Tripods, yet again, CF vs Aluminium?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Lisa Horton, Feb 16, 2004.

  1. Lisa Horton

    Lisa Horton Guest

    Yes, my long search for my new tripod continues, but nears an end :)

    I'm pretty sure I've narrowed it down to 2 choices: Gitzo 1320 or 1327.
    Both do what I want, one is metal and the other is CF (and over $200

    Weight is a relatively minor consideration, I already have a very light
    compact tripod suitable for travel. This is for use out of the van
    only. CF I know is not only lighter but more rigid and doesn't transmit
    vibration as well as metal.

    But here's the rub: I'm going to be (for now) using the tripod with
    small format cameras that in the overall scheme of things don't weigh
    very much. Although I'm in no way an engineer, my perception is that
    heavier tripods give better mass coupling to the ground. And I'm
    thinking that with light weight cameras, the extra weight of the metal
    tripod might actually make for a more stable rig.

    I'm old enough now to feel it reasonable to expect this tripod to last
    the rest of my working life, and this may well be the last tripod I ever
    buy. So the $ difference isn't as important as getting the right

    So, for relatively light cameras, does the extra weight of metal offer
    any advantages at all over the stiffness and vibration damping of CF?

    Lisa Horton, Feb 16, 2004
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  2. Lisa Horton

    Alan Browne Guest

    Lisa Horton wrote:

    The only weakness of CF and a light load *might* be vibrating when it is
    very windy ... or toppling over in a strong wind.

    You might consider the CF with a bungee cord hanging underneath, with a
    loop or stirup at one end to put your foot through to hold it down to
    the ground (as was described by another poster recently).

    You say it will be "for use out of the van only", but why 'limit' the
    range of use ... get one that can cover future eventualities.

    It can be sold one day. So far I haven't seen the prices of CF 'pods
    falling very much.

    If I ever buy a tripod again, it will be CF.

    Alan Browne, Feb 16, 2004
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  3. Lisa Horton

    PSsquare Guest

    The heavier unit will always produce less motion for the same disturbance.
    That is simple physics. But, that need not point to the aluminum version.
    When you need more weight to steady the CF tripod, then just hang a plastic
    grocery bag from the center column and fill the bag with mass using whatever
    is available. Rocks are the standard, I guess. Given that CF does dampen
    motion better, then with the weight bag you have the best of both.

    At least, that is how I see it.

    PSsquare, Feb 16, 2004
  4. Lisa Horton

    Peter Irwin Guest

    Have you looked at the old technology solution of a wood tripod?

    There are some at <> which look promising.

    I don't own one myself (I use an old Manfrotto 190 metal tripod),
    but when I need a new tripod they will be a the top of my list.

    Peter Irwin, Feb 16, 2004
  5. Lisa Horton

    Lisa Horton Guest

    I guess I should have mentioned, I often, almost usually, hang my quite
    heavy bag from the tripod while in use. That's about 15-20 extra pounds
    Well, I've already got the "small light" function covered well. This is
    to be my "big" tripod to complement the other one. I'd considered
    getting a new "do it all" tripod, but for the big one I'd prefer 3 leg
    segments, but prefer 4 for the travel tripod. If it doesn't fit into
    carry on, it doesn't go as I don't intend to gift my tripod to a luggage
    I hope to keep this one for what's left of the rest of my life :)
    Oh, I'm a big fan of CF too, I like my current CF tripod very much. I'm
    just dubious about a single tripod doing it all, as I have different
    needs for traveling and local use.

    Lisa Horton, Feb 16, 2004
  6. Lisa Horton

    Lisa Horton Guest

    I've looked into wood, and didn't much care for what I saw. The
    advantages are there, but the inconvenience factor is considerable.

    Lisa Horton, Feb 16, 2004
  7. Lisa Horton

    Lisa Horton Guest

    But is weight hanging from the tripod really equal to weight of the
    tripod? Would the same amount of weight (my 15-20 lb bag) hanging from
    a metal tripod be any more stable or wind resistant than hanging from a
    CF tripod?

    Lisa Horton, Feb 16, 2004
  8. Lisa Horton

    Mark M Guest

    I can think of one instance where a heavier tripod helps... On my Bogen,
    there's a middle column that can be mounted horizontally, which helps with
    some macro work (you can shoot directly down without needing the tripod
    dierctly over the subject). -The weight of the tripod allows for greater
    extension to one side without the tendency to tip--since the camera will be
    off to one side of the pod. With a CF, you would have trouble without a
    weight hanging from center, or without having one leg extending toward the
    subject (which would defeat teh purpose of the horizontal column anyway).
    Mark M, Feb 16, 2004
  9. Lisa Horton

    TP Guest

    Have you considered a Velbon?

    TP, Feb 16, 2004
  10. Lisa Horton

    PSsquare Guest

    Okay Lisa, you asked a few questions. So here goes.
    Your meaning is not 100% clear here. If you mean is a 5 pound tripod/camera
    combination with 15 pounds of mass added in a bag equal in stability to a
    heavier 20 pound tripod/camera combination, then it is pretty much that
    same. In either case the legs have 20 pounds of down force resisting the
    wind that is trying to flip it all over. Mass is mass. (I will grant to
    any nitpickers out there that it would be better if the bag could not swing
    around a bit, but a 15 pound sack of rocks isn't going to swing very much.)
    The laws of physics don't care if it is from rocks or a heavier tripod
    material, like aluminum.
    If the total mass is the same, it is the same. Both will have the same
    ability to resist the wind's lateral forces. But, metal has essentially
    ZERO mechanical damping compared to carbon fiber. So, the vibrations from
    the wind or from mirror slap in a SLR will die out more rapidly with the CF
    tripod. This gives CF the edge. The shock absorbers in your car are
    mechanical dampers. Recall how a car with bad shocks will roll around after
    hitting a pot hole as compared to a car with good shocks. CF basically adds
    three shock absorbers to the suspension.

