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Basic guidelines on selection of tripod and tripod head


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Oct 26, 2003
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Since many newbies had been seeking advice for a/m, we decided to put up a sticky.

Please correct or add in more selection criteria should you have one.

Please note these guidelines are not for selection of "Studio Tripod".

In these writeups, you will notice I am using mostly Manfrotto tripods and heads as examples. Its just that I have been using them right from the start and only used 1 Giottos ballhead lately. I dont receive anything from that company.

Very often, I hear people complaining how bad their tripod and tripod head is, cant even hold their camera with kit lens mounted. But the fact is, they are using an undersized tripod set. You cant expect a tripod that is design to carry a compact digital camera to hold a DSLR + grip + flash + big lens with constant aperture of f2.8 max. But why do they buy a undersized tripod in the 1st place? Simple answer will be weight and price. These were reasons that got for some of my friends to get a Manfortto Junior tripod, but use it for their DSLR, than complaint its a lousy tripod and wonder why so many of us uses Manfrotto.

Bottom line is, as with everything else, use the correct tools for the job.

Saw this quote posted by catchlights, but he told the originator should be ortega

Most people want 3 things when looking for tripod.

Cheap, light and sturdy,

But most of the time people will settle for twos..

Light and sturdy tripod won't be cheap

Cheap and sturdy tripod won't be light

Cheap and light tripod won't be sturdy

If you decides to risk thousand dollars camera setup kissing the ground should you decides to use the 3rd combination, well, all I can say is, it is you call.

Points to consider when selecting tripod

1) $$ Budget (skip this if money is not an issue).

2) Height of user.

Note : While it may be comfortable for user to w/o having to bend their back everytime camera is mounted on tripod when it is tall enough for the user,

a) One may get too use to the comfort that they dont explore the possibility of shooting from a lower angle, eg waist height (much like when using those ultra zoom lens of 18mm-200mm that one dont move nearer or further to change the perspective of using different focal length of the lens). If you see the studio set up where they use medium format or the pro-photog shooting models for commercial, you may notice they are likely to shoot from that height.

b) Weight is directly proportional to size of things. Bigger the tripod, heavier it gets (pls, compare Aluminum to Aluminum tripod & not Aluminum to Carbon Fiber type). It will be bulky even when it is fully retracted. This may deter user from bringing the tripod out, soon it will be a white elephant in the house collecting dust.

c) Don't forget the height of the Tripod Head & Battery Grip will add to the height.

3) Weight of equipments (remember to cater for future expansion).

3.1) Weight of equipments < load capacity of tripod - weight of tripod head

4) Weight / material of tripod

4.1) Normal = Aluminum = $

4.2) Lighter and better vibration dampening = Basalt (from Gitzo) = solidified lava stone = $$

4.3) Lightest and best vibration dampening = Carbon Fiber = $$$

5) Types of common tripod design

5.1) Tripod c/w linkage from centre column to individual leg = $
with 3way pan head

5.2) Tripod w/o the linkage, all 3 legs can be set to horizontal orientation for low angle shots or pre-set angle in the hinge of each leg = $$

5.3) Tripod with centre column that can be mounted horizontally, giving more flexibility.
Tripod with centre column that can be mounted horizontally

Tripod with centre column that cannot be mounted horizontally

5.4) Specialize tripod like "unilock" which is most flexible and fastest to deploy for all the odd angle shots = $$$

5.4.1) The lowest section of the leg is there biggest, this is different from normal tripod design which lowest section is the thinnest. With this design, the tripod can be planted into water / mud of up to 0.5m without worrying the water / mud getting into the tele-scopic leg.

5.4.2) Notice minimum height is stated as "ground level", having used it for about 1yr, I feel if this kind of tripod cant give you the setting you want, no other tripod that can.

5.4.3) All the 3 tele-scopic legs and centre column are lock by a single lever.
Photo contributed by fellow cser Cheong

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6) Leg locking system to loosen and tighten each section of the telescopic leg

6.1) Quick action levers -

6.1.1) Fastest action, flicking the lever that had pre-adjusted tension.

6.1.2) Need to adjust tension of each lock using special Box Spanner (comes with the tripod) from time to time. Myself had experience this couple of times when in the field, which totally makes the tripod useless. So if you are buying a 2nd hand tripod with such locking system, be sure it comes with the box Spanner.
Box Spanner that comes with Manfrotto 055pro, this is the older version. It can be clip on to the tripod leg.

