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Old October 1st, 2012, 05:51 AM   #1
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Is having a tripod spreader worth the lack of freedom?

Hi guys, As I'm sure you know from previous posts, I'm looking to upgrade to a bowl tripod. The latest thing to pop into my head is this - I'll be using a slider, and for really low shots I may want the ability to push the legs out super wide to get low enough down. I assume that a spreader will limit the lowest height to the height of one single leg section and no lower. Would I be right? Or can spreaders be detached?

How much added stability do spreaders give to be worth the sacrifice in minimum height? I guess I could take the slider off if I needed to be that low down but time is of the essence when shooting weddings.

Minimum height on spreader tripods I've seen are 60/70/80cm compared with 31cm on the non-spreader one I'm looking at.
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Old October 1st, 2012, 06:37 AM   #2
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Re: Is having a tripod spreader worth the lack of freedom?

Clive,

For me, a spreader is essential for adding stability. I use a mid-level spreader (because I work on uneven ground a lot).

If you want to go real low, then a spreader will stop that, so you need to think differently. Just taking a spreader off a "proper" tripod will result in a collapse. The spreader basically keeps a tripod from "splaying out" or collapsing.

You need to get a tripod with locking legs, where the legs can be locked at specific angles. The Manfrotto I mentioned has this, and some other brands such as Miller have the same thing.
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Old October 6th, 2012, 03:47 AM   #3
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Re: Is having a tripod spreader worth the lack of freedom?

Hi Clive,
I had thought a long time on this aspect and wanted to get a tripod that really goes low. One option for me at that time was to go for the OConnor 25L tripod. However, I didn't. Instead I decided to have a tripod and a Hi-Hat. Ofcourse it is a pain to carry it with you. But you can tie it to the camera bag or something. Though I use a OConnor Hi Hat, there are some other inexpensive Hi Hats. You can just remove your fluid head and place it on a Hi-Hat and it doesn't take much of your time. Super low angle. You can see an image here: http://www.indiawilds.com/diary/oconnor-hi-hat-45a-002/

Cheers,
Sabyasachi
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Old October 6th, 2012, 02:36 PM   #4
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Re: Is having a tripod spreader worth the lack of freedom?

what is a tripod spreader?

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Old October 6th, 2012, 03:53 PM   #5
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Re: Is having a tripod spreader worth the lack of freedom?

sorry don't bother, i found out what a spreader is.

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Old October 6th, 2012, 09:14 PM   #6
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Re: Is having a tripod spreader worth the lack of freedom?

Hi Guys

The spreader on my tripods are adjustable so you can let them go out to maximum width to get increased stability and also pull them right in when you are in a tight spot and you just have to use the minimum amount of floor area.... works very well for me!!

Chris
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Old October 6th, 2012, 10:07 PM   #7
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Re: Is having a tripod spreader worth the lack of freedom?

My main tripod (Manfrotto 525 legs) uses either a center or floor spreader. For the most part I use the center spreader but have and occassionaly use the floor spreader. Those legs would be lost without a spreader. I've used both to get the head down to about 8 inches off the ground so it is quiet versatile.
My 3246 legs have a built in center spreader which is attached to the center column so it is a bit limiting but frankly I never use those legs for low type shots so it's not really a problem for me.
I leave the center spreader on at all times unless I'm using the floor spreader for whatever reason.
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Old October 7th, 2012, 12:25 AM   #8
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Re: Is having a tripod spreader worth the lack of freedom?

There's no question, the "spreader - less" sticks will go lower, almost flat to the ground, especially if you buy the sometimes available "short" version of the clamp knob, Sachtler comes to mind, though their spreaders don't actually let you get all that low.

The down side is that pretty well all the "spreader - less" sticks are 1:1:1:1 designs, which really aren't all that stable, no matter how you configure them.

The lowest proper 2:2:1 sticks I've ever tested are the Manfrotto 546B sticks being rolled out under the newish 504HD head.

They're great sticks, just marginally less rigid than the Vinten ones under the Vb heads, which is good indeed.

HOWEVER, a big caveat here is the spreader itself. The sticks are good, the spreader is a complete heap of sh*t, and I don't say that lightly.

BUT, boy, can they go low (just don't blame me if you become a raving alcoholic having tried to get that spreader to retract from fully open to closed - it is purpose built to drive anyone to drink).

See the attached pic for an example. The line up is a Vinten Vision blue, Manfrotto 546/ 504HD, Libec RS250 and Sachtler 75 CF's with FSB 6 head (not neccessarily in that order)

Guess which one is the 546.

If you want more info on the Manfrotto, check out my review in the Articles section here on DVinfo.


CS

PS: Yes, they are all at minimum height, so no tom foolery going on.
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Last edited by Chris Soucy; October 7th, 2012 at 01:38 AM. Reason: Oh, dear, I got the designation wrong, mea culpa.
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Old October 7th, 2012, 01:01 AM   #9
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Re: Is having a tripod spreader worth the lack of freedom?

i think you mean the 546B sticks, and i agree that the mid level spreaer is the weaker element of the system but it does go very low when needed.

Here's a recent review we did of the tripod and you can see it going very low and also you can see the weakest link in action (the spreader of cours).


It still is a very solid tripod, it just takes a couple of extra seconds to open or close on certain occasions.
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Old October 7th, 2012, 01:18 AM   #10
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Re: Is having a tripod spreader worth the lack of freedom?

IKER, .............

You are, of course, correct, I've had so many sticks here of late I'm losing track of the designations.

Saw your video the other day, missed the "Available in English" button, so had no clue whatsoever what was being said, but, no matter, having already reviewed them, it was sort of "yep, been there, done that", not bad.

Don't recall the lowest setting though in the video.

You're "model, presenter, whatever" (for want of a better word) doesn't look all that happy with something, though if she's been playing with that spreader, she probably just wants to head to the Cantina for a couple of huge shots of something alcoholic, it drives any normally sane person completely nuts (OK, I'm prepared to concede, I may not be "normally sane" but it drove ME nuts).

Good video, you should be proud, well done to all concerned.


CS

PS: Post ammended, thanks for the "heads up".

Last edited by Chris Soucy; October 7th, 2012 at 01:39 AM. Reason: +
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Old October 7th, 2012, 09:09 AM   #11
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Re: Is having a tripod spreader worth the lack of freedom?

hehe yeah we have learned to live with the spreader, for us it's not a huuuuge deal, it's just a few extra annoying seconds when setting up.

The built quality of the spreader does concern me a bit (compared to the rest of the system which is quite solid), but we take good care of our equipment so i hope it lasts.

Thanks, glad you liked the video, cheers :)
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Old October 8th, 2012, 01:41 PM   #12
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Re: Is having a tripod spreader worth the lack of freedom?

After all that, and the only supplier i could find for the 745XB has just emailed saying "oops, sorry we dont actually have that and its discontinued".

They have the 755XB though, but with the center column, it reduces the minimum height to the extent i may as well go for 2:2:1 sticks with a spreader.

I guess the height between ground level and 40/50cm will just have to be no mans land for my slider shots until I decide a hi hat is worth the money!
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