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Old December 15th, 2013, 05:30 PM   #1
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Good Lightweight Tripod System

I'm looking for a reasonable tripod system that can carry about 4kg and is as light as possible for carrying though rough terrain. I'd prefer it didn't weigh more than about 4kg, if that's possible.

Due to where I live, I'm unable to try anything out, so I need to work this out by published specs and user opinions.

For the last 20 years or so I've been using a set of Manfrotto 055 legs and 128LP head. This is not a very nice system to use, but I've become reasonably proficient with it, and it only weighs 3.5kg including the bubble level I added. This system requires a lot of stamina to compensate for the terrible backlash it has, and I'm not getting any younger.

Cost is not as much an issue as weight. All the tripods that typically get recommended are 6kg+

It must have a ball leveler, and must not have a floor spreader as I'm always shooting on uneven ground.

Can anyone suggest a model for me to look at?
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Old December 15th, 2013, 07:21 PM   #2
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

I forgot to mention that something I'd really like is to have a quick release plate that's able to be used with a separate quick release system, that can be mounted on a stabilizer, so it's quick to swap between stabilizer and tripod. Manfrotto seem to have some options here, but perhaps there is some degree of inter-brand compatibility I'm not aware of.
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Old December 16th, 2013, 02:56 AM   #3
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Hi,

Please take a look at our Sachtler Ace L system, it only has a weight of 3.9 kg.

Best regards

Barbara
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Old December 16th, 2013, 06:25 AM   #4
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Thanks for the reply, Barbara. I had seen that but was weary of it as it doesn't get very good reviews at B&H, especially when compared to other Sachtler systems, which all get top reviews.

Also, do you make a stand-alone quick release bracket that takes the same plate? If not, is your QR plate compatible with brackets made by any other companies?

Is this something that's covered by your in-home trial?
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Old December 16th, 2013, 12:53 PM   #5
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Michael Warren...Caveat: I don't own, nor have I operated the Sachtler Ace System. However, it seems that customers have given the 'Ace System' a very high (5 Stars) customer rating (see Link below).

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

This is a multiple-extension, 'telescopic' style tripod, without the need for a mid-level spreader, similar to a 'stills camera' tripod. Based upon your current kit, this is not an issue for you.

The Sachtler Ace tripod reminds me of my old C-F Gitzo G1235 Mk. 2 tripod. A very sturdy set of sticks I used for years with a 2-1/4" Medium Format camera. I still use this tripod with an 75mm Bowl Adapter 75mm bowl for locked down cameras, lights, sliders, Mics, etc..

I don't know if the 'Ace" fluid head uses the traditional Dovetail Plate, i.e., slide-in from the rear style of camera attachment? I've been spoiled by the Sachtler FSB 8 Dovetail Plate 'side-load' attachment feature, to me, the 'side-load' feature is a dealbreaker. That's just me.

I hope this helps.

Best regards,

J.
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Old December 16th, 2013, 03:19 PM   #6
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Thanks for the reply, James.

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Kuhn View Post
This is a multiple-extension, 'telescopic' style tripod, without the need for a mid-level spreader, similar to a 'stills camera' tripod. Based upon your current kit, this is not an issue for you.
I'd much prefer normal video legs with a mid spreader. My current tripod has too much rotational flex.


Quote:
I don't know if the 'Ace" fluid head uses the traditional Dovetail Plate, i.e., slide-in from the rear style of camera attachment? I've been spoiled by the Sachtler FSB 8 Dovetail Plate 'side-load' attachment feature, to me, the 'side-load' feature is a dealbreaker. That's just me.
I'd prefer that too, but I have enough to deal with trying to find something that's good and light.
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Old December 16th, 2013, 03:45 PM   #7
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Quote:
.....perhaps there is some degree of inter-brand compatibility I'm not aware of.

You're right, there is.

If the ACE head uses the same slide QR plate as supplied for the FSB (4, 6, 8 etc) series heads, then there is (good, not exact) compatibility between that plate and the Manfrotto 577 adapter, which uses a standard 501P plate.

