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Tripod travel advice

mlorne 14 33
31 Aug 2004 8:07PM
Good day all,

Sorry in advance for the length of this question, but it is a rather specific request for information. At the end of this month I am travelling to Venice and Florence on a photo/writing excursion for almost 2 weeks. I am taking the following with me:

Canon EOS 300D
Canon EOS 3
18-55mm EFS
50mm 1.8
105mm Sigma Macro
70-200L f4
420EX speedlite

Now, with regards to the tripod, I have a VERY old tripod that was given to me a few years ago. The weight, compared to some today, is more than acceptable. The chief problem is that the head is being held together by "string and a prayer" if you know what I mean. At least I am familiar with it's quirks, but I hesitate to bring it in that I may not be happy with it's performance in a travel situation.

Thus my questions:

a) I have never travelled with a tripod before. What are the physical implications of carrying one? Does it make you too conspicuous from a safety perspective having a tripod strapped to your daypack? Are there many restrictions for the use of the tripod in places such as churches and museums?

b) If I were to just break down and buy a new tripod and head, are there any recommendations within a 100-150 USD range? (I'm going to be spending enough on film as it is, I can't really afford much more at this point).

Thanks in advance for all of your assistance.


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ellis rowell 13 2.0k United Kingdom
31 Aug 2004 8:25PM
It depends how old the tripod is, if it is really old (pre-war) forget it. I would suggest that you put the longest lens on the camera, mount the camera on the tripod and try adjusting to different levels. If you get any problems with the camera drooping after you have adjusted it then it is not suitable.

When buying a new tripod, take you camera with the longest lens on, to the dealers and ask to try out the different models, only buy when you are satisfied with a tripod.

For the safety aspect, I suggest you buy (or make) a bag for it, which can be fastened onto your back-pack.
mlorne 14 33
31 Aug 2004 8:30PM
Thanks ellis,

Actually I have been using this tripod for some time now (about a year) and have grown quite used to it. However, it is missing one knob (necessitating the transfer of another knob in it's place each time I want to raise the centre post) and the landscape/portrait swing arm lacks any sort of lock...it has a tendency to flop over if I'm not careful when carrying LOL What a tripod indeed!

So, it satisfies my needs, I'm just not sure it will within the compressed time frames of travel photography.
mogwyth 13 358
31 Aug 2004 9:23PM
Just a thought, I am giong to get a monopod next week as I find the tripod is just a bit bulky to carry around and a monopod will be much more usable and less conspicuous particulary in a busy place like venice.
UserRemoved 14 4.2k
31 Aug 2004 9:46PM
Many churches/museums will not allow photography of any sort (certainly IIRC venice) so be prepared to not be allowed through the door!

Also make sure you wear long trousers and long sleeves as well for some churches.
phil beale 14 1.5k United Kingdom
31 Aug 2004 9:56PM

You can get some very compact tripods that will easily fit in a bag for around 50 not sure about the quality but if it's for a one off trip it may be ok.
If you want something longer term then it's worth spending the money. Pratical photography had a review on tripods this month may be worth a look. Best thing to do is look through magazines and online shops to see what would best suit your needs

Never sure about monopods there not much good for landscape work you know, look through the viewfinder add a filter move a twig wait for the lighting to be right.

Did think about buying one for when photographing at zoo's but i find myself constantly moving around to get the right angle/shot. the main use i see is for when using long/ heavy zoom lenses that would be awkward to support for any length of time.

