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Tripod and head for slight female birder (1 Viewer)

I need a new tripod and head for my Swarowski ATS 65 scope. Being slight, I can't carry a heavy scope and tripod all day so would appreciate any recommendations. I realise there will have be a compromise between the light weight and adequate sturdiness.
 

etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
Budget is a major factor, lightness is expensive, light and sturdy very expensive.
I'm happy with my Velbon Ultra Luxi, (think it is now the 455), still adequate for a 65mm scope and inexpensive.
Do note the PQ-157 head that Velbon usually includes is robust but fairly heavy, so you can save a few ounces with a different head.
 

dwatsonbirder

Well-known member
I would probably recommend Benro, here is a very light (2.5kg) kit including head which should just about cope with a 65mm scope whilst not compromising stability too much. If you're happy with something a bit more expensive, you could do no worse than this kit.
 

Tringa45

Well-known member
Europe
I would probably recommend Benro, here is a very light (2.5kg) kit including head which should just about cope with a 65mm scope whilst not compromising stability too much. If you're happy with something a bit more expensive, you could do no worse than this kit.
That seems rather heavy for a 2,5 kg capacity.
My mostly used portable set-up is a Berlebach 510 head (6 kg capacity) on a Novoflex Triopod with 3-section carbon fibre legs (25 kg capacity).
It is used with either a Swarovski ATM65 HD or a Kowa 883 and total weight is a mere 2,2 kg.

John
 

jeffhosier

Well-known member
When I faced the same issue with my 80mm Swarovski scope, I tried various lightweight solutions, but eventually came to the conclusion that, rather than trying to find a good lightweight combo, the best thing was to find a better way of carrying the tripod, rather than just slinging it over one shoulder.

I achieved this by attaching the shoulder straps from an old rucksack to two legs of the extended tripod and carrying it exactly like a normal backpack. The load is distributed more comfortably, it frees up your hands to use your bins, it's quick to deploy, and makes carrying a doddle.

You don't have make your own - there are various versions you can buy - Mulepack, Scopac, and I think there's one by Vanguard - some of which include a small backpack. There's also one currently for sale on the Birdforum classified.

This would certainly be a cheaper and simpler way of tackling the problem, so I'd think it's worth a try before you start the search for a decent lightweight combo.


Jeff
 

Hermann

Well-known member
I need a new tripod and head for my Swarowski ATS 65 scope. Being slight, I can't carry a heavy scope and tripod all day so would appreciate any recommendations. I realise there will have be a compromise between the light weight and adequate sturdiness.
It all depends on how tall you are - and how much you can afford to pay for a tripod. It also depends on in what sort of conditions you'll want to use the tripod. It you want to use it on a seawatch in a howling gale you obviously need a far sturdier tripod.

I'm quite tall, so I need a tall tripod, and the best lightweight tripod I found is the Gitzo 1545T. Here's a technical review: Gitzo GT1545T Traveler Test Results It's expensive, sure, but pretty good even in windy conditions, and at about 1050 gr (without a head) it is quite light. Maximum load capacitiy is 10 kg according to Gitzo. That's rather optimistic I think. But definitely more than enough for an ATS 65. Combined with a lightweight video head (I use an older Gitzo 2180) I end up at a toal weight of about 1.6 kg. A good video head shouldn't be more than 500 gr.

Hermann
 

Tringa45

Well-known member
Europe
It all depends on how tall you are - and how much you can afford to pay for a tripod. It also depends on in what sort of conditions you'll want to use the tripod. It you want to use it on a seawatch in a howling gale you obviously need a far sturdier tripod.

I'm quite tall, so I need a tall tripod, and the best lightweight tripod I found is the Gitzo 1545T. Here's a technical review: Gitzo GT1545T Traveler Test Results It's expensive, sure, but pretty good even in windy conditions, and at about 1050 gr (without a head) it is quite light. Maximum load capacitiy is 10 kg according to Gitzo. That's rather optimistic I think. But definitely more than enough for an ATS 65. Combined with a lightweight video head (I use an older Gitzo 2180) I end up at a toal weight of about 1.6 kg. A good video head shouldn't be more than 500 gr.

Hermann
Hermann,

I beg to differ. The OP has an ATS65, probably with the 25-50x zoom, and the Gitzo 1545T would not be up to the job. It has similar dimensions to a carbon fibre Manfrotto 190. A fellow birder had one of these and it was impossible to focus his scope at 60x because merely touching the focusser set off vibrations. I relegated a Series 2 Gitzo basalt tripod to use with binoculars because vibrations on a windy coast with my scope at a mere 30x were intolerable.

