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Best light-weight tripod and head for Kowa 883 (1 Viewer)

wolfbirder

Well-known member
MBB, Joachim, Bill, Richard - thank you once again. All good stuff. Really helpful.

I await my mule pack delivery and will see if that makes a difference.
I need a replacement Velbon Sherpa for my Opticron travelscope as that is broken.

The RC128 head is certainly weighty, and I do like the 2-way simple panning offered by the Velbon head. It worked well with my old ES80 Opticron scope which is same weight as my Kowa but I accept it is less stable.

I need to keep checking different Carbon Fibre tripods, and save up I think.
 
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wolfbirder

Well-known member
Done some weight comparisons of various combinations: -

Manfrotto 055 CX03 carbon fibre tripod 2kg
Manfrotto RC128 pan head 0.9kg
Kowa 883 Scope 1.5kg
Total 6kg

Velbon Sherpa 200R tripod with PH157Q two-way head 2kg
Kowa 883 Scope 1.5kg
Total 3.5kg

Velbon Sherpa 200R tripod with PH157Q two-way head 2kg
Opticron ES80GA Scope 1.6kg
Total 3.6kg

Velbon Sherpa 200R tripod with PH157Q two-way head 2kg
Opticron GA52 Travelscope 0.6kg
Total 2.6kg

Gitzo GT2545T Traveler Carbon eXact tripod Series 2 1.3kg (£489) - (Series 1 = 1kg £429 from Gitzo carries up to 10kg & same height as Series 2. The series 2 is probably better due to weight of the Scope).
Gitzo GHF2W Fluid 2-way head 0.6kg (£229 from WEX)
Kowa 883 Scope 1.5kg
Total 3.4kg with Series 2, 3.1kg with Series 1

So..............its good to see that I can reduce the weight I carry by nearly half if I purchase the Gitzo tripod £429 and Gitzo 2-way head for £229. TOTAL £658 (series 1) or £718 (Series 2).

AMENDED WEIGHT AS POINTED OUT TOP FIGURES INCORRECT: -

Manfrotto 055 CX03 carbon fibre tripod 2kg
Manfrotto RC128 pan head 0.9kg
Kowa 883 Scope 1.5kg
Total 4.4kg

Velbon Sherpa 200R tripod with PH157Q two-way head 2kg
Kowa 883 Scope 1.5kg
Total 3.5kg

Velbon Sherpa 200R tripod with PH157Q two-way head 2kg
Opticron ES80GA Scope 1.6kg
Total 3.6kg

Velbon Sherpa 200R tripod with PH157Q two-way head 2kg
Opticron GA52 Travelscope 0.6kg
Total 2.6kg

Gitzo GT2545T Traveler Carbon eXact tripod Series 2 1.3kg (£489) - (Series 1 = 1kg £429 from Gitzo carries up to 10kg & same height as Series 2. The series 2 is probably better due to weight of the Scope).
Gitzo GHF2W Fluid 2-way head 0.6kg (£229 from WEX)
Kowa 883 Scope 1.5kg
Total 3.1kg with Series 1
Total 3.4kg with Series 2

So looks like that extra kg makes a difference for me, I feel better carrying 3.5kg maximum.
 

Vollmeise

Well-known member
even if the thread is a bit behind now, here are my 2 cents on the topic...

after a few years of experience with the Manfrotto RC128, here is the summary in combination with the Kowa 883:

1. The quick-change system of the Manfrotto works and can be locked and released quickly and reliably, but unfortunately there is no way of balancing the center of gravity of a spotting scope, for example, by simply moving it back or forth.

Slidable quick-release plates of the "Arca-Swiss" type have a clear advantage here. They also snap into place quickly and - despite their ability to be moved - have integrated a protective mechanism that prevents them from accidentally falling out. In practice this means that you can quickly rebalance a balanced spotting scope as soon as you have attached a camera for digiscoping, for example.

2. The locking screw on the side of the RC128 does not allow an adjustment in which the spotting scope can on the one hand be tilted slightly, but on the other hand cannot accidentally tip forward if one is not careful.

It has happened to me and practically all other RC128 users several times that the spotting scope accidentally tilted forwards (or backwards). This can lead to the fact that the entire tripod falls over when the spotting scope is tilted (light tripods are particularly affected by this).

Because of these facts and that the RC128 is not exactly lightweight (728g without plate), I looked at numerous fluid heads.

My choice fell on the Sirui VA-5 among the fluid heads that use the Arca-Swiss system, have integrated a counterbalance and are also stable, high quality, light and affordable.

It weighs only 472g (without plate) and holds a Kowa 883 in position at any angle of inclination, even if the locking screw on the side is loosened so that the spotting scope can be tilted as smoothly as possible. Accidental tipping forwards / backwards can no longer happen due to the integrated counter balance.

the Sirui VA-5 is around 180, - EUR in Germany and is certainly not one of the cheapest heads, but currently one of the best lightweight fluid heads on the market IMHO

Cheers)
 

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Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
Another vote for the Sirui VA-5. I like it as well as the GHF2W and in the USA it is less half the price! You'll want a nice anti-rotation Arca-type sliding plate for either head. I think the plate that comes with the Sirui has a good pin and will work well enough with the 883. For the Manfrotto head, you'll want to get a non-rotating plate like this one from Desmond: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1062504-REG/desmond_dpl_100_3_9_long_lens.html?sts=pi&pim=Y

Also, another vote for a good mid-size CF tripod. I think you'll find that a bit of weight off the head plus the weight off the tripod will make a big difference. CF can be costly, and, unfortunately, I've found that cheap CF are much heavier and/or less stable than expensive ones. Can't go wrong with Gitzo or RRS if you can afford either.

I rig my tripods with a wide neoprene strap, with the thick end of the strap near the tripod head so I can carry it on my shoulder with legs extended and scope on the head. Not as secure as the dedicated devices, but much more handy and quick to deploy while birding.

Having used lots of different scope, head, tripod, and carry options over the years, I am left being quite enthusiastic about the merits of carrying a big scope if at all possible and I have confidence in the above products for making use of a big scope trouble-free and comfortable for most birding. I rarely use my 60 mm scopes. If I need small and light, I jump all the way down to a Nikon 50ED scope with 27x eyepiece and skimpy tripod.

I just noticed that this is a very old thread. Oh well. The info will be useful to others with similar concerns.

--AP
 

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