    Hope that this has helped. To me there are three benefits to CF. Foremost
    is their vibration damping. Second is that CF makes it easier for my spouse
    to carry the tripod for me. Finally, CF impresses other photographers
    althought a bit less than pulling out a 500mm lens. Two out of three
    reasons are valid in my book.

    PSsquare, Feb 16, 2004
  11. Lisa Horton

    Lisa Horton Guest

    In fact, yes. At the PMA show I examined the Neo Carmaigne CF tripods.
    These are much like the Gitzo Mountaineer line, but with a few
    differences. The leg lock grips are superior on the Velbon. The
    variable leg angle device is different, perhaps arguably better, perhaps
    not. They are as expensive and sturdy as the Gitzo, the rep encouraged
    me to really lean on it to demonstrate it's strength.

    But Gitzo has more years of experience with tripods and with CF, and I'm
    interested in the very best for my application.

    Your blanket dismissal of Velbon is amusing, if largely correct. But to
    ignore their better lines is to degrade your own credibility, IMO.

    You really should check out the Neo Carmagne line, they are very
    different from the vast majority of Velbon products. Then again, it
    might force you to reevaluate your opinions, so maybe you should not see
    them :)

    Lisa Horton, Feb 16, 2004
  12. Lisa Horton

    Lisa Horton Guest

    Almost what I meant. A 5 lb camera with a 15 lb bag on either a 3lb or
    7lb tripod.
    In this case, the total mass would be similar, but not quite the same.
    The essence of the original question was, given a light camera, does a
    metal tripod, either through extra weight or some other way, give ANY
    advantage over a similar but lighter CF tripod. I think you've answered
    that question quite well. Thanks!


    PS: I think it's really funny that my spell checker suggests "spyware"
    as a correct spelling for your handle :)
    Lisa Horton, Feb 16, 2004
  13. Lisa Horton

    KBob Guest

    Am not sure where you got the idea that CF doesn't transmit vibration
    as well as aluminum. In fact one of the reasons that graphite
    composites are seldom used for rocket casings in aerospace
    applications is due to severe problems caused by the relatively high
    vibration conduction of graphite. Aluminum, for the same
    applications, tends to dampen vibration, and is relatively "dead."
    KBob, Feb 17, 2004
  14. Lisa Horton

    Lisa Horton Guest

    Wow! It's not hard to see how I got this idea, look over the other
    responses in this thread, as well as many tripod reviews and articles.
    I'd go so far as to call it conventional wisdom.

    But that doesn't mean that I necessarily doubt what you're saying
    either. If you happen to have convenient to you some links where I
    could read more, I would be very curious. It wouldn't be the first time
    that conventional wisdom was wrong :)

    Lisa Horton, Feb 17, 2004
  15. Lisa Horton

    Alan Browne Guest

    Not all CF is the same. Ratio of fibre to binding, fibre angles, curing
    method, etc, ad infinitum result in materials with differing mechanical

    IAC, CF tripods are known in particular for vibration damping...and
    light weight.
    Alan Browne, Feb 17, 2004
  16. Lisa Horton

    Alan Browne Guest

    How could TP's credibility be any lower than it already is?
    Alan Browne, Feb 17, 2004
  17. Lisa Horton wrote:

    Mass is mass, but the effect of mass depends on where it is. There are some
    number of considerations that arise in this regard. You want maximum
    maneuverability, have the center of mass as close to the center of the
    volume as possible to reduce polar moment. You want maximum stability,
    polar moment becomes a useful factor, which is why steady-cams work. And
    how high-wire performers survive, etc.

    Another factor is center of gravity. For stability, you want it close to
    the ground. Etc.

    Here's what I do: I hang a weight under the tripod, and then I drape a
    heavy (weighted) cloth across the camera (or point of tripod mount,
    actually) to soak up any vibration and to place real mass at the camera
    itself. Works great!


    Bill Tallman
    William D. Tallman, Feb 17, 2004
  18. Indeed!! But is it wrong?! Dimensional stability (stiffness) causes
    vibration to be transmitted very rapidly and effectively. Carbon fibre
    possesses this quality in abundance, but then one has to consider what is
    happening in this instance. If you use a carbon fibre tripod, and there is
    an earth tremor, the camera movement will reflect it very well. If the
    earth is (relatively) motionless, so will the camera be.

    The question here is where the force is applied and what the source of the
    force is. For our purposes, it's almost entirely wind. A tripod that
    resists distortion will retain the stability of the earth much better than
    one that does not. So what is being transmitted here is the lack of motion
    available from the ground. Which is why carbon fibre tripods are well
    regarded in this matter.

    Does this make sense?

    Again, mass applied to the location of interest will be most effective. A
    weighted bean bag draped across the camera/lens is one of the most
    effective vibration reducing tactics I know.

    Bill Tallman
    William D. Tallman, Feb 17, 2004
  19. Lisa Horton

    TP Guest

    Thank you.

    Your defence of the indefensible is even more amusing,
    if largely a waste of your valuable time.
    TP, Feb 17, 2004
  20. Lisa Horton

    Alan Browne Guest

    More meaningless dribble from you, TP.

    Lisa was quite clear about a specific model from Velbon which was of
    very good design and materials. She certainly did not make a blamket
    endorsement of the companies entire range of products.

    This is quite typical of TP.
    -live on assumptions
    -when the exception pops up, not recognize it
    -backpedal with insults when he is faced with the evidence

    Alan Browne, Feb 17, 2004
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