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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Aberdeen, Scotland

    Re: Tripod suggestions. What does everyone use?

    The Manfrotto 190 and 055 series are both excellent, and won't completely break the bank (unless you opt for the fancier carbon fibre models). I personally have a set of Giottos legs which sit somewhere inbetween the two Manfrotto models and which I cannot remember the name of.

    With those you will want a head unit of some sort too, often sold together though not always. I have a few Manfrotto units on various tripods (a full tripod with a 486, a Gorillapod with the 484 and a 234 on my monopod) which share quick release plates and all seem to be decent units. Check out the ballhead units for something quick and easy to set up, the three way pan/tilt heads for something slower but more accurate.

    All those sets of legs offer a tiltable centre section - with the tripod standing on the floor, you can extend the centre column and have it set at an angle over the table to give you more control and leeway in the framing you use compared to something set at the table edge.

  2. #22
    Member Steadyhands's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010

    Re: Tripod suggestions. What does everyone use?

    A couple of years ago I switched from a Manfrotto 488RC2 head to the Really Right Stuff BH-55 with B2 AS II clamp and the Arca Swiss system. I kept the Manfrotto legs so the BH-55 is mounted on my Manfrotto 190ProB. For now the Manfrotto legs will suffice but I do plan to upgrade those at some stage also.

    Why did I change? I use a tripod a lot for my macro shots and the droop with the old ball head was starting to be an issue. How many people have seen the subject shift in the viewer when they tightened up the ballhead? This is what I was experiencing with the 488 and I was compensating for this each time I tightened the ballhead.

    BH-55 Specs
    Weight 0.725kg (1.6lb)
    Load capacity 22kg (50lb)

    Ouch! RRS gear is expensive. This falls into to you get what you pay for category, this type of equipment is truly an investment that will last for many years.

    When you take delivery of a any RRS gear you can immediately appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into their equipment. The BH-55 comes with a bag to protect it - a nice addition to help protect your investment. The next thing you notice is how big the BH-55 is, that said, it's shorter than most other ballheads in the class.

    It easily fitted onto the 190ProB in a minute. The base of the BH-55 is a little bigger than the top plate on the 190ProB. Though this might look a little odd when you look at it closely it doesn't present any problems.

    BH-55 mounted on Manfrotto 190Pro

    The first thing to say is --- it doesn't creep or droop. The 488 used to suffer from droop, but the BH-55 is rock solid. This is part of what makes it special. The ballhead in the BH-55 has to be about 2x the size of the ball head in the 488. The BH-55 locks the ball into place with a side clamping mechanism, most other ballheads clamp from the bottom. The BH-55 has a pan knob, ball head knob and a drag knob. With the drag knob you adjust the drag tension on the ball, you can then adjust the ball without the main ball knob being totally tight. Like this it will hold a 100-400 on a gripped body and you can still adjust the position of the lens.

    BH-55 fitted with B2 AS II

    The Arca Swiss plates fit perfectly into the clamps. I chose to go with the leaver release clamps. The leaver has three positions, locked, partially open, fully open. In the fully open position you can insert the lens plate easily. In the partially open position you can slide the lens plate from side to side. The RRS plates have a very small screw at either end and this stops the travel so the plate will not totally slide out of the clamp. When locked, there is no movement in the lens or body plate. As a comparison, there always was a little play in my Manfrotto RC2 plates and clamps.

    A note about the Lever Release clamps. When I purchased the BH-55 as a complete package it comes with the B2 AS II Lever Release Clamp. This clamp is designed to fit onto the BH-55 with a countersunk screw from the top and has no thread internally - it comes fitted like this. The B2 LR II by comparison has the countersink drilling AND the 3/8 thread.

    As you can see from the weight listed above it's a little on the heavy side compared to some of the other Arca Swiss ball heads. The link at the bottom has a comparison of the weights of the more common ball heads. This is probably not the head to choose if you are looking for a light weight travel solution. ie This is probably not the ballhead you are going to take on a long trek when you are carting all of the equipment yourself.

    Length of BH-55 on 190Pro
    This is shot will give you an idea about the length of this combination. Call it 26".

    I've also added a L plate to the camera and have quickly adjusted to this being fitted to the camera. It's nicely contoured and I hardly notice it on the body, a very big improvement over the ergonomics of the Manfrotto L plate. I leave the body plate fitted to the camera all of the time. During the Christmas holidays a few years back this proved to be a good idea. At one stage I grabbed the camera and tripod and raced to the beach to catch a huge Supercell Storm. Having the plate on already meant I was instantly ready to shoot the pano in landscape or portrait. I was not wanting to expose myself to a lightning strike so time was important. The result is here.

    I've now been using this for about three years with no problems. It is a lot easier to switch from landscape to portrait mode with the L plate attached to the camera and the directness with which the plates and clamps fit together is great. To conclude, I'm totally satisfied with my purchase of Really Right Stuff equipment and would recommend it to anyone.

