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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    B.C. Canada
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    92

    Tripods and Heads

    Hey, all. I'm very much an amateur when it comes to photography & gear, so bear with me.

    Finding that I'm interested in portraitures & landscapes (and moon shots), I've decided to pick up a semi-decent tripod early next year some time. The Manfrotto 190XPROB, I gather, is more lightweight than the 055XPROB. Also, being only 5'3" I don't need one that extends to a great height. Is there any reason/advantage in buying the more expensive 055XPROB over the 190XPROB? How awkward would it be carrying one of these around attached to a photo backpack?

    As for the ballheads I'm interested in, what are the main differences/advantages between the affordable 486RC2 and the pricier 322RC2?

    Backround: I have a D40 with the 18-55 kit lens. Will be adding the 55-200VR at Xmas (gift from hubby), the 50 1.8, the SB-600 and possibly the 85 1.8 eventually (when I can afford it), so all are fairly lightweight. Being only a hobbyist, I doubt I will be adding any heavy lenses to the collection (unfortunately, I can't see myself affording them anyway).

    Thanks everybody, for all your help.

    Sharon
    C & C most welcome - no matter how harsh, as it helps me learn.

    Nikon D40, Nikkor 18-55mm II, 55-200 VR, 50mm 1.8D, ML-L3 Remote.

    Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/sharond36/

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Northern Colorado, USA
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    2,225
    Quote Originally Posted by SharonD View Post
    Hey, all. I'm very much an amateur when it comes to photography & gear, so bear with me.

    Finding that I'm interested in portraitures & landscapes (and moon shots), I've decided to pick up a semi-decent tripod early next year some time. The Manfrotto 190XPROB, I gather, is more lightweight than the 055XPROB. Also, being only 5'3" I don't need one that extends to a great height. Is there any reason/advantage in buying the more expensive 055XPROB over the 190XPROB? How awkward would it be carrying one of these around attached to a photo backpack?

    As for the ballheads I'm interested in, what are the main differences/advantages between the affordable 486RC2 and the pricier 322RC2?

    Backround: I have a D40 with the 18-55 kit lens. Will be adding the 55-200VR at Xmas (gift from hubby), the 50 1.8, the SB-600 and possibly the 85 1.8 eventually (when I can afford it), so all are fairly lightweight. Being only a hobbyist, I doubt I will be adding any heavy lenses to the collection (unfortunately, I can't see myself affording them anyway).

    Thanks everybody, for all your help.

    Sharon

    Here's what I would look at between the two tripods. The 055 is heavier, and heavy is more stable, so that's an advantage in use. However, heavy also must be schlepped to the location and you mentioned putting it on a pack. So you have to decide if it's too heavy. 5Kg vs. 7Kg. If you go with the lighter tripod, see if there is at least a hook on the column, so you can hang your pack/bag. That's a time honored technique for stabilizing a lighter tripod (or even a heavy one like mine).

    Another thing. Go find the actual full stats for these tripods. You are 5'3", which puts your eye, standing up, at about 5'1" (you might want to measure this). So you want the tripod that puts the viewfinder at that height with the column all the way down, but including the camera and the ball head.

    Avoid using the column except when it's absolutely necessary. The column is much less stable and prone to vibrate than the tripod itself. Many pro tripods don't even have a center column.

    Go for a speed column over a gear driven column, any day of the week. A speed column is one you loosen and then adjust by pulling it up or pushing it down. Gear driven columns are even less stable than speed columns.

    That special type of column on the 190 is so you can place the column horizontal in order to put the camera facing down. However, think about the fact that the full weight of the camera is then hanging on the end of an arm that is not really supported by anything. It's a prescription for shaky tripod. If you use it in this manner, you will have to concern yourself with providing some additional stabilization for the camera.
    Eric Lund
    Nikon D200
    Nikkors: 17-55mm f2.8, 18-200mm f3.5-f4.5 VR, 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 VR, 35mm f2, 50mm f1.8, 55mm f2.8 AI-S micro, 105mm f2.8 VR micro
    Other Lenses: Tokina 12-24 f4, Tamron 75-300mm f4-5.6 LD macro
    Stuff: Nikon SB800, Nikon MBD200, Gitzo 1327 Tripod w/RRS BH-55LR Ballhead, Sekonic L-358 meter

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Brisbane, CA
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    3,591
    I'm actually looking at all of the same products as you. I'm leaning towards the 055XPROB and the 322RC2. I'm about 6'4" so I still don't think the tripod will be tall enough for me to look straight in to the viewfinder but it's not too bad. I actually had some concern about the design of the center column. In my experience more flexible means less rigid. Is this the case with the 055XPROB or does it remain stable? I was also wondering if the feet of the 055XPROB are interchangeable.
    Lukas

    Camera: Anonymous
    I could tell you but I wouldn't want you to get all pissy if it's the wrong brand

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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
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    2,346
    Both look like very good tripods. My only thought is you are getting very near to the price for carbon fiber legs. The weight savings are probably not great, but the difference in vibration damping is tremendous. I ended up with a Velbon 640CF and a 486CR2 ball head. I could not be happier with the tripod. I have carried it on my back pack on hikes to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and the top of Angel's Landing in Zion.