Just for the sake of comparison, the 22 mm bottom leg sections of the Novoflex Triopod would theoretically be over three times as stiff as the 14,7 mm bottom leg sections of the Gitzo 1545T. For a similar price, I don't think the additional 400 g (1450 g spec.) is a severe penalty. An alternative would be the slightly heavier and possibly more stable Leofoto LM-323C.

The OP stated she was slight, so assuming 160 cm she would only need about 110 cm maximum trpod height. However, I know of no short stable tripods, except perhaps a wooden Berlebach, and a 202 Report weighs too much at 2,5 kg. Allowing for some overlap in the top joints and then setting the desired height by collapsing the bottom leg sections of a taller carbon fibre tripod can only bring gains in stability.

Lastly, the Sirui VA-5 video head receives good critiques (see Yarrellii's test) and is light and reasonably priced.

John
 
Thank you all for your comments. I shall investigate all suggestions. Incidentally, I'm 162cm tall but very light so unfortunately not particularly strong. As I expect to use it for many years I'm prepared to pay quite a bit.
 

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
If you're able to spend a bit more, I would also recommend the Gitzo Traveller series. They're extremely stable for their weight and will easily take your scope. I use the GT2545T model with a Gitzo GHF2W head and it works really well with my ATX85.
 

Tringa45

Well-known member
Europe
The Gitzo Travellers don't make much sense for birding because you can only fold the legs backwards over a ball head. That won't work with a video head.
A Gitzo Mountaineer with 3 sections would be more suited if you don't need the short collapsed length but a GT2532 is heavier and a lot more expensive than the alternatives mentioned above.
FLM CP-30 S4 ll is another lightweight possibility.

John
 

GeorgeL

Well-known member
Just to throw this option at you have you ever considered a monopod with a tilt only head?
That’s my usual setup with my 65mm straight scope.
 

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
The Gitzo Travellers don't make much sense for birding because you can only fold the legs backwards over a ball head. That won't work with a video head.
A Gitzo Mountaineer with 3 sections would be more suited if you don't need the short collapsed length but a GT2532 is heavier and a lot more expensive than the alternatives mentioned above.
FLM CP-30 S4 ll is another lightweight possibility.

John
I've been birding for 40 years and it's the best tripod I've ever used and makes the most sense for birding of any tripod because it's light, stable and easy for me to carry in a small backpack. What you meant to say is that it doesn't make sense for the specific way you do birding and the specific way that you carry a tripod. For other birders, who do things differently to you, it makes total sense.
 

Tringa45

Well-known member
Europe
I've been birding for 40 years and it's the best tripod I've ever used and makes the most sense for birding of any tripod because it's light, stable and easy for me to carry in a small backpack. What you meant to say is that it doesn't make sense for the specific way you do birding and the specific way that you carry a tripod. For other birders, who do things differently to you, it makes total sense.
This thread is about using a scope on a tripod.
The Gitzo Travellers are intended for photographers who require a compact package and can fold the tripod legs backwards over a mounted ball head. One can of course use a ball head with a scope but it's a very poor solution campared to a video head.
The Travellers would not accommodate a video head between their legs, so this facility serves no purpose and a scope user would be better served by a Mountaineer.
In addition the multitude of leg sections of the Travellers severely compromises stability for the "luxury" of a compact package (see my sticky).
If your birding involves frequent air travel or you carry your gear on a bike, maybe.

John
 
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Hermann

Well-known member
Hermann,

I beg to differ. The OP has an ATS65, probably with the 25-50x zoom, and the Gitzo 1545T would not be up to the job. It has similar dimensions to a carbon fibre Manfrotto 190. A fellow birder had one of these and it was impossible to focus his scope at 60x because merely touching the focusser set off vibrations. I relegated a Series 2 Gitzo basalt tripod to use with binoculars because vibrations on a windy coast with my scope at a mere 30x were intolerable.
My experience suggests otherwise. There is quite a difference between the Gitzo and the Manfrotto 190. I tried both in the field, and the Gitzo is far stiffer and less prone to vibrations, both when touching the scope and in the wind. Have a look at the website I provided in my post. The test results for the Gitzo are a heck of a lot better than the ones for the Manfrotto: Travel Tripod Rankings. They agree with my own findings in the field. The Gitzo is incredibly stiff for the weight.

