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Author Topic: $900 for tripod legs?  (Read 4613 times)
rgs
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« on: March 16, 2013, 09:02:45 PM »
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Just some thoughts on tripods. I have two Bogan 3021s which is the predecessor of the Manfrotto 055 series (the newer one says Manfrotto on it but still has the old Bogan model number) and a custom made wooden tripod. I think I paid about $100 for the Bogan legs and the wooden one was built for me by a friend (it has mahogany legs and a paduk base) who also coated his own palladium printing out paper.

The newer Bogan rides around in my car trunk and is my most used one. The wooden tripod is the most stable but too heavy to carry around the way I did when I was younger. I use it close to the car.  It has a heavy duty Bogan pan/tilt head (perfect for a view camera) and the Bogan has a heavy but rather basic ball head that is pretty smooth and rock solid when locked down.

Today I saw a small Gitzo CF tripod in my local store. I have always admired the Gitzo tripods for their construction and this one was no exception. It was very will made (as expected) but very light - too light to stand up to one of our Oklahoma winds. It was priced at almost $900. I know that's not unusual for tripods, but I have a hard time understanding why. It's such a simple device. I like some of the very nice (and quite expensive) ball heads and might some day get one. But someone please tell me what $900 buys in tripod legs that I don't already have (except CF).

As to the Oklahoma wind, I once was setting up my view camera (a wooden field camera) for an architectural shot in downtown Oklahoma City. It was very windy. I stepped away from the camera without locking the legs down and left the dark cloth fluttering like a sail in the wind. Dumb. The wind blew
the whole rig over. As I was bent over the broken parts of my camera on the ground, a man with a good heart but a poor sense of timing came up and said, "Gee, those things are expensive, aren't they?". I restrained myself and smiled uncomfortably at him. Fortunately the camera only broke at the joints and was easily put back together. The lens was undamaged and I never left the tripod like that again. 


   
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Colorado David
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« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2013, 10:38:03 PM »
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Check out the price of Sachtler tripod for use with video and motion picture cameras.  Be sure you're seated if a $900 Gitzo makes you wonder.
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rgs
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« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2013, 11:19:20 PM »
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I'm not shocked by the price of the little Gitzo. Just curious to know why those who use them find them worth so much more than my Manfrotto 055 which currently sells for about $150.

As to the price of the cine tripods, it looks like a very different animal and also looks like the head is included in the price. Not exactly the same thing. Have you seen how much the cine lenses from Canon cost? Check out this one: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/839223-REG/Canon_6141B002_CN_E_14_5_60mm_T2_6_L.html

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Colorado David
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« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2013, 11:45:48 PM »
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Okay.  The CF Gitzo is a much stronger, safer platform.  Mine will support 35 pounds, does not transmit cold as badly as aluminum, which is a real concern in cold climates, dampens vibration, converts from a base that mounts my ball head to a bowl to mount a 75mm ball video head, and doesn't make the metallic noise that the aluminum tripod does.  I also have the old aluminum 3021, but only use it as a second tripod under conditions where none of the above conditions apply.  I have made side-by-side comparisons with cheaper CF tripod that appear to be Gitzo nock-offs for way less money.  They are not as secure in their support.  When you add up the cost of the gear we put on top of a tripod, the quality of a Gitzo is justified.  I also have a Vinten Vision 10 tripod and head that was about $4,000 in 1992 when I bought it.  The head needs some maintenance soon, but it has stood up to continual use with heavy, expensive gear for twenty years.
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rgs
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« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2013, 12:08:04 AM »
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Those are good answers. Thanks. I know CF has advantages that make sense and that it is a more expensive material. I also hear concerns about CF delaminating. I would not expect Gitzo to do that but cheaper ones might. I use pipe wrap on the legs so cold is not a problem usually and I don't need a video head. As to vibration, CF is very attractive. My wooden tripod is even better but I don't carry it very far because of it's weight. But if I set up on a bridge that might vibrate, I'll likely use the wood.

