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Author Topic: Review of Lightweight Tripod  (Read 3332 times)
BryanHansel
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« on: September 23, 2005, 11:52:50 AM »
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Before I left on my solo canoeing trip from Voyager National Park across the BWCA and down the 8.5 mile Grand Portage, I posted a question asking for advice about lightweight tripods.  I went ahead and purchased a Slik Sprint Pro.  This weighs less than 2 pounds and has four leg sections and comes with a simple ballhead.  I figured I'd post a quick review for anyone who is in the same situation looking for a super light tripod for backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, climbing, etc....

On it I used, my Nikon D70, a 12-24 DX, a 24-85 AF-S, and a 360Precision Panoramic ballhead with a 10.5 DX lens.  I never used my 70-300 ED, although I carried it.

First, forget using the smallest leg sections.  It makes the tripod too unstable.  And the feet, unless screwed up tightly exposing the metal points screw and unscrew themselves.  I used the metal points the whole trip because they seemed to make the tripod more stable.

The center column makes me feel bad with such a light tripod, so I never used it.  It unscrews and saves 3.3 ounces by leaving it at home.  It's practically worthless to use with the camera I was using anyway.  The screw that holds this center column in place doesn't inspire confidence.

The tripod head needs to be cranked down extremely hard to hold the camera in a vertical orientation, and when using the extra weight of the 360Precision tripod head the ball head strained and it took much carry when turning the pano-head not to disturbed the ballhead.  It's really not that great, and if I continue to use this tripod on further trips, this ballhead will be replaced.  And the center column removed in favor of a direct screw and washer connection.

The tripod produced sharp pictures by itself if the wind wasn't blowing, but with a slight breeze, I found I had to press down on the tripod to stop vibration and with the panos, I had to very carefully move to the next click and then hold my hand while stabilizing the head.

Overall, I'd have to say that you get what you're willing to pay for and carry.  In this light of a tripod, stability is compromised using anything but the lightest cameras.  Even with the light D70 and lenses I used, this tripod was pushed to its limits of usability.  Still, with a few work-arounds, it was nice not to have to carry a heavier tripod.  It worked, it got me sharp pictures with the above mention lens combos, and with very careful use I was able to produce good 360x180 panos.  

I can recommend this product for backpacking, canoeing, or other trips as long as you're ready to deal with a tripod that isn't made for the demands you are going to place on it.

I remember reading Galen Rowell once when he wrote, that other pros would laugh when they saw the tripod he used on trips, and luckily for me this was a solo trip, because I sort of felt the same.

I wonder how a under 2 pound carbon tripod would perform compared to this.  About the same, I suspect.

Bryan
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boku
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« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2005, 02:49:21 PM »
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I can recommend this product for backpacking, canoeing, or other trips as long as you're ready to deal with a tripod that isn't made for the demands you are going to place on it.

Which, for me, means avoid it.
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Bob Kulon

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Play it Straight and Play it True, my Brother.
John Camp
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« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2005, 04:03:03 PM »
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Thanks for the review. I wonder if it would have seemed more stable if you'd suspended a bag from the center of the tripod, filled it with, say, ten pounds of rock or sand picked up (and discarded) on the spot, and hung low enough so that the bag touches the ground (and stabilizes) while leaving most of the weight on the tripod...I've heard this works, but haven't tried it...

Another possibility...a somewhat larger tripod, but, when portaging, you extend and fix the tripod across the canoe like another thwart. It would add a little weight to the canoe, but it's on your shoulders and steady...besides, if there are two people per canoe, and you're switching the portaging duties back and forth, that means you'd only have to carry it half the time...  

JC
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BryanHansel
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« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2005, 09:54:29 PM »
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Ya, I'd probably avoid this one, unless you really need to save the weight, which it did.

I didn't try the bag trick, but I found pressing down on the tripod stabilized it and removed mirror slap and wind vibrations.  I imagine that the bag trick would probably work.  Didn't the late Didger do some experiments along the line of bag vs. no bag and found no difference though?

On most of my future trips, I'll bring my modified 3001 and BH-3.  This was a 9-day 200 mile solo paddling trip with a two mile portage and a 8.5 mile portage in addition to many smaller portages, so I wanted the light tripod.  Still, saving weight, I had to double portage about five miles of the Grand Portage, which means 15 miles of walking.  18.5 total miles.  (I did manage to do it in 7 hours, and only slipped once of rocks throwing the canoe off my shoulders to avoid being pinned under it as it and I headed towards the ground.)

One of these day, I'm going to buy a 2.5 or 3 pound carbon fiber tripod and a light head.
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jani
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« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2005, 03:25:15 AM »
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I didn't try the bag trick, but I found pressing down on the tripod stabilized it and removed mirror slap and wind vibrations.  I imagine that the bag trick would probably work.  Didn't the late Didger do some experiments along the line of bag vs. no bag and found no difference though?
Yes.

If I recall correctly, he found that hanging a bag from the center column didn't have much of a positive effect, and sometimes it was negative. And, if I still recall correctly, he also observed that the Velbon solution, where the solution is based on connecting the supplied bag to all three legs, actually seemed to improve upon things.

I think that was said in one of the tripod testing threads last summer, search for threads with "velbon" in the message body in this forum.
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Jan
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« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2005, 07:51:28 PM »
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I have had a long love/hate relationship with tripods. I like the Manfrotto Carbon One 441 three-section tripod. I use the short center colunm and have a 160g Velbon ball head on it. It seems to be the best compromise between weight, height, and stability I have found. I have a few Gitzo tripods, but I find the locking rings a pain - I perfer the Manfrotto locking levers. I use it with 6x6 and 6x12 medium format cameras. The longest lens I have is 150mm.
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Barry Prager
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« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2005, 11:12:36 PM »
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I also use the Manfrotto Carbon One 441.  It's a great tripod. It's going to be helper number one on my trip to Arches National park in October.
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