On the Gitzo basalt tripods I agree. The Gitzo basalt tripods are inferior to the carbon Gitzos.
Just for the sake of comparison, the 22 mm bottom leg sections of the Novoflex Triopod would theoretically be over three times as stiff as the 14,7 mm bottom leg sections of the Gitzo 1545T. For a similar price, I don't think the additional 400 g (1450 g spec.) is a severe penalty. An alternative would be the slightly heavier and possibly more stable Leofoto LM-323C.
While the size of the leg sections is important, it's only part of the story. Compare for instance any Gitzo to a similar sized Sirui, a make a lot of people like a lot, and you'll find a significant difference in real life. And yes, I did some extensive comparisons in the field.

Hermann
 

Hermann

Well-known member
The Gitzo Travellers don't make much sense for birding because you can only fold the legs backwards over a ball head. That won't work with a video head.
A Gitzo Mountaineer with 3 sections would be more suited if you don't need the short collapsed length but a GT2532 is heavier and a lot more expensive than the alternatives mentioned above.
FLM CP-30 S4 ll is another lightweight possibility.
Well, I never fold the legs backwards. Never ever. You don't have to. The FLM is a nice tripod (and a lot better than, say, the equivalent Sirui). But it is heavier.

Hermann
 

Hermann

Well-known member
I've been birding for 40 years and it's the best tripod I've ever used and makes the most sense for birding of any tripod because it's light, stable and easy for me to carry in a small backpack.
I wouldn't go as far as saying the Gitzo 1545T is the best tripod I've ever used, but it is certainly the best lightweight tripod I've ever used. By far. And I've also been birding for over 40 years ... :)

Hermann
 

Hermann

Well-known member
Just to throw this option at you have you ever considered a monopod with a tilt only head?
That’s my usual setup with my 65mm straight scope.
Well, yes. Sort of. I use monopods quite a lot myself, but only when I want to keep the weight and the bulk down as much as possible. But in many situations, like a seawatch or when you scan a large flock of waders at an estuary, a tripod just works better.

BTW, the best monopods I know are the old Monostats, unfortunately out of production nowadays. Their foot (MONOSTAT Foto Joos Ravensburg) makes a huge difference in the field as it dampens movements in the horizontal plane. I've still got my old Monostats, but I also adapted a similar foot made by Giotto to a current Gitzo monopod. Sadly, that foot seems to be out of production as well.

Hermann
 

Hermann

Well-known member
Incidentally, I'm 162cm tall but very light so unfortunately not particularly strong. As I expect to use it for many years I'm prepared to pay quite a bit.
162cm tall? In that case a tripod like the Gitzo GT0532 (or equivalent) would work nicely if you raise the center column a bit. Fewer leg sections than the 1545T, even more stable. It's the smallest of the Mountaineer series and even more stable than the Travellers. It is, however, about as heavy as the GT1545T.

Hermann
 

Tringa45

Well-known member
Europe
Just a final word from me: You can't dodge the laws of physics and it's pretty difficult to dodge the physiolgical ones too (keyword, monopod).
I won't deny that there are differences in the quality of carbon fibre used in tripod tubes and using finer fibres would allow one to pack more CF into the matrix, but these differences pale in comparison to the dimensions.
Today, most carbon fibre tubes up to 28 mm diameter have a 1 mm wall thickness. The 3 mm difference in sections is accounted for by the anti-twist internal rails. Wall thickness has a linear influence but stiffness increases with the third power of diameter.
That means that if you increase the diameter by 25% you also increase the weight by 25% but you double the stiffness.
Or expressed the other way around, reduce diameter and weight by 20% and halve the stiffness!
So, all of you with macaroni- dimensioned tripods: Either trash them or donate them to the Campaign Against Bird Slaughter! ;)
That's what my friend did with his Manfrotto 190.

John
 

Hermann

Well-known member
Just a final word from me: You can't dodge the laws of physics and it's pretty difficult to dodge the physiolgical ones too (keyword, monopod).
John, you're right. Of course you're right. But if someone wants for whatever reason a really light tripod, well, that's it then. In theory everyone would want to use a really stable and heavy tripod all the time. After all, they're more stable. But they don't work for everyone. And not in all situations.

I tend to use different tripods tripods in different situations. The one pictured below is my heavy duty tripod for stormy conditions. 3,9kg, without the head. The feet are together probably heavier than a lightweight tripod. They're also pretty dangerous if you aren't careful ... :cool: But would I lug that monster around for miles and miles? No way.

Hermann
 

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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

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