The little Gitzo I saw today was so light I was afraid that a good wind could blow it over. It was a very small tripod compared to my 3021s. That's what got me thinking how much is being asked for what advantages.
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Slim
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« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2013, 01:07:31 AM »
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I have a gitzo traveler.  I need the lighter tripod because I carry it with me on planes, and I walk around with it.  I also have a Bogen, but it is bigger and is not as vibration resistant.
As for the wind blowing it over, I just put my bag on the center column hook for windy days.  Now it's just as stable as any heavy tripod.
My take on your question of cost, Like many other things in life, quality vs cost often is on a logarithmic curve.  You have to pay twice as much for a small percentage of improvement.  But for premium products, there are few substitutes. 
The cost for me isn't the tripod, but the limited time I have to shoot.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2013, 03:03:15 AM »
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Hi,

I have Gitzo, RRS and Velbon all carbon fibre. The nice thing with CF is that it does not flex. For the price I would prefer the RRS over the Gitzo much better quality for the RRS. The Velbon is very good, too.

Best regards
Erik


Just some thoughts on tripods. I have two Bogan 3021s which is the predecessor of the Manfrotto 055 series (the newer one says Manfrotto on it but still has the old Bogan model number) and a custom made wooden tripod. I think I paid about $100 for the Bogan legs and the wooden one was built for me by a friend (it has mahogany legs and a paduk base) who also coated his own palladium printing out paper.

The newer Bogan rides around in my car trunk and is my most used one. The wooden tripod is the most stable but too heavy to carry around the way I did when I was younger. I use it close to the car.  It has a heavy duty Bogan pan/tilt head (perfect for a view camera) and the Bogan has a heavy but rather basic ball head that is pretty smooth and rock solid when locked down.

Today I saw a small Gitzo CF tripod in my local store. I have always admired the Gitzo tripods for their construction and this one was no exception. It was very will made (as expected) but very light - too light to stand up to one of our Oklahoma winds. It was priced at almost $900. I know that's not unusual for tripods, but I have a hard time understanding why. It's such a simple device. I like some of the very nice (and quite expensive) ball heads and might some day get one. But someone please tell me what $900 buys in tripod legs that I don't already have (except CF).

As to the Oklahoma wind, I once was setting up my view camera (a wooden field camera) for an architectural shot in downtown Oklahoma City. It was very windy. I stepped away from the camera without locking the legs down and left the dark cloth fluttering like a sail in the wind. Dumb. The wind blew
the whole rig over. As I was bent over the broken parts of my camera on the ground, a man with a good heart but a poor sense of timing came up and said, "Gee, those things are expensive, aren't they?". I restrained myself and smiled uncomfortably at him. Fortunately the camera only broke at the joints and was easily put back together. The lens was undamaged and I never left the tripod like that again. 


   

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k bennett
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« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2013, 09:12:58 AM »
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I had two 3021 tripods over the years. Lost the first one somewhere and immediately replaced it with the same mode -- just twenty years newer. They are fine tripods for the price.

Then a few years ago I had some leftover freelance money at the end of the year and decided that, after so many years using a mediocre tripod and head, I would spend the money on something a little more heavy-duty, and bought a Systematic 3 tripod from Gitzo, and a Really Right Stuff BH-55. The Gitzo is significantly taller and sturdier than the Bogen, but weighs less. It's much easier to carry around on location, easier and faster to set up, the leg locks don't loosen with use, and it just feels nicer in use.

Finally, when I set up my 3021 at full leg extension, and grab two of the legs and twist, there is a lot of motion -- the legs aren't very tight. The Gitzo is rock solid.
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hjulenissen
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« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2013, 10:13:03 AM »
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I guess people are willing to pay a lot for portability and flexibility, which may make sense if you are hiking for your images. Those who want to shave off the last percents will pay progressively more for the advantage (is this not the case for all gear?). If not, surely a 100kg slab of concrete with the proper screw on top would be both sturdier and cheaper than the latest carbon-wonder.

How does good properties for 1/200 s shots (using a properly narrow focal length) compare to good properties for a 20 minute shot (possibly wide-angle)? I imagine that for the first, you primarily want to dampen camera movement coming from mirror slap/shutter, while for the latter you primarily want to avoid sagging under heavy weight/wind?

