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Feel the intensity, not your equipment. Maximum image quality. Minimum weight. The new ZEISS SFL, up to 30% less weight than comparable competitors.

Tripod and head for slight female birder (1 Viewer)

Again, many thanks to all who have offered advice. I'm afraid I'm now somewhat confused so would obviously like to see (and lift) the various suggestions. Does anyone know of a store which would have several of the suggested models in stock? Unlikely where I live but I could travel to London.
 

dogbreath

Well-known member
You could try Ace Optics (Bristol) or The Birders Store in Worcester or some of the reputable dealers who have excellent returns policies such as Cley Spy or Focus Optics or Uttings but sending stuff back could prove a bit costly in postage. I bought my tripod from Harrison cameras in Sheffield and they were excellent.

I use a Benro Series 3 carbon fibre tripod with a Gitzo head. The head is heavy and I am confident lighter heads could be acquired easily. However, my wife (150cms) carries the set up easily using a Mulepack (and she says the Mulepack is a fantastic addition to our kit).

I would certainly recommend a Mulepack or Scopack for carrying the tripod with scope mounted or not.
 

jring

Well-known member
Hi,

for a simulation, take a backpack and put five 1kg packages of milk, flour, sugar or whatever in there... That is what my (fairly heavy) kit with a 77mm Kowa TSN-3 scope with EP and SOC, Velbon Geo 535, Manfrotto 500AH, mulepack clone, a guide, a little bottle of water and a snack weights...

You can maybe knock 1 kg off or so by taking a lighter tripod and head (mine are on the heavy side), but you will not get a lot below 4kg and change without serious compromises in stability...

You could of course also leave out guide, water and munchies for 700g or so... but it will make the outing less enjoyable ;-)

Joachim
 

Tringa45

Well-known member
Europe

a discussion of lightweight travel tripod set ups
Very different applications though. Maximum of 12x magnification vs. 60-70x, autofocus vs disturbing manual focus, small fraction of a second exposure vs. extended viewing, and then frequent windy conditions for many birders.

John

PS:- and I forgot image stabilization, which was only offered shortly for the Nikon EDG scopes.
 
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rdcny

Well-known member
The person (aka "slender/petite" woman) should look for a tripod that supports at least 5x the weight of the scope. So if her scope weighs 3 pounds total, get a tripod that supports AT LEAST 15 pounds. Similarly the tripod head must support at least 5x (and preferably a bit more like 7/8x) the weight of the scope. In that way, whether she does photography or extending viewing, she will have a rock steady set up.

She should look to buy a carbon fiber tripod (I don't know what is the best deal with VAT in the UK right now...I know the USA)...Leofoto is the best value for cost/performance. Look to buy used...As for a "head" for the tripod, I like Acratech: Video Ball-Head By Acratech

She has to decide if she wants an Arca-Swiss style connection (recommended) or Manfretto-style (not as rock steady...but many folks use this type). Similarly, I recommend a three section tripod...though four (and five) section tripods collapse smaller (better for packing for travel), extending the extra one or two sections (times three legs) gets to be a hassle/pain and not worth it (for me) to save a few inches of space.

Sadly, Chinese manufacturers (Leofoto eg) make the best value carbon fiber tripods these days (Benro; Induro)...There is always Really Right Stuff (aka Really Expensive Stuff) or Kirk in the USA. There are many many used Gitzo carbon fiber tripods on the market (excellent and I own several). I am unfamiliar with European carbon fiber tripod makers/brand names.
 
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Tringa45

Well-known member
Europe
The person (aka "slender/petite" woman) should look for a tripod that supports at least 5x the weight of the scope. So if her scope weighs 3 pounds total, get a tripod that supports AT LEAST 15 pounds. Similarly the tripod head must support at least 5x (and preferably a bit more like 7/8x) the weight of the scope. In that way, whether she does photography or extending viewing, she will have a rock steady set up.
Those are just arbitrary recommendations from the manufacturers with no objective test methods, and vary wildly between models of similar construction.
I once bought a Sirui tripod rated at 18 kg. There was a Youtube video of a guy doing pull-ups on it!

John
 

BKoh

Well-known member
Singapore
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.
I use an 80mm spotting scope (2kg including eyepiece) atop a Sirui VA-5 video head (700g) on a Sirui EN-2004 tripod (1.9kg with default ballhead). This setup will surely carry your 65mm Swarovski scope.

I am 170cm tall. I extend 2 of the 3 leg sections of the tripod and raise the centre column about 1/3 of the way up. As you are shorter you may not need to extend the centre column. The VA-5 is rated for 3kg and has a fixed 1kg counterbalance. I am very pleased with the setup, no issues even at 60x. At night I also use it for astronomy, so far i have gone to 80x using astronomical eyepieces.

The scope and tripod+head (plus 8x42 binos) all fit in a backpack which I wear when cycling to my birding/stargazing spots. If you get the carbon fibre version of the tripod you can save a few more ounces. For extra stability I sometimes hang the backpack from the centre column hook.
 

rdcny

Well-known member
using the center column on any tripod significantly reduces the stability of the set-up - especially if conditions are even slightly "breezy" (the spotting scope will act like a sail in the wind, harvesting that breeze!). Extend the legs instead...and to save weight, get rid of the center column! Otherwise I agree with your statement about getting a carbon fiber tripod, using the hook below the center platform (of the tripod) to hang objects from (on non-windy days), and using a three section tripod.
 

BKoh

Well-known member
Singapore
using the center column on any tripod significantly reduces the stability of the set-up - especially if conditions are even slightly "breezy" (the spotting scope will act like a sail in the wind, harvesting that breeze!). Extend the legs instead...and to save weight, get rid of the center column! Otherwise I agree with your statement about getting a carbon fiber tripod, using the hook below the center platform (of the tripod) to hang objects from (on non-windy days), and using a three section tripod.
My own experience is that absent a very strong wind, my setup is perfectly stable for my use (primarily visual observing). I (partially) use the centre column because sometimes the bird/insect is high up or low down, and adjusting one column is much faster than adjusting three legs. Already, sometimes the bird or insect is gone by the time I've adjusted the centre column, never mind the 3 legs.

On only one occasion did I encounter a breeze strong enough to affect observing, and even then it was because the stay-on case flaps were catching the wind. If I'd bothered to remove the stay-on case, the scope would have been aerodynamic enough to ignore the wind.

Just my $0.02. YMMV.
 
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