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Author Topic: Tripod Height  (Read 8169 times)
k bennett
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« on: December 09, 2007, 11:58:44 AM »
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Greetings,

I am fortunate to be able to purchase a new tripod and head this month. My current combination is mediocre, at best: a Bogen 3021 tripod and a Giotto ball head with a RRS quick release plate and RRS L-brackets.

So, I am looking at Gitzo carbon-fiber tripods. As I am over six feet tall, I have been telling myself for years that my one good tripod should be as tall as possible without a center post extension. My Bogen is 53.5 inches tall without the center post extended, and with the ball head and a camera mounted, the eyepiece is at 63.5 inches. I do need to bend over a bit to see through the viewfinder.

Gitzo makes a tall-ish tripod, and a very tall tripod. The 3540LS is a 4-section tripod that is 57.5 inches tall (no column) for $650, and the 3540XLS which is 78 inches tall, also with no column, for $750.

For a lot less money I could purchase a tripod more like the Bogen -- a Gitzo 1257, which is 53 inches tall and has a 10-inch leveling column which would provide the extension when really necessary.

So, you taller photographers: what would you do? The 3540-LS, with a ballhead and camera, would put the camera almost exactly at eye level at the tallest setting -- is this good enough? Have you wished for that extra foot of height? Is the 3540-XLS so large that it's unwieldy to pack and carry? I want this tripod to be something I have with me most of the time.

(I do have a truly giant metal Bogen tripod for times when I might need to set up on a ladder. It's not something I could carry around with me, though.)

Thanks in advance.

--Ken
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Hank
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« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2007, 12:27:45 PM »
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If you do any shooting on irregular terrain, go a foot taller than you are.  On hillsides that allows you to extend the lower legs considerably while shortening the uphill leg so you can still stand upright to shoot, as in long sessions behind a lens while shooting wildlife.  At the other extreme, if you are shooting subjects steeply above you with longish lenses on collar mounts, the long legs will let you elevate the rig so you can still shoot more or less upright when the camera body is below the pivot point.  If you don't get into those shooting situations, height is less an issue.  I'm 6'4" and do lots of shooting in the wilds, so taller-than-usual tripods are my faves.  When you don't need the extra height you can shorten the legs, but when you need it, you really need it.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2007, 12:29:13 PM by Hank » Logged
aaykay
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« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2007, 01:56:51 PM »
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So, you taller photographers: what would you do? The 3540-LS, with a ballhead and camera, would put the camera almost exactly at eye level at the tallest setting -- is this good enough? Have you wished for that extra foot of height? Is the 3540-XLS so large that it's unwieldy to pack and carry? I want this tripod to be something I have with me most of the time.

I think I would go with the 3540LS if I am upto around 6' 2".....again counting usage on level ground.

I have both the 3540LS and the 5540LS, both of which I consider perfect for people in the 5'7" to 6'2" height range.  I also take them along in my carry-on baggage when traveling, since it is perfectly sized for that purpose (3540LS folds down to 21.7").
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francois
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« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2007, 02:07:10 PM »
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I would go for the taller version (3540XLS). Extra height is, as Hank said above, very useful when shooting on uneven terrain
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k bennett
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« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2007, 02:08:53 PM »
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I think I would go with the 3540LS if I am upto around 6' 2".....again counting usage on level ground.

I have both the 3540LS and the 5540LS, both of which I consider perfect for people in the 5'7" to 6'2" height range.  I also take them along in my carry-on baggage when traveling, since it is perfectly sized for that purpose (3540LS folds down to 21.7").
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Thanks for the replies. I hadn't thought about shooting on hills, though that's something I don't do very often. This would be mostly for architectural photography. But the extra height would let me shoot on stairs and that sort of thing. Hmmm.

Aaykay, my understanding is that tripods aren't allowed in carryon luggage. Is your recent experience different than this?

Thanks again.

--Ken
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Harris
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« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2007, 04:40:50 PM »
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I always carry a tripod and ball head wirh my camera(s) and lenses in carry-on luggage and have never had a problem.  Maybe you should call airline that you plan to use.  But even with that, you never know how the inspector is going to react.  Maybe some kind of a letter from the authorities to show - if you get one, please share it.

One of the problems with the long tripods is that they usually have 4 legs and therefore are not as stable as one with three legs.  If you get one with 4 legs, make sure it has a grip on the bottom of the center pole on which you can hang your camera bag or somethig else that is heavy - but even then if a strong wind could be a problem.
Harris
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aaykay
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« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2007, 03:02:00 AM »
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Aaykay, my understanding is that tripods aren't allowed in carryon luggage. Is your recent experience different than this?

