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Old Thursday 15th June 2017, 19:59   #1
dipped
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I've succumbed to tripod "overkill"

After searching around for a while I've finally found a tripod that should meet my current and any future needs.

It's a Benro carbon fibre model and with the centre column down it is 1680 cm's high. I use a straight model scope so most of the popular tripod models (within my budget), simply don't go high enough without raising the centre column which then starts to compromise stability. My previous model had a tendency to blow over in strong winds due to having the centre column too high.

I'm now in the position of actually having to retract the legs a bit as fully extended it's too high for me. It's been said you can't have too much stability (Kimmo), so although I could have got away with a smaller model if I could have found one, I'm hoping the extra weight of this one will be worth it.

Now I wonder if anyone can recommend what paint/marker pen might help me mark the legs for the right height for me, so I can quickly extend them.
Unlike some tripods there are no markings on the legs.

Also should I get some spikes for it? Am I right in thinking this will further aid stability? I bought it used and it didn't come with any though originally they would have been supplied.

If anyone is interested it's model number is C4570F details here: http://www.microglobe.co.uk/product_...ducts_id=10323 though the picture is not correct.
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Old Saturday 17th June 2017, 20:58   #2
johnf3f
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Looks like a pretty good decision to me!

Personally I find spotting scopes very demanding on tripods, perhaps more so than big camera lenses? A lot of people get hung up on weight ratings which are meaningless (as there is no standard) and what we are really after is stability/vibration damping! I have tried out a couple of Benro products and they seem pretty good though I have not tried their models with flip locks - I prefer twist locks, we are all different! This tripod will certainly be much larger than the majority of others that you will encounter when out birding but you will be rewarded with more stable viewing - well worth the extra weight IMO.

Spiked feet? Well they can be handy, but not very often in my experience. A couple of my tripods do have them but it is rare for me to remove the rubber covers and use them. They are great for stability in streams when photographing waterfalls though! I would put them on the back burner for now personally.

Marking the legs? My main tripod (Gitzo GT4542LS) has rings on the second leg sections which denote a height of 135cm which is about right for many of my uses. These are so useful that I didn't even know about them until a friend asked what they were and I had to work it out! Haven't used them since. I just extend one leg section partially (guesswork) and fully extend the others - close to spot on every time - note my tripod does not have a center column.

As to the extra height that is VERY useful with a straight scope (like mine). Birds high in trees of just gazing at Jupiter's moons - height is good.

As I said I am not familiar with this particular model but, from what I have seen of other Benro tripods, I think you will be happy!
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Old Monday 19th June 2017, 20:09   #3
dipped
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Hi John

Thanks for the advice.

Since getting it, I've tried it out in the garden and it seems very stable and damps vibrations quite quickly.

I've had my scope blow over a few times with my old tripods so I'm hoping this will fix that. I ended up with a cracked scope body on one occasion so I suppose I'm a bit more concerned about getting a good tripod than the average birder.

As you say it will be great for overhead objects as it goes so high.

From the picture you can see why I need to retract the legs from fully extended.
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Old Monday 19th June 2017, 20:28   #4
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Looks just right for a bit of astro!

You will learn how much to extend the legs very quickly - even I did! Happy new toy - enjoy!
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Old Monday 19th June 2017, 23:00   #5
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Hi Nev.

It is not very high tech but on my Manfrotto tripod I marked the position of the legs by using pieces of masking tape. It depends on there being sufficient clearance for it to pass through the clamps but it can be removed and adjusted until the correct position is found.

Ron
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Old Wednesday 21st June 2017, 12:27   #6
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looks like a very stable tripod judging from the leg diameter of the various sections. I've seen some 80mm spotting scopes on fairly skinny tripods (leg diameter ~20mm) and could never understand how they could be stable enough for the size of the scope placed on top..

I second the suggestions around using masking tape but you have to ensure its stuck down well as it will sometimes catch on the collet of the leg section above it when you are retracting the legs. Tends to be become messy if it catches when you are pulling the leg OUT as the torn off material remains inside the previous leg section...

