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Travel Tripods

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by Repp, Jun 7, 2012.

  1. Repp

    Repp Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 27, 2011
    Seoul, South Korea
    I currently spend about 1/2 the year living out of a suitcase for work, and then when I travel I'm either backpacking, riding around on my motorcycle, or city traveling w/ just a carry-on bag. I'm looking for a good, sturdy tripod that is compact enough that I'll actually be willing to take it with me... Price really isn't an issue. It must be able to fit on the side of a 45L Backpack, a 30L Carry-on, or on the bottom of a Satchel without sticking out too far.

    I currently own a Gorillapod Hybrid which I find pretty nice for alot of shots, but very annoying when you can't find something of the right hight. And it's not quite as steady as I'd like for long exposure shots. I also own a Dolica that pretty much stays at home or in the car, b/c it's too large for me to carry 95% of the time.

    So far the best on the market seems to be the RRS TQC-14 with the BH-30 ball head. It's a bit long at 19.5 inches (17.5 w/o ball head) but has a reputation of being the best, with even the column and last leg sections being very useable.

    Alot of people really like the Gitzo GT1542T yet I've read people also say that the center column isn't usable, and the last leg sections are a bit un-sturdy. 16.75in w/o ball head. There's also alot of more affordable copies from various brands.

    People are also talking alot about the 3 Legged Thing Brian and the Sirui T-025 being more than enough for a m43 system, but I have to wonder at the usability and stability of the center column with all the moving parts... though they do fold up small.

    Any thoughts or suggestions? As I said earlier, I have no problems spending the money on a quality tripod and head, as long as it's compact enough that I'm willing to carry it around, tall enough for a 6' person, and also sturdy enough to do everything I'd want a tripod to do for a m43s system.
  2. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    "center column isn't usable"

    Please explain.... not sure what you mean. It goes up and down.... what else?

    MFT cameras are relatively tiny and lightweight.. some of the tripods you listed are overkill for it and bulky which IMO kinda defeats the purpose of shooting with a such a compact system.
  3. Uwharrie

    Uwharrie Mu-43 Veteran

    May 10, 2012
    North Carolina
    Lynne Ezzell
    I have been using the little Gitzo RT8000. Not super sturdy but seems to work well with a G5 and kit lens. And it fits in a messenger bag
  4. Tincam

    Tincam Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 25, 2012
    Feisol makes good carbon fiber tripods, comparable to the Gitzo you mention. Much cheaper though. I use a Feisol and love it.

    FEISOL Traveler Tripods
  5. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    Benro C2192T with B1 head! One leg converts to a monopod. I have had the Gitzo Compact Reporter, the Travel Angel and others. For travel nothing compares. The flat design is genius. The goofy center column is not an issue, though if you go on entomology safaris you opinion might be different.
  6. JimmyK

    JimmyK Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 11, 2012
    Seattle, WA
    James Knodell
    I have found a compact, sturdy and light-weight Sony (VCT-R100) tripod to be the perfect camera support for travel. It packs easily or can be slung over a shoulder in the reasonably sturdy carrying case that comes with it, but is so inexpensive, that it's really inconsequential if you choose to give it away or abandon it at the end of a trip. Alas, it's it's not a full-height tripod, doesn't include a ball-mount, but I find that it's compact size, when collapsed, it's light weight, sturdy construction and inexpensive price more than make up for its lack of height. I buy several at a time, then give them away at the end of trips.
    Amazon.com: Sony VCT-R100 Lightweight Compact Tripod with 3-Way Pan/Tilt Head: Camera & Photo
  7. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    X2 for the Benro Travel Angel. Mine is the super compact, 14" folded one - I think it might be discontinued now. It fits in my Tenba mini- messenger (just).

    That said, if I had the flat version, I would probably have it with me on this trip - just didn't have quite enough room for the higher profile of the "regular" one.
  8. Repp

    Repp Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 27, 2011
    Seoul, South Korea
    Usayit, I've read a few reports that the Gitzo's center column isn't very stable for long exposure shots and that alot of people recommend removing it.

    I realize some of them may be overkill, but I sadly don't have the stores around most of the time to try them out first hand. My hope though, is that this will be the only tripod that I'll ever need... which is why I was thinking of going a bit more on the sturdy side. I've held one of the fold flats... and I don't really like it for some reason, though I'm not sure why.

    That said, do you think something like the GK1580tqr5 (14in, and currently $100 cash back w/ purchase at BH) or the Sirui (12in) are better options?
  9. DekHog

    DekHog Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 3, 2011
    This is meant to be really good - think I'm going for it myself very soon....

    Ultra Rex-i L
  10. KellyinPA

    KellyinPA Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 2, 2011
    I have a Benro Travel Angel and have been happy with it. The price is significantly less than a Gitzo, and the quality is probably less as well.
  11. MikeB

    MikeB Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 10, 2010
    Atlanta, GA
    I do a bit of hiking, and have started carrying a Trek-Tech TrekPod. It's a walking stick with a magnetic quick-release on the head, so it very easily becomes a monopod. But the bottom 18" expands to become a tripod, as long as the ground is mostly level. It's not really good as either a walking stick or a tripod, but it's moderately good at being both at once. For a lighter weight camera, like anything m43, it's pretty stable, but not quite as good as a full tripod. There's a carbon-fiber model, if weight is more important than cost, and they do disassemble enough to fit into luggage.
  12. pxpaulx

    pxpaulx Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    That doesn't really have anything to do with Gitzo in particular, using the center column completely defeats the purpose of using a tripod - at exposures long enough to require the use of a tripod, using the center column will introduce movement - still better than handheld yes, but no where near as good as placing the camera at the tripod's peak of stability, i.e. lowered or no center column.

