Tripod for Birding


Mar 14, 2008
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#1
Is a tripod with centre column suitable or absolutely necessary for bird photography? Planning to pair a LENSMASTER gimbal with a Nikon 200-500. Request recommendations of suitable carbon tripods below $600. Thanks.
 

Jun 2, 2012
822
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Singapore when back at home
#2
A tripod with a center column is generally not recommended for heavy & long lens use. The center column introduces flex into the lens support. A strong tripod that is rigid & with good vibration damping characteristic is usually looked for in supporting heavy & long lenses.

You may visit & download the Gitzo catalog for your reference. Any tripod that is similar in spec to the Gitzo Series 3 Systematic will be good enough for the Nikon 200-500mm.

http://www.gitzo.com/service/request+a+catalog

The Sirui systematic series & Benro are also very capable & is priced much lower than Gitzo for the similar load capacity.

Here are two threads on CS where tripods for long lenses is discussed.

http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1519480

http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1526862
 

sjackal

Senior Member
Jul 9, 2008
4,490
10
38
#3
Is a tripod with centre column suitable or absolutely necessary for bird photography? Planning to pair a LENSMASTER gimbal with a Nikon 200-500. Request recommendations of suitable carbon tripods below $600. Thanks.
I use a Sirui 3204, at $400 from TK Foto its a good equivalent to Gitzo series 3, at 1/3 the price and frankly no one can tell the differences except for brand prestige, any insisted differences are probably negligible.

A tripod can have centre column, but extending that column too much, ie beyond 1/3 is generally not recommended because stability quickly takes a hit when the center column is raised. You can actually see your viewfinder 'jumps' a lot more when you touch the camera. With the height of the 3204 there is no need to extend the centre column, unless you are NBA tall like 1.9m, and also the centre column for this model is removable too. I keep it on because its almost weightless.
 

Turbonetics

Senior Member
Feb 19, 2009
2,701
6
38
#4
Systematic without centre column is a better proffered choice for more stability. With your budget, I guess u can look at Sirui or Benro. Bring your gears down to test and see which fits your requirements more.
 

Mar 14, 2008
79
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6
#5
Thanks all for the information. With my budget I will be looking at the Sirui R-4214X (height 150cm) or R-5214X (height 160cm). As the Lensmaster gimbal is 25 cm high and I am about 160cm, will buying the 4214 be a better choice? The tripod may be paired with a ballhead for landscape works. Or it is better to get the 5214 as it costs only $20 more and the legs can be shortened as required?
 

sjackal

Senior Member
Jul 9, 2008
4,490
10
38
#6
Thanks all for the information. With my budget I will be looking at the Sirui R-4214X (height 150cm) or R-5214X (height 160cm). As the Lensmaster gimbal is 25 cm high and I am about 160cm, will buying the 4214 be a better choice? The tripod may be paired with a ballhead for landscape works. Or it is better to get the 5214 as it costs only $20 more and the legs can be shortened as required?
Before that you must understand what is Systematic tripods first. Systematic tripods does not mean a lack of center column, my non-systematic tripod can remove the center column for usage too, but it is not systematic. And systematic can have center column as well. System tripods means a modular system where you can either have center column, or change the center plate to a leveling plate for video work or detailed panoramic work. In other words, a dual or multi purpose tripod. If you need or see possible needs in future, go ahead. Otherwise you can save some money with a more basic model.

With birding, always good to go with the taller model because you are shooting upwards most of the time. The weight difference is not a lot anyway and what is $20 when you are already spending $700.

Also, you may not need a ballhead. You can use your gimbal for landscape shots too.
 

Last edited:
Mar 14, 2008
79
0
6
#7
Before that you must understand what is Systematic tripods first. Systematic tripods does not mean a lack of center column, my non-systematic tripod can remove the center column for usage too, but it is not systematic. And systematic can have center column as well. System tripods means a modular system where you can either have center column, or change the center plate to a leveling plate for video work or detailed panoramic work. In other words, a dual or multi purpose tripod. If you need or see possible needs in future, go ahead. Otherwise you can save some money with a more basic model.

With birding, always good to go with the taller model because you are shooting upwards most of the time. The weight difference is not a lot anyway and what is $20 when you are already spending $700.

Also, you may not need a ballhead. You can use your gimbal for landscape shots too.

Thanks for the sharing. Checked TK Photo webpage and the 3204 is no longer listed. Will a leveling head be a necessity or a good to have accessory for birding in forested area?
 

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