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Old May 13th, 2016, 07:55 AM   #1
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Looking for Tripod around $500

I am trying to update the currently tripod I've been using and I've been looking around and am having trouble knowing which one I want.

I will basically be using this with my Gh4 so it doesn't need a huge load capacity, but I would like it to go high enough to be able to film most people at eye level.

And obviously I want it to be smooth to pan and tilt.

Any suggestions?
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Old May 13th, 2016, 11:00 AM   #2
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Re: Looking for Tripod around $500

Have you thought of a monopod? The Manfrotto I have puts the camera well above my eye level and I'm 6'2" - and it's close to your $ number if I remember correctly. I quite like it particularly if I'm moving around.

Other folks will have a better idea re tripods - I have a nice Libec but it doesn't put the camera all that high.

One thing you might also think about is a Ries stills tripod - It's pretty stable since it has double legs like most video pods, and it has extension sections that will get it up to about 10'. I use it for my BMCC with a Manfrotto head and it's quite good. It's lightweight and also looks neat since it's made of wood!

Just a couple of ideas off the top FWIW.
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Old May 13th, 2016, 12:42 PM   #3
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Re: Looking for Tripod around $500

I actually have the Manfrotto 500A monopod and absolutely love it. The only problem I'm finding is that when I am shooting an interview where the subject is standing, if I need to adjust the mic, the lights or anything else, I'm scared that it's going to fall over. Obviously the higher you have it, the more unstable it becomes. So to make any adjustments, I have to lower it, balance it, and then go make my adjustments and then come back and raise it again. I shot a an interview outside the other day and the wind blew it over during the interview which was frustrating.

So generally speaking, most tripods won't go that high? I know they can, but a majority are not tall enough for that? I guess I can just deal with it, but not having a good tripod is limiting me in a number of ways for specific shots I'd like to get but can't. Oh well.
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Old May 14th, 2016, 10:23 AM   #4
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Re: Looking for Tripod around $500

I would never leave a monopod standing on it's own for even an instant. (For the reasons you noted.)

Most tripods can go 5'6" or 5'8" or so. It seems too short but when you consider that the head gives you another couple inches of height and the lens is up on the camera by a few inches, it puts you above 6' in almost every instance, and very few people are significantly taller than 6'.

If you're in the manfrotto price range, I'd say there's nothing wrong with any of the manfrottos that can achieve that height, and it's been so long since I bought a tripod I'd be hard pressed to recommend a specific one.
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Old May 14th, 2016, 12:45 PM   #5
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Re: Looking for Tripod around $500

If you're filming interviews with a dslr most of what you're paying for in expensive professional tripods you don't need. Ie support heavy large cameras with flawless pans with no flex/recoil. But I've seen some elaborate dsl rigs so you need go off of your heaviest setup.

I think a relatively light ball head manfrotto fits your needs and price range. Like a 502
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Old May 14th, 2016, 04:08 PM   #6
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Re: Looking for Tripod around $500

I started with the Manfrotto's with the tiny feet, they are NOT meant to stand alone... I've now got Sirui carbon fiber footed monopods, with rather substantial feet on them, and a basic Manfrotto (700 something I think?) head. I've been happy with them overall, though I wish they collapsed a bit shorter (I think I saw a new model that had an additional section, and did look to be shorter when collapsed...), I keep one of the smaller Manfrottos around for when I want a more portable setup.

At full extension the Siruis (the 300 or 400 series) are plenty tall enough to shoot over almost any normal sized human, though I wouldn't walk too far away. In shorter configurations, they actually are pretty stable, enough that I've left them standing by themselves for brief periods with only moderate anxiety attacks!

For tripods, I've got really cheap Sunpak/Quantaray legs, and the same heads as the above (the "factory" heads are rather horrid, but easily unscrewed for upgrade to something better!). I think if you put more into a really nice fluid HEAD, all the legs need to do is be stable and not wobble on you! Just MHO, and not knowing what the specifics of the challenges you're running into, this may or may not be helpful.
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Old May 16th, 2016, 08:47 PM   #7
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Re: Looking for Tripod around $500

I'd look for a gently used Cartoni Action in that price range. Should be easy to find.

Also, fluid head monopods are awful for smooth pan and tilt.
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Old May 18th, 2016, 09:34 PM   #8
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Re: Looking for Tripod around $500

I sometimes think that ANYTHING affordable is terrible for pan and tilt!!! I have a Manfrotto 516 on Libec legs and it's - OK. Not marvelous, but - well, OK. Usable for what I do. More than good enough if I'm careful.

For what it is I'm reasonably happy with the 500 monopod when I'm moving around and setting up a tripod would be impractical. I shoot a bit wide and stabilize in Premiere and it's delivered some quite usable footage. Wouldn't claim that it's great, but I don't think I'd label it as "terrible" either. I guess it all depends on what one is doing. Everybody has different needs I guess.
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