others should be enough to eliminate a brand or model from further consideration when better tripods are available.
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Old 03-09-2012   #9
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Thanks everyone. You've given me a lot to think about.

With a lighter weight carbon fiber tripod do I have to worry about the rig being top heavy and tipping over, or is that not something that's a realistic concern?

Cheers
Josh
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Old 03-09-2012   #10
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Default Re: Best still only tripod for under $500

I've owned Tiltall tripods in the past, the very distant past. You can buy them new today at Adorama. While they're nice light tripods, they're only rated to support 6 lbs.


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