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Old December 17th, 2013, 07:19 PM   #16
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

If it wasn't for the rain forest thing, I'd suggest you build/ buy a kind of wheeled golf trolley gizmo so you wouldn't have to carry all that stuff, just pull.

Can't see that working too well up country.

There's always that good 'ol, exceedingly non PC option, ........native bearers!


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Old December 17th, 2013, 07:55 PM   #17
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Hi Michael,
Exactly what camera & focal length, or field of view are we talking about here? If it is somewhere in the range of 400-600mm in 35mm terms, then I think there are lots of options. All the talk about tripods having too much wind up without a mid level spreader is in my opinion not helpful talk if you are using the tripod in the rainforest. I would like to suggest thinking firstly about a good grounding. By that I mean, a tripod with good long spiked feet. I have a Gitzo CF tripod that has fantastic long spikes that really anchor the legs when panning. If I compare that with my Miller CF legs, which are also fantastic legs, but have a quite small spike in comparison, they simply bite that much better into soft ground, holding the tripod very steady. The Libec tripod I have with a mid level spreader is virtually useless in this scenario as the spikes are also short, but of course, on the uneven ground one is likely to encounter in the rainforest, simply can't compete for versatility in how it can be set up.
The Miller has neoprene on the top section of all 3 legs, making hiking with it over a shoulder so much more comfortable than a tripod without. I have put neoprene leg camo covers on my Gitzo & it too is really quite comfortable to walk with on the shoulder. I agree with Chris that hiking with the camera attached to the tripod is not a good idea, but understand that without things set up ready to go, you loose precious seconds & often loose the shot.
It sounds like from your time with the setup you have, you have developed good technique, something that is crucial using long focal length lenses. That will stand you in good stead for getting good shots using long lenses on any tripod/head combination you end up going with.
Please let us know what camera you are using, & if you are using an interchangeable lens camera, what lenses you are using with it. With that information, i'm sure there will be others here that have experience with a similar setup & will be able to give you much better advise on a system that will suit your needs.
Hope this helps,
Regards,
Bryce
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Old December 17th, 2013, 08:46 PM   #18
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryce Comer View Post
Exactly what camera & focal length, or field of view are we talking about here?
Currently, I'm using a modified consumer camera (21x lens), but that will be changing as soon as someone comes out with a camera that I like for under $10K. At the moment, the upcoming AJ-PX270 looks very promising.

Off topic: I'd really like a large sensor camera, but I'd have to sell my house to get a lens I'd be happy with.

600mm is the minimum I need. Often even that's too far away. Typically, I shoot what I can as soon as I spot the animal, and then move gradually closer with long stops to shoot some more. Usually, the animal has decided I'm too close long before I've got as close as I'd like. So, more like 1000mm (35mm equiv) would be nice. It's all a compromise. The challenge is a lot of the attraction for me.

Quote:
I have a Gitzo CF tripod that has fantastic long spikes that really anchor the legs when panning. If I compare that with my Miller CF legs, which are also fantastic legs, but have a quite small spike in comparison, they simply bite that much better into soft ground, holding the tripod very steady.
Good spiked feet are certainly something my new tripod must have, but the ground is usually so soft in the rainforest that I can often bury the small round feet of my current tripod a couple of inches in.

My wife has a set of Manfrotto 055CX3 CF legs for her still camera, which are the modern Carbon Fiber equivalent of my current legs. It might be an idea to borrow them for video for a while to see if there is any improvement. If so, then decent CF photo-stlye legs might not be out of the question.

This is so frustrating. If I could walk into somewhere like B&H I'd be able to work out the best compromise for me in less than an hour.

Quote:
The Miller has neoprene on the top section of all 3 legs, making hiking with it over a shoulder so much more comfortable than a tripod without.
I've noticed that, and thought it was a good idea.

Quote:
I agree with Chris that hiking with the camera attached to the tripod is not a good idea, but understand that without things set up ready to go, you loose precious seconds & often loose the shot.
That's exactly what I do when stalking a victim. The tripod usually even remains extended. 5 seconds can be a killer. For hiking, the tripod is collapsed and camera off the head.

Thanks for the reply, Bryce.
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Old December 17th, 2013, 08:48 PM   #19
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
If it wasn't for the rain forest thing, I'd suggest you build/ buy a kind of wheeled golf trolley gizmo so you wouldn't have to carry all that stuff, just pull.