    As far as tripods go, I'd also recommend Feisol - they are just as good quality as gitzo (which I previously owned), and a significant amount less in cost. I have the CT-3471, probably quite a bit more than you'd want to travel with! But they have compact 4 section tripods that would be great as well. I bought mine (and previously a photoclam tripod head as well) from Feisol Tripods at ReallyBigCameras.com - it is a one owner importer, owner name is Kerry and he has been great to deal with, will answer any questions you've got before buying.

    Finally, if you're not sure about height, something around 54-57" tripod height will, after ballhead, be comfortable for viewing for a height around 5'10" (which I am!) - you can adjust your shopping height-wise based on those numbers. Also, if you're not using a viewfinder but the rear LCD you can be a little more lenient in height choice. Seems like the CT-3401 or CT-3441T would be the best choices for height/stored length possibilities from feisol.

    Edit: That sirui looks like it is 5 sections - to fold down that short it almost certainly has to be - those last legs would be unusably skinny!

    If you're looking at things as expensive as the gitzo traveler and RRS setup there, I can't recommend enough both feisol tripods and the photoclam heads (for m4/3 the pc-33n or 33ns are more than adequate, I would trust it to my k5 and 50-135mm f2.8 which is much more weight than anything m4/3 can throw at it). I happen to have bought both of mine at different times from the site I linked above, but whether you bought from them or not (photoclam might be cheaper on ebay, but a longer wait for delivery, adorama carries feisol stuff as well I think) I think both of these brands offer top quality comparable to gitzo or RRS at much more reasonable prices.
  13. pxpaulx

    pxpaulx Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    That can't be more than 4 feet extended! I wouldn't trust that many stress points outdoors with any sort of wind (and I wouldn't want to hang a bag under it to weigh it down either). Does that ballhead work as friction controlled, or only as tightened (locked down) or loose...? Friction control on a ballhead is the dividing factor between entry level frustation and you get what you pay for ease of use at higher $ values.

    When I need to travel with something super-light I just use a manfrotto table-top tripod, added a quick release clamp to it and then a nodal slide (with a quick release end) to keep the camera balanced.
  14. TDP

    TDP Guest

    It is about 4 feet tall fully extended, but it is my "compact travel tripod" for air travel and I've rarely used it at fully extended. I also have a carbon Manfrotto (medium height, had it for 5 years) and an all metal monster Manfrotto (tall, had it for 10+ years).

    The tripod in the photo has a hook on the bottom of the center post for hanging weight.

    The head is friction controlled. It came with a standard sized plate and a skier plate for balancing the camera/lens weight right over the center axis.

    The tripod/head supports 12kg but weights 1.26g and folds up to 32.5cm for travel. I've used it a lot with my 5DII and L class lenses without any problem at all, I'm pretty sure it will support any MFT body/native lens out there.

    Here is a link to the tripod, sorry it is in Chinese but it has pretty pictures.

  15. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    I agree with pxpaulx. The Gitzo/Travel Angel copycat in the photos looks too small and precarious for my taste. The C2192T Travel Flat that I mentioned earlier in the thread brings my camera just a couple inches below eye height when the ball head is mounted directly to the tripod top, without the small center column. With a 29mm max leg diameter it is very stiff. (Leg diameter drives stiffness and strength in a big way.)

    If you just don't like the flat design (why?) then my second choice would be the Travel Angel. I am sure that they have one with legs heavier than 25mm.

    Re heads, I agree again. The Benro B1 head that I am using was only $30 extra to buy (from dstuffs on eBay) with the tripod. I figured that if it wasn't very good I could resell it and even make a few bucks. But I did decide to keep it. The friction controls are decent, though it is a little stiff when making small movements. I decided this was an acceptable tradeoff against the much larger RRS and other ball heads. Travel gear, like life, requires tradeoffs.

    Re quick release, I would add a comment: All the Arca Swiss bases I have seen use a clamp screw to hold the plate. This works fine for a tripod if it is set up, but for a monopod or a tripod that is not set up it requires three hands. One for the camera, one for the monopod and one to tighten the clamp. I modified my ball head to use a Velbon quick-release where pressing the plate into the base releases the clamp automatically and the camera is secured. A good alternative, probably, would be one of the Manfrotto ball heads with the RC2 system. These also automatically clamp when the plate is inserted. I would have gone with a Manfrotto but I already had the Velbon piece and with a lathe and precision milling machine in my shop it was not a difficult exercise to adapt it.
  16. TDP

    TDP Guest

    I'm surprised you guys don't like it, it is generally well received. I've taken it to Phuket on 3 trips now and a few trips to the beach here, while I don't abuse my gear I certainly use the hell out of it. No issues at all so far.

    They sell Benro in the stores here as well (there are literally hundreds of camera stores in the city where I live) and side by the side the Jusinos are much better - but Jusino also cost more.

    Here it is next to the OM-D E-M5 and a Billingham Hadley Digital bag

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    Gear Shot by Photos by TDP, on Flickr

    and here next to a Hadley Pro

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    Rainy Steps by Photos by TDP, on Flickr

    And next to my 5DII, 16-35L II on top of my camera carry on case:

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    Travel Companions by Photos by TDP, on Flickr
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