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Old May 2nd, 2008, 11:25 AM   #1
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aluminum v carbon fiber

Pretty basic question: how much of a difference does aluminum vs. carbon fiber make?

Does one last longer than the other? Is the only difference the aluminum is lighter, and more subject to shake due to vibrations, but easier to carry? And conversely the carbon fiber is more stable, but a bit heavier?
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 11:33 AM   #2
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i believe the carbon fiber is suppose to be lighter than aluminum but just as rigid therefore making it more attractive to users because of its lighter weight
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 11:37 AM   #3
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ah, thanks for the info. So is that the only difference, the weight? Would that make a difference for stability in case a truck drives by, shaking the tripod? Does one hold up better under prolonged wear and tear?
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 12:14 PM   #4
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CF is quite a bit lighter, quite a bit more expenses but just as stable. It is more prone to damage though, they can snap for sure (more so with the slimmer tubes), and they can also splinter if you scrape them on rocks etc.
All in all though, well worth having if you've got to lug the gear, they've pretty much taken over a big chunk of the market.
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 01:14 PM   #5
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tripod

if you are going to subject your tripod to prolonged wear and tear which i am taking to mean it will be used in less than ideal conditions then you might want to consider finding a decent set of used aluminum sticks which are readily available on ebay and other sites
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 01:20 PM   #6
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Don't get me wrong Mark, CF is tough stuff and particularly the pro tripod gear will stand a lot of punishment and wear/tear. It's only really when you accidents (like in transit, a car driving over it etc. things which DO happen now and again) that there's a problem.
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Old May 3rd, 2008, 04:30 PM   #7
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After nearly 20 years of using CF and aluminum tripods I don't have any problems with either one. I like the CF better because it's lighter. Any tripod, CF or Aluminum, will either get broken or bent when run over by a car or destroyed by the airlines. Buy the one that works but all things being equal I'll save a few pounds wherever I can.
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Old May 3rd, 2008, 06:02 PM   #8
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I was testing some Gitzo carbon tripods yesterday and I couldn't believe how light they are! Sure, they cost an arm and a leg, but if they are lighter, chances are that I will use it more often because it's not a big deal carrying it around. I think this is a strong argument for carbon fiber. I'm gonna get me one Monday first thing in the morning when the store opens again.
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Old May 3rd, 2008, 07:28 PM   #9
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The major difference is that when carbon fiber hits its failure point, it shatters or splinters apart. There is no give to carbon fiber. Aluminum, on the other hand, will deform or bend once its elastic limit is reached, and often can be bent back to close to the original shape if not too badly deformed to begin with.

Metal is also more tolerant of minor damage, like nicks or scrapes. Small amounts of damage don't appreciably weaken an aluminum tripod. Nick a carbon fiber tripod, however, and you've just created a stress point that will get damaged further every time you flex or stress the tripod. Carbon fiber has poorer cold-weather strength, becoming more brittle when cold.

That said, a well-engineered carbon-fiber tripod will work as well (if not better) than the equivalent aluminum tripod for --most-- applications. The trick is finding a company that's designed the tripod correctly to take advantage of carbon-fiber's unique characteristics. Just duplicating a metal tripod's design in CF won't work -- the two materials behave much differently from each other.

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Old May 4th, 2008, 06:39 PM   #10
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Martin,

From your knowledge which tripods are actually built properly to be a carbon tripod???

I am looking for one to use under a gitzo 1380 fluid head and it will have to support 12 to 15 pounds of camera.

the qualifier is it is going to be back packed for filming wildlife!!!
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Old May 4th, 2008, 10:44 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Guthormsen View Post
Martin,

From your knowledge which tripods are actually built properly to be a carbon tripod???

I am looking for one to use under a gitzo 1380 fluid head and it will have to support 12 to 15 pounds of camera.

the qualifier is it is going to be back packed for filming wildlife!!!
Unfortunately, my knowledge about carbon fiber comes from a long stint as a materials technician, making parts for airborne systems, and NOT from direct experience with tripods. When it comes to tripods, I tend to stick with metal ones because I can easily modify them. You just can't drill holes in carbon fiber composites. They require special abrasive bits that grind their way through, plus once you've made a hole, you've broken the continuous fibers that give fiber-reinforced composites their remarkable characteristics, making a weak spot.