    I picked the 640CF over the 630CF as the 4-section collapses small enough to fit inside a small suitcase the head attached for travel. Also, the 4 section is a few inches taller without extending the center column. I bought it with the 3-way pan head as it was only slightly more than buying the legs alone. I generally use the ball head, but having the pan head is nice for times I shoot motorsports.

    I am quite happy with the 486CR2 as well. I really like the positive locking mechanism on the release. My camera always feels solidly attached and I have no worries when I carry it over my shoulder with the camera on the head. I have only a few small complaints on the head. Since it is fairly small and short I sometimes have to put the center column up an inch or so when using the camera in portrait orientation. If I do not the top of the legs and the ball lock lever can get in the way. I also, wish it had a level integrated into the base.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    God's Country - Australia
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    10,424
    Quote Originally Posted by erichlund View Post

    That special type of column on the 190 is so you can place the column horizontal in order to put the camera facing down. However, think about the fact that the full weight of the camera is then hanging on the end of an arm that is not really supported by anything. It's a prescription for shaky tripod. If you use it in this manner, you will have to concern yourself with providing some additional stabilization for the camera.
    i agree, the sideways mounting of a cam is a recipe for disaster.

    the 190 is plenty for your needs. i use the 190 for my setup which weighs plenty and it works great. the 322 has a pistol grip which is faster and easier to adjust the orientation and position than it is with a lever style adjustment. i'd certainly recommend the 322 if you want the convenience and speed.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    B.C. Canada
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    92
    Hey, sorry it took so long to reply but hubby is a WoW (World of Warcrack) junkie and hijacked the computer over the long weekend. LOL

    erichlund, thank you for your reply. Knowing diddly-squat about tripods, it really helped me out a lot. I didn't realise that, when extended, the center column could produce vibration when used....a good reason for me to choose the 055XPro over the 190XPro because with my diminutive height (and with camera & ball head attached) I wouldn't have to raise the center column. The carrying weight between the two aforementioned tripod legs isn't much (1.8 kg vs 2.4kg) and the heavier 055XPro tripod is only $45 more than the 190XPro at my local photography store. In the long run of life, $45 isn't all that much. Using the center column horizontally to shoot downward towards the ground will produce vibration producing photos with possible unwanted blur. What's the point of that then? lol Thank you for all your help, ericlund, in helping me decide on legs. Now I just need some input on the Manfrotto 322RC2 grip ball vs. Manfrotto 486RC2 compact ball head.

    Wengler, when I was searching through the archives I saw your post and was hoping the conversation would continue, but it didn't....thus my tripod post. lol From searching through various forums on the net it seemed to me that even with the column extended the 190XPro was very stable, but can't find the forum posts today where I read that (there were quite a few). Also, I couldn't find anywhere that stated whether the rubber padded feet could be exchanged for spike feet for outdoor stability. If you find out, post back here to let me know too.

    kgosden, since I rarely shop online (don't do the credit card thang) my main choices from my local photog store is Manfrotto or Gitzo and, unfortunately I can't afford Gitzo. Yes, I've read that the 4-leg tripods are much more stable. As for the 486RC2 head, do you now wish you had of gotten a better one? The 322RC2 has a spirit level (1), this I'm guessing is the feature that helps you keep your shots level, good for landscape shots? It was hard finding info about spirit level for a newbie like me to read about.

    Rooz, how do you find the grip on the 322RC2? Shortly after my initial post I did some more research and read that the grip can be tough to squeeze (which is good I'm guessing), especially for 'girly hands' like mine. My hands are tiny, smaller than my daughter's when she was only 12! So, I'm wondering if that could be a hassle for me?

    Anybody else have either the Manfrotto 486RC2 or 322RC2 ball heads that could comment on what they like or dislike about them? The cost difference between these two at my local store is quite a bit ($90 vs $176), so I'd like to learn more about the differences before buying.

    Thanks everbody, for all your help. It is very appreciated.
    Sharon
    C & C most welcome - no matter how harsh, as it helps me learn.

    Nikon D40, Nikkor 18-55mm II, 55-200 VR, 50mm 1.8D, ML-L3 Remote.

    Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/sharond36/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    God's Country - Australia
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    sharon, weight/ size becomes quite important with a tripod so make sure you feel both the 190 and the 055 if at all possible tobe sure you're picking the right one. i chose the 190 purely based on weight and size becasue i do cary a tripod around a heck of alot. no point getting something too heavy and cumbersome that you can;t be bothered taking out anywhere.

    if you look at the attached photo you will see that i frequently shoot with the centre column raised and i don;t find any any issues with vibrations and blur and consider this is at a VERY high magnification level, (with macro lens and extension tubes), where any tiny mm of movement is amplifed in the photo. fully extended definately not, but partially ? no problems.

    i personally don;t think with your planned setup the 055 is necessary. 600g may not sound like much but believe me, when you're lugging it around, you feel it. so i guess be sure about the weight thing before you fork out the cash. a tripod sitting in the corner unused becasue its cumbersome is no use to you.



    you can also mount the camera underneath the legs by inverting the centre column as opposed to loading it sideways. this doesn;t cause any vibrations at all and can be very handy for macro shots. the sideways thing i have tried on a friends 190X but i dunno...it just doesn;t LOOK stable so i don;t think its a feauture i miss.

    the spirit level is completely useless imo. its far too small to begin with and on a ball head is difficult to try and get right. i dound these far more useful...
    http://cgi.ebay.com.au/Hot-Shoe-Came...QQcmdZViewItem

    the trigger head of the 322 can be a bit stiff i suppose, but it has to be to make sure the ball is tight and doesn;t move. you can adjust the friction of the ball on the handle to make it easier but i always have it set to highest level to reduce any chance of movement. i'd imagine the knobs of the 486 would be difficult to pull loose aswell on occasion. like i said earlier i find the convenience of the trigger worth every penny. one squeeze allows you to move up/down, side/side and tilt. with a 486 you need to adjust 2 knobs to get that right. convenience vs price i guess.
    Last edited by Rooz; 11-13-2007 at 07:53 PM.
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Great White North
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    Sharon - I can't offer any model-specific tripod advice because I'm probably less familiar with the tripods mentioned above than the other members of the forum. The only general advice that I could give is that serious tripod users who have high end lightweight models will often have a story about how before getting that high end model, they had gone out and mistakenly bought a heavier model in an effort to save some money.

    Regarding the head, I was considering the 486RC2 but actually went with the 484RC2. Weight and portability are all important for me so I calculated my needs quite closely before purchasing. I have found the 484 to be more than adequate with either the XTI or the 40D equipped with the Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro and MR-14EX macro flash, the Canon 300 f/4 L and 1.4x teleconverter, 17-55 2.8 & 430EX or some similar setup. I guess my point is that it may be well worth it for you to consider your use before investing in a head that might have a load capacity far in excess of what you may need if weight is an important consideration. If memory serves me right, the 486 weighs about twice as much as the 484 and has a load specification of about 50% more. Good luck!
    The respect of those you respect is greater than the applause of the multitude.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    B.C. Canada
    Posts
    92
    Rooz, thanks for posting your real world experience with the 190, that kind of input helps so much. Thanks for the photo, gives a good visual. That's good to hear that you haven't had any issues with vibration/blur when using the center column. For sure I will be checking them both out at the store, the great thing about buying locally is you can check them out up close and personal. You can actually pick up the products and see how they feel, weight, etc.

    a tripod sitting in the corner unused becasue its cumbersome is no use to you.
    Yeah, this is so true. I'll keep this in mind when shopping. When you're out for a day with gear, I suppose you should travel as light as possible. Most gear I'll end up buying will be lightweight, but I guess it all adds up in the end.

    The convenience you mentioned about the grip sounds very good to me, worth the extra cash. Fiddling around with two knobs constantly sounds annoying. I could get the 190 and put the extra cash saved toward the 322. That hotshoe bubble looks handy and cheap! If you were desperate you could just buy a small level from a hardware store. lol Now to figure out which daypack to invest in that can carry a tripod, or can be modified to carry one. The Tamrac Adventure7 looks good....lol Boy, this could turn into an expensive little hobby....but it's just so much fun learning. Thanks, Rooz.

    nqjudo, thanks for that. I checked after reading your post and our photog store doesn't carry it, but I'll check around town to see if any others do. We don't have many stores that carry good camera/video gear. Thanks!
    C & C most welcome - no matter how harsh, as it helps me learn.

    Nikon D40, Nikkor 18-55mm II, 55-200 VR, 50mm 1.8D, ML-L3 Remote.

    Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/sharond36/

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    2,346
    Sharon,

    I still like 486RC2. By better I mean something like a Really Right Stuff head. As for Rooz' level comment I cannot speak about those on the 322RC2. However, I use a hot shoe mounted level (possibly the most over priced photo accessory at $25-35). However, it is not as useful as a level mounted on the tripod at the top of the legs. It is important that this be below the pivot point on the head. Why? Well, if you do panoramic shots you need the head to remain level as you rotate the tripod, easier when the head starts level. Hot shoe mounts only level the camera.

    Also, 4 section legs are generally less stable than 3 section as each section is a little smaller. The trade off is that they pack smaller and tend to stand taller. The feet on the Velbon rubber and cannot be exchanged for spikes. I have yet to find that a problem.

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