6.1.3) Don't over tighten when adjusting, else it will be difficult to use & also cause pre-mature wear & tear.

6.1.4) Offers less stability as compare to "twist and lock" system.

6.1.5) Ever hear from people the lever of their tripod broke after some years (but cant confirm).

6.1.6) Metal parts are likely to rust & deteriorate in performance. Those on my tripod already oxidized.

6.2) Wing knobs -

6.2.1) Slowest to deploy the tripod.

6.2.2) More reliable than "quick action lever" (see 6.1.2).

6.2.3) Metal parts are likely to rust & deteriorate in performance.

6.3) Twist-lock system -

6.3.1) Medium speed to deploy tripod.

6.3.2) If you have big palm, can grip and to release all locks of 1 leg in one single twist, extend the telescopic leg, than hand tighten each lock.

6.3.3) Clean profile, no annoying protruding parts.

6.3.4) Offers best stability among the 3 types of locking systems. It uses the same design principles of the collet chuck (to hold the cutting tools) you find in milling machine for machining metals.

6.3.5) Best prevention against dirt from entering into the tele-scopic leg, less chances of wear and tear cause by dirt as well as smoother operation as a result.
Photo contributed by fellow cser Wormz777

7) Number of section for the telescopic legs

7.1) 3 sections - stronger but longer in storage position.

7.2) 4 sections - weaker but more compact in storage position.

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8) Tripod Head Mounting System

8.1) 3 Jam Screw
Some tripod has 3 set screw to secure the base of the "Tripod Head"

Tripod with 3 set screws (left) to secure the base of tripod head. The one on the right is without screws, without those screws, sometimes the tripod head may be loosen from the tripod (I have encounted this a few times)

8.2) Reverse Lock Nut
Some tripod uses this method. The "Base Plate" of the tripod which the base of the "Tripod Head" sits on is also screwed on type. So after screwing on the "Tripod Head" which is in clockwise rotation, you than turn the "Base Plate" counter-clockwise while holding on to the head, preventing it from turning.

Photo contributed by fellow cser Peterpan1975 (Gitzo Balsalt Tripod)

8.3) Without addition securing system
Some tripod, mostly consumer type that are being given out as free gift when purchasing camera, has no additional securing system to hold the "Tripod Head" firmly in place. Problem is, they looks exactly like the one shown in (8.2).
What this means is that the head may come loose from the tripod during adjustment or panning (especially with long lens). A fellow cser "antacid" and myself had this problem when panning.

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9) There are tripods that cant change head (consumer grade) and there are those that can.

9.1) There are 2 sizes of tripod head mounting screws, 1/4" (smaller) and 3/8" (bigger). Some tripods / monopods have spring loaded insert for the 3/8" screw, when depressed, it reviels the 1/4" screw. Others has removable screw, which has 2 different size at each end.

Photo contributed by fellow cser Peterpan1975 (Gitzo Balsalt Tripod)

9.2) The consumer grade tripod dont allow owner to change the tripod head. The photo below shows tripod that cant change head, you can see that it is a smooth stud with a groove (can be plastic or metal).
When the "Pan" adjustment screw is tighten, it is jammed into this groove. When you loosen the "Pan" adjustment screw, a portion is the screw is still inside the groove, thats why the whole head doesnt comes off. However, if the "Pan" adjustment screw is completely unscrewed from the head, you can remove than remove the head and see this stud.
Photo contributed by fellow cser Cheong.

10) Consumer grade tripod with geared centre column.

10.1) Although geared centre column makes precision height adjustment easier, the stability will suffer.

10.2) As the saying goes, simplicity is the best design. I have the experience of 2 such tripod by different maker. In both cases, the gear gave way after using about 2 years. Reason that the gear gave way is because both the rack and pinion material is aluminum and the tooth are very shallow.

11) Make sure when getting tripod with Quick action lever or Wing knob kind of locking system, it comes with a "box spanner" for adjusting the screws in the locking system.

11.1) Old model comes with a plastic clip-on holder which clips onto the fattest section of the legs. It is use to secure for the spanner which is made of metal.

11.2) Newer model comes with a plastic clip-on which itself is the spanner.

Pls note there are some other thread with list of more current cost of tripod.