-h

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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2013, 01:01:48 PM »
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There's nothing wrong - like stability or  vibration dampening - with a lot of tripods even when set up in windy High Plains  conditions that a Manfrotto Super Clamp attached to the post and a 15 or 25lb. sandbag or even a relatively full camera bag or backpack hanging from it won't solve.
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Ellis Vener
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Glenn NK
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« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2013, 01:33:01 PM »
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There's nothing wrong - like stability or  vibration dampening - with a lot of tripods even when set up in windy High Plains  conditions that a Manfrotto Super Clamp attached to the post and a 15 or 25lb. sandbag or even a relatively full camera bag or backpack hanging from it won't solve.

It makes a huge difference.  My shoulders don't like my gear bag that weighs 20 lbs, but it works well as a dead weight if needed.

A 25 lb sandbag?  I no longer live where winter snow is common - thankfully.

Glenn
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John Camp
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« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2013, 02:51:14 PM »
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For a non-photographic reply to the OP's question...

The OP says he doesn't carry his wooden legs around as much as he did when he was younger, which suggests he may have a few years on him.

Well, just taking (US) inflation into account, those $900 legs would have cost a bit over $500 in 1990. If you step back to 1980, the cost of the legs would have been around $320. That's the pure inflation outcome (in other words, the reduction in the value of the US dollar. The same is true of, say, a loaf of bread.) There's also a technology consideration: you might not have been able to buy the legs at any price in 1980 or 1990, because the tech has improved, and that usually has a price of its own. It's the same (though a simpler case) as with new cars. People complain at the price of new cars, but a $10,000 car in 1980 would cost more than $28,000 now, purely on account of inflation. But you can't buy a 1980 car now, because the tech has so radically improved, with airbags everywhere, nav systems, seven speed automatic transmissions, hybrids, etc. etc. and that new tech has a price of its own.

I also have a few years on me, and I find it somewhat interesting that when I was born, my parents were paying $1 for things that now cost me $13 and change...Of course, my father, if he hadn't been in the Army at the time, during WWII, would have been making ~$100 a week, the equivalent of about $68,000 a year now.

Here's an inflation rate calculator between any two years, going back a few decades...

http://inflationdata.com/Inflation/Inflation_Calculators/Inflation_Rate_Calculator.asp
« Last Edit: March 17, 2013, 02:55:01 PM by John Camp » Logged
rgs
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« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2013, 03:50:09 PM »
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Well, just taking (US) inflation into account, those $900 legs would have cost a bit over $500 in 1990. If you step back to 1980, the cost of the legs would have been around $320.
http://inflationdata.com/Inflation/Inflation_Calculators/Inflation_Rate_Calculator.asp

Indeed, as I recall, when I bought my first 3021, it was about $100 with a head (a useless thing called a three way head which I still have but have never used). A Gitzo was about $350. At the time we new little of other brands except what were, at the time, the cheapies such as Velbron, Slick, Vivitar, ect.

When I started this thread, I checked the current price of new Manfrotto 055prob legs. About $150. Which indicates and unusual resistance to inflation or a degradation of quality since my last purchase. I suspect the latter.

Thanks to everyone for your responses here. It is an interesting discussion. Photography is not the only field in which there seems to be a law of diminishing returns for more expensive products.
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« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2013, 07:47:51 PM »
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To this day, the tripod I use most is a Gitzo 323 Studex Compact   bought with one of my first  paycheck as an assistant back in 1981. i still have the Rationale No.3 head as well but it doesn't get used anymore. I think the whole rig cost around $350.00 US, which seemed like a fortune at the time and the outlay required me to eat ramen regularly  for a several months.   I picked that model of Gitzo  because that was the model the guy I was apprenticing for used. It seemed to work for him, and with the camera on top of the head and the legs at full extension it brought my Nikon F right up to my eye level without having to use the center column.

It seemed like a fortune at at the time but it's now 32 years old, spends a lot of the time bouncing around in the back of my truck, and still works fine.
well made carbon fiber legsets are great and are a hell of a lot lighter. It I did a lot of long distance hiking I'd buy an RRS or Induro CF legset lickety split  but the trade off of weight vs. price for the height of the 323 isn't worth it to me otherwise.