I would assume an established manufacturer such as Manfrotto would have the kinks worked out of the design by now. Most Brand X tripods tend to be metal, or are so cheaply made from regular plastic you'd never buy one. I've never bought a tripod without having actually handled it directly.

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Old May 4th, 2008, 11:25 PM   #12
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Martin, Dale.................

Think you'll find these are the only ones ever made (that I'm aware of) that actually use CF as it should be used.

http://dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=113753

Not exactly back pack - able tho', lest it's an extremely sturdy back!


CS
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Old May 4th, 2008, 11:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Guthormsen View Post
Martin,

From your knowledge which tripods are actually built properly to be a carbon tripod???

I am looking for one to use under a gitzo 1380 fluid head and it will have to support 12 to 15 pounds of camera.

the qualifier is it is going to be back packed for filming wildlife!!!
People have the same Gitzo tripod they've been lugging around for 20 years.

The ones made now are even better.

As I said in another thread I have a Gitzo series 3 under a Gitzo 1380. It is rock solid. There was no shake for me even when the Series 3 legs were extended to 7 feet.

Aluminum might bend back into shape, but I doubt the extension legs would still slide smoothly.

Here is one tripod Gitzo recommends for the 1380 head. It is rated to hold 39.7 lbs.:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...bon_Fiber.html

The only thing similar is the Miller legs, but I think the Gitzo is better.

The legs above weight 4 lbs. Some people don't like having to adjust one leg at a time in the field. If this is an issue, and you want quality with ultra quick setup, look at the Carbon Fiber legs that come with the Sachtler FSB-6 head.

The Gitzo legs are small and light enough that you don't have to leave them lying about so that a truck can run over them.

I bought my Series 3 XLS legs after using the Gitzo traveler legs (Series 1) under an XH-A1. So I now have two sets of Gitzo legs and two of the Gitzo fluid heads (the same plate works on both heads).

Here's my current order of choice for support if traveling:
1. Gitzo CF
2. Sachtler CF
3. CineSaddle

I have two sets of Cartoni legs, with 100mm and 75mm bowl. Neither is a solid as the Gitzo. Both work well. The 100mm is great for the jib. The 75mm flex a bit but are good for an extra setup.

If you have to carry them, I don't think you'll be unhappy with Gitzo CF Series 3 (or even Series 4). If you change your mind, sell them for 30% off and consider it a rental.

I say go for the Gitzo, and don't look back. I have a 7 foot tripod that will slide into the newspaper pocket of wheeled carry-on. If you are concerned about the legs banging you can put on the leg wraps and use a small padded case.
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Old May 5th, 2008, 01:09 AM   #14
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I've been hiking and backpacking around with a set of Manfrotto Carbon Fiber legs (Carbone 442 — now discontinued) for at least 5 years now. The legs have been banged around plenty, been used in blizzards as well as extreme heat and still work like new. In fact, they're a whole lot easier to handle in hot weather than aluminum. They still look good, too, although a lot of the Manfrotto decal has worn off. The legs only weigh 3.8 pounds (not including the head) which is really nice on a trek. If your field work is really out in the field, I can't recommend the appropriate Carbon Fiber support for your camera enough.

Best,
Peter
www.parkfilms.com
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Old May 5th, 2008, 11:43 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
Think you'll find these are the only ones ever made (that I'm aware of) that actually use CF as it should be used.

http://dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=113753

Not exactly back pack - able tho', lest it's an extremely sturdy back!


CS
Do you mean that Gitzo is using Carbon Fiber improperly?
http://www.gitzo.com/Jahia/site/gitz.../off/pid/15944

Here is the Vinten Fibertec 3498-3 ENG/EFP Carbon Fiber 2-stage legs:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._Fibertec.html

They weigh 3 lbs more than the Gitzo, though they will hold up to 99 lbs. Since the bowl is 100mm an adapter is needed.
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