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Old April 9th, 2006, 04:46 PM   #1
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Tripod Set-ups for Wildlife - Need a Recommendation

i have two tripod set-ups, one super-light (backpacking version, been to 14,000 feet), and one heavy-duty (drive it to site, not mobile at all)

light:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...ughType=search

heavy duty:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...ughType=search

i use these in various combinations with a GL2, XL2, or FX-1. but i need something in between, preferably something that can be broken down and packed. i don't mind carrying more weight than the lightweight set-up, but the heavy set-up is, well, heavy.....also unwieldy, can't be broken down.

i'm always balancing what i can actually carry or travel with, against quality. i want to know how others are handling portability versus quality issues and am entertaining suggestions specific to the specific needs of shooting nature and wildlife, please....

i know the tripod question has been asked a bazillion times but not in this specific context before. where are you going and what are you taking with you?
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Old April 9th, 2006, 05:25 PM   #2
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I wish that some manufacturer would come up with tripod legs that could be broken down in short sections, possibly 12" sections, that could be screwed or cliped together. One section would need a spike foot. The sections could be tubular or square.

The whole tripod could then be packed into a 12" bag or backpack.

In the wilderness it is not necessary to have telescopic legs you just want something to hold the camera steady, using something as descibed above you could just screw together the number of tubes that are required to get to the height necessary.
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Old April 10th, 2006, 01:06 AM   #3
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Meryem,

I spent a month a few years back hiking thru Costa Rica and went with the light Bogen/Manfrotto combo and regretted it. I spent most of the time shooting in the 700-1400mm zoom range and would have like to do more follow shots but was limited by the lightwt head. I constantly struggled to find balance, and steady follows (mostly birds) were near impossible at that zoom.

If you're just locking off for landscapes, or easy pans, then the light gear will work. If you want to film something moving at anything other than wide angle, I'd hire a sherpa and bring the sturdiest sticks you can carry.

Ken
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Old April 10th, 2006, 01:17 AM   #4
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Some of the Gitzo 4-section carbon fibre legs pack down very short.

The G1128 pack to 47cm and weighs 1.19kg.
The G1228 pack to 54cm and weighs 1.53kg.

I use the three section G1127 and chose them because they were more rigid than the alternatives on offer.
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Old April 10th, 2006, 09:27 AM   #5
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i only use the light set-up with an XL2 using the stock 20x. it's useless with a long lens, unless locked down, and even then wind is a factor at high altitudes.

i have several ultra-light set-ups, too, including a few desktop tripods--velbon makes the best one--and a beanbag and the Kirk low-boy, which is essentially the 3001 bogen legs with only two extensions. it's the sturdiest ultralight i've come across, but then you need to know your territory, to be sure that there's going to be a rock or something to place it on. (it also doubles as a great macro tripod, which is its original intended use:

http://kirkphoto.com/MightyLowBoy.html

still hoping to hear more mid-weight options to help me figure out this middle-weight range! thanks!

one thing about gitzo...i really don't like twist locks.....
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Old April 12th, 2006, 03:45 PM   #6
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Tripods

You might want to look at the sachtler DV 4 II/2. It comes in at eleven pounds and has a collapsed length of 32.7 inches. If you want to modify your pack so it rides in the center with a leg pouch at the bottom of the pack exterior and a quick release compression strap at the the top to stabilize the load. That setup may suit your needs.
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Old April 21st, 2006, 01:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Diewert
Meryem,

I spent a month a few years back hiking thru Costa Rica and went with the light Bogen/Manfrotto combo and regretted it. I spent most of the time shooting in the 700-1400mm zoom range and would have like to do more follow shots but was limited by the lightwt head. I constantly struggled to find balance, and steady follows (mostly birds) were near impossible at that zoom.

If you're just locking off for landscapes, or easy pans, then the light gear will work. If you want to film something moving at anything other than wide angle, I'd hire a sherpa and bring the sturdiest sticks you can carry.

Ken
I strongly agree wtih you ken. I bought my first new XL2 last month, and used it with canon 100-400 L lens at far north-east of Anatolia-Trans Caucasica.I just returned from the field yesterday, and I mainly used 400 mm end of lens means 3100 mm with manfrotto 190nat and 501 fluid head. my 501 is 3 years old and I think now it is shipped as 516 in USA.

