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The 'best' tripod/ballhead for EM5?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by JCWOlson, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. JCWOlson

    JCWOlson Mu-43 Regular

    78
    Mar 9, 2014
    First off, I'm not a professional photographer - it's a hobby that pays for itself, but by no means my primary source of income.
    That said, my job takes me to some pretty sweet places, and having my EM5 handy is great, but sometimes I really regret not having a better tripod. My current tripod is a Christmas present from a friend; not sure how much it cost, but probably not that much - the thin aluminum legs flex, just me touching the screen on my EM5 is enough to blur shots if I don't turn on antishock, etcetera. I pack it in my bag when I go north for work, but usually it stays in my room instead of in my truck.

    I don't have any exotic or amazing glass, just the kit 12-50, the 40-150, and with an alpha adapter, a couple Minolta lenses, 28-80 and 75-300.

    I do a bit of everything; landscapes, wildlife, children playing, a bit of macro, some infrared, and a bit of astrophotography

    I'd prefer to test stuff out in a store, but I'm currently a ten hour drive from the nearest store that actually carries what I want to look at, so I'll be ordering in from BH or Adorama without a chance to test it first.

    My needs are:
    -Rugged for outdoors/abuse
    -Somewhat compact; attach to the outside of a pack, stow in a duffel bag, chuck it behind my seat
    -Long-lasting - I want to buy one tripod and one ballmount, then forget them for a decade
    -Not overkill for my system
    -Steady as she goes - minimal droop with longer lenses

    Preferences:
    -Carbon fiber
    -NOT twist lock
    -Tall - I'm 197cm(6'6)

    I'm trying to pick a budget, but it would just be an arbitrary number. Let's say $800 for both. I make decent paychecks.

    Current consideration for legs are the Manfrotto CX055PRO3 or 4. Possibly Sirui x30 for the ball, but not because it's inexpensive. I haven't seen any of these in person, ever, so please, tell me if you think there's something better suited to my smaller camera.

    Thanks for reading!


    Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
     
  2. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    I have a RedGed travel tripod, 4 section twist legs. Works great, and twist locks make for smaller legs. Very similar to the siuri or benro travel models. Don't get too hung up on the height - I'm not super tall (184, 6 feet), and my tripod only goes to about 165 with the ball head, but it doesn't matter because of the flip up screen. Have the RNB6 ball head (I think...) and it wasn't super cheap in absolute terms but very inexpensive compared to a Gitzo or similar. And weighs only 1.2 kg
     
  3. Dramaturg

    Dramaturg Mu-43 Top Veteran

    614
    Jun 7, 2013
    Ukraine
    Yevgen
    Slik Sprint or Velbon Sherpa - rugged, compact, have ball heads and flex legs. Around 50 cm when collapsed.
     
  4. JCWOlson

    JCWOlson Mu-43 Regular

    78
    Mar 9, 2014
    I looked up the RedGed travel and the Velbon Sherpa just now - the Redged looks pretty similar to the 3 Legged Thing tripods as far as pricing and features go, but don't have the same quality warranty. Any idea how thru compare?

    The Velbon Sherpa Pro cf-535 looks pretty sweet, and I found a kijiji ad for one for $190($350 at a Canadian store), though it's a bit on the short side. I'll look into it more though.

    Thanks for the replies!


    Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
     
  5. emmef2

    emmef2 Mu-43 Regular

    28
    Feb 1, 2012
    Italia
    I would suggest you a sirui combo, N-1204 or T-1204X legs and the K-20X ballhead. The K-10X ballhead would be more than enough for the load
     
  6. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    If you were posting this in Nikonians' Tripod forum, the answer to your question would most probably be a Gitzo tripod and a Markins head. And as the owner of both, I would say that this is a hard combination to beat, but it is certainly not the most affordable, and the requirements for the body and lenses that you have listed are not exactly the same as a larger body (and sensor) with long glass, and possibly a telecovnerter. If I was in your shoes, I would probably look at tripods from Gitzo or Feisol, at the top end and Manfrotto and Sirui for more more affordable alternatives. Regarding ballheads, I would highly recommend any Markins if you like their set-up, and their competition like RRS, Kirk and Acratech. For more affordable alternatives, I would consider PhotoClam and Sirui.

