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Carbon fibre tripods

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by Sucofni, Dec 10, 2015.

  1. Sucofni

    Sucofni TalkEmount Regular

    151
    Nov 8, 2015
    Are carbon fibre tripods worth the extra money ?
    As the new owner of an A7r , with it's lovely shutter. Would buying a carbon tripod .(instead of my alloy Manfrotto 190+ ball head) serve me any better regards damping vibes. Especially with longer shutter speeds. Or Is my present one good enough. I'm not ever likely to go beyond a focal length of about 135mm.
    I thought that as I've bought a high res camera I might as well make the effort to get the best out of it.
    I have in the past considered heavier the better, but remember reading, or hearing, carbon handles vibration better.
    Thanks for any enlightenment .
     
  2. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    Dunno about decreased vibrations (I'm skeptical), but every time I'm tempted by a carbon fiber tripod I compare the weight difference between it and aluminum, and it never amounts to "enough" difference for the difference in price. For me.
     
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  3. WNG

    WNG TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2014
    Arrid Zone-A, USA
    Will
    Unless you must keep it light and relatively small for let's say hiking, packing for carry-on. Then no, carbon fiber is not going to dampen better than an aluminum tripod. Property of aluminum is that it's pretty dead as a metal. It isn't springy like steel. As a pro photographer told me once, there is no substitute for a BIG heavy metal tripod for stability during long exposures.

    CF tripods focus on weight, therefore their tubing wall thickness is very thin, using high modulus CF for strength. It therefore becomes whippy with a heavy load, fully extended. Not familiar with any firm using thick-walled CF tubing for stiffness and strength. A low-modulus CF dampens vibration better.

    If you need lightweight of CF go for one, but the flipside is catastrophic failure...it will shatter once you cross its load threshold. Aluminum will suffer a dent or begin to bend instead. Damages to the weave due to chips and bumps will lead to cracking and the tube will need to be replaced.
    A replacement tube from Gitzo is very pricey!
     
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  4. Sucofni

    Sucofni TalkEmount Regular

    151
    Nov 8, 2015
    Thanks for the replies. I think I'll continue to subscribe to the heavier is better school of thought. I've never been one to shy away from a little weight hardship when out walking. I seldom do more than 10 miles any more anyway
     
  5. AlwaysOnAuto

    AlwaysOnAuto TalkEmount Top Veteran

    712
    Feb 17, 2015
    Very good summation Will.
    I've stayed away from them due to the failure mode and price myself.
    I'm still making good use of my trusty ol' Slik U212.
     
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  6. MAubrey

    MAubrey TalkEmount Top Veteran

    I can't speak to the rigidity and the weight benefit isn't as great as it could be, but from my experience, the biggest benefit is in cold weather. Aluminum gets like ice. Carbon fiber doesn't. That was a huge plus for me along with the weight (backpacking).
     
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  7. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    The good news is the cold of metal tripods is easily eliminated by sliding dense foam tubes up the legs.
    My Bogen/Manfrotto 3221WN Wilderness models come with the foam sleeves already installed, but they or something like them can be added to most any tripod.

    Manfrotto 3221WN Tripod Legs (Black) 3221WN B&H Photo Video
     
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  8. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    Even better, if it's really, really cold, you can just stick your tongue onto one of the legs. :p
     
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  9. xXx1

    xXx1 TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 15, 2013
    I just got Sirui T-1005X (aluminum). It weights 1 kg and costs 139 € locally. Sirui T-1205X (carbon fibre) would have cost 279 € and weights 800 g. Otherwise quite similar specs. I think that I will carry the extra 200 g and keep the money.

    Btw, this tripod replaces Velbon UT 43D that I broke when moving and is of much higher quality.
     
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  10. Promit

    Promit TalkEmount Rookie

    17
    Sep 1, 2011
    CF is better. Is it that much better? I remain unconvinced. Now I have a 190 and it's a fairly beefy tripod compared to some of the CF options out there, so there's definitely some weight to be shed. But I don't think you should switch just for stability, certainly not at the short tele setup you're using.
     
  11. pbizarro

    pbizarro TalkEmount Veteran

    349
    Nov 24, 2014
    Portugal
    You can test your set up yourself, with your existing tripod.
    I thing that up to 135mm focal length, there really is no issue with vibration from a good tripod, be it aluminium or carbon.
    Through the years I went from aluminium to carbon to basalt, for weight saving.
     
  12. Jefenator

    Jefenator TalkEmount Top Veteran

    876
    Nov 23, 2012
    Oregon, USA
    Jeff
    Anything that makes you want to take your tripod out and use it (instead of trying to get away w/ handheld) is worth some consideration. At home, I actually prefer my old Manfrotto 055 aluminum legs w/ 410 geared head for the hefty feel and ease (and precision) of adjustment.
    I got a set of new carbon fiber 055 legs which were noticeably easier on the shoulder for hiking - definitely worth getting on sale IME. Then I lucked in to a Really Right Stuff setup which can go up above my head without a center post and has a nice quick ball head, yet weighs less than the 055, legs only! It's going to take a while to recoup that, but I think of it as a lifetime investment. For those long hikes, it just feels like the right tool for the job.
    I used to do plenty of hiking with the old aluminum legs and a heavier head. Now that I'm middle aged, I've become okay with spending a few hundred bucks to take a few pounds off the shoulders.
     