General specification of common tripod

Aluminium mat'l (height ext with centre column down, weight, capacity, no. of leg section)
1) Manfrotto 055PROB - 1.35m, 2.4kg, 6kg, 3sec
2) Manfrotto 190PROB - 1.19m, 2.0 kg, 5kg, 3sec
3) Manfrotto 390B c/w 3way pan head - 1.27m, 1.9 kg, 5kg, 4sec
4) Slik u8000 c/w 3way pan head - 1.5m, 1.5kg, 2kg, 3sec
5) Slik U6600 c/w 3way pan head - 1.43m, 1.1kg, 1.58kg, 3sec
6) Slik Pro II - 1.835m, 3.2kg, 8.75kg

Carbon fiber mat'l (height ext with centre column down, weight, capacity, no. of leg section)
1) Feisol CT3401 - 1.34m, 1.45kg, 7kg, 4sec
2) Feisol CT3301 - 1.27m, 1.4kg, 7kg, 3sec
3) Slik Pro 613 (CF) - 1.2m, 0.71kg, 3kg, 3sec
4) Gitzo G1028 (CF) - 1.1m, 0.79kg, 3kg, 4sec
5) Gitzo G1228 (CF) - 1.32m, 1.5kg, 8kg, 4sec
6) Gitzo G1348 (CF) - 1.67m, 2.2kg, 12kg, 4sec

Specialize tripod (height, weight, capacity, no. of leg section)
1) Gitzo G2220 (alu) - 1.26m, 2.35kg, 6kg, 3sec, offset center column inclination
2) Gitzo G2228 (CF) - 1.42m, 2kg, 6kg, 4sec, offset center column inclination

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Points to consider when selecting a tripod head

1) $$ Budget (skip this if money is not an issue)

2) Weight of eqpt (remember to cater for future expension, remember, rule of thumb, 1/2 the load capacity of the head when it is tilted to the side, ie portrait mode)

3) Type of photography

3.1) Needs fast action to track the subject, low load bearing = "Pistol Grip Ball Head"
Head with quick release plate

3.2) Needs fast action to track the subject, high load bearing = "Ball Head"
Head with quick release plate

3.3) Needs fast action to track the subject with long tele lens, high load bearing = "Gymbal Mount Head"
Head with quick release plate

3.4) Needs precise adjustment, preferrably 1 plane at a time = "3 Way Pan Head"
Head with quick release plate

3.5) Needs very precise adjustment, minute adjustment to 1 plane at a time = "3 Way Pan Gear Head"
Head with quick release plate


4) When buying tripod head, make sure you get the thread reducer insert too. Pls see (9) of the "Points to consider when selecting tripod"

Another point to consider when selecting tripod head is the kind of quick release plate.
Manfrotto uses their own design. IIRC, they have a number of different design (RC0, RC2, RC3, RC4 etc) hence cannot be interchange.
Arca Swiss plates beside using use on their own head, can also be use on Benro & Markin head.
Kangrinpoche uses their own design.
Typically those low cost tripods as well as those given free when you buy camera also uses their own plates.
So be sure to know what you are getting.

Pls note there are some other thread with list of more current cost of tripod head.


General specification of common tripod head

3 Way Pan Head (weight, capacity)
1) Manfrotto 141RC - 1kg, 6kg
2) Manfrotto 460MG - 0.4kg, 3kg

Pistol Grip Ball Head (weight, capacity)
1) Manfrotto 322 RC2 - 0.63kg, 5kg
2) Slik AF2100 - 0.87kg, 3-4kg

Ball Head (weight, capacity)
1) GIOTTOS MH-1000 - 0.65g, 10kgs
2) Manfrotto 486RC2 - 0.45kg, 5.9kg
3) Manfrotto 488RC2 - 0.7kg, 7.9kg
4) Markins M10 (non titanium) w/o plate - 0.5kg, 40kg
5) Kangrinpoche NB1 w/o plate - 0.73kg, 46kg
6) Kangrinpoche NB2A w/o plate - 0.52kg, 32kg
7) Kangrinpoche NB3 w/o plate - 0.35kg, 15kg
8) Acratech Ultimate Ballhead - 0.45kg, 11kg

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Some simple tips for using your tripod

Extending the tele-scopic legs
When extending the tele-scopic legs
1) Always extend the 1st section which is the fattest 1st

2) Last to extend should be the lowest section which is the thinnest.

3) As the last resort, extend the centre column.

Using tripod with lens / camera with Image Stabilizing System
There are various types of Image Stabilizing System :
1) In lens : Canon (IS = Image stabilizer), Nikon & FujiFilm (VR = Vibration Reduction), Sigma (OS = Optical Stabilizer)

2) In Camera : Sony & Minolta (AS = Anti-Shake), Olympus (iS = Image stabilization), Panasonic (Mega O.I.S. = Optical Image Stabilization), Pentax (SR = Shake Reduction)

While newer models from each brands may have some form of detection system for sensing camera being mounted on tripod and will switch off the Stabilizing System, the older models dont.

