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Old December 20th, 2013, 12:14 AM   #31
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Michael,
I think you would be very happy with the Gitzo legs. Yes they are from a brand associated with photo tripods, however, the model of legs I was referring to, has no centre column you would normally expect to see on a photo tripod. The bowl attachment attaches to the legs in a very solid manner, & I can say from my own experience with a Gitzo Systematic tripod, that there is absolutely zero play between the legs & bowl adaptor. With that in mind, the tripod with the bowl adaptor fitted is essentially a video tripod. I was actually using those tripod legs today with a Sachtler DV10SB head, supporting my Sony EX3 with an 80-400mm lens. That's like using a 2160mm 35mm camera lens! I can make very smooth pans & tilts with it, & I have never had to worry about wind up with those legs.
I think the Sachtler FSB-4 head would be a great setup for your needs.
Keep researching, but I think you are on the right track!
Regards,
Bryce
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Old December 20th, 2013, 07:02 AM   #32
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryce Comer View Post
I think you would be very happy with the Gitzo legs. Yes they are from a brand associated with photo tripods, however, the model of legs I was referring to, has no centre column you would normally expect to see on a photo tripod.
My concern is that all things equal, single-tube legs with no brace are going to flex more. That's not to say that the single tube CF legs don't work well, but until I've tried it for myself I will still feel uncomfortable. I'm going to try and find time over the weekend to do the experiment with my wife's carbon legs.

For my situation, single legs do have some advantages.

One thing that bothers me about the Gitzo legs is the rotating locks. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have trouble with pain using them. These legs have a lock that will not give me as much of a problem.

Sachtler System Ace L TT 75/2 CF Carbon Fiber Tripod 1013 B&H

Quote:
I was actually using those tripod legs today with a Sachtler DV10SB head, supporting my Sony EX3 with an 80-400mm lens. That's like using a 2160mm 35mm camera lens! I can make very smooth pans & tilts with it, & I have never had to worry about wind up with those legs.
That's impressive.
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Old December 20th, 2013, 01:49 PM   #33
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Trying before buying (or at least getting first hand recommendations from those with hands-on experience) really makes sense. Some time ago, I was shopping for a monopod and was prepared to spend as needed to meet my requirements. I wanted rigidity, low weight, reasonable reach and it had to collapse to under 24 inches to fit in carry-on luggage. Shopping on line, I was convinced that I would go for a carbon fiber solution.

I went to a local, well-stocked camera shop in Portland (unfortunately, not a DV Info sponsor, so I won't name them) and tried about 15 monopods. To my surprise, the carbon fiber models were not very stable or light. The problem was the connectors needed to join the round CF sections. They wiggled. The aluminum models, on the other hand, had fitted shapes and custom fittings that held things snug.

All but one of the CF models failed my stability test. The one that passed cost about $300. It was maybe 25 or 50 grams lighter than a $60 aluminum model that was just as solid. I bought the $60 Slik model and would buy it again. The $300 CF model (I forget the brand) was maybe 5-10% better but not worth 5x the cost.

Sorry I don't have any specific tripod recommendations, though I'll say that if you can live with a "shorty", it might be a good solution. A short tripod will be lighter and might have fewer connectors. Fewer connectors and shorter segments help stability - but it might mean that you need to be dressed to sit in the mud or snow to see the monitor. And don't assume that a CF tripod will be more solid than an aluminum one. Sloppy hardware ruins solid sticks.

Best of luck. I look forward to reading about what you choose and how you rate the results!
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Old December 20th, 2013, 04:03 PM   #34
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Try before you buy, or order from an outfit that has a return policy.

The single tube Gitzo CF legs are absolutely sturdy, and don't flex, and don't cause "windup" or resulting "kickback". Much better than my previous multi-tube Sachtler CF legs. You won't believe how totally rock solid they are until you try them yourself.
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Old December 20th, 2013, 04:30 PM   #35
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Hi Michael,

Quote: - “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?”