The Manfrotto 501P fits the Sachtler FSB heads and vice versa, the only difference is that the Sachtler and Manfrotto plates have different stop lug placements, so forward/ rearward locking points may not be identical.


CS

PS: I only spotted this after I'd lodged the above:

Quote:
.........Is this something that's covered by your in-home trial?

I'd suggest you trial this (Sachtler Ace) system before deciding. Just in case Barbara doesn't spot the query, you can mail her at Barbara.Jaumann@VitecGroup.com.
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Old December 16th, 2013, 03:49 PM   #8
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Fundamentally, there's a relationship between total weight and the bounceback issue you want to address. A carbon fiber set of legs may help as it's not so much lighter, but stiffer per kg of weight. Still, 4kg is awfully light for a video tripod. Maybe the backpack mounting you are using is worth a look to see it there's a design that's more ergonomic. I empathize on the age issue.

Search here on DVinfo with the terms "Travel Tripod" and you'll find some recommendations. I will speak to units I have owned and used in the field. Both were based on the Manfrotto 701hdv head. It's a rear loading unit (PIA) but I put up with it for the size and weight when traveling.

The lightest, most wiggly and smallest legs were the Manfrotto MA190CXPRO4. I gave those legs away to a photographer friend. My preferred travel legs are the Sachtler DA-75/2D legs. I have aluminum but I think there's a CF model. I found these to be the smallest collapsing bowl legs around and they fit in a most checked bags without going diagonal.

Here's a handy spec sheet: B&H Photo - Sachtler Tripod Comparison Chart
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Old December 16th, 2013, 04:31 PM   #9
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
The Manfrotto 501P fits the Sachtler FSB heads and vice versa, the only difference is that the Sachtler and Manfrotto plates have different stop lug placements, so forward/ rearward locking points may not be identical.
Excellent, thanks Chris.


Quote:
I'd suggest you trial this (Sachtler Ace) system before deciding. Just in case Barbara doesn't spot the query, you can mail her at Barbara.Jaumann@VitecGroup.com.
I will do, but only after I'm sure this is a strong possibility. I don't want to risk abusing the system.
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Old December 16th, 2013, 04:38 PM   #10
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Quote:
Originally Posted by Les Wilson View Post
Fundamentally, there's a relationship between total weight and the bounceback issue you want to address.
Hence why I have suffered for so long. Every time I've tried to find something better it's ended up with me thinking I'd be unhappy with anything.

Quote:
Maybe the backpack mounting you are using is worth a look to see it there's a design that's more ergonomic. I empathize on the age issue.
I often carry the tripod over my shoulder with camera attached for short distances. Wildlife doesn't wait around for me to set up. The 3.5kg of the current one is annoying enough. I really want to avoid going much heavier if at all possible.


Quote:
Search here on DVinfo with the terms "Travel Tripod" and you'll find some recommendations.
Will do. Thanks for your reply.
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Old December 16th, 2013, 05:04 PM   #11
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Quote:
I will do, but only after I'm sure this is a strong possibility. I don't want to risk abusing the system.

The reason I suggested you test it is to establish some sort of benchmark, from one of the few manufacturers which offers the freebie trial thing.

I/ we don't know your pain threshold with tripod/ head eccentricities (windup etc), and if the ACE is out of the running after the trial, well, it's back to the drawing board.

That's the whole point of the free trial.

However, as wildlife more or less equates to long lenses (400 - 600mm/ 35mm equivalent) it is possible there is nothing in the under 4kg range that will do what you want.

Give us an indication of (max) lens size and typical terrain you shoot over, might speed things up a bit.


CS
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Old December 16th, 2013, 05:21 PM   #12
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
However, as wildlife more or less equates to long lenses (400 - 600mm/ 35mm equivalent) it is possible there is nothing in the under 4kg range that will do what you want.
That's certainly the case, but I don't have any choice. The heavier it is the less time I'll be able to spend in the rainforest. It's all a very big compromise.