So to be on the safe side : turn off the Stabilizing System when mounted on tripods.

Also, some system has a specific mode for when camera is mounted on Mono-pod. Remember to switch to that.

Else, for system without the detection system, there will be feedback signals, causing the "camera to sake" even when it is mounted on tripod. Think of it as, when you hold a microphone next to the speaker of your Kara-OK Sound System, there will be irritating noise generated from the feedback.

Using tripod with tele-lens that doesnt have tripod collar
Although better than nothing, but I feel it is not going to help much since the lens has no tripod collar and it overhang alot, ie the centre of gravity is out on the lens but the quick release plate is mounted to the base of the camera. Refer to post #07, point 4 of Methods to reduce vibrations.

Protecting the tripod head
Use a bag that is just enough to cover the 3 Way Pan Head to protect it. This will help to minimize the chances of dirt from sticking onto the joint, which will cause excessive wear and tear.
However, this is more applicable to Ball Head for the fact that almost 1/2 of ball is exposed to elements and it is more compact.
Myself is using a Water Bottle Bag with all round padding.

Keeping the Ball Head smooth
1) Clean the ball of the Ball Head.

2) Bone dry the ball.

3) Apply a small drop of oil / tiny amount of grease on the index finger.

4) Apply onto the ball evenly by rotating the ball while touching it with you lightly oiled index finger.
Note :
A) Do (3) and (4) once only, else the ball will be too oily and it will loose grip and also dirty you hands when you use it for a shoot.
B) Not everybody have grease in their home, for me, lubricating oil.
C) Do this maintenance if the Ball Head is exposed to rain or you had used it at the beach / sandy area.

Maintaining the tripod
1) Check all locks system gives sufficient locking force, especially those Quick Action Levers types. Adjust accordingly when loose.

2) Check the legs hinges is not excessively loose (as in they swing out by themselves). Adjust accordingly when loose.

3) Check the rubber footing cap for wear and tear. Replace when required.

4) Wipe down with legs fully extended with a damp cloth after use.

5) Rinse in running clean water if used in mud or sand (especially the locks and hinges). Wipe down with legs fully extended with a damp cloth after use.

Optional : For (5), you may want to very light oil the legs hinges, but not the locks.

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Setting up tripod
Shooting landscape
If your tripod head has a bubble level, use it to level the mounted camera to the horizon. Else, you can buy those hot shoe mounted bubble level gadget.
Photo contributed by fellow cser Peterpab1975

Side note :
Manfrotto tripod head with RC0 (hexgonal quick release plate) system is a very good design, though abit bulky & heavy. Reasons :

1) There are 2 separate bubble leveler for landscape & portrait orientation.
2) Both the levelers are located where the photog can see them even with the camera mounted to the head.

Most heads has only 1 lever for landscape orientation. Also, the leveler is located at the slot in the head where the quick release plate sits, meaning once the camera is mounted, the photog can see the leveler at all.

Shooting panoramic with tripod that comes with bubble level.
1) Level the tripod using the bubble found in tripod. So far I only know all manfrotto 190pro & 055pro series and all Benro tripod comes with it, not sure about other brands.

2) Level the camera using either
2.1) Hot shoe mounted bubble level gadget
2.2) Bubble level that comes with the tripod head. I only know manfrotto tripod head with RC0 system has 2 circular bubble level or 2 straight type bubble level. Giottos tripod head with MH645, MH646, MH647, MH648 and MH649 system also has 2 circular bubble level, not sure about other brands.

3) Check camera is leveled when pointing all direction. Remember to lock the "Pan Knob" when checking. If the camera not level when pointing to other directions, make minor adjustment to step (1) and (2). Pls remember that tripods and tripod heads are not precision equipments.

4) Happy shooting!

Shooting panoramic with tripod that doesnt comes with bubble level.
1) Set up the tripod as usual.

2) Level the camera using either
2.1) Hot shoe mounted bubble level gadget
2.2) Bubble level that comes with the tripod head. I only know manfrotto tripod head with RC0 system has 2 circular bubble level or 2 straight type bubble level. Giottos tripod head with MH645, MH646, MH647, MH648 and MH649 system also has 2 circular bubble level, not sure about other brands.