    Further Reading

    Really Right Stuff BH-55
    Really Right Stuff - Item Listing

    A comparison of popular Arca Swiss Ballheads
    Update: Pro Ball Head Review - compares ball heads to give sharper photos & solid video support

    An excellent article on tripods
    Tripods and Ball Heads by Thom Hogan
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  3. #23
    Member incognito's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    San Jose CA

    Re: Tripod suggestions. What does everyone use?

    Hello DragonDan,

    May i ask u what Rail setup that is? Brand and cost, if possible? Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by DragonDan View Post
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  5. #24
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    The Sapphire Coast NSW Australia.

    Re: Tripod suggestions. What does everyone use?

    Steadyhands, very impressive. Thanks for honouring this thread with such a great and detailed review of your incredible set up. Thanks

  6. #25
    Member DragonDan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Phoenix, Arizona

    Re: Tripod suggestions. What does everyone use?

    Quote Originally Posted by incognito View Post
    Hello DragonDan,

    May i ask u what Rail setup that is? Brand and cost, if possible? Thanks
    There was a guy on the 'bay that manufactured these himself. I do not see his work on there anymore. Just do a search for a Macro Rail, you'll see plenty of variations. Pricing from about $20 to over $300
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  7. #26
    Member waruilewi's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    sf ca us

    Re: Tripod suggestions. What does everyone use?

    I currently have two Gitzo carbon fiber tripods, a 2228 explorer and a 1027mkII travel tripod - and the expensive Ocean Traveler too at one point, in addition to about a dozen more tripods ranging from Leicas and Cullmanns and my recent Induro CX114 8x.

    But I will state that I will never buy another Gitzo tripod again as long as I live (if I can help it) for the totally krap job Gitzo (aka Vitec, their holding company, who also owns Manfrotto) did in trying to perform a simple repair which took me ONE ENTIRE YEAR to get back from servicing. After two dozen calls to the camera shop, 6 personal visits to check on its repair progress driving 35 miles each way (I live in SF, the camera store is in Palo Alto), countless emails back and forth over who did or did not do what when, the camera store store - who really was blameless in all this - decided to not charge me a cent for the repair because of the ineptitude on the part of Vitec's repair dept. The tripod was dropped off for repair in mid July 2010. I got it back the weekend before in late July 2011, a full 53-week repair cycle.

    I was more than willing to pay a premium to get my Gitzo tripod back as expressed to the camera shop but after waiting 2 months, then 4 months, then into the following year, I had had it and went downstairs and bought the Chinese-made Induro right off the showroom floor. Beware that though Gitzo states they have that great lifetime warranty, the company behind Gitzo today is certainly not the same company running it back in the day. Personally I hate knock-offs (in watches and tripods lol) but Gitzo is not a company you want to do business with unless they have a major come-to-jesus meeting with their after-sales support because you'll be paying a premium for their products thinking you bought into a quality product with longevity, only to find their service and repair options would be laughable even by Chinese knock-off standards. Caveat Emptor.

  8. #27
    Vintage & NAWCC Forum moderator Ben_hutcherson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Kentucky, USA

    Re: Tripod suggestions. What does everyone use?

    I'm still partial to my Tiltall tripod.

    The last I checked, these were available new for around $100, although in my opinion the older ones are much better and are less expensive, too. Mine is from the 1950s, I think.

    The Tiltall is sturdy as heck, is tall enough that my 6' 2" tall body can use it with no or minimal center column extension(depending on the camera body I'm using) and is not too heavy for an aluminum tripod. The pan-tilt head is excellent.

    I couldn't be happier with it after 5 years.
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  9. #28
    Member Rusty_Shakleford's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    The Peach State

    Re: Tripod suggestions. What does everyone use?

    I use some random cheap tripod but it works. My pics can't hold a candle to most on this site but I'm learning. I don't think my crappy tripod has any impact on my pics. It is all skill or more accurately lack thereof. I am glad to see some of these behind the scenes pics though.

    Thanks for the great idea for a thread.


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  10. #29
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Washington, District of Columbia, United States

    Re: Tripod suggestions. What does everyone use?

    Ah the Tiltall!a timeless classic. I'm amazed that after all the tripods I've owned, my only still tripod is a compact Velbon that after 10+ years is still rocking. Then again, I only shoot with a point and shoot these days so ultralight is my thing now. Anything by Manfrotto or Giottos is a good value though I'd go for an articulating tripod if i could do it all over again.

  11. #30
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Houston, TX USA

    Re: Tripod suggestions. What does everyone use?

    Quote Originally Posted by DragonDan View Post
    I use a Benro travel angel, because that's what I have.
    X2 - fantastic tripod, at least for my lighter micro four thirds gear. It's been around the world with me, no problems. Probably 90% of the performance of a Gitzo at 50% of the price. Amazingly light and compact when folded, plenty sturdy when extended.

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