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Old September 26th, 2015, 11:50 PM   #1
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Travel Tripod

I don't usually post what to buy questions but it has been so long since I looked into tripods I am at a loss here. I own three good tripods. Two of them have the now discontinued Bogen 516 head on Manfroto multi tube sticks. They are way to heavy to travel with these days unless I am going on a gig that requires that kind of fluid stability. I also have a kit with a 503HD head on 35MBV2 that I thought would be my light weight kit for travel, it is not.

I am battling the high cost of airline luggage fees where every pound matters these days. I need at least one small light tripod I can fly with that will not have to be checked in as its own piece of luggage. It will also be used primarily on run and gun type shoots where the fluid head will not be critical because I can take my heavy ones for that. I just need it to be able to do a reasonable pan or follow. Size and weight are my primary concern here. I am not asking for miracles, you can't have it all.

I shoot with two Sony EA50s. A semi shoulder mount camera. A 4lb body, and sometimes I mount a Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L lens on them that weighs almost as much as the camera.

So, I don't need to go super cheap on this, but I am not going studio smooth ether. What are the good setups right now for going light weight when you want a video head and are a step above the DSLR category in weight?

Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Steve
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Old September 27th, 2015, 02:01 AM   #2
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Re: Travel Tripod

Steven, I read your response in the other thread also, and wasn't sure where to put this reply.

I have the 503HD head also, although I'm not sure which set of sticks I have. I have a hard sided golf bag ($20, Salvation Army) - something like this:

Amazon.com : Plano Golf Guard Standard Case : Golf Travel Covers : Sports & Outdoors

I can get my 503HD and sticks, two light stands (the chintzy ones, not the nice ones), and two 500 LED lights all in that golf bag, right in the 49 lb range. I do carry the power cables in my carry-on (they throw it to like 53-54 lbs).

Just chiming in to say that I don't think a tripod should be a carry-on item. Look in to other solutions. I travel almost exclusively on Southwest who has two free bags. Many of the airlines, if you are loyal to them (sometimes possible, sometimes not) will start waiving bag fees like crazy. Look for credit cards with that benefit - they are plentiful. I have focused my struggle not on carrying it all on, but on getting below 50 lbs when I can and it's saved me and the clients a boatload. Follow "The Points Guy" on facebook or twitter or on his blog - learn a lot about credit card points and free bags, etc.
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Old September 27th, 2015, 02:29 PM   #3
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Re: Travel Tripod

Good tips Mike,

I would never carry on a tripod but I do need something smaller and lighter than my current monsters.

Flying out of Phoenix I am almost always on US Airways or Southwest Air. That means I get the best and the worst of treatment. My clients always pick the lowest fare but I am educating some of them to put me on Southwest for a lower overall cost.

I like the idea of your golf bag. I have a ton of cases and bags. One of my favorite Porta Brace cargo cases now has almost every zipper blown out and needs to be retired. Probably way to expensive to repair. Plus Porta Brace screams video gear to the whole world, it is not just us pros that recognize it. I think I will look at golf bags ;-)

I quit using credit cards five years ago. Everything is debit and I love it!

Steve
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Old September 27th, 2015, 06:04 PM   #4
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Re: Travel Tripod

If your debit card is compromised and someone makes fraudulent charges, it could be months (or never) to get that money back. If your credit card gets compromised, one call and it all goes away.

There are a lot of upsides to credit cards used responsibly.
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Old September 27th, 2015, 07:10 PM   #5
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Re: Travel Tripod

Yes there are some advantages. But paying no interest and being debt free can't be beat!

For this travel tripod I am changing my normal thinking on gear and am going to go cheap. Since I already have two tripods with $1,000.00 heads on them when I need them I don't think I am going that route for the new one. I don't need performance out of this one. I just need some stability. One of my regular gigs is in the Rocky mountains. I am going to use it in snow, ice, and mud in a run and gun scenario. It is a throw it down and shoot situation.

Does anyone have any experience with Benro products? They seem to have burst on the market the last couple of years in the budget class. I believe you get what you pay for so I would not be expecting fluid head high performance out of it. I want to know if the build will hold up or if they are cheap junk that will break?

They have a couple models in the $600.00 range that look like they might work for me.

Benro S8 Pro Video Head and C3573F Series 3 CF Tripod C373FBS8

Kind Regards,

Steve
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Old September 30th, 2015, 12:23 PM   #6
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Re: Travel Tripod

I've had the S8 with the carbon sticks for a few months and I love it - its my main tripod so it gets a lot of use. It replaced a well worn Libec with heavy aluminum sticks. The only drawback to the Benro for me is the head is 2/3 the weight of the whole setup, so sometimes its a little awkward when picking it up because the sticks weigh next to nothing. This is the opposite of my old setup where the tripod outweighed the head.