3) Check camera is leveled when pointing all direction. Remember to lock the "Pan Knob" when checking. If the camera not level when pointing to other directions, make minor adjustment to 1 of the tripod legs, level the camera and check that its leveled when pointing all directions, else repeat the minor adjustment.
Note : To know which leg to adjust need experience and will take some time to do it right. But it is worth it, especially if you have spend $$$ to travel to take the panoramic shot.

4) Happy shooting!

Note : For tripod without bubble level, manfrotto has 2 models of leveling adapters which you install between the tripod and its head.
They are "Leveling base 338" and "Ball camera leveler 438".

These 2 sets were taken one after the other on the same spot. After taking the 1st set, i purposely lowered one of the leg, level the camera pointing to 1 direction only, than shot the 2nd set.

A freeware called Hugin was used to stitch both sets. Only down sizing (both set canvas size height to 7") and b&w conversion were done.

If the tripod is leveled properly, the final image is bigger and has much lesser distortion.

When the tripod is not leveled properly, the final image size will be smaller and has more distortion.


Finding Nodal Point to reduce parallax error when stitching the photos. From what i understand, this is important when your subject is near, when shooting far, eg across the Singapore River, the row of restaurants & pubs, it is not really necessary.

Poor man's gymbal head (do it own your own risk, but I have been using this method for afew years, no problem so far.)
Ever experience difficulty in tracking moving subject using mid tele-lens (200mm - 400mm)? But buying a gymbal head ( Wimberley Head or Manfrotto 393) which you will use only once in a while doesnt make sense?

Dont be dishearten, cause you can simulate that kind of function using you ball head, provided you fellow the guidelines above. The photo below shows the heaviest setup I have been using. (operation smoothness may varies, depending on the tripod collar position because it determines wheather the lens and camera are properly balnce on both sides.)

Gears set 1
1) Manfrotto 055pro tripod
2) Manfrotto 268 head
3) Manfrotto 030 hexagon quick release plate
4) Canon EOS D60
5) Canon 540EZ with Flash-Extender (CP-E2 secure to tripod sling)
6) Prakticar 500mm f5.6 MC

Gears set 2
1) Manfrotto 055pro tripod
2) Manfrotto 488RC0 head
3) Manfrotto 030 hexagon quick release plate
4) EOS D60
5) Canon 540EZ with Flash-Extender (CP-E2 secure to tripod sling)
6) Prakticar 300mm f4 MC

Gears set 3
1) Manfrotto 055pro tripod
2) Manfrotto 488RC0 head
3) Manfrotto 030 hexagon quick release plate
4) EOS D60
5) Canon 540EZ with Flash-Extender (CP-E2 secure to tripod sling)
6) Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 (+1.4x TC if u want)

1) Release the "Pan".
2) Release the "Ball".
3) Release the "Tripod Collar".
You are set to go.
Remember, lock everything before you let go your hand from the camera and lens, else everything will come crashing down.

Tightening of Quick Action Lever
Quick Action Lever Locking System for the telescopic legs is the fastest among all 3 types of lock. But the major flaw in this is the lock comes loose from time to time. (Post #1, Item 6, Photo)

The nut to tighten at the other side of the lever not shown here, which sits inside a recess.

The wrench is basically a small box spanner that comes with the tripod. It will be able to fit into the recess so you can tighten the nut. For tightening of the nut of the lock of the last section of the telescopic legs, you can use a plier as the nut is quite exposed.

You have to adjust the legs on at a time and the lock by lock :

1) Flick the lever to unlock.
2) Tighten the nut abit.
3) Extend the telescopic legs
4) Lock it.
5) Place the leg on the ground.
6) Gradually apply downward force to retract the leg. (I normally apply about 1-2kgf)
7) If the leg retracts, repeat the process. Else proceed to the next lock.

Note : Do not over tighten the lock, ie if you find the lever very difficult to flick open or lock, chances are you have over tighten. This will result in pre-mature wear and tear of the lock.

My own opinion on BallHead Design
If you look at common BallHead design, you will notice the are the single slot & 2 slots design. The slot/s are meant for the BallHead to be turn to vertical orientation.

If I have to choose a BallHead, 1st is budget, than Stability. Smoothness in operation and weight is not much of a concern. As such, I will go for a BallHead with single slot, thats why my 1st BallHead is Manfrotto's 268RC0 Super Head.

When I needed a lighter BallHead, because I had been using Manfrotto's product and were not very confident in china made BallHead and budget was also a constrain, I went for a Mafortto 488RC0 which has 2 sots. If only Manfrotto makes a 488RC0 with single slot.

