• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
Feel the intensity, not your equipment. Maximum image quality. Minimum weight. The new ZEISS SFL, up to 30% less weight than comparable competitors.

Tripods? (1 Viewer)

I am looking to buy a tripod/head? having never used one before I am at a loss as to what to get . I certainly want a light as possible that folds down easily, I can use in a sitting position. Can anyone point me in right direction? It's going to be used with a Swarovski ATS 80 HD Angled scope. Budget £250.00.
Thanks in anticipation.
 

dogbreath

Well-known member
I use a Benro carbon fibre tripod which I think is essentially the same as the "Wild" version. I think the "Wild" package represents very good value for money. I have no complaints at all about my own Benro tripod. That said, I bought a spare aluminium column from Benro so I can use that in a hide clamp - I wasn't sure how the hide clamp would get on with a carbon fibre column. You might want to consider that if you buy any carbon fibre tripod.
 

mbb

Well-known member
You will certainly find many more detailed answers and specific recommendations in the "Tripod and Heads" subforum (sub-part of this "Spotting Scopes & tripod/heads" subforum)! I would recommend looking for some previous tips and recommendations there. (Maybe ask a moderator also to move this thread there?)

Regarding general info:
  • materials: carbon will be lighter (for the same stiffness, or stiffer for the same weight) than aluminium, but more expensive. (There are also wooden ones (never tried one myself, some are said to be great, but I don't think relevant for you considering their sizes), basalt (at least in Gitzo's ranges etc.)
  • 4 section legs will fold more compactly than 3 section legs of the same extended length, but will be less stiff/solid when fully extended (for the same maximum/widest section diameter, as their smallest section diameter is smaller, and there are more junctions).
  • the heavier and bigger tripods usually are the more rigid/stiffer/stable (for the same material, brand, ...)
  • 'video' heads (ideally 'fluid') are in general more practical than 'photo' heads or 'ball heads'
  • you certainly benefit from a good tripod and head, but not necessarily from the most expensive one. I would really recommend looking at second hand offers (here, or on other selling websites, including from stores), as that will probably give your more great options within your budget.
  • if you want to digiscope, especially with a regular camera and not only a smartphone, the tripod and head do become more important. E.g. regarding the head and/or the use of longer quick-release plate to put your scope back in balance (adjusting for the rear-ward unbalance caused by the addition of a camera)
  • you can 'add some weight' low to your tripod (below it) to make it more stable by lowering the center of gravity of the total setup, e.g. using something you carry anyway, e.g. your backpack etc. Some tripods have a hook for that at the bottom of the center column, or you might use a Scopac or similar kind of tripod-carrying backpack (which I strongly recommend for carrying the setup). It won't make the tripod or head stronger etc. of course.

I think you can use almost any regular tripod in a sitting position (at least sitting on a chair/bank) as the tripod doesn't need to be fully extended, thus the last/smallest sections might not need to be extended at all (probably diminishing the stability disadvantage of a 4 section legs compared to a 3 section legs). If however you want to use it while sitting directly on the ground, thus very low, you might prefer a tripod with a lower minimum height (e.g. resulting from being divided in more sections, thus e.g. 4 instead of 3, or from being able to adjust the legs' angle). Many tripod allow you to set the legs at a few different/wider angles, allowing for much lower positions.

Regarding brands: there are the Gitzo (very expensive if bought new except maybe their smallest (too small) ones, above your budget unless you're very lucky on a very good second hand offer, which is possible!), Manfrotto (a bit more variation in prices), Benro, Sirui, Cullmann, Velbon, and many others...
You can often combine the legs from one brand with the head from another brand.

Due to the very limited number of tripods and heads I have tried myself, I won't be able to give much more hands-on advice or tips towards several specific tripods and heads, but others certainly might and the Tripods-and-Heads forum section is full of tips.
I now only use a Gitzo GH1720QR head (very light) on a Manfrotto 4-section carbon tripod (055 CXPRO 4) with a Scopac, bought that way, as a set, second hand together with my scope. New, that will be above your budget though, but it is worth keeping an eye on second hand offers: I've seen that head being sold second hand for only around €60 once... An absurd bargain. I love this head (light, fluid, single knob...), but it is not good for digiscoping and I have a 65mm scope. It might not be enough for a 85mm scope, but I'm not sure.
I have briefly looked at some other brands in stores, but I don't have experience myself with any other brand. My only previous tripod was an aluminium Manfrotto 055 with a very good but heavy photo head, bought more than 10years ago when I was much more active in photography, which I will probably sell as i consider it too heavy and don't use it anymore.
 
Last edited:

Singlereed

Well-known member
I have the Benro Wild 4, the taller carbon one that’s about £299. The aluminium one is half the price with the same head so may be better value. Pros: nice and solid, plenty of height, Arca Swiss plate that will accept generic plates from Amazon etc, works well as a photographic tripod. Cons: still quite bulky when packed and fairly heavy, no levelling base (you can get a suitable one from Amazon for £40), knobs to lock movement get in way when operating other ones - whoever designed it didn’t try it. Although damped, damping is fixed. Another option is the Benro HFTA 28C which is fairly similar and has a levelling base that is really handy if you are not setting up on level ground (eg not in a hide...) although I think this one has a proprietary locking plate rather than Arca (may be wrong on that). If you look at the Wild you probably only need the shorter one for a scope assuming you have an angled one and are less than say 6’2” tall. I do not extend the legs fully to stand to use my scope on the taller one but I do with a camera and maybe would if I used a straight scope. Hope that helps.
 
Last edited:
Warning! This thread is more than 2 years ago old.
It's likely that no further discussion is required, in which case we recommend starting a new thread. If however you feel your response is required you can still do so.

Users who are viewing this thread

Top