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Old October 12th, 2004, 12:54 PM   #1
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Spreaders, yes or no?

I have been thinking about what my next tripod is going to be (going beyond the Bogen 501/3221). Many of the highly regarded products from Vinten, Miller, etc., have spreaders connected right at the feet. There are also tripods with mid level spreaders.

Other than quick deployment, is there any benefit to having a spreader?

Any advantage of low level vs mid level?

I often shoot high school sports from the stands which requires that I straddle the benches with the tripod legs. A low level spreader wouldn't allow this placement. Can it be removed and if so, does it compromise the tripod's rigidity?
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Old October 12th, 2004, 01:00 PM   #2
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You should buy spreaders that can be unclipped as needed. They are invaluable indoors. You wouldn't want to be sticking those nasty spikes in someone's carpet would you? And what about shiny marble floors in the shopping mall.
Go for the bottom spreaders.

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Old October 12th, 2004, 01:50 PM   #3
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I prefer mid-level spreaders because they can be setup on uneven surfaces. Ground-level spreaders are just about useless outdoors.
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Old October 12th, 2004, 02:06 PM   #4
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...so why would you need spreaders outdoors?

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Old October 12th, 2004, 02:29 PM   #5
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"outdoors" can mean uneven, slick surfaces... like concrete steps in a stadium, wooden dance floors/modeling ramps, metallic ramps and trailers... all things you can't/shouln't be jamming spikes into.
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Old October 12th, 2004, 02:46 PM   #6
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Also, one leg may need to be adjusted longer than the others. Ground level spreaders won't allow for that type of adjustment.
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Old October 12th, 2004, 03:20 PM   #7
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Some good points there, but the rubbery type bottom spreaders allow a certain amount of movement on uneven surfaces.
Anyway, we're splitting hairs here -I'll stick to mine and you to yours ;-)

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Old October 12th, 2004, 04:58 PM   #8
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I'd take a mid-spreader over a ground spreader any day. Slap some rubber feet on the spikes as necessary. Mid-spreaders allow for far more flexibility.

My only gripe is the Vinten offering has an insulting pricetag. (if anyone knows of a Bogen alternative that will clamp to the Vintens, please let me know ;) )
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Old October 13th, 2004, 05:54 PM   #9
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So, what is the advantage to any spreader over no spreader when outdoors?
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Old October 13th, 2004, 09:54 PM   #10
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Spreaders add a greater degree of rigidity and stability. Much less torsional twisting when you pan.
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Old October 13th, 2004, 10:35 PM   #11
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For me the advantage of a spreader used in or outdoors is that setup is much faster and, as Jeff states, the entire mechanism becomes stiffer.

That said, I prefer a mid-level spreader because it is a tad more universal in application. In mud, I'd like the bottom spreader though.
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Old October 14th, 2004, 07:35 PM   #12
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Just for fun, here is a hint on how to carry your tripod, and set it up when not using spreaders. (OK, so you can also do this using spreaders.)

Let's say you set up your gear next to your car. You put everything together, and you have your sticks set up to around five feet high. With me so far?
Pan the camera till it points over one leg, level it, and lock the pan and tilt.
Move around the front of the camera, bend over slightly, flexing your knees as you reach out with both arms and grab hold of the two other legs, as you nestle your shoulder into the leg that the camera is pointing over. Your shoulder should be just below the camera.
Now, in one motion, tilt back the tripod on the leg against your shoulder, till you are just about straight up and down, and lift off the ground by straightening your legs.
You are now supporting the camera/tripod on your shoulder, holding the two legs to steer and balance with. You can move the two legs together so as to not be a hazard while you are walking to your location.

When you get to the spot where you want to place the camera, reverse the process: spread your arm to open the two legs, squat low enough for the shoulder leg to touch the ground, and rock forward till the two other legs are securely in place. Viola!

A lot of people who hate fooling around with spreaders will carry a piece of carpet remnant with them to set the camera on. The beauty of this gag is you can slide the camera on the carpet across the floor to adjust your shot. May not be a big deal with a mini dv camera, but it can save an extra step with the larger cameras.

Put me down on the list of "floor level spreader haters."

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Old October 15th, 2004, 06:12 AM   #13
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good tip Wayne! Thanks!

I'd like some more info on using the tripod...
There's something I don't yet understand. I only have a junk tripod (good for photo, anyway..) that has a mid level spreader that rides on a center column. This way, when I'm pulling the legs appart, because of the spreader and the center column, all three legs would spread the same angle. How do you do this with a tripod without center column? (with or without spreader)
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Old October 15th, 2004, 11:52 PM   #14
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I do believe that carrying a camera on the tripod is a stellar way to drop it. Even when they are most rushed, ENG reporters take the camera off the tripod before they move it.

I have an OConnor 35A tripod with the wire spreader. It is a real finger pincher. Bought the rigid spreader kit to turn it into a 35B after only two uses. Mid-level spreader of course.
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Old October 16th, 2004, 09:04 AM   #15
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I have the Canon GL2 camcorder. I've been looking at the Gitzo 1228 legs and the Gitzo G2338 head - in particular to take when hiking in the outdoors. The attraction is the light weight and ease of strapping to a camcorder backpack. These legs do not have a spreader. Does the lack of a spreader outweigh the portability advantages? I welcome any thoughts on this.
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