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Recommended quick release plate when using Manfrotto RC0 or RC2 system with tele-lens (200mm-40mm)
Taken from manfrotto's web site, 468MGRC0 takes max. load of 16kg while 468MGRC2 takes 10kg. But for 488RC0 and 488RC2, both their max. load capacity are 8kg. From my own experience from using RC0 and RC2 system, I feel the RC0 can take heavier load.

I would suggest :

For RC0 system, get MN030ARCH14

For RC2 system,
1) 1st choice goes to MN200USS Universal Scope Plate.

2) 2nd choice is 200PLARCH-14 Architectural Anti-Twist Quick Release Plate.

3) Try not to use regular 200PL Plate.

Tripod strap or tripod padded bag
Tripod strap,
I used manfrotto strap that had no sponge and optech strap that has a thick neoprene material shoulder pad, the padding does take away lots of strain.
Fast deployment.
Easy to move around.
Tripod will be prone to scratches since exposed to elements.

Tripod padded bag,
Slow deployment.
Difficult to move to move to next shooting location, say 50-100m away, its either you dismount your camera, retract the legs and keep it in bags and re=deploy again.
Or dont dismount camera (which I always do that since I have confident in my gears), just carry the whole thing, only problem is you now have an extra bag (a big one since it is padded, so cant collasp it an keep inside your camera bag)
Tripod are better protect between destination.

Aluminum tripod is much more robust than CF, so using strap is not an issue.
CF tripod is so $$$ and less robust, so better protect with bag.

So what is a good tripod?
With all things being the similar (height, load capacity etc), why some tripod cause alot more than others?

Is bigger better, eg 055pro better than 190pro (both from manfrotto)?

What manufacturer dont tell you is the damping factor, ie the ability to absorb the vibration cause by the mirror slap (slr & dlsr), wind, vibration from ground caused by people / vehical moving pass etc.

So how do you test it? You can refer to this article


What affect the dampening capability of the tripod?
1) Material

2) Locking system of tele-scopic legs and centre column

3) Hinge at the top of the legs

4) How much the legs and centre column are extended

5) Design and material of the footing for different types of ground

6) Design and material of the Tripod Head

Hanging of bag under the centre column
We know carbon fiber has better vibration dampening effect than aluminium, why the above mentioned test results doesnt show this constancy? Simple, weight. Carbon fiber, being lighter means it is more vulnerable to vibration (note : it is different issue from dampening). So how to reduce its vulnerability to vibration?

I am sure most of you had seen / heard people doing / saying "Hang your camera bag directly below the centre column."

Ok, now that you know why. Word of caution! Ever so often, I have seen people hanging their camera bag as per above mentioned. That is the wrong way my dear. Dont you think it now looks like a pendulum? Let the bag touch the ground but not fully rested on the ground.

Another way to weigh down your tripod, you can use "Apron". Just put heavy stuff like rocks on it.

But 1 thing is for sure, a tripod that is not sturdy is a bad tripod. Even if your have the best design tripod, when used incorrectly, can still be a bad tripod.

Methods to reduce vibrations

Here are afew ways to reduce the vibrations :

1) Apply downward force onto the Tripod Collar on the top of the Lens, eg using your palm, using heavy bean bag, hack even better to use warm water bag (reduce water condensation on the Lens when doing long exposure in cold nights).

2) Use Timer Mode, best combine with the use of with Mirror Lock (if your camera has this function) and Cable Release / Wireless Shutter Remote (if you have one).

3) Press your face against the camera.

4) Hold onto the Lens (for those without Tripod Collar).

5) Hanging of bag under the centre column

6) Only for Manfrotto Pro Series Tripod, turn the Centre Column Clamp such that either of the halves is facing the Centre Column Lock Screw and not the parting line of the 2 halves. Please see post #14 Adjusting loose legs

Note : Some of the methods here may not be applicable when shooting fast moving subjects, tracking moving subjects, doing a panning shots.

Other sites about selection of Camera Support

Tripods and Ballheads by Thom Hogan

Selecting and using Camera Tripod

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Alternatives to using tripod as camera support system


It is cheap, easy to DIY and extremely portable.
When use correctly, it should give the user the similar stabilizing effect of about 3 that you get from Canon's IS, Nikon VR etc.

Please go to this site for detail DIY instruction to make the Stringpod :

For a video version of the DIY, please click here :

DIY your own Gorillapod

Make you own Gorillapod from simple things like wires, 1/4" bolt and tapes. But I would like to add on some recommendation.

