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Old Monday 13th February 2017, 18:12   #1
stuartg
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Best tripod/head for Swarovski 95

Apologies if this question has been asked and answered before. Last year I bought a Swarovski 95. Still reeling from the cost of this I bought a new, lighter tripod at the cheaper end of the scale. It is not really fit for purpose. I would now like to invest in carbon fibre tripod and a head that gives a nice steady base for the scope, ideally I would like the head to take the fitting on the scope without the need to add a plate. Any advice gratefully received.
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Old Monday 13th February 2017, 19:10   #2
Vespobuteo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stuartg View Post
Apologies if this question has been asked and answered before. Last year I bought a Swarovski 95. Still reeling from the cost of this I bought a new, lighter tripod at the cheaper end of the scale. It is not really fit for purpose. I would now like to invest in carbon fibre tripod and a head that gives a nice steady base for the scope, ideally I would like the head to take the fitting on the scope without the need to add a plate. Any advice gratefully received.
Stuart
I would recommend a video head that takes a longer plate of arca swiss style. Then you can balance your equipment to some extent. The marvelous ATX 95mm is quite front heavy for some reason..

For example this one

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...ideo_head.html

I have seen people struggling with the ATX95 and a MANFROTTO 128RC but I won't recommend it.

Last edited by Vespobuteo : Monday 13th February 2017 at 19:25.
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Old Monday 13th February 2017, 20:56   #3
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Hi Stuart

I spend a lot of time through the winter with a group of people all with different scope/tripod set ups. There is sometimes one ATX95 and more often one ATX85 among them. These days it seems that anyone investing that amount of money in a scope ends up with a carbon fibre tripod. But the lightweight legs coupled to what is often quite a heavy head causes some issues.

Of course there is no such thing as the ideal tripod for every person/situation.

What kind of birding are you going to be doing with it? If you are doing most of your birding on foot then weight will be a big factor, however if weight is not such an issue then, in principle, the heavier the tripod the more stable a platform it will provide - this is especially important with the 95 as with a maximum magnification of 72x you need something rock solid to take full advantage of it.

Are you usually birding alone? If not is your companion a similar height? You don't say whether your scope is straight or angled. Some of the most stable tripods have no centre column but they are a real pain if you are tall or if you share your views with people of different height. In any case there can often be situations where a centre column is really useful.

Our group were recently all set up side by side when the wind suddenly picked up, it was interesting to see that a couple of the scopes were nearly blown over at once, while others were more stable. One factor that influenced this was the angle of the legs. I don't mean having the legs in a more "splayed" position which lots of high end tripods offer, I mean that in normal use with legs fully extended and with narrowest angle selected. What I'm trying to say is that the normal angle seems to vary a bit between tripods - when I upgrade mine I'll definitely be checking this out thoroughly.

With the big heavy scopes the MVH500AH head seems to be the most popular amongst the people I bird with but it's a big heavy head and with the weight of the scope added the set up can be decidedly top heavy, as Vespobuteo says the big 95 is a bit front heavy too so you'll need that adjustment to get the thing balanced (pretty much essential if you plan on digiscoping at all).

One of the most helpful little gadgets is a hook under the centre column - if you carry anything fairly heavy with you - hanging it from the hook really improves stability enormously, I've even seen one guy with a length of bungee cord attached to it as a foot loop!
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Old Monday 13th February 2017, 22:05   #4
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Given that you have spent out on a top quality scope I would suggest that you don't skimp on support!

I use a Manfrotto 701 HDV head (no longer made) which I find pretty good though I am sure there are better heads out there these days.

Tripod? My personal choice would be a Gitzo 3530LS or a 3541LS. These are no longer made so you would have to find a used one - well worth looking for! The newer versions are more expensive and heavier which is why I prefer the older models for scope use. These are VERY rigid tripods and Gitzo tripods damp down vibration better than pretty much anything else on the market. These are Systematic tripods so have no center column to spoil rigidity - but check their height is enough for you - they are fine for me at 5'9".