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  13. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    The discussion about tripod weight got me thinking and in the end I was able to eliminate some unnecessary weight from a Bogen / Manfrotto 3021 Tripod.

    1) I don’t actually do any “hiking” on a regular basis...just the walks I make through wooded lake shorelines to get back to a cove or something for some shots.

    2) They’re rarely more than a few hundred yards so tripod weight has usually been tolerable;

    3) A couple days ago, however, walking almost a mile along irregular / hilly / heavily wooded lake shoreline I felt the weight of the tripod by the time I got back there, and of course had to carry it back out; (also wearing a military backpack with probably 20 lbs of stuff).

    4) Reflecting back on all my tripod use, I was surprised I’d never realized it before, but about the only time I use a tripod with all 3 leg extensions fully out is when shooting moon shots or something, not for shots in the woods or at sunsets…worst case only one of the leg extensions is used at all.

    5) In fact, often as not I don’t extend any leg sections at all as I’m kneeling down low for macro shots or something…just using the tripod height with both other leg extensions still up inside the main outer sections.

    6) So I took one tripod, and unbolted / removed the bottom, inner-most leg extension from all 3 legs. Bought some snug fitting 1” black rubber ‘chair leg’ protectors and put them on the ends of the now exposed middle leg sections…looks like it just came from the factory.

    7) The Bogen / Manfrotto 3021 tripod & head assembly weighed 6.25 lbs before hand.
    Removing even just the 3 smallest diameter 3rd leg sections dropped the weight down to an even 5 pounds.
     
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  14. SpaceManSpiff

    SpaceManSpiff TalkEmount Top Veteran

    547
    Dec 13, 2013
    Tucson, AZ
    Eric
    Sucofni,
    Have you seen this review? Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 carbon fiber tripod review, 055CXPRO3 vs 055XPROB vs 190CXPRO3 vs 190XPROB | Cameralabs
    Gordon has a video with a vibration test that I felt was worth watching, comparing an alloy 190 to the CF 055.

    I use an old (pre 1993) Manfrotto 055 legs with a manfrotto 488RC2 head...but have been researching CF tripod legs lately. I don't have any direct experience using them...but I am an avid cyclist (when they are not tearing up my road...Grrr). A couple of years ago, I was shopping for a road bike. I test rode a alu one, and then a CF one. Shockingly massive improvement in vibration damping. I can see how there could be a benefit in vibration damping using a CF tripod...
     
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  15. WNG

    WNG TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2014
    Arrid Zone-A, USA
    Will
    I'm also an avid cyclist. In applications of bike frames, it's a bit different. Vibration dampening is a product of fine tuning the directional weave and lay up of the CF to get the desired ride characteristics. Also the vibration source is the ground/road surface and the dampening out is in the direction of the rider. So this is more of a dynamic model. The CF must have a level of springiness to it. Hence why steel also rides better than aluminum. The stiff ride of Al is due to the lack of springiness to the metal.

    For a camera/lens, the vibration is introduced from it, opposite of the bike. And into a static mass, ie. the Earth. You are attempting to rigidly couple to the static and stable mass. So, your tripod/head should be as rigid as possible. Mass and rigidity are going to return the least vibration at the camera. The CF should be tuned to be exceedingly rigid. The only time you wish to tune for vibration dampening in the tubes would if the coupled surface is inducing vibrations into the tripod/camera.

    CF is used for strength to weight ratio and tuning for a given application. Where weight is considered, nothing so far can challenge it.
    But for a stationary camera platform, especially if it doesn't need portability, other materials are better choices for the cost.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2015
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  16. SpaceManSpiff

    SpaceManSpiff TalkEmount Top Veteran

    547
    Dec 13, 2013
    Tucson, AZ
    Eric
    Thanks for the explanation, Will. I see the logic in your reasoning. You aren't by chance a mechanical engineer, are you? Would hanging a weight (camera bag, stone bag, etc.) from a CF tripod increase the stable mass of the system?
     
  17. WNG

    WNG TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2014
    Arrid Zone-A, USA
    Will
    No, I'm not a mechanical engineer (but I play one on TV). :D
    Actually, I'm an electrical engineer. But always been a closet ME. I was involved in developing an E-fat tire bike last year. That was interesting!

    I read the article with interest...rapping the camera and timing it isn't the most scientific method. But it was mentioned how much stronger and more rigid the CF models were.
    And yes, hanging weight from the tripod is always a good idea for stability in windy conditions and LE shots. I hang my camera bag on mine.

    (One time I felt I wasn't going to need to....placed the bag down on the ground and soon realized the bag was crawling with ants! I accidentally put the bag over a ant mound! No fun trying to remove the ants from my gear! :p)