1) Try to secure the wires to the bolt using binding wires and plier to twist and tighten them together, than you tape it.
2) Best way would be to weld the wires to the bolt if you have the facility, than tape it.
3) If you have heat shrinking sleeves, best use them instead of the wire insulation tape.


Other Alternative To Normal Tripod

For small compact cameras, you may want to take a look at this video featuring creative alternative to normal tripod.


Make a Tripod Out of a Paperclip!


Alternative way to use tripod if you forget to bring the Quick Release Plate of the Tripod Head

I went up north to Malaysia sometime in March, of all things, I forgot to check if the Quick Release Plate of with the Ballhead.

But all are not lost. Just remove the ballhead, mount the camera directly to the tripod. Most if not all tripod comes with the flexibility of interchangeable screw for securing tripod head. Adjusting the tripod legs extension & opening / closing the legs will allows you to most of the time point the camera to where you want with abit of sacrifice on horizon tilt & stability.

Heck, better than not being able to shoot right.

Interactive Camera Support System Configurator

Newbies have problem to choose a camera support for themselves after reading this thread. The thing is, there alot of possible combination to meet individual's need. Telling us :

1) Best setup (weight and price no issue)
2) Lightest setup (weight most important, price no issue)
3) Good for travelling use (good for street use too, i suppose? not expecting to bring one with ultrawide spread of the legs)

Do you really think it helps? For each of the catagory stated, there are still alot of possible combination! Knowing how to surf internet, join ClubSnap as newbies, I think one has already certain level of intelligence, certainly not BIG BABY who needs spoon feeding. Already there are many threads in ClubSnap discussing about tripod, just do a search.

Anyway, to help you along, Manfrotto has a Interactive Camera Support System Configurator, I dont know if other makers has similar site, if there is, please post it here so others can benefit


Please, put in some effort on your side, after Manfrotto give you the best configuration, if you prefer other makes, than you search internet for a similar product of the brand that you like.

Repairing my Giottos MH1303 with MH210C Camera Mount Plate

Month back, my Slik Sprint Pro with Giottos MH1303 with camera mount plate MH210C fall head down onto the floor, the 1/4" thread screw was bent. So DIY time:bsmilie:

left to right :
Mafrotto RC2 system
Giottos MH 1303
Slik SBH 100 Camera Mount Plate
Giottos MH 210C Camera Mount Plate

I could have use a 3/8" set screw with super glue to attach the Manfrotto RC2 system to the ballhead, but it looks out of proportion and it weighs alot more than the Slik SBH 100 Camera Mount Plate, so i decided not to use that. Instead I did :

1) I inserted a reducer (3/8" to 1/4") into the screw hole where the camera mount plate is secured to the ballhead and applied super glue.

2) I bought a 1/4" x 1" set screw and secure it into the reducer, leaving about 15mm exposed and apply super glue to secure the set screw to the ballhead.

3) I transfer the camera mount plate from the Slik ballhead SBH100 that came with the tripod to the set screw.

4) Now the Giottos ballhead is good as new.

Note : Screw should be exposed about 4mm from the top of camera mount plate.

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Staff member
Jan 3, 2008
Pasir Ris
Hi dennis,

thanks so much for the hard work and efforts put into this collection. Just did some re-reading. One thing I noticed is the ball head maintenance. You wrote that you use cooking oil. I'd suggest using multi-purpose oil as available in hardware shops or bicycle shops. Cooking oil is organic oil which will get rancid over the time. Nothing that I would like to see and smell from my tripod :) Just got a small bottle of multi-purpose oil from the bicycle shop nearby. That's synthetic oil as used for cars and industrial purposes (Ok, in different preparation, but basically the same stuff).


Senior Member
Nov 24, 2008
another option for tripod would be the old school Steel reinforced tripods..

according to http://sheldonbrown.com/frame-materials.html, steel at same tubing is same strength as titanium and 2/3 stronger then aluminium. obviously its heavier but much much cheaper then brittle carbon fiber i guess..Then again carbon fiber has good vibration dampening compare to metal tripods so see whats needed.

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Senior Member
Oct 26, 2003
bukit batok
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Adjusting loose legs for Manfrotto 055pro (older version)

The Quick Action Lever for locking the Telescopic Legs is easy to re-tighten with the supplied wrench that comes with the tripod.