Its well built, fluid drag and counterbalance, and all the knobs are in the right place (unlike the new Manfrottos with the tilt lock knob on the right side of the head) and for my needs its really smooth and locks down tight when needed. It won't make you dump a nice Vinten head, but the whole kit is 10 pounds and very affordable. I found a mint open box deal for $450 on ebay. I've used Miller's that cost 4x as much and weren't as nice.

I never use the padded case it came with, throw it in the back of my car all the time and it still looks like new. Lots of convenience features like extra mounting points for monitor arms, lights or wireless mics, plus without a spreader you can get the camera right down to the ground. The leg locks make it easy to extend or collapse very quickly - pop them open, let the legs drop and lock them tight.

I'm a DSLR shooter, so my uber-light setup is a small CF photo tripod or a Manfrotto video monopod. So far very happy with the S8, if it were lost or stolen, I'd buy another immediately. Benro has created a really nice system. The models below the S8 have some major shortcomings, I wouldn't recommend them.

B&H has a demo unit for $509. Used Benro S8 Pro Video Head and C3573F Series 3 CF C373FBS8 B&H
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Old September 30th, 2015, 01:29 PM   #7
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Re: Travel Tripod

Chris,

Thanks for the info. The S8 is the head I have been looking into. I think it is the one I am going to go with. Something I found interesting is I assumed I was going to go Carbon Fiber this time as weight is my concern. But, according to Benros website there is only a one pound difference between the CF model and the same sticks in aluminum. There is a $175.00 difference in price for that one pound if I am reading everything correctly? I have three Manfrotos, all weighing two or three times as much as the Benro. Two of the heads cost more than twice as much as the whole Benro rig. And I have read a ton of great reviews, they all sound as good as yours. I think this is what I am looking for.

Kind Regards,

Steve
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Old September 30th, 2015, 01:54 PM   #8
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Re: Travel Tripod

I don't know about these sticks, but Carbon Fiber isn't always better than aluminum.

Some time ago, I did a hands-on comparison of many monopods, and the CF versions often weighed no less than aluminum competitors and were often less stable. The thing is that aluminum can be precisely shaped into non-round profiles and custom plastic fittings can be used. This keeps things nice and tight. On the other hand, many of the CF designs use round sticks and twist tighteners that can allow wobble. In the whole shop, I only found one CF monopod that was truly solid, and it was the most expensive one in stock. Frankly, it would have been an "ego buy".

Again, that's not necessarily the case with the Benro tripods, but be aware that Carbon Fiber can be more of a "marketing improvement" than a real benefit.
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Old October 1st, 2015, 06:24 AM   #9
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Re: Travel Tripod

The weight difference at this size isn't a lot, but the S8 carbon tubes are pretty big, it's really stiff. I lug everything around so for me the pound saved is less to carry. I also went carbon because I live in Florida and shoot outside a lot, black AL gets very hot to the touch in blazing midday sun.

John, this one uses snap locks, no slippage at all.
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Old October 1st, 2015, 04:08 PM   #10
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Re: Travel Tripod

Good to hear about the snap locks. Sounds like they use good, tight spacers inside as well. The monopods with twist locks and loose spacers can really rattle, which might work for a photo, but not for video. The issue was never the quality or stiffness of the carbon fiber itself, but of the bits that connect the tubes.
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Old October 9th, 2015, 09:37 AM   #11
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Re: Travel Tripod

Have you considered the Sachtler Speed Lock 75 CF? This tripod has it's issues, but is still one of the lightest and best available video tripods on the market. A lot depends on what you plan to do with it. Are you trying to get nice smooth pans and tilts or will it mainly be used for lock-down? With proper technique, you can get buttery smooth pans and tilts. It's overkill if you plan to lock it down. Get something cheaper.

The tripod, w/o Head weighs 4.4 lbs (2kg) and is 2.1 ft (65cm) when retracted. It easily fits into a suitcase. If purchased new it's pretty pricey. However, I have seen them sell in the 'classifieds' for considerably less.

The Sachtler Speed Lock 75 CF with my Sachtler FSB-8 is still my GOTO lightweight travel tripod with true video tripod capabilities.

J.
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Old October 9th, 2015, 10:12 AM   #12
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Re: Travel Tripod

I regularly carry two Manfrotto 535 CF tripods with 504HD heads inside soft cases, plus a light stand, some extension cables, a boom pole and sometimes my toothbrush all inside a Nalpak 1049 rolling case. It's usually right at 48-49 lbs. The 535s are amazing and I love them. The 504 heads are decent. Fly southwest and nothing matters anyways.
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