July 18, 2024

 

tripod title shot

 

 Tripods I Use and Love  –

In a recent article I presented the pros and cons of taking a tripod along on travel adventures. ( To review that article – click HERE ) I got a lot of feed back on that article and one frequent question. Seems people wanted to know what tripods I use for my own photography. So I thought I would share some information about the tripods I use and currently have in my photography kit.

Let me start by saying that there are hundreds if not thousands of tripods available on the market these days.  They range from the vary small to the very large, the very light weight to the very heavy, and of course – from the very inexpensive to the extremely expensive.  So let me be clear – this article is not a review of tripods on the market.  This is merely a straightforward presentation of the tripods I currently have and use along with some of my thoughts and experiences related to these tripods.

A piece of background.  The tripod you use depends, in part, on the equipment you use. Small cameras don’t require much of a tripod to provide stable shooting support.  Big cameras with big lenses, on the other hand, require bigger, more solid tripods.  So here is what I shoot with. (It’s a variety – OK?  Please don’t laugh.)

iPhone 5, Kodak Zi8, Pentax Optio SR 10, Nikon D2x, Nikon D300, Nikon D600

And I use a variety lenses on my Nikons, the largest being the Nikon 70 – 200mm and I might “stretch it” a bit with 1.7 Nikon extender.

So the smallest load on my tripods is my iPhone 5 ( a bit over 4 ounces with case) and the largest load is the Nikon D2x with the 70-200mm lens and the 1.7 extender attached (around 6.75 pounds).

CURRENT TRIPODS IN MY PHOTO KIT –

Flexible Pocket Tripod –

tripod polaroid

This is the smallest of the tripods I use.  About 4 1/2 inches long and weighing only  1.7 ounces, it’s small enough to slide into your shirt pocket.  And it has a pocket clip to make sure it doesn’t fall out.  It’s a great little tripod with flexible legs to allow for easy placement on uneven surfaces.  There’s a screw attachment at the top.  Mine is a basic generic unit.  I can’t find any name on it.  I picked mine up at a photo store in the $2.00 bin.  I located what appears to be the same unit with the Polaroid name on it on Amazon.com. ( see the ad link below) It sells for $2.99.  Very reasonable.  I use it with my Kodac Zi8 for video and my Pentax Pocket Digital Camera.
tripod phone holder

 

The screw at the top of this small tripod will screw directly into most compact cameras. I also use the flexible tripod with my iPhone but to do so I have a clip on stabilizer mount which attaches to the phone and the tripod screws into the mount. The stabilizer is a tension expansion unit. It expands so you can slide your iPhone into place.  The tension then grips the phone for use. The nice thing about this clip is that it can be used with the iPhone still in the case.  But the range of expansion is limited so it doesn’t work with really big phones.  The one I have expands to a maximum of about 2.75 inches.  Measure first!

 

Small Light Weight Travel Tripod –

tripod velbron

Velbron Max i 343E  

This travel tripod is not the strongest or most sturdy tripod on the market, but it does work well for travel.  Small and relatively light weight, it will definitely help you get better photos than if you hand hold. It has served me well on travels in the U.S. , Europe, and Asia.   It will support a fairly heavy  camera/lens load  if you take care to balance the load.  I’ve used it with my D2X and my 70-200 mm telephoto in a pinch. (Of course I did add to the stability a bit by hanging my backpack from the tripod for extra weight.)

 

  • Length – 17.5 inches folded
  • Weight – 1.9 pounds
  • Height – Extends to 62 inches (with center column)
  • Comes with removable ball head
  • Spiked and rubber feet
  • Mostly metal construction
  • Carrying case included

The 343E  comes with an adjustable head which is adequate for lighter camera loads.  Unfortunately, the 343E is no longer available.  Velbron does continue to make a large line of tripods but the 343E is gone.  Newer models of Velbron tripods appear to be heavier and are clearly more expensive than the 343E.  But I have seen the 343E on Ebay for around $30.00  And you might get lucky on Craig’s List.

 

Normal Use Tripod –

Tripod giotos

 

Giottos MT 8180  This is the largest of the tripods I use. It is my “go to,” “Rock of Gibralter” tripod. A pro level tripod with four section legs of carbon fiber construction, it is strong, versatile, and relatively light at 5.7 pounds considering it is built to firmly hold a 26 pound camera / lens load.

 

 

 

Here are the technical details:

Max Height w/extended column 71″ /180 cm
Minimum Height 10.5″ /27 cm
without center column
Closed Length 23.3″ /59 cm
Leg Sections Four
Leg Lock Type: Twist-lock
Max Load Capacity Appx 26 lb /12 kg
Weight 5.7 lb /2.6 kg
Notes Independent Leg Spread
Two Center Column Sections
Camera platform can be removed from column
Rapid sliding Center Column Type

The MT 8180 is no longer available, but you can occasionally find them used. Currently one is listed at Adorama for $334.00 (click here for page link or click ADORAMA and search for newer listings).

 

Tripod Head –  

A tripod does you no good without a way to affix your camera to the tripod.  That’s what the tripod head does.  And again, there are hundreds of tripod heads out there on the market.  I already described above the clip on stabilizer which I use for my iphone with the pocket sized tripod. This is essentially a  specialty head adaptor for that small tripod. And the Velbron comes with a simple head included.  For my Giottos I use a Manfrotto 322 Pistol Grip Head.

tripod head

 

 

This head has a rather different design but it is really great  for most of my shooting.  When you squeeze the grip the head/camera assembly moves freely allowing you to position and frame your shot. Release the grip and the camera locks into the selected position.  This system allows you to quickly and accurately orient your camera for the shot.

I have personally purchased and used all of the equipment reviewed and have not been paid for any of the reviews.  Any purchases made directly by “clicking through” from the site will, however, help support this site and will be greatly appreciated.

Until next time –

Shoot Steady With A Tripod ……… And Enjoy The Adventure!

Dr.B, The Photo Trekker

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