Can't see that working too well up country.
Unfortunately, that wouldn't be usable.
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Old December 17th, 2013, 11:10 PM   #20
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Ok, based on what camera you are looking at getting in the future, how about something like this:
Legs:
Gitzo GT-2532S 6X Systematic 3-Section Carbon Fiber GT2532S B&H
Bowl adaptor:
Gitzo SYSTEMATIC 75mm Bowl Head Adapter for Series 2, GS3321V75
Head:
Sachtler 0407 FSB-6 Fluid Head 0407 B&H Photo Video
Of course, there are so many options out there & what works for one, may not work for all, but something along these lines I think would be a great place to start & so much better than what you are currently using you really wouldn't know yourself using it!
If what Chris has said about the Sachtler QR plate being compatible with the Manfrotto ones, then that may well be a wise choice of head. The quality will certainly be way better than most if not all Manfrotto heads available.
I hope this is of some help. Hopefully others will chime in with some more advice now that we all know what camera setup you are looking to use with it.
All the best,
Bryce
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Old December 17th, 2013, 11:12 PM   #21
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Oh & I forgot to add the leg coats:
LensCoat LegCoat Wraps 115 (Black, 3 Pack) LW115BK B&H Photo
Something like that will make carrying way easier!
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Old December 18th, 2013, 01:31 AM   #22
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Thanks for the suggestions, Bryce. I've put those in my B&H wishlist to compare to the others.

I'm still uncomfortable with that style of leg, but from what you're saying it may unfounded. I will do the experiment with my wife's legs next time I go out shooting to see it that raises my confidence level.

Another thing that's probably unique to me is the type of leg locks. I much prefer the lever style as the rotating locks require more force to grip, which can be painful.

Anyway, I don't need to buy in the next 5 minutes (although I am getting sick of putting the decision off all the time), so I'll collect as much data as I can and find the best compromise.
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Old December 18th, 2013, 04:21 PM   #23
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Michael Warren...I wish you good hunting.

Between the excellent suggestions elicited from this thread and the tons of research material available through the 'search function' - your decision should be fun!

I started my 'Video Tripod Journey" 2-years ago. I've enjoyed the journey and, as I've mentioned before, I know a lot more about our 'three-legged friend' then I ever knew before.

Happy Holidays!

Regards,

J.
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Old December 19th, 2013, 07:46 PM   #24
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Hi Michael,

I am impressed with the Weifeng 717 system. They use the usual crutch style leg and are surprisingly rigid, my torsional stiffness measurements indicate that they are not far behind Miller’s much heavier and now old LP legs – a standard of years gone by. The Weifeng come in various heights and their weight is around 4.5 kg.

Weifeng’s control of wind-up is very good. I might add that I knocked back a Vision Blue (at about 10 times the price) because of wind-up problems that showed up in my one and only test.

I am a fan of flexible tripod handles as they are very good at damping unintended tremor and seem to make wind-up control easier. I was hoping to try a flexible handle on a Vision Blue but negotiations for a ‘free trial’ ground to a halt very quickly.

There are a few downsides with the Wiefeng 717. For a start there is no adjustment for the counterbalance spring which may be a problem. Another is quality control, I had a few minor issues with mine that were easily resolved. My advice to potential Weifeng buyers would be to check the sellers return policy before purchase and check it very carefully on delivery.

I also have an interest in carrying tripods through rough and maybe hilly terrain. For some of my activity I use very low camera angles. To this end I have a couple of very small tripods that I am happy to leave attached to the camera whilst carrying. Another line I have been investigating is making a tripod in the form of a ‘staff’ that that can be of assistance rather than a hindrance in negotiating rough terrain. The design uses 3 tubular legs of different diameters that can be ‘telescoped’ into the largest for storage/transport, this becomes the ‘staff’. In use a single clamp block holds the three tubes at predetermined angles. A separate clamp assembly can be slid along the thickest leg. It supports a short column to mount the head. This column can be set to vertical. I use a ‘nodal’ type head that can be used either way up and thus on either end of the vertical column. The pluses are that it easy to carry and a wide range of heights is possible. There are very few parts. Down sides are that in its current form it takes a while to assemble and being rigid can be difficult to move to a new position. I am sure this aspect can be improved upon. More of a concern is the need to use a vertical column. Depending on camera weight and tube lengths, diameters, thicknesses etc a heavy camera may oscillate for a few seconds after being knocked.
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Old December 19th, 2013, 08:51 PM   #25
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

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Originally Posted by Alastair Traill View Post
I am impressed with the Weifeng 717 system.
Thanks for the reply, Alastair.