But ultimately, if it's about the same weight as my current setup and works better then I should be reasonably happy. Where I won't be happy is if I spend $2000 and end up with something that's 1% better.

Quote:
Give us an indication of (max) lens size and typical terrain you shoot over, might speed things up a bit.
It's the worst possible situation. Small animals and birds over long distances with a focal length of 600mm (equiv). The technique I use is to keep constant pressure on the head and regulate my breathing. This is really difficult to keep up for long periods.

I can do this with the current system, but will often lose tracking shots as I run out of stamina, basically putting effort into forcing the system to go where I need it.

But this is just a hobby for me, so ultimately I make do with the shots I get.
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Old December 16th, 2013, 06:03 PM   #13
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

Hmm.

Given the system you're shooting at the moment, the ACE should be better by a country mile, but.........whether that is going to be enough with 600 mm, is, ah, a good question.

Only one way to find out.


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Old December 17th, 2013, 06:16 PM   #14
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

On reflection, after re - reading all your posts, I have an additional suggestion.

It seems very apparent that the reason your current rig is so tiring to use is its complete unsuitability for the job you're asking it to do.

True, it's light, but that is being more than compensated for by it's total inability to do the job required, thus causing massive expenditure of effort to somehow square the circle.

Much as I am of the opinion that the ACE will be a considerable improvement on what you have currently, I cannot say I believe it will adequately deal with that 600 mm lens.

As such, whilst it will reduce the work load to some extent, having a rig designed to work effortlessly with the camera/ lens combo you have would reduce the "in use" effort to zero.

Such a rig will undoubtedly be more than you want to carry, however, if it removes ALL the work of using it, you come out a long way ahead.

Sooo, fire a mail to Andrew at Andrew.Butler@VitecGroup.com and ask him for a test run of the Vision Blue 3 rig (I don't think the standard Vb will have the grunt for it).

[I know Barbara suggested the ACE purely on the weight grounds you put such stress on, however, I do not believe she would recommend such a unit for a rig sporting 600 mm glass, and if you find the ACE lacking there's no reason not to test an alternative Sachtler support at her suggestion if you so wish.]

However, if you test drive the Vb 3 you will have a support much more tailored to your requirements, as I understand them, and can compare Vintens "continuous everything" against Sachtlers "stepped everything" approach.

It will also allow you to figure out if the trade off between a heavier rig is worth the effortless use once it's planted.

I can assure you you will not believe how simple a properly specified support rig makes life.

Get Andrew to throw in a bluebridge small camera adapter as well, just for the heck of it.


CS

PS: I strongly suggest you DO NOT carry your support with the camera attached and over your shoulder. Always dismount the camera and carry the support head down using its carry strap (make sure you order one!) on one shoulder and the camera in the other hand to balance the weight.

Last edited by Chris Soucy; December 17th, 2013 at 06:29 PM. Reason: +
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Old December 17th, 2013, 06:46 PM   #15
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Re: Good Lightweight Tripod System

That's a great post, thanks Chris.

I have shot professionally over 30 years ago and do remember what good tripods and heads were like to use, but I also remember the weight. :)

Your post has given me something to think about. I've tried to find something better from time to time and keep getting stuck with my conflicting requirements.

It's a bit difficult to explain my complete situation in a few words, but I'll expand on it a bit here.

I have poly arthritis, which makes it very difficult to do what I love doing; photographing and filming wildlife.

Even my current tripod has often given me problems in the rainforest when I need to climb up an embankment. If I strap it to my backpack it hooks on to the vegetation. If I carry it, I don't have the strength to pull myself up with one hand. This means wedging the tripod into trees and fumbling around a lot.

And I know from other objects that lifting 6kg with one hand is quite painful.

Now, whether doubling or tripling the weight would be completely out of the question, I don't know until I try it. That's something I'd be willing to risk for a few hundred dollars, but not for 1-2K.

So I'm still left with the same quandary.
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