How about when 1 or more of the legs becomes loose at the hinge (where all the 3 legs meet), ie they might swing out or in without control?

Different tripod has different design of the hinge. I find the most difficult design is the Manfrotto Pro Series. Since I am using the Pro series, I will show you how to do the adjustment. For other models / brands of tripod, if you need help, just pm me. I see what I can help.

UPDATE : I have adjusted my friend's 055XProB, dam easy cause the 3 adjustment screws (see photo #8) are exposed without having to remove parts from the tripod. It also uses metric size 4 allen key.

1) Remove the Centre Column Locking Screw

2) Remove Centre Column

3) Now your Manfrotto Pro Series (older model) will look like this

4) Swing open all 3 legs to horizontal position and flip the tripod upside down. Turn the Centre Column Clamp until the Clamp Stud Access Hole is in line with the Clamp Stud. Use a screw driver to depress the Clamp Stud.

5) Remove the Centre Column Clamp. It comes in 2 halves and there is a thin Teflon Ring beneath them. Care must be taken not to damage it. This ring facilitate rotation of the Centre Column (when mounted horizontally).

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Senior Member
Oct 26, 2003
bukit batok
Visit site
6) Each of halves of the Centre Column Clamp has a Clamp Stud Access Hole.

7) Clamp Stud is at the end of the Centre Column Clamp Locking Screw as shown here.

8) Use a size 4 allen key to tighten the 3 screws you see here.

The assembly process

9) Assemble the Centre Column Clamp and Teflon Ring as shown. Be careful not to damage the ring.

10) Press the Clamp Stud with finger.

11) Reverse the sequence of step (5) to (1).


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Dream Merchant

Staff member
Jan 11, 2007

And thanks for all the effort and time to document the steps!

:thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :heart: :heart:


New Member
Oct 11, 2009
Hi Dennis
Im new to this forum. I'd like to say thanks for the detailed info on the tripods!! Very informative great for newbie like me.



New Member
Sep 14, 2009
Singapore South
Hi Dennis
The info on tripod is very comprehensive and useful for beginners like me. Now I have better idea what to look for for a suitable tripod.
Really approciate your effort and selflessness in sharing and educating beginners/newbies.


New Member
Dec 18, 2008
Thanks for sharing valuble information on Tripods!.


Senior Member
Oct 26, 2003
bukit batok
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Adjusting loose / tight Pan Base of Manfrotto 488 series Ball Head

For those using Manfrotto Ball Head 488 series, if you find the panning is too tight or too loose, this is how you adjust.

1) Loosen the Pan Knob 2 round turn.

2) Invert the Ball Head (removing the Quick Release Plate will help to rest the inverted head "flat", making it more stable for you to work on).

3) Using a Flat Tip Screw Driver (choose one that is not too narrow to provide more positive "grip" inside the slot of the screw, but not too broad as to rub against the threaded 3/8" Ball Head Mounting Screw Hole),

3a) Turn the Brass Screw (seen in this photo, inside the Ball Head Mounting Hole) clockwise abit to loosen the pan.
3b) Turn the Brass Screw anti-clockwise abit to tighten the pan.

Note : Having the pan too loose will affect the stability & also let dirt in.

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Senior Member
Oct 26, 2003
bukit batok
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"Clicking" sound when loosening the Ball Head Knob of the Manfrotto 488 Series Ball Head

This is Ball Head belongs to a friend. He ask me to help him to send to CP to service for the problem as per the title. However, upon checking the display Ball Head, they too have the clicking sound. So no choice, I have to DIY lor.

Note : a) This click is not the result of adjusting the Pan Base.
b) Dont attempt this if you are not well verse in maintaining mechanical stuff. Do it at your own risk.

4) Following Continue turning the Brass Screw clockwise will dis-assemble the Ball Head Base complete as seen in the photo. These is a Cir-Clip inside the Ball Head Housing & a Teflon Ring sticking on the Pan Base.

5) Remove the Clip and "pour out" the Brass Screw & Plate. You will see another Cir-Clip.

6) Loosen the ball until you dont see the black screw inside the housing. Remove the 2nd Clip and "pour out" the Ball Base, Flat Spring, 3x Dowel Pin, Ball Cup.

Note : Dont damage or worst loose the Teflon Ring.

7) Dowel Pin Housing in the Ball Cup. The bigger Dowel Pin sits at the bottom, follow by the 2 equally small Dowel Pins. On top on the 2 smaller Dowel Pins is the Flat Spring.

8) Ball cavity in the Ball Cup.

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