What I was trying to do with my brief test with the Vinten Vision Blue was to test an EX3 with a 300mm f4 Nikkor lens. Angle of view in this case would be equivalent to ~ 1550 mm on a 35 mm camera. In my brief test in a dealer’s showroom I found the wind-up to be unacceptable. The camera I use on my Weifeng 717 is the Panasonic TM 900 that has a 35 mm focal length equivalent of 35 – 600 mm in optical zoom and much further in digital zoom, in fact it goes to a quite useless 700x. However it can be set match the EX3 with 300mm lens coverage, under these conditions I find the wind-up to be acceptable. I would stress that I have a strong preference for a flexible pan handle as it gives me better control, I used a flexible handle with the Weifeng and the rigid handle on the Vision Blue. I also changed the compensation spring in the Weifeng 717 to better match the light weight of the TM 900 (< 500 gm).

I guess what I am saying is that the Weifeng 717 satisfied my requirements for the TM 900 but the Vision Blue did not satisfy my requirements for an EX3 with 300 mm lens. I might add that I recently tried one of the larger Fancier tripods with the EX3 / 300 mm combination and I was most unimpressed.

However I am very impressed that Bryce can happily use an EX3 with an 80 – 400 mm zoom with his Gitzo / Sachtler set-up. It is something I would like to see.

If you want to try the Weifeng (Fancier, Mantona, Kenner etc) you should be able to get the tall version for around $200, the shorter version is a bit cheaper.

Good luck..
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Old December 20th, 2013, 08:34 PM   #36
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst View Post
Trying before buying(or at least getting first hand recommendations from those with hands-on experience) really makes sense.
Thanks for your reply, Jon.

Unfortunately, trying anything is out of the question since a 3 hour plane flight is the only way I could get to a store that has any pro tripods, and even then none seem to carry a large range. That's why I started this thread. I'm hoping to minimize my risk, and already it's paid off due to what I'm learning.


Quote:
All but one of the CF models failed my stability test.
I've just conducted a test in the back yard, comparing my wife's new CF 055 legs with my 20 year old aluminum 055 legs.

I find the flex to be so close I can't tell the difference. On one test the aluminum legs would be slightly better, but next time it appeared the CF legs were a little better. In practical terms they work the same.

However, I noticed that overall, my 20 year old legs are much more solidly built. Not just the tubes, but all the cast parts and leg locks are much more rugged. I'm quite certain that if I put these Manfrotto CF legs through the treatment I've given the current legs they would not survive anything like 20 years.


Quote:
but it might mean that you need to be dressed to sit in the mud or snow to see the monitor.
I had to laugh at this. I live in Tropical northern Australia. No chance of snow. :-)


Quote:
And don't assume that a CF tripod will be more solid than an aluminum one. Sloppy hardware ruins solid sticks.
Indeed, but the Gitzo CF legs being recommended here are likely to be very well made.
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Old December 20th, 2013, 08:38 PM   #37
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard D. George View Post
Try before you buy, or order from an outfit that has a return policy.
Unfortunately, Australian stores don't generally have very good return policies unless the product is faulty.

Quote:
The single tube Gitzo CF legs are absolutely sturdy, and don't flex, and don't cause "windup" or resulting "kickback". Much better than my previous multi-tube Sachtler CF legs.
That's good to know. A direct comparison to the Sachtler legs I'm considering does help.
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Old December 21st, 2013, 02:35 AM   #38
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alastair Traill View Post
I might add that I recently tried one of the larger Fancier tripods with the EX3 / 300 mm combination and I was most unimpressed.
I've read that the grease used has been changed and some people have sent their head back to get the grease changed to to old type. Perhaps that contributed to your experience.

Quote:
If you want to try the Weifeng (Fancier, Mantona, Kenner etc) you should be able to get the tall version for around $200, the shorter version is a bit cheaper.
I's still considering that as an experiment, since the cost will be minimal.
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Old December 21st, 2013, 02:36 AM   #39
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

This is the front-runner at the moment, I think:

Wish List - B&H Photo Video
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Old December 21st, 2013, 09:23 AM   #40
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

I think you are on the right track. I have:

GT3532LSV (with 75mm bowl included)
GT3531LSV (discontinued, but still shown on the B&H website. Note the customer reviews)

These are slightly more weight but still very light. I think the GT3531LSV is still available on Amazon.com.

My comments on stability and rigidity relate to these Series 3 legs but I suspect the Series 2 legs are quite good also.

