tripods Tag

And when better than at Christmas time. If we need a family picture with all of us in it - and not missing the photographer yet again - we need a helping hand. Or three helping legs, as it happens. The Christmas dinner table can support more than the turkey and salad - it can hold up a table tripod. If you have a good big tripod that you use for studio shots, wildflowers, or landscape shots by all means take it to the family gathering and set your camera up on it. Activate the 10-second self timer and run round to your place at the edge of the family group for the photo. No matter how bad you look, it will be a precious memory. That's if it is in focus and no-one moves. If it is a technical failure big-time, you have a problem. Not only is it a memory lost, but you lost it...

If you follow baseball you know that a batting average above .300 is considered a sterling achievement, and over .400 nearly impossible. Yet I know a photo firm that bats 1.000. Not every retailer, I hasten to say, nor yet every wholesaler. They do their best but sometimes strike out. I'm thinking of a manufacturer - a maker of studio and lighting equipment; Manfrotto. You can be as surprised at this as you like, but my experience with their goods has been uniformly...

You may recall the movie or the song, but remember that every studio needs stands. Camera Stands, light stands, hot dog stands. ( well photography makes you hungry. ) General Custer used to make stands, but his last one was somewhat of a failure. I went looking in the Stirling Street shop for economical stands for the new video venture. Not for me - I have 6 or 8 Manfrotto light stands of various types and they have never failed me. I have a Gitzo tripod that is the same - and a home made studio stand that hasn't fallen over yet. I'm okay - it's my dancer model who needs to build up a dance studio set at her own home. And not at high prices. Could we do it? a. A tripod is needed. I don't care what the adverts show you about putting a mobile phone on a light stand - if you have to support it on the ground and it has to be at least up to navel height, you need a proper tripod.   The INCA tripod I discovered...

A guide to the newest idea for tripod legs. And not just for tripods - The Manfrotto people have come up with something for the monopod and video rig users as well. That's Sgt. Sharma at the en garde position with the new FAST leg locks. It would appear one twist of the entire hand section unlocks both ends of the tube - then one twist locks it again. The technology has been adapted for tripod legs: Up until now we have seen any number of locking mechanisms applied to tripods - and even in the Manfrotto stable there have been variations - one era seeing thumb screws and the next clip locks. Other makers utilise screw collars or spring-release collars to some success, but I can say from personal experience that the more precisely a thread is cut the more it attracts sand particles and the more it fights you back when you try to operate it quickly or with delicacy. I wrote earlier in this column about lens juggling, but you can find yourself doing a plate-balancing act with some camera...

I am not being rude to either you or Gitzo. When you give them money and they hand you a product it may be the last time you see each other. The things they supply are so well made that you would be hard pressed to break them in a lifetime. Their best bet for repeat business is to keep designing unique camera supports - you may never woear out the last thing you bought but you might be so pleased with it that you'll come back with more money. Thus the studio three-way head you see in the top image. The GHF 3W. Under a kilo weight. Supports 13 Kg. Arca/Swiss plate included. Three way fluid damped. Foldable levers. Horizontal/vertical option when tilted. Locking lever to keep camera on head even when you lose yours. Rotatable levelling bubble. The price is serious folding money but if you want a rock-solid head for your rock-solid Gitzo tripod here it is. I can't have one because I haven't finished my Gitzo Studex 5 and large format head yet. It's been holding studio cameras since 1990 and I still haven't chewed it up....

And be prepared to be horrified. I say this having been told of some of the things that tripods do by the repairman in our shop. He has a set of tales that would have Stephen King sleeping with the lights on. With his encouragement I tested out my tripods and found them wanting. To be fair, they are not new - and they are not the first tripods I ever bought. They came to me over a period of decades when I felt I needed better camera support. In some cases I was not thinking very well at the time. The repairman told me of a test that can be done for the overall condition of the support. Remove your camera and set the tripod open upon a firm floor. Then push down on the tripod head as if you were applying the weight of a camera. If all is well it won't collapse. If it does collapse quickly you have a basic problem - it may be made of flimsy materials or with poorly-designed joints. It may be overextended for the weight-bearing...

No really. Go ahead. I won't scream. Because if you feel it and it seems loose, I can tighten it. The maker of my photo tripod included a natty little Allen spanner that can firm up the leg lock. If I have lost the spanner, the technician at Camera Electronic can do the job for me - and check out all the other things to which a tripod may be prone. a. Corrosion - With the exception of very few specialist tripods, they can all go manky if you stand them in salt water or chemicals. This may not be evident from the surface but can affect the joints. b. Sand - And other particulate matter. This also gets its entry into the sliding joints of a tripod as well as the locks and screw parts. Enough grit and enough wear can loosen or jam any tripod. They don't mention this in the advertisements but lots of the beaches in  Western Australia are made up of sand...

Sorry about the tortured English of the title - late night and too much coffee. What I really meant to say is " Here is a tracking gimbal mount for a very large telephoto lens that is not made with the Wimberley uni-pivot design. It's from the old masters of aluminium - Manfrotto. The design is double-pivot over a central training point with friction locks for the horizontal axis. It has a very simple but very sturdy construction - there has been no over-styling with it. The lower section of the support bracket has also been clad in a neoprene or rubber material - i suspect this is to assist photographers in cold weather conditions to avoid freezing to the metal. The mount is the standard large Manfrotto 577 sliding mount adapter that will couple to very large cameras and lenses. There is no more to this than what you see, but what it is is imminently usable and durable. I do note one bit of swank; they've included a plate that attributes the design to Graziano Ferrari. He turns out to be a...