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Old Monday 13th February 2017, 20:56   #3
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Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Limousin France
Posts: 526
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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