    Yes, there are a lot of other combinations to consider, but this is equipment that has proven itself to me, or to folks who I absolutely trust. What I really like about my Gitzo/Markins set-up is that I can load it up with a lot of gear, and not have to worry about it moving, even in high winds. I have taken long exposures with a D300, a 2.0TC and a 300mm lens, and there is no signs of any movement. I know that some would say this is overkill, but this gear was purchased for my Nikon equipment, and the beauty is that it should last me a lifetime, regardless of format. If you decide that this type of set-up is overkill for your needs (and it most probably is to some degree), then I suggest not skimping on the ballhead. A good ballhead is the difference between a great experience, and lot of frustration. I acquired a Sirui compact ballhead last year and have found it to be quite nice, but its use history is more limited than some other brands, so I do not know how well it holds up on the long run.

    Good luck,

    --Ken
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. 50orsohours

    50orsohours Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 13, 2013
    Portland Oregon
    I just bought a benro tripod and vanguard head. It is a bit too tall all opened up for me and I'm 6'3. That is not including the center piece - I love this setup
     
  8. JCWOlson

    JCWOlson Mu-43 Regular

    78
    Mar 9, 2014
    Hey, thanks for the informative post Ken. I doubt I'll ever get a gitzo tripod, as they're nearly triple what I'm willing to spend ($1200 to my door if I want the tall CF mountaineer), BUY I am looking into the Markins ballheads - the q10i looks perfect at a price of $406CAD shipped. Perhaps it will meet a Surui set if legs, if I don't get the Manfrotto..

    Which set of Benro legs are they, Hours? What I've looked at seem short..

    Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
     
  9. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    For travel, compactness is very important to me. I ended up with the somewhat rare Benro Travel-Flat design in carbon. This after traveling with a Gitzo Compact Reporter. The difference in pack-ability (is that a word?) between the conventional tripod design and the travel-flat is really significant. My Benro also has a monopod leg, so I have that need covered as well Search eBay for "Benro C2192TB1" to see the one I bought.
    I bought the kit with the Benro ball head. IIRC the head was another $10-30 so I figured that I could sell it at a profit if I decided I wanted a better one. I still have it. It's good, maybe not great, but adequate for my needs.
    Gong! The Benro is twist lock, of course. I don't care for lever-lock legs because of their bulk and propensity to catch on things. YMMV. On the Benro, when it is collapsed, I can loosen and tighten all four of the leg locks by gripping them simultaneously with one hand. Very fast for half of the loosening/tightening activity. When the legs are extended the locks must be dealt with individually of course but I don't find it burdensome or time-consuming.

    There are other travel-flat type designs out there as well. I'd encourage you to check this type of design as part of your quest.

    Edit: Here's a good read: http://www.bythom.com/support.htm
     
  10. JCWOlson

    JCWOlson Mu-43 Regular

    78
    Mar 9, 2014
    That Benro seemed easy enough to find - $415CAD shipped, though it's on eBay... From China..

    Yeah, that article is actually why I'm willing to spend so much on my setup right now. That and the fact that the Optex tripod I have vibrates and wobbles (the plate that switches it from landscape to portrait doesn't even sit flat).

    If I made more money from photography, sure, I'd buy Gitzo. Even buying the series 2 systematic long + markins q10 for my OMD only brings the EVF to about 170cm, which is a fair bit below eye level, and would total over $1400 after taxes and shipping. Ouch.

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  11. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Yes. I bought from "dc-stuffs" who is I think now "dc-photo-stuff." It was very easy and he was quick to deal with a small misunderstanding with a free replacement part. Personally I have become quite comfortable buying from sellers in China. YMMV of course. When I bought, the Benro designs with the monopod legs did not seem to be available from North American sellers.

    Re Gitzo, I have had a Gitzo monopod and a couple of Gitzo tripods. The cosmetic and build quality of the Benro is equal to the Gitzos IMO. I will never know whether the Benro is as rugged as the Gitzo because I do not work it hard enough, but I have no reason to think it won't be.

    Re Series 2 Gitzo, the stiffness of a "column" (what the MEs call a tripod leg) is proportional to something like the fourth power of the diameter. So adding 20% to the diameter (and weight) gets you roughly double the stiffness. There are Benro Travel-Flats with smaller diameter legs, but the stiffness issue was why I picked the fat-legged 2192. In Gitzo, I would be looking at Series 3 for the same reason.
     
  12. it'sAlvin

    it'sAlvin Mu-43 Regular

    75
    Feb 16, 2014
    Bay Area CA
    Alvin
    Browsing Adarama's overstock catalog just now I saw the Manfrotto 055cxpro4 carbon goin for $317.50. B&H has it also for 2 cents more w/ free shipping. Then perhaps a ballhead from Really Right Stuff like the mid sized BH40 would be a nice setup.
     