You will appreciate the quality, and the ability to set for low angles.
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Old December 21st, 2013, 03:51 PM   #41
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard D. George View Post
GT3532LSV (with 75mm bowl included)
These are slightly more weight but still very light. I think the GT3531LSV is still available on Amazon.com.
So if this doesn't need a bowl adapter then the price is much the same. As for the weight, I can't find the weight of the 75mm bowl adapter anywhere, but that must take up some (my guess is about 150-200g) of the difference.


Quote:
You will appreciate the quality, and the ability to set for low angles.
Yes, if it wasn't for that, I'd still be not even considering this style of legs.
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Old December 21st, 2013, 04:04 PM   #42
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard D. George View Post
I think you are on the right track.
Richard, how much force is required to operate the leg section locks? Do you think a six or seven year old child would have any problems?
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Old December 21st, 2013, 05:13 PM   #43
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

To diverge for a minute, what's the consensus on Miller systems?

For me, the major advantage is that I can buy in Australia, which means quite a significant price saving.

However, the only model I can find that comes roughly within my criteria is this one:

System: DS10 Solo DV Carbon Fibre System (1511) - Miller Camera Support

It pushes my weight limit a bit (4.85kg), but to give an idea, to buy it from B&H, by the time shipping, tax and exchange rate are added, would cost me AUS$2040, but from an Australian store it would be AUS$1460, delivered. A massive difference.

Spec-wise, it looks good, and Miller seem to be well regarded.

I'll phone the store and ask some questions on Monday, but of course, they are going to be biased and tell me it's the best thing ever. :-)
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Old December 21st, 2013, 06:58 PM   #44
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Hi Michael,

With all the praise being heaped on the Gitzo legs I thought I should have a look at a set if they were on view anywhere in Melbourne. Vanbar have the GT2532S Systematic on special at $880 (AUD incl GST). Given the value of our dollar at the moment this seems to be a better price than B&H and especially so if your B&H order attracts GST.

As a matter of interest what is weight of the camera you are considering?
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Old December 21st, 2013, 07:16 PM   #45
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

That's funny you should ask about the Miller Michael, I was just thinking about that myself today as I was packing away my DS10 with CF Solo legs.
The DS10 head does not have much in the way of adjustability, just two settings for the counterbalance. Of course if your camera can be balanced well on this head, it is a beautifully smooth head. I have had mine for almost 10 years, & when I took it out & used it last week, I was pleasantly surprised with how smooth it still is. I was using it with my little Canon XA20 for which I have a 2.2x tele-converter. With the converter on, the focal length is like using a roughly 1200mm lens in 35mm terms. It was a joy to use & if you were looking at a camera similar in weight to the XA 20, I would certainly have no qualms in recommending it. Since you are looking at something a little bigger & heavier, I would be more inclined to look into the Compass 12 head. Far more adjustability both in counterbalance, & also in drag adjustment for both pan & tilt. That adjustability along with the added weight range, should allow you to balance a physically bigger camera far better than on the DS10 head. This is probably more important using the camera in the rainforest, as I am assuming a lot of your subject matter is in the trees so a lot of shots looking up above.
On the subject of the Gitzo CF legs, I would have to say there should be no problem for a 7 year old to turn the collar to lock & unlock the legs. They have a system they call their "G-Lock Design. Here from the B&H website: "G-Lock Design The G-Lock mechanism has been completely redesigned in order to achieve a 20% increase in rigidity, faster operation and stronger, safer locking. G-Lock's special design also provides a "gravity lock" effect: the higher the load applied vertically to the leg, the stronger the lock."
While I think the solo type legs of Miller & the Gitzo's I have been talking about are excellent for both high & very low shots, it is not just the height range that makes these legs so great to use in these challenging environments. The flexibility these legs give you in setups is what makes them so good in my opinion. Not only can you go from a normal standing height on level ground, to a very low angle shot on level ground, (way lower than any tripod legs with a spreader) but you can do all that on pretty much any terrain you can scramble up (or down) The angle of each leg can be set differently & you can literally set these things up anywhere! Honestly, once you have used a set of these legs in any steep & or challenging terrain, you will wonder how you ever did without them.
I am not trying to persuade you to buy one system over another, just simply trying share with you my own experience & I am sure there are lots of others around that can share with you their experiences with other tripod systems.
Regards,
Bryce
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