My most recent trip was last week, when I made a trip to Asia (KLM/NW), traveling from MN via Amsterdam, and took along my 3540LS in my carry-on baggage.  No problem at all.    

Since it is TSA who do the inspection of the carryons and their contents, I would say taking the tripod along as a carry-on, should be airline independent.  Obviously there are differing airline rules when it comes to the size of the carry-ons, which could be the limiting factor on what you can take along.
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LA30
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« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2007, 06:59:40 PM »
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look here, I am 6'3"

http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index....ndpost&p=100350

I use a hassie H2 with a L bracket from RRS and a canon 5D with a L bracket as well.  I would get the "left handed" M20 head but I can't be happier with the setup.  The gitzo is a wonderful balance between a very light, small and stiff tripod.  I don't need a 7 1/2' tall tripod everyday.  If I do something special I will rent a tall tripod.  I love this tripod!

Ken
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k bennett
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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2007, 07:31:27 PM »
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Thanks again.

I ended up ordering the 3530LSV, which is a 3-section tripod that tops out at 58.5 inches. We'll see how it works.

--Ken
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TMcCulley
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« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2007, 12:03:05 AM »
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I am 6'2.5" and I am using the RRS BH-55 on the 3530LSV and I love it.  Stable and tall enough for most of my shots.  I have not run into the hill side problem but I reckon I'll just make do

Tom
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Hank
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« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2007, 09:19:19 AM »
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Sounds like a good compromise.  Hillside shooting will only be an issue when you spend long hours behind the tripod, such as wildlife shooting.  Too often animals seem to do something cute at the very moment you are straightening and resting your back  Get an eagle high overhead in a tree, and you'll appreciate the extra height then, too.  Neither are issues if you aren't using long lenses pointed sharply uphill or downhill or working on rough terrain.
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Misirlou
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« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2007, 03:13:35 PM »
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The other day, I read somewhere that the official TSA position is that "synthetic" tripods are approved for airline cabin carry. Metal tripods are not. I think that was in the new Shutterbug.

The reason had to do with the ease of detecting dangerous items inside the legs. Carbon fiber is pretty much transparent to your typical airport scanner.

Having used a carbon fiber pod for about three years now, there's no way I'd ever use anything else. Get the tallest, strongest one you can afford, and you'll never regret the decision.
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Mike Guilbault
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« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2007, 09:54:08 PM »
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I'm only 5'6" but went with the 3540XLS.  I also shoot architecture and wanted the extra height.  I typically carry a 3-step ladder in the van with me, so that I can reach the camera with the tripod full extended.  It's amazing how many time I use it that way.  Before I would settle for as far as the tripod would go.  Now I have almost infinite heights to work from.  Of course, I'm only using it with 2 1/2 legs extended 90% of the time.. but it's there if I need it.  And going from a 15 lb metal Manfrotto to the 6x XLS at about 5lbs - I'm in heaven!!
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MatthewCromer
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« Reply #13 on: December 22, 2007, 07:29:15 PM »
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I often find myself wishing for more tripod height.

For one recent successful landscape picture, I pulled my Jimmy to the side of the road, climbed up on top, composed the picture, sat down on top of my car to stop the vibrations from me being up there, then triggered the remote release.

It's very common when shooting forest scenes that you want to get the camera as high as possible. . .
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k bennett
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« Reply #14 on: December 23, 2007, 09:14:47 PM »
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And going from a 15 lb metal Manfrotto to the 6x XLS at about 5lbs - I'm in heaven!!
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I think I have this tripod!! It's still in the studio for those times when I might need the extra height. Man, what a beast.

The RRS head finally arrived, and I was able to marry it to the 3530LSV. Nice combo. With a 1-D2 body mounted, the eyepiece is at the perfect height. It's an inch or so short with my new 40D, but overall it's much, much better than my old Bogen. The only option I might add is a leveling base.

The RRS head is very smooth, nicely finished -- something of a work of art. Together they make quite a combo. (Aack. I paid less than this for some of my cars.) Now I need to buy a decent case to protect my $1100 investment while it's knocking around in the back of the truck. A quick visit to thinktankphoto.com for a Big Bazooka and I'll be in business.

Thanks again for everyone's help. Have a good holiday and a great new year.

--Ken
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