Not an issue though if you're careful. Enjoy the new tripod.

cheers
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Old Wednesday 21st June 2017, 13:35   #7
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I am in a similar situation. I got a Sirui R-3213X with a Sirui VH-10 and I do not even need the center column -- in fact the Swaro ATS-80 is basically as high as I can use with the legs fully extended. I am now starting to think that a smaller head might work better for me and I was wondering whether the Manfrotto 128RC is the way to go (I am taller than my wife who might want to look through the scope as well).
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Old Wednesday 21st June 2017, 20:39   #8
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Why dont you look at the Sirui VA-5 head? Much smaller than the VH-10 and just as functional.

cheers
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Old Wednesday 21st June 2017, 21:01   #9
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Why dont you look at the Sirui VA-5 head? Much smaller than the VH-10 and just as functional.

cheers
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Maybe! what I like about the manfrotto is that I would need a plate (which I find annoying -- less is more!)
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Old Friday 23rd June 2017, 07:16   #10
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I've used Tippex (or similar product) for marking the legs. Slowly wears off after a year and protracted extension/retraction, but i just mark it again. Not so permanent that i can't remove it if i grow (or more likely, shrink!)
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Old Friday 23rd June 2017, 10:22   #11
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A permanent marker (I assume Tippex is like this?) sounds better than tape. If there is a tight fit, which is likely, and the tape gets jammed between the leg segments, it could be quite an ordeal to remove.

Kimmo
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Old Friday 23rd June 2017, 13:08   #12
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A permanent marker (I assume Tippex is like this?) sounds better than tape. If there is a tight fit, which is likely, and the tape gets jammed between the leg segments, it could be quite an ordeal to remove.

Kimmo
'Tippex' is the white, typewriter correction fluid which used to be popular amongst banana-fingered journalists like me... as an aside, i think it was invented by someone in Michael Nesmith's family (remember the Monkees?)
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Old Friday 23rd June 2017, 22:01   #13
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I did consider marking the legs of my GT4542LS - until I found that they were already marked! I tried it at the "Marked" height and it was just about right = brilliant! However I had been setting it up quicker before I was told that these marks existed!

Seriously it is quicker to learn how far to extend the legs than to wait for "Tippex" to dry fully - 2/3 minutes? As said I have this "Feature" on my tripod and it is completely useless! Yes it, coincidentally, gives me just the right height for level surfaces - but it is so much quicker to just guesstimate and easier too!

We are all different and it is down to what works best for you, but theses (etched?) markings just slow me down!
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Old Friday 23rd June 2017, 23:27   #14
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Just a suggestion if you do have some stability issues: take some bags and fill them with some stones of whatever you can find in the area and lay/tie them over the bars at the base of your tripod.
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Old Saturday 24th June 2017, 06:47   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnf3f View Post
I did consider marking the legs of my GT4542LS - until I found that they were already marked! I tried it at the "Marked" height and it was just about right = brilliant! However I had been setting it up quicker before I was told that these marks existed!

Seriously it is quicker to learn how far to extend the legs than to wait for "Tippex" to dry fully - 2/3 minutes? As said I have this "Feature" on my tripod and it is completely useless! Yes it, coincidentally, gives me just the right height for level surfaces - but it is so much quicker to just guesstimate and easier too!

We are all different and it is down to what works best for you, but theses (etched?) markings just slow me down!
You only mark it once - at home. Not every time you extend the legs! It stays in place for about 6 months, i've found. Then you just remark it. Dries in about a minute, put isn't fully permanent if you change your mind.
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Old Saturday 24th June 2017, 21:01   #16
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You only mark it once - at home. Not every time you extend the legs! It stays in place for about 6 months, i've found. Then you just remark it. Dries in about a minute, put isn't fully permanent if you change your mind.
What I was trying to get at is that it is quicker and easier to learn how far to extend the legs rather than faffing about with markers/tippex etc. Also using marks only works on flattish surfaces and where the subject is at a consistent height. Whereas look, guesstimate, extend works on all terrain and for all the expected subject angles that your tripod will allow.

Been doing this for a while (9+ years) with Systematics (no center column) and it is the fastest method I have encountered. I do have two tripods with center columns but I VERY rarely extend them - just too slow to set up!

As I mentioned my GT4542LS does have marks on the legs that are just right for much of my use, but it is simpler/easier and quicker to just guesstimate! Which is why I didn't even know the marking were there for 3 months! I gave then a try - too slow too fiddly and can't compensate for uneven surfaces.

Just my experiences - it is quick, easy, reliable and adaptable. If you feel that marking your tripod will give you an advantage then go for it, it certainly doesn't work for me.
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Old Saturday 24th June 2017, 22:30   #17
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'Tippex' is the white, typewriter correction fluid which used to be popular amongst banana-fingered journalists like me... as an aside, i think it was invented by someone in Michael Nesmith's family (remember the Monkees?)

Liquid paper was, indeed, invented by Mike Nesmith's mum... http://www.snopes.com/music/artists/nesmith.asp
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Old Tuesday 27th June 2017, 06:29   #18
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Hi,

regarding tape on the legs I have some doubts about it getting stuck - even Tippex might be too thick but probably can be removed if it is.

