Tripod Tag

Every so often I find a cache of goods in our storeroom that do not sit on the racks downstairs - there is only so much space inside a concrete building and you have to leave room for the staff to sidle sideways. But the fact that the items are not on general show doesn't mean that they should not be seen - someone may benefit greatly from them. The winner with today's find is the studio worker who will be using a really heavy camera and lens setup that needs to be both rock solid and reasonably compact. The Cullmann Titan TB 8.2 is all that and incorporates a unique feature to secure the camera. We've all gone to some trouble to make sure our cameras are secure on the tripods we choose - many people attaching quick-release plates or brackets to the bottom of digital cameras. These work fine, if the tripod head has a correspondingly sturdy shoe and grip to hold the thing. But many large format and oddly-shaped cameras don't sit well on quick release plates. They still...

I well remember a tripod that was offered for sale with a ball head on the top and a very stylish set of control knobs on the side - locking for the tilt and also for the panning. The style adopted was minimalist and the maker thought that if they put a plain rubber cylinder there it would be  a world-winner. Possibly, in a world where there was no air, water, or grease to foul the fingers. Here on Earth the thing was a monumental nuisance when people tried to tighten it only to find their fingers sliding around and nothing really happening. Anyone who still owns one of these designs has either developed a grip like a gorilla or carries a pipe spanner in their back pocket. Thank goodness the designers at Manfrotto looked at real life and real requirements. They've issued new ball heads for their BeFree and larger tripods that incorporate very positive cast knobs. They are somewhat reminiscent of the knobs on a bathroom tap, but set sideways. This is no bad thing - remember that bathroom fittings...

You'll all remember the Three Legged Thing tripods and accessories that were popular a few years back - they had names that commemorated rock musicians together with wild colour combinations anodized onto their aluminium parts. Well, they're back, and blingier than ever. The big tripod in todays's shipment is the Leo with the airhead switch kit. It also bears the legend " Equinox Pro ". I am going to go out on a limb and imagine that the thing is named after Leo Sayer - I'm sure he'd be happy with being considered a pro, but I'm not so sure about the airhead bit. Make your own judgement...

When you buy a tripod, do you select the legs and then consider shopping for the head as a separate item? Or do you just accept whatever package the manufacturer decides to box up? Both approaches are valid, but this time we'll consider someone making a deliberate judgement. That someone is Carlos - and I showed you his pick of a Leofoto tabletop tripod that can unfold for extra leg length a few weeks ago. He's not just selecting on an idle basis - he paid out his own spending money for the rig. Now he has picked a particular ball head to go with it. The Leofoto LH25 is still a small head - in keeping with the size and form of the legs. But it has a massive ball for the size of the head and a very sturdy cage around it. Best of all, it is Arca Swiss compatible with a small grip and a large clamping knob - you can put sufficient pressure on the A/S rail to hold a decent-sized camera body. You also get something that many ball head...

Stap Me Vitals! I nearly forgot to post the pictures. A few posts ago I showed you a Leofoto folding tripod for tabletop use - the one Carlos has chosen for his portable rig with the extra attachment sockets on each leg. That should have been the sequel to today's post about the little sister tripod from Leofoto. the pictures of it got lost in the image morgue. Well, we shall resurrect them. The Leofoto MT-02 is just one leg length - it doesn't fold out like the video one. And the MTB-19 head that is attached to it is slightly smaller than the ones that go on the larger tripod - but the rig is charming nevertheless, and particularly so for the travelling panoramicist. Recognise the configuration? It's got the ball on the bottom and a turntable head on top - like a tiny version of the Arca Swiss P head. When you level the top with the camera attached, it is only a matter of loosening the turntable lock and the rig can swivel accurately. Perfect stitching later or pretty good dynamic...

Okay, that's hooey. Plastic dies regularly - just when you need it most. It explodes into shards and falls to the ground. Witness plastic cutlery and dinner plates. But plastic design never does - and we've been seeing plastic design in the matter of photo tripods for decades. Here's an example.   Sirix are a Chinese firm who make tripods that look remarkably like the ones we saw 20 years ago on the general photo market. Their legs and tripod screws are metal, but nearly everything else about them is black plastic. To be fair, it seems good quality material made up in familiar form. Professionals wanting an industrial-grade tripod for studio use can stop reading right now and go earn a living. The rest of us may actually benefit from the Sirix Digital Tripod more than you'd think. To start with...