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Tripod for new digiscoping rig (1 Viewer)



I am a birder who really likes taking pictures as well. I do carry my stuff around a fair amount, but weight isn't my top concern, but certainly a consideration. I just bought a Kowa 884 (straight scope) and a digidapter for (presently) a Canon s95. Who knows where it all will lead? Most digiscopers recommend a tripod with no center extension, so its a bit heavier, not too much I suppose. But I'm interested in your experience. How do you find this kind of tripod for birding overall. I'm concerned, I guess with it possibly being awkward, and taking up a lot of room when there are lots of people, that sort of thing. Also, now when I extend my center post a lot, I can look pretty close to straight up. I'm thinking I would lose that ability.
Also, while were at it, video heads, are recommended. Are fluid cartriges no longer a necessity? I'm thinking at this point of the manfrotto 535 tripod and manfrotto 502 HD head with half ball. Your thoughts are very much appreciated. Thanks, Curt

Stephen Mark

Well-known member
I have had an 884 for pver a year mounted on an Induro AT 214 with the 502 head. The head is a little heavy but works perfectly. I use the Kowa adapter with an Iphone 5 because I don't want to invest in the weight and expense of hooking up my DSLR. That combo should give great results and as long as the center column is down normally it shouldn't be an issue. I find the Induro to be more ridged, has better leg locks and is cheaper than the Manfrotto. Enjoy your rig.

Andy Hurley

All nations have the right to govern themselves
Opus Editor
I have the Induro AT214 with the Manfrotto MVH500AH, but with a Vanguard Endeavour H82A on top. It's a new rig I got for Christmas and so I'm not very experienced with it. I find puting a Nikon camera on it (using the PA 202 adaptor) affects stability, in that it tends to drop to the rear, but this can be compensated for to a certain extent by moving the slider forward. Heightwise, the legs do not need to be fully extended with the central column is all the way down for me to be able to stand up fully. I am 6 ft 2 (1.86 m). (The more you lump on top, the lower the tripod needs to be).

Stephen Mark

Well-known member
Andy just hit on the key difference between the two heads. The 500 is a nice head (had one sold it for the 502) the counterbalance is fixed and moving the scope on the head is your only choice. The 502 has an adjustable counterbalance and I have mine set so that I can move the scope any way I want and it stays without having to lock anything down. You have one of the best scopes made and this setup should let you take pictures with no worries about camera shake. Enjoy and post some pictures when you get it set up.'


Well-known member
United Kingdom
Hi Guys

I have the 500AH on a Manfrotto carbon one 441 tripod. If you're a tall person it's a nice set up for a scope though the legs open at a slightly narrower angle than my other tripods and this makes it less stable. I had it blow over in a strong wind and only just caught it before the scope hit the ground, it's only happened once in maybe 12 years or more of use but it was the only tripod in a line of seven to blow over.

The head (a recent addition) has been fine for scoping with a 38x fixed mag and I had no problems with it, but last year I bought a bridge camera which I wanted to use on the tripod mostly for videoing (my digiscoping has not been too successful). The counterbalance spring was something that I never really noticed while using the scope (Nikon ED82) but I found that when trying to follow a moving bird by tilting the head I was fighting the spring and introducing a lot of unwanted camera shake and every time I released the control arm the spring would return the camera to the horizontal. I took the spring out (not at all difficult) and now it's much easier to use.
I thought about buying the 502 but I was put off by the extra weight - from memory the 500 is about 0.9 kilos while the 502 is nearly 1.7

The one thing that would make me swap the head is if I could find one about the same weight with separate tension and lock controls on both pan and tilt. I've only come across that on much heavier heads though.

I find that while videoing at really extreme zoom I can't avoid camera shake following a moving subject, but I don't know if this has much to do with the head - I think it's just a function of the magnification.
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Registered User
This is a somewhat dormant thread, but it seems worth noting that there is an excellent Brunton carbon fiber tripod currently on closeout for $60 at Botach.
It is big, 71" max w/o raising the center column, folds to 27" and weights 5.2 lbs with the head included. There is an extensive discussion in the spotting scope thread here:


The head might be marginal for a big Kowa scope, but it is ample for my 60mm Fieldscope. The tripod would cope with either effortlessly.

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