I shoot wolves, hunting fox on snow, raptor migration etc. so I always try to pan the individuals ofo wolf, fox and raptor, but when they stop moving it is impossible to stop the move, or when you stop head you cannot stabilize it even you tighten all teh screws. so you need to hold up the camera little bit- one screen lenth up from your picture-tihgt the shift screw hardly- then you leave the system- end you got the picture ! I hate it.

so, meryem, my suggestion is your light version should be 516 head but lighter foto tripod. because I used 501 head with sony vx200 for 3 years and xl2 with 20x lens without problem.but if you think to work at 1500mm or above focal lenghts, I absolutely not suggest it.

and now I started to search which tripod head I can effectiveley use with that magnifications for pan-tilt. anyone give any advice ?


alkim.
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Old April 22nd, 2006, 08:35 AM   #8
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Have a look at the Miller Solo range- CF single legs with 100mm bowl, really nice with a good solid head on them. Would love them but can't afford them right now...
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Old May 17th, 2006, 11:27 AM   #9
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Where I work, Mossy Oak Productions we have tried all types of tripod setups but have found one situation that always arises, being ready for the shot. We have tried packing in a light weight tripod, putting the head in a back pack, using shoulder straps to lug camera around and what happens with that is by the time you put everything back together you miss that elk buggling, or that deer skylined on a mountain or those geese flying through the sunset. the setup we will never get away from is the following and you are always ready. Gitzo carbonfiber 75mm bowl mountaineer tripod with the Gitzo 1380 fluid head. We always leave the camera attached to the tripod with legs extended a few feet carried on our shoulder. When you see your shot spread out the tripod legs, level the bowl head, turn camera on. focus, set iris, press record, might take you 15 seconds. I know its alot to lug up and down mountains but sure keeps you from getting mad you missed the shot you wanted. Remember camoflauge works well videoing animals, all our cameras are camoed and so are our videographers works wonders. Hope this helps
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Old July 11th, 2006, 02:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John M. McCloskey
We always leave the camera attached to the tripod with legs extended a few feet carried on our shoulder.
I agree. Even with the whole rig on one's shoulder many times it is too late.

I still like my Vinten Vision 3, but this year at NAB a new contender
turned up. The Cartoni Focus. It seemed (on the show floor) like it
had a very smooth head and it is adjustable up to
22 lbs. of camera with the turn of a knob.
The balancing of the camera was also pretty cool from what I remember
and the spreader was up off the ground unlike the Vinten.

The best thing, it was about $1450 street, but that was with a single
stage leg set. You can count on paying more for two stage and
carbon fiber if you want to save a pound or two. The carbon fiber
Vinten Vision 3 is less than 10 lbs . . . maybe like 6 or 7? I can't remember.
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Old July 13th, 2006, 02:19 PM   #11
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This is probably the biggest single problem once you have you camera and basic equipment!! I have been through 3 tripods, going up in expense every time!!!
I am almost afraid to buy a fourth knowing I may well not solve the pan and scan issues when out at the distance!!

I believe how you use a tripod makes a huge difference. Having it lower to the ground and legs way out is great for steadiness but dead difficult to stay with a moving subject!

It is a subject I would like to hear more people comment about their systems!!!
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Old July 23rd, 2006, 05:23 AM   #12
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wildlife tripod

I concur with Mr. McCloskey -- animals don't wait for you to setup.
My biggest aggravation is leveling real quick with my current setup Manfrotto 724b/3130 head. I pre-extend the legs down about 2 ft, so I can always hit the deck and drop (carefully) out of direct sight to shoot, but levelling is timeconsuming w/ current rig.

I've seen some still still-photo rigs with a pistol grip quic leveller and wonder if that's adaptable.
Whatever you do, speed-to-setup is important.
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Old July 23rd, 2006, 11:53 AM   #13
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[QUOTE=Dale Guthormsen]This is probably the biggest single problem once you have you camera and basic equipment!! I have been through 3 tripods, going up in expense every time!!!

I have to agree with Dan, having the proper tripod/head system is crucial. I went to Zambia Oct 2005 and traveled with my A1 and used a tripod system similar to the lightweight system mentioned in the first post with the Bogen 701RC head. This was a poor performer when using a long lense. With my tele lense adaptor I had the equivalent of a 35mm 980mm lense and when tracking animals every little sticktion of the head showed up in my video. The head was fine for static shots, but for panning it was a big disapointment. I choose this leg/head system because I was very concerned about weight, I wanted to save as much weight as possible. From my experience, there are times when you simply need the better panning, stability that a more robust system can provide. I now use the Gitzo 1380 carbon legs with the Gitzo Fluid head and I have solved my problem. This sytems weighs more than I wanted, about 9 lbs total, but I will live with it. I refuse to lose shots based on an underperforming tripod/leg combination.
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