I've never heard of Weifeng so I looked it up. Seems it's just another name for Fancier. There does seem to be a lot of people who like them, but the price sounds too good to be true.

It looks like the 717 is being replaced by the 730.

Since these are available in Australia for less than $300 delivered, I'm very tempted to get one just to see what it's like. I'd should easily be able to get half that back if I sold it.

Quote:
I might add that I knocked back a Vision Blue (at about 10 times the price) because of wind-up problems that showed up in my one and only test.
I assume your not saying the 717 is better than the Vinten, but rather you don't think it's worth 10 times the price?

Quote:
Another is quality control, I had a few minor issues with mine that were easily resolved. My advice to potential Weifeng buyers would be to check the sellers return policy before purchase and check it very carefully on delivery.
The eBay dealer I saw the 730 on offers a no questions 30 day money back. It would at least give me a starting point to help find what I really want. It's effectively a free trial.
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Old December 19th, 2013, 08:58 PM   #26
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

I "second" what Bryce suggests for Gitzo legs, a 75mm bowl, and a Sachler head. Before you dismiss this on a cost basis, consider the long run. Such a system will outlive your current camera and the three or four that follow, and perhaps you as well. Every time you use it you will smile. Your pans will be flawless.
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Old December 19th, 2013, 09:10 PM   #27
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

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IBefore you dismiss this on a cost basis, consider the long run.
Cost is not the overriding factor here at all, but I am concerned about spending well over $2K without being able to try it first.

The idea behind buying the cheaper system is to help educate me. It will cost me nothing to try it for 30 days, and only about $150 to try it for a longer period. Unfortunately, there is absolutely nothing available to try any where near where I live. We only have 2 photo stores in Cairns and the best video tripod system they carry is about $60.
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Old December 19th, 2013, 09:35 PM   #28
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

For anyone who has used both, how much better is the FSB6 compared to the FSB4? The 4 is nearly half the price and a bit lighter. Both have side load and the same sized QR plate.

And is the FSB4 a step up from the Ace? It looks to be about the same, from what I can tell.
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Old December 19th, 2013, 10:42 PM   #29
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

I doubt very much the internals, materials and build quality of the ACE are the same as the FSB-4. The sliding plates don't travel the same distance either. The ACE is for small camcorders and DSLRs. Sachtler was smart to get a product for that market at a price under it's FSB line. Probably a reason it isn't named FSB-x.

Assuming compactness matters, you will want a 2-stage set of legs. For an FSB-4 head, that means this model that clocks in at 5kg:
Sachtler 0373 FSB-4 Aluminum Tripod System 0373 B&H Photo Video

The FSB-6 is even more weight. I have the above FSB-4 unit for an EX1R camcorder rig and love it for around town. Off road or with a DSLR, I put on a Manfrotto 701HDV.

I think what should drive the head decision of FSB-4 vs FSB-6 is not features but load capacity. If your rig exceeds the capacity of your head, then you need another model up.
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Old December 19th, 2013, 10:57 PM   #30
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

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Originally Posted by Les Wilson View Post
Assuming compactness matters, you will want a 2-stage set of legs. For an FSB-4 head, that means this model that clocks in at 5kg:
Sachtler 0373 FSB-4 Aluminum Tripod System 0373 B&H Photo Video
I have that one in my wishlist, but it's pushing my weight limit. At this point I'm inclining toward the Gitzo legs and FSB4, but I still have to overcome my reluctance to photo-style legs.

Quote:
I think what should drive the head decision of FSB-4 vs FSB-6 is not features but load capacity. If your rig exceeds the capacity of your head, then you need another model up.
The specs on the PX270 haven't been released yet, but realistically, I don't want a camera that weighs more than 4kg with accessories anyway, so the FSB4 will probably be fine.

Thanks, Les.
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