I've also got a massive Gitzo 410C bought used in 1986 for large format work. I mostly use it now when doing  multi-row panoramic stitching or I have a need to get a camera 11 feet up up in the air. I've got a big head on that tripod: a Foba ASMIA. If traveling for fun I take a small Induro CX carbon fiber legset.

A lot of time when we are tempted to throw money at something new and shiny. I'm as guilty of that as the next person, but not with tripods. Maybe the expensive CF technology tripods will hold up as long as those two old aluminum Gitzos. I kind of doubt it but you never know. 
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hjulenissen
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« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2013, 03:12:49 AM »
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When I started this thread, I checked the current price of new Manfrotto 055prob legs. About $150. Which indicates and unusual resistance to inflation or a degradation of quality since my last purchase. I suspect the latter.
Over the last decades, many products have moved production to low-cost countries. As long as your salary is higher compared to the current workers than it was compared to the workers 20 or 30 years ago, one might expect the product to be cheaper.

Quality may have dropped or increased as a result, I don't think there is a general rule. One might wonder how long low-cost workers will be willing to do the jobs we did a few decades ago at very low wages. Or how long we are able to defend much higher wages by being clever or knowing the market or whatever.

-h
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« Reply #15 on: March 18, 2013, 12:08:54 PM »
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Manfrotto 055 legs + used Manfrotto 410 geared head: precision work, not too far from the car. 8#. Does vibrate a lot, compared with the CF legs. This was my first tripod, still in use. Great on still days, irritating on windy days.

Feisol CF 3472 legs (37mm diameter) + Arca/Swiss Z1 ball head: hiking, half-gimbal, and general landscape use. 6# with steel spikes. Hook on base plate underside allows attachment of any number of water bottles or other ballast. The Feisol legs are Gitzo copies with some modifications (has milled aluminum spider, not Gitzo-type cast aluminum spider). Feisol legs were approximately half the cost of similar Gitzo legs or RRS legs. I get sharp shots at 30 sec. exposures (ultrawide starscapes). It seems like a very secure set-up. I tell myself that I need to get more fit and just suck up the extra 1.5 to 2# (vs lightweight tripod/head combo) on overnight camping hikes. I have opted for a mix of "light" and "ultralight" camping gear, anyway, to deal with carrying full size camera gear in a total pack and clothes weight goal of 35# or under.
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« Reply #16 on: March 20, 2013, 01:38:00 AM »
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Companies charge what they can.  Gitzo is one of those companies that offers a good and reliable (but far from perfect) product that pros trust.  As such, they can get away with charging a bit more than the market would otherwise allow.   We may see prices gradually come down now that they are feeling some competition.  My first Gitzo had one leg that tended to seize up when wet and Gitzo failed to fix it.  For some irrational decision (probably related to Gitzo's prestige), I gave them another chance and the next two tripods have performed quite well. 

I fell down a hill once and broke the smallest sections of two legs on my GT2531.  What was interesting is that the CF didn't totally break off and naturally sprung back into shape.  The tripod was actually usable if I was careful.  They cost $55 each to replace.  They weighed almost nothing.  I bet 90% of the total weight is in the head.

What I can't stand about the Gitzos is the damn feet tend to come unscrewed.  I believe they have changed this in newer designs.  What is really doubly annoying is that Bogen (same parent company) had this problem solved in the 90s. 
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Sheldon N
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« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2013, 10:36:30 AM »
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IMHO, one of the best values in tripods is a used Gitzo 1325 carbon fiber legset. You can pick one up for around $300-350 for the legs and they are great. Super solid, excellent strength to weight ratio at about 4.5lbs but able to handle big telephoto glass or even a view camera. It doesn't have the fancy anti-rotation legs or other features of the newer Gitzos but it is basically every bit as solid and weighs pretty much the same.

I shot with one for years in all sorts of conditions, snow/ice/water/ocean and it held up great. After a number of years I needed to replace the locking bushings, which was an easy thing to do for about $40-50.

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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #18 on: March 20, 2013, 10:38:13 AM »
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A monopod would only cost $300.
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k bennett
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« Reply #19 on: March 20, 2013, 11:11:55 AM »
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A monopod would only cost $300.

I think I paid $250 for my current monopod, so you are not far off.
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