Regarding a Manfrotto 128RC - I was not impressed about its stability and the less than perfect balance of my scope (Kowa TSN-3 with SDLv2 - 1.5kg) on it - I now have a 500AH which is very stable and (like your Sirui) allows for some position adjustment for perfect balance, which helps a lot.

If you still want it, by all means make me an offer ;-)

Joachim
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Old Tuesday 27th June 2017, 19:05   #19
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I have to say I am surprised nobody suggested I upgrade to the Swaro ATX 85 (which is slightly shorter and thus would fit me better). With the weak pound it is ridiculously tempting!
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Old Tuesday 27th June 2017, 19:25   #20
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I have to say I am surprised nobody suggested I upgrade to the Swaro ATX 85 (which is slightly shorter and thus would fit me better). With the weak pound it is ridiculously tempting!
Hi,

in my opinion I would rather look at Kowa 883 - the ATX85 is slightly heavier and quite a bit more expensive than the Kowa, now both offer an 1.6x extender but with the Kowa we know that it's sharp even at ridiculous magnification with two extenders stacked - not sure if the Swaro one was reviewed yet. Of course Swaro has the bino option which works nicely from what I heard (and it better should at 30x) but is neither light nor cheap...

I tend to be prejudiced since I got to use a not so great ATX95 once beside my old Kowa and unfortunately it's owner had used mine too and the situation was a bit awkward... I hope he made them fix it.
On the other hand all Kowa 883 I have seen so far - and that must be closing in on nr. 10 - were just great!

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Old Friday 30th June 2017, 20:14   #21
dipped
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Thanks for all the advice regarding marking the legs. Suffice to say I have left them alone at present and seem to be coping fine.

I've had it out in the field a couple of times now and am really appreciating the extra stability. The first occasion involved a near 4 mile trek (round trip), for a Red-backed Shrike and I certainly noticed the extra weight, but I can support it on my Scopac with my hands under the rubber feet to a certain extent. This could be a strong reason for not getting spiked feet. The Shrike showed well and although it wasn't particularly blowy for Breydon Water I definitely felt more relaxed about the possibility of the scope toppling over.

Today saw a trip to Minsmere and I'm now starting to wonder how I managed with my old tripod. It's just so much better to have a decent tripod which is stable and you know won't blow over. I think the weight is less of an issue here too and in general most of my birding doesn't involve lugging a tripod/scope combo miles, so I think it will be manageable.

One issue did arise though. I can no longer fit the tripod and scope combo in the back of my friends boot. It's just too long. Now I think about it I'm not sure the tripod on it's own fits. Fortunately it fits in my boot okay. Those VW Polo boots are a bit pokey!
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Old Sunday 2nd July 2017, 08:41   #22
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Thanks for all the advice regarding marking the legs. Suffice to say I have left them alone at present and seem to be coping fine.

I've had it out in the field a couple of times now and am really appreciating the extra stability. The first occasion involved a near 4 mile trek (round trip), for a Red-backed Shrike and I certainly noticed the extra weight, but I can support it on my Scopac with my hands under the rubber feet to a certain extent. This could be a strong reason for not getting spiked feet. The Shrike showed well and although it wasn't particularly blowy for Breydon Water I definitely felt more relaxed about the possibility of the scope toppling over.

Today saw a trip to Minsmere and I'm now starting to wonder how I managed with my old tripod. It's just so much better to have a decent tripod which is stable and you know won't blow over. I think the weight is less of an issue here too and in general most of my birding doesn't involve lugging a tripod/scope combo miles, so I think it will be manageable.

One issue did arise though. I can no longer fit the tripod and scope combo in the back of my friends boot. It's just too long. Now I think about it I'm not sure the tripod on it's own fits. Fortunately it fits in my boot okay. Those VW Polo boots are a bit pokey!
Exactly why i came up with Tippex! A lot of Waveney Bird Club foreign trips, in and out of a minibus at various birding spots; collapse the tripod legs, then extending the lower two sections fully and the top section to the Tippex mark and voila! Perfect height for me in seconds....
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Old Monday 3rd July 2017, 00:10   #23
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Fortunately it fits in my boot okay. Those VW Polo boots are a bit pokey!
Tell him he should have bought a Skoda Rapid! Same floorpan, engines, gearboxes and fewer quality issues - oh yes cheaper too. Pity about the bouncy suspension but nothing is perfect! Mine takes 4 TOGS + all their wildlife photography gear (4+ 500mm + lenses) with ease - pretty economical too!

When I look at a car I make sure it has a decent boot and then see what the boot is attached to!

Just mucking about! Glad to hear you tripod is working well!
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