Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tripods - why so short?

I have to ask a rhetorical question about photography tripods, why do manufacturers make them so short?  It seems that everyone views ~50 inches as the preferred height for a fully extended tripod (without resorting to an extendable center column), which for someone shooting HDR bracketed shots is WAY too short, especially as an extendable center column is something that should never be used as it introduces too much instability and vibration.

I'm 6ft 1-ish and would really like a good tripod that has no center column and extends to at least 72 inches and that doesn't cost a ridiculous amount to buy in the first place.  Yes there are a few that get close to this spec, but their price gets way high in comparison to the "normal" tripods.

Currently my only real option for a more cost effective tripod that comes closest to my requirements would require me to approach the issue in an out of the box manner - and a little customization.  Surveyors tripods, the ones used with lasers, theodolites and other measuring equipment are available in heights of ~72 inches and have no center column.  They will however need to have an insert added to convert their attachment screw to one suitable for mounting a photo tripod head but these are readily available for around $20.  However, the one flaw in this idea is that the tripod legs are not individually adjustable for angle and/or spread - other than manually stomping the steel leg tip into the ground to secure the tripod in place.  Also, as they are fitted with heavy steel spikes, they are not going to be usable anywhere other than on soil without some kind of rubber cover being attached.

I still haven't decided if I'm going to experiment with a surveyors tripod yet but my point is, that if these companies can make tripods that meet (most of) my requirements and price them reasonably, why can't the photography tripod companies do similar.  That or some enterprising individual or company take a surveyors tripod and convert it (at reasonable cost) to a photo tripod with individually adjustable legs and exchangeable leg tips.  And by reasonable cost I mean something in the $150 - $250 price range.

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