A little while back Gitzo had a 50% off sale (yes they really were 50% off!) so I had a quick look at their site and they only seem to have a single model of 5 series (the thickest legs) tripod available. It is a bit of a monster and not light but if that doesn't bother you then it is rather cheap for a Gitzo. You would certainly get stable viewing with this!

http://www.gitzo.co.uk/systematic-se...tion-gt5562lts

Last edited by johnf3f : Monday 13th February 2017 at 22:07. Reason: Spelling
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Old Monday 13th February 2017, 23:01   #5
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I have my STX 95 on the Manfrotto129RC and dont have an issue. The scope fits directly to the head without a plate.
I have the head matched with the Manfrotto 055 XCPRO carbon fiber legs . All is fine.
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Old Tuesday 14th February 2017, 07:23   #6
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Hi,

there is one more of the super heavy duty Gitzos still on sale (thanks John for the info) - even cheaper plus only 4 leg sections and a bit higher:

http://www.gitzo.co.uk/systematic-se...level-gt5542ls

If the ATX95 should be used for imaging, that might indeed be a very stable option, but the legs alone are 2.8kg (and rated for 40) - get a scopac!

My tripod legs are not in that league - some old Velbon 3 section twist lock legs (like Geo N535) I got for 90 Euros of ebay but they work surprisingly well - and open very wide as Torchepot stated...

Regarding head, I would certainly opt for sth more stable too - the 128RC was too light in my opinion and I couldn't really balance my TSN-3. I now use a Manfrotto 500AH which has a long Arca Swiss plate to balance the scope and is very sturdy with my old Velbon legs.

PS: I once met a birder with an ATX95 on the Swarovski CT travel compact tripod plus head - very light and small package but definitely not recommended!

Joachim

Last edited by jring : Tuesday 14th February 2017 at 07:49. Reason: Added line about the Swaro tripod...
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Old Tuesday 14th February 2017, 17:37   #7
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I use the MVH500AH with mine and it's excellent. Also good value.

Sean
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Old Tuesday 14th February 2017, 20:06   #8
stuartg
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Many thanks for all of this advice I will now take these recommendations and look for these models. I am quite tempted to go somewhere like Cley Spy and try them out. To answer some questions asked by Torchepont and others, it is the angled ATX95. I did have a super heavy Manfrotto tripod previously, this would have been fine in terms of holding this scope steady but the combined weight of these two would have been just too much. I do want to be able to walk around with the two together, preferably using a Scopac. Right off to look these up. Thanks again. Stuart
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Old Thursday 9th March 2017, 18:38   #9
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I have the Swarovski 85ATX - I use a three section Benro Carbon Fiber tripod (equivalent of the 35xx series Gitzo, perhaps even the 55xx series). New it was about $400 on Ebay from China (including shipping). I would not get a 4 section tripod...that extra section is a pain to open and close. But a heavy duty tripod (carbon fiber) that is rated to at least 25 pounds carrying strength - that is the minimum. ( As a rough guide I use for my telephoto lenses...a 600mm F4 II Canon and a 400mm F2.8 II Canon - I use 3x the weight of the lens as a guide to a stable tripod. So the 600mm F4 II lens weighs about 8 pounds...so select a tripod with 3x that carrying capacity. And be advised that this rating is a number the manufacturers came up with - who knows how they derive it...but it has worked for me in the past.

As for ballheads...I like video (pan-tilt) heads from Really Right Stuff (too expensive) and Acratech:

Perhaps the best one can buy (RRS): http://www.reallyrightstuff.com/FH-3...l-or-Ball-Base

better price...quality very good: http://www.acratech.net/video-produc...ideo-ballhead/

I have the Acratech...it is fine but at $600 or so, not for everyone. I just wish the handle was more secure...I have to tighten that knob that keeps the handle tight on the scope, every 5 minutes or so...Otherwise a fine pan=tilt (video) head. I also need an Arca-Swiss mount because all my camera lenses take that mount...it is different than the Manfretto-style mount. (And Arca-Swiss mount is generally thought to be more secure/stable/better.)
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Old Saturday 1st April 2017, 19:01   #10
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We have sold many Gimbal heads with the better spotting scopes. It's arca compatible and also fluid in every direction.
Here is a link to our #1 selling model. It has a 1 year no fault warranty. Normally it sells for $299.99. Mention this forum and we can do $249.99

http://cameralandny.com/spec-sheet.html?catalog[name]=ProMaster-Professional-Gimbal-Head-GH25K-Kit-%237201-gh25&catalog[product_guids][0]=1458709

Thank you
Joel
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Old Monday 3rd April 2017, 22:42   #11
rdcny
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Pan-Tilt Heads (high end - good discussion)

for some info about high end Pan-Tilt heads for digiscoping or doing video, see:

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1483174
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Old Monday 24th April 2017, 05:57   #12
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I can only speak to what I know but the Manfrotto 500 series heads (I have the original 501) on something like the Manfrotto 055CXPro3 (heavy duty carbon fiber - only 4.3# and three legs instead of four) is a very sturdy and elegant solution for a larger scope. I have a Kowa 883 on this set-up.
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