  13. JCWOlson

    JCWOlson Mu-43 Regular

    78
    Mar 9, 2014
    The systematic series doesn't have a center column, which is great, so I figured the 2 series would be fine, reaching 150cm without it.

    Yeah, I was looking at that yesterday, and it's definitely still a consideration. Maybe that and the markins q10? That gets me to my $800 price point and hits nearly everything I'm after, I guess. I'm still browsing through the Gitzo stuff to see if I'm willing to spend the extra.


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  14. Rudy

    Rudy Mu-43 Veteran

    449
    Jan 24, 2013
    Oakland, CA
    I have a Feisol CT-3442 with an Arca Monoball P0.
    The head is quite ingenious in that it is reversed from regular ball heads.
    This allows you to level with the head and then use the built in rotational axis.
    It's also the perfect size for Micro 4/3.
    The legs are also really nice, carbon fiber of great built quality from Taiwan.
    The combination comes in at just over 3 pounds and costs around $700.
    Rudy
     
  15. it'sAlvin

    it'sAlvin Mu-43 Regular

    75
    Feb 16, 2014
    Bay Area CA
    Alvin
    Another thing to consider is customer service/parts availability just in case your tripod or ballhead fail.

    After reading this and the comments

    http://www.richardbernabe.com/blog/2012/11/20/my-last-gitzo-tripod-ever/

    for fun I wrote Gitzo an email asking questions about which tripods would be suitable for my camera system. I got an automated email stating that I would be contacted shortly. Guess what, I never heard from them. I called and nothing. I'd most likely source parts through B&H if anything were to break on my Gitzo.

    So If I had to do it all over again Id go with a RRS tripod and head package. check out the video of the TQC 14.
     
  16. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Gitzo's are twist lock leg design which I take is a no go.. Otherwise, that and Manfrotto/bogen are the brands I generally stick to.

    Two tripods I do own that are not of those brands; Cullmann Magic 2 and Sirui T-005. Magic 2 is probably my least stable. Sirui is good for its size. Neither are what I would consider full height. Except for my old Bogen 3021 pro… they are all twist locking legs. Both were kinda a splurge buy. Magic is fairly old seen a lot of use since it slides into a backpack flat. The Sirui was bought when I didn't want to be concerned about loss/theft and it folded small.

    As for carbon, take a close look at them. Some of them are what I would say are gimmicky… They use the same materials and design for the tripod as with their aluminum siblings but simply replace the leg tubes with carbon fibre. They look nice. They look "professional" but from a weight perspective, the savings are often nominal. All for a premium price. Much of the weight are in the support structure of the tripod. Sometimes, the carbon fibre tubes themselves are thin as well. Others' (generally pricey) will design the entire package as a whole focused on light weight without any sacrifice in sturdiness. They often use to magnesium instead of aluminum allow for the support structure in addition to the carbon fibre legs. You'll also want to look at how many sections are in the legs. More sections, more compact when folded. Less sections, less compact but more stable. The gitzo traveler is a nice choice but again twist locks… they come in both 4 and 5 section.
     
  17. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    From my understanding, Feisol has very good customer support in the US from its distributor.

    http://www.feisol.net/

    --Ken
     
  18. 50orsohours

    50orsohours Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 13, 2013
    Portland Oregon
    http://www.amazon.com/Benro-C2970F-...Versatile+Tripod+with+Aluminum+Flip+Lock+Legs

    I bought the aluminum version though.

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...50 Magnesium Ballhead with Sliding Quick Shoe

     
  19. JCWOlson

    JCWOlson Mu-43 Regular

    78
    Mar 9, 2014
    So I got my hopes up when I saw the now-discontinued series 3 revision 1 long 4 section Gitzo Mountaineer on sale at dpreview's gear shop for $689... Well, they don't ship to Canada.
    So the new revision of the mountaineer series is listed as 22% thicker-walled, taller, with pretty much every little detail tweaked a bit for better stability and whatnot. The GT2543L is $804.99, is 151cm without the center post, and other than being double my budget for legs, sounds perfect. What do you guys think?

    Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
     
  20. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    I would be happy to forward if you need a US address.
    Hard to say. On one hand, thicker walls do nothing for stability. What they do, though, is make it tougher to crush the tube if you stand on it or sit on it. The decision to go thicker may be due to unhappy field experience, in which case it may be important to you. It could just be due to wanting a new model claim or to one-up a competitor, in which case it may not matter.