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Old January 30th, 2012, 11:53 AM   #1
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Looking to buy a solid tripod

I know-- those "Which [piece of equipment] should I buy?" threads are terrible.
But in the world of tripods, there's just so much out there I don't even know where to begin. Maybe you guys can help?

In the next month or so I'm going to be looking into getting a new tripod (to replace the old $70 one that was pretty much only good for static shots). I'd like to find something in the $500-$700 range. I generally shoot on a 7D but hopefully I can get something that will be versatile in case gigs come up where I'll use other cameras. Narratives and possibly music videos. No multi-million dollar features here, but I'd like something that gives a somewhat professional feel and will last me the next three or four years until I get into more serious territory.

Is this doable? Or should I hang on to that money, add to it and get something better later?
I'm not entirely sure what I'm even looking for. A fluid head I suppose? Would it be worthwhile to get a more expensive head, cheaper sticks, and upgrade the sticks later? I'm not even sure what I'm looking for, but I know I DON'T need a $10k self-leveling electronic tripod. High wind stability isn't a problem, but I do want fluid, smooth motion.

Also, I don't know if buying used tripods is a good idea or not-- if it is, maybe you guys can point me in the right direction?
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Old January 30th, 2012, 12:15 PM   #2
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Re: Looking to buy a solid tripod

Two schools of thought here:

1) Buy cheap, get to know the problems associated with them, and then know exactly what more you can achieve with better equipment, and then jump up to upgrade.

2) Buy once, cry once, and get the best you can afford.

You can very well get a Weifeng 717AH bowl mount with tripod for cheap (about USD 200 or less) and then get to understand what it does, according to #1... Or you can buy something like the Libec RS250 (
Libec RS-250 75mm 2-Stage Aluminum Tripod System RS-250 B&H
) for a bit over your budget. At the moment I know the Sachtler Ace tripod isn't out yet. It'll be in Singapore (where I am) in April, but I know that's a tripod that is well suited for those who are just about to get into the field like I am.

I went with path #1 and bought a 501HDV head on photography sticks and found out what I could and couldn't do with it. Tomorrow I'll probably be getting a Vinten Vision Blue for about US$1200. That's about a 4 times price jump from my old setup.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 01:12 PM   #3
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Re: Looking to buy a solid tripod

Alex...I'm sure others with more experience regarding fluid head tripods will chime-in, but my recommendation would be to buy a used Sachtler, Vinten, or Libec. The Sachtler and the Vinten are not in-order. Whatever your budget is add 25% and start looking on the the 'for sale' section of this website or Eb*y. The good news is tripods and heads will out last several generations of cameras. Buy once, and buy the best you can afford. I have tried to buy 'cheap' and always ended up buying twice, and spending more money in the long-run. Make sure you buy a system that will handle your camera's weight and CoG, that's very important to have the payload and the various camera configurations (batteries, lights, monitors, etc.) accurately weighed and ensure the tripod system has the weight and CoG capacity to handle the payload.

I just went through this process and it took more than three months, numerous 'loaners', several purchasing mistakes until I finally found a 'system' that works for me. This is a lot more involved than buying a 'stills' photog tripod.

JMHO, YMMV.

J.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 01:45 PM   #4
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Re: Looking to buy a solid tripod

In that price range I would highly recommend Libec. Vinten and Sachtler are higher range, but it would be awesome if you can find a good deal on a used one as James mentioned.

What ever happened to that huge "Which Tripod Should I Buy Thread?"

JS
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Old January 30th, 2012, 02:06 PM   #5
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Re: Looking to buy a solid tripod

I dunno, but if you find it let me know!

Thanks for the info guys, I'll start looking. I'm both in a rush and not in any hurry at all-- on the one hand, my production quality is noticeably suffering, at least to my eyes, so I want to get something decent as soon as possible. On the other hand, I've gotten by this long with a crap tripod, and if waiting, spending more and finding a good deal will really get me something noticeably better...

Anyway, thanks again.

p.s. should also mention i'm looking for something with a decent enough head that I can attach it to other systems, like a slider

it sounds like my best bet is to increase my budget and get something a little more professional... which is fine, I hate it when people come in asking what kind of camera they should get with their $300 so they can make theatrical movies, so I get it. But, can anyone tell me what budget range I should at least be shooting for here? The $1200-$1400 from what I've seen seems like I'll get something I can live with as a semi-pro, does that sound about right?

Last edited by Alex Payne; January 30th, 2012 at 03:50 PM.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 04:53 PM   #6
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Re: Looking to buy a solid tripod

Alex...I don't know how 'pimped' out your 7D is, but I can almost guarantee, whatever your current configuration, you will want to add more to it. Take your time, save your pennies, and buy a 'name brand' tripod head and sticks. Do a search on Chris Soucy, Peter Harmon, Barbara Jaumann. These are people with 'real' knowledge.

I had 30-years of 'stills' photography under my belt and thought I understood what was required in a 'video' tripod system; I now know, I didn't have a clue. Take your time!

Regards,

J.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 05:34 PM   #7
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Re: Looking to buy a solid tripod

Hi Alex

I run two Weifeng 75mm bowl tripods on 3.2kg cameras and they are now close to 2 years old and still rock stable and smooth as silk. I think I would rather buy two Weifengs in a year than be ripped off by retailers selling "brand name" stuff at really inflated prices. Just stay away from eBay "professional aluminium tripods" that sell for $29.99 and you will be fine.

My Weifengs are quality built and have never failed me despite working daily with heavy loads...the bowl head is easy to level too so don't put them in the same category as the real 'el-cheapos' online.

Chris
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Old January 30th, 2012, 06:54 PM   #8
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Re: Looking to buy a solid tripod

Thanks guys, really appreciate the advice.

If anyone else wants to add, I'm listening! Looks like I'm not going to be buying for a while (saving those pennies) so any more advice is welcomed.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 07:20 PM   #9
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Re: Looking to buy a solid tripod

Hi, Alex.............

You're in the "Big Apple" right?

Get your skates on, grab your camera and scoot down to B&H and go have a play with some of their Pro video camera support stuff, I'm sure they won't mind.

At least you'll get a feel for what is being advised.

You've got all the names to look for, get the staff to dig you out some examples if there aren't any "on the floor".

Don't take your Credit Card, OK!


CS

PS: James, you honour me. When I read that I was stunned, pleasantly so, mind, but stunned, nevertheless. I do what little I can. Thank you.

Last edited by Chris Soucy; January 30th, 2012 at 08:44 PM.
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Old February 1st, 2012, 10:51 AM   #10
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Re: Looking to buy a solid tripod

Alex, im happy to loan you a Vinten system if you let me know what camera setup you are using. Best way to test the kit is to use it in the field for a few days.
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Old February 2nd, 2012, 02:27 PM   #11
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Re: Looking to buy a solid tripod

Peter,
Thanks for the generous offer, I'll pm you soon and be in touch.
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Old February 3rd, 2012, 12:36 PM   #12
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Re: Looking to buy a solid tripod

Alex...Mr. Harman and Ms. Mara-Lynne Brenner are two of the most 'generous' and thoughtful business people I have ever met. They both went above and beyond all normal product support to assist me in resolving my tripod system dilemma. They are just quite simply, the best!

Keep us informed how things are going.

Best regards,

J.
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