Best Carbon Fiber Tripod For Photography

By | 09/09/2022

For photographers who comport their gear long distances, saving weight is a real upshot. We economize every way we can, leaving spare photographic camera bodies backside or bringing fewer rolls of film. We carry lighter tripods, too, just until recently, in that location was a limit to how much weight we could save in our camera support. Lightly constructed metal tripods simply aren’t stiff enough to provide a precipitous image.

carbon-fiber tripodsCarbon-fiber tripods solve that problem. They’re about thirty% lighter and noticeably more rigid than a metallic tripod of similar size and build quality. They also dampen vibration more than effectively, contributing to sharper images. These tripods are wonderful to work with, especially if you take to accept them whatever dandy altitude.

They’re surprisingly light, perchance even more so than their specifications suggest. While I was researching this article, a box of carbon-cobweb tripods arrived. The box weighed and then trivial that I assumed a unmarried tripod was inside. I was astonished as outset one tripod, then a 2nd one, and finally a big magnesium head appeared from inside their bubble-wrap cocoons.

Although both tripods were very lite, neither was calorie-free-duty—they could support a medium-format camera, a field 4×5 or a D-SLR with a fast telephoto lens.

The larger tripod could fifty-fifty agree up a D-SLR with a super-telephoto or a studio 4×5 camera.

I took both tripods to California’s Anza-Borrego to shoot desert wildflowers. The smaller tripod did a great job, but the large ane grabbed my attention when it easily lofted my camera above eye level and kept it in that location firmly without any trace of movement.

It performed as well at ground level, also, rapidly spreading its rigid legs outward to get a low angle of view. In short, the larger of the two carbon-fiber tripods rivaled my heavy studio tripod for firmness, but bested its weight by ix pounds. It outperformed the “lightweight” metal tripod I’ve used while hiking, and it was still two-thirds of a pound lighter.

When I took along the smaller carbon-fiber tripod for a seven-mile hike, its nearly two-pound weight advantage over my calorie-free metal tripod fabricated my trek much easier. The weight difference was particularly appreciated on that trail, which climbed steadily upward on the outbound leg. The tripod’s rigidity made shooting a joy. Information technology would be a blast in Bryce Coulee, the Sierras or anywhere y’all face a steep ascension.

Because of carbon-fiber tripods’ rigidity, centre leg braces are absent, even on the heavy-duty models. This frees tripods with short columns to position a camera very near the footing only by spreading the legs. Alternatively, some models characteristic variable-angle columns that swing into a myriad of unorthodox positions for greater versatility. Since the columns are themselves made from carbon-cobweb tubing, they flex much less when extended than do their metal counterparts.

As with whatsoever other new applied science, though, there are downsides. The about obvious is that carbon-fiber tripods are expensive. Expect to spend at least half again what y’all would for an equivalent metal tripod.

Ironically, one of the tripods’ main advantages, their lack of weight, results in a somewhat more top-heavy arrangement with your camera aboard. Since there’s likewise less overall mass to resist motion, they will be easier to knock over with an inadvertent bump. (To combat this problem, many models characteristic a hook below the tripod column for suspending rocks beneath the tripods.)

If yous’re an experienced tripod user, carbon-fiber tripods exercise take a little getting used to. Their light weight and the absenteeism of metal’south familiar springiness tin can make them feel oddly similar matchsticks at first. It won’t be long later you start shooting with a carbon-fiber tripod, though, that you’ll appreciate its force and immovability. I’ve been using them a while now, and I’d find information technology hard to go back to metal.

Users of big tripods volition encounter the almost dramatic weight savings when switching to carbon fiber. That’south considering nearly of the weight saved is in the legs, and pocket-sized tripods haven’t every bit much weight to lose. The carbon-fiber versions will still be noticeably more rigid, making for a superior photographic platform.

Carbon-fiber tripods are terrific, but do you actually demand one? That depends. I’ve been using large, heavy metal tripods in the field for more than than twenty years, and I’ve certainly hauled those tripods into my share of crazy places. Then once more, “hauled” is exactly the right give-and-take. On a long hike, a carbon-fiber tripod could hateful the difference between “fun” and “endurance.” For backpackers, mountaineers and others heading to truly remote areas, they’ll be indispensable.

If you spend a lot of time shooting in the desert sun or winter snows, you’ll observe a carbon-cobweb tripod more comfy to work with. While they practice warm upwards and cool down, they don’t become painfully hot or common cold like metal tripods. The new tripods also are a natural partner for the new crop of eight-megapixel advanced meaty cameras, whose capabilities similarly belie their lightness. On a backpacking trip or a steep trail, the two technologies brand a formidable combination.

Many of the tripods here are sold without a caput. If you’ve been using a heavy caput on your metal tripod, mounting it on your new carbon-fiber tripod will eat into your weight savings. Many manufacturers now produce magnesium heads that offer great forcefulness and reduced weight, also.

Giottos MT 8160
supports up to 22 pounds while weighing in at 5.five pounds, including its integral 3-way tripod caput. The tripod’south innovative leg angle control ring lets you punch in the amount of leg spread for all iii legs at one time for a quick setup. Each leg’s bending also tin can be adjusted individually to cope with uneven terrain. List Cost: $345.

Gitzo G1228 Backwoodsman Mk2‘south four-section leg design enables a folded-upwards length nether 22 inches. You hands could stow the tripod and a head in your carry-on bag next to your apparel and fly away for a weekend shoot. When yous get there, the rigid tripod volition back up your camera firmly without making you stoop. The 3.3-pound tripod (without head) supports more than 17 pounds. Listing Cost: $683.

Hakuba’s HG-503MX
weighs just four pounds, including its three-way aluminum head. The tripod’southward separate-center cavalcade allows the tripod to fold down to a minimum height of just 11 inches. The 503MX’southward topmost leg sections feature a neoprene cover for carrying ease. Listing Price: $459.95.

Manfrotto’s 441 Carbon 1 (#3443)
features faceted leg and centre column tubes for extra stability. For greater versatility, the center column swings out to become a sliding lateral arm. The tripod weighs simply three.5 pounds without a head and offers quick-action leg locks. List Toll: $536.

The ultralight, three-section
Slik Pro 713 CF
weighs only ii.75 pounds without a head. Supporting 12 pounds, the tripod reaches a maximum acme of 651/2 inches with the centre column extended. List Cost: $399.

Together with its included magnesium 3-fashion head,
Velbon’south El Carmagne 530
weighs 3.8 pounds. Its three-section legs characteristic lever-activated locks and are marked in one-inch increments for like shooting fish in a barrel length aligning. The legs spread out to provide a minimum top of ten.2 inches. List Cost: $449.95.

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