Traveling sticks: tripods for the road – Part 1

When you are out of your element, make sure you have the essentials.
Or you just may miss something.
We’re on assignment out of town and were very thoughtful about the gear we brought along.
One was missing: a tripod.
As one of the heavier, most unwieldy, pieces of kit you use, it usually gets left behind when on the road.
Sure, we could use a carbon fiber monopod, but the rock steady 3 legged friend is always back in the gear storage when we hit the road.
what do you need it for?
One thing that has become a new learning experience recently is panoramic VR. You know, the multiple shots, stitched together which you can scroll through and zoom into ?
Like this. The Last Shuttle Project.
We get our camera mount from the knowledgeable people at Nodal Ninja.
Anyway, you need a tripod to do it right, we feel.
The hunt begins.
Lightweight, compact, sturdy, and well built, were the requirements.
Yes, we know a lot of gear should have those elements, but today we’ll put it on the tripods.
There are 2 key elements you need to match: the legs and the head.
Weight, of course, has a direct correlation to cost.
The legs should be carbon fiber, and fold as compactly as you feel comfortable packing them.
Then the head: ball heads seem to be the best choice for size and versatility.
Levels are helpful, but you should really consider the ability to adjust placement and lock tight into position, with the gear you’ll be using. An APS-C, or 4/3 sensor may not need the heft that a full frame DSLR or larger, with a big piece of glass hanging off of it will require.
Then there are the panning abilities. Remember it’s primarily for still photos we’ll be discussing here.
Video shooting will require a different head with dampened panning and tilting abilities, for movement within your shot.

OK, first up our tripod used initially is the Manfrotto 055CXPro4, 3.75 lbs, with a MH055M0-Q2 head, 2.03 lbs.

Carbon fiber legs, and a few bubble levels built in: on the tripod and on the head.
Heavy duty enough for your needs, even with a full DSLR and large 2.8 lens.

The added bonus of this tripod, a swing up and horizontal center column, allowed us to have a nice copy stand to get the pictures our good buddy loaned us, rephotographed to get them into a digital format. We travel with a sweet 28-300mm Nikon lens to keep our weight down, which works just right with this rig, for a variety of situations.

(NO, we didn’t have a scanner in the luggage so this was the best way.)

Most items of gear now are multi -purpose. Single service units are slipping away.
You know most still camera have HD video capabilities, even the most simple point and shoots.
Oh, and then there is your cel phone.
And it applies to tripods as well.
This Manfrotto unit will handle a large camera/lens set-up.
The tripod can handle over 17lbs, and the head is rated at over 26lbs.
Yes, you can use the head on other tripods.
The cross beam use of the center column also has its uses, as you could see. It also is shaped with an indent, so it won’t slip around when it’s locked into the cross beam feature.
Carbon fiber legs help cut down the weight.
A great tripod in many circumstances. Well built, excellent design on all elements.
Coming in at almost 6lbs and 21.56 inches closed, you should have a big enough bag to carry it all.
The cost? about $355 for the tripod and $240 for the head. Plus some rebate action happening now til Jan 15, 2012.

We’re talking travel here, though.

Let’s see what the next set-up will bring……..

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