Hope this helps

mogwyth 13 358
31 Aug 2004 10:15PM
Phil's right about the landscape bit, landscapes are the main reason I own a tripod. I should have been clearer I am only getting the monopod for the specific purpose of something compact to carry and use in busy places, I would imagine it will always be secondary to the tripod.
phil beale 14 1.5k United Kingdom
31 Aug 2004 10:29PM

What is the main reason for getting a monopod is to be able to use slower shut speeds (less camera shake) or as support for the camera. As I often see people using them at zoo's but can't help but feel they would to awkward to set up more shooting animals that are normally darting all over the place.

i do shoot digital now so maybe not restrained to sticking to one ISO speed so slow shutter speed is less of an issue

gajewski Plus
13 10 9 United States
31 Aug 2004 11:38PM
I just got back from 3 weeks in Italy (with 4 nights in Venice and 3 in Florence).
My biggest regret was not having a tripod with me. There certainly are times when the tripod will make you a bit conspicuous (see my shot of a Catholic nun uploaded to the photo gallery) but so many times you will be shooting in reduced light situations.
Some (but not all) of the churches do not allow any photography. However, you will find many that allow phtography but don't allow flash.

I saw many tourists carrying tripods or with tripods strapped to their backpacks and so it seems that moving though customs and security checks with a tripod is probably not an issue.

--== Walter
mogwyth 13 358
31 Aug 2004 11:41PM
I know a lot of wildlife photographers who swear by them for the sheer manovability, don't do much in the way of animals myself so I can't comment realy. Low light situations is exactly why I want to try one out, I have a bit a hate, hate relationship with flash photography and I prefer to use upping the iso above 400 as a very last resort. I'll probably get a cheapie from 7dayshop 10-15.00 first and see if it is any good for what I want, it may end as an expensive stake for my plants.
phil beale 14 1.5k United Kingdom
1 Sep 2004 1:15AM
Only thought is the cheaper the item the more you will hate it. It won't work as well will feel cheap and difficult to operate.

I speak from experience, I now own a Gitzo explorer, which is fantastic for landscape and macro work. I'm thinking off going on a photography holiday next year either a safari or over to Thailand and i know the Gitzo will be so heavy and bulky to take so I'm looking out for the ideal tripod at the moment light weight, compact, sturdy and secure with camera bolted on the head.

nikon5700ite 14 1.8k
1 Sep 2004 9:43AM
So long as you get a ball head with the monopod it will be pretty easy to carry with you since it acts as a walking stick when not supporting the camera. I have used a monopod with good results up to 560mm, look at what the sports guys and gals use at the ball game.

My tripod[s] usually stay in the back of the car or at home for 'studio' style work .. for getting around the place the monopod helps ME do that and also supports the camera.

The key to using it successfully is to have it tall enough so you stand comfortably providing the other two 'legs' to the "tripod" Smile

The ball head permits easy changing of camera from portrait to landcape [which the sports people do with a lock ring on the big telephoto lens]

There is often something you can lean the camera and monopod against .. trees, phone poles, buildings, rubbish contrainers for the very long exposures at night etc.

Personally I wouldn't dream of taking as much gear away with me if I wanted a holiday but that is personal preference.
nigelf22 13 583
1 Sep 2004 11:37AM
...you may even be lucky enough to find a tripod with a removeable (telescopic) centre column (that becomes a monopod) in your price range. I had one many years ago and it allowed greater flexibility.

I have used a really silly cheap "pocket" tripod that telescopes down to 12", but it doesn't extend much and won't take heavy loads, but perfect for my OM2 and 35mmm for "ad hoc" night shots...
mlorne 14 33
1 Sep 2004 2:33PM
Thanks for the replys and the opinions. I am torn, after doing some searching, between the following:

Manfrotto 055CL with Manfrotto 486RC2 Ball head (all in all fairly bulky, but more uses outside of travel) for approx. 130 GBP


Slik Sprint Pro GM (very compact, very light) for about 40 GBP.

Anyone have opinions either way or reviews of either. Would be extremely helpful.

collywobles 14 4.0k 10 United Kingdom
1 Sep 2004 4:01PM
I have a Manfroto + 141 head but its very heavy, to much I believe for travel. A really light carbon one will cost you lotsa dosh. I am going to try a cheap Velbon (once I get delivery) quite light but the quality is not really there. Still, onwards and upwards eh.

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