"Video" vs "Photo" tripods

Ed Chejlava's picture
Last seen: 2 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 11/05/2010 - 1:32am

I've noticed that tripods typically aimed at video users are often 3 tube legs - top sections will be dual tubes and the extending section will be one (or some similar arrangement). (example: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/554068-REG/Manfrotto_028B_028B_St...) This seems to me to be lighter but not as rigid as typical "photo" tripods with single nested tubes - one per corner. I personally have a big Gitzo Systematic 5 to try to hold my video camera as steady as I can as it seems to me that "big strong tripod" is the best for the sort of wildlife shooting I do (very long tele lens). (example - every tripod that _doesn't_ look like that one!)

Is there some other reason beyond lightness and less need for rock-solidity that video tripods are built the way they are?

Thanks
edc


Jack Wolcott's picture
Last seen: 5 hours 15 min ago
Joined: 01/02/2008 - 11:51pm
Plus Member

Your assumption that video has "less need for rock-solidity" is incorrect. Tripods are built the way they are to provide maximum stability for a given weight range of cameras and to accommodate the needs and tastes of videographers and photographers. The dual tube-extended leg configuration to which you refer has pretty sound geometry behind it -- each leg a triangle, anchored at two points against the core of the tripod.

Video tripods differ from still camera tripods in their design to handle the stresses of tilting and panning to which they are subjected. This accounts for why you will seldom see a videographer using a tripod with a center post, the "extending section" to which you refer. This extension tends to introduce judder and other unwanted movement when panning. It's great for still photographers, though.

Two of my tripods have ground level spreaders, one has a mid-level and three have no spreader at all. Two are designed to hold heavy cameras -- 10 to 20 pounds -- while one is extremely lightweight, designed for packing in a suitcase for travel and to accommodate a very light consumer travel camera. In each instance the tripods serve different needs; I would never take the tripod with ground-level spreader on a nature shoot, for example, but love it for a long interview or a theatre shoot.

Tripods are designed with several locking mechanisms, twist lock, horizontal and vertical levers, etc., again accounting for usage and operator taste. Tripod feet are also of great importance. Are they flat or spiked? Can they be removed so a different type can be substituted? Each choice should be dictated by how the tool is to be used.

For the kind of shooting you describe the Gitzo Systematic5 looks ideal, although I would prefer a different kind of locking for the leg extensions. But that's personal taste.


Alakey's picture
Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: 10/27/2017 - 2:09am

I fully agree with Jack - I have three tripods and each is grounded for a specific task. One is for shooting in nature, it is very light and compact, so I can put it in my bag and go out of town for a shoot. also, it has non-removable spikes. Sometimes it's a little annoying when the soil is rocky, but in the forest and field, it is perfect. I also have a tripod for the city which provides a strong fixation of the camera. It is more massive, but it has its advantages. The third one was just presented to me and I still have not found a worthy application for it.


paulears's picture
Last seen: 1 day 21 hours ago
Joined: 11/05/2006 - 8:36am

All mine have ground spreaders, and I'd really like one with a mid level spreader. The thing that always gets me is that people perch very expensive cameras on things costing 1% of the cost of the camera. So they spend 5 grand on a mid range pro camera, and plonk it on a £50 tripod and head combo. My work is all at the narrow end of the lens, and the light touch of my fingers making contact with the pan handle can be noticed if you are clumsy. I really hate those tripods and heads where when zoomed in, and the pan and tilt locked, you can still move the camera with finger pressure as the legs bend, and the tripod twists. Some heads, like the Manfrotto 501s appear to be nice, but can go up and down quite a bit with the play. The kind of tripod and legs I want would cost about 5 or 6 grand, and I can never afford that so I always buy second hand grip kit because it lasts for years. I bought my old Anglia TV head and legs, and they are still so good. Not carbon fibre, but I have got used to the weight. I've even got a taller, older Vinten post head, a cygnet and it's amazing for airshows because it can take the camera up to vertical! I won't ever get rid of these two Vinten systems unless I can afford a better Vinten one. There are other good brands out there, but I'll stick with what I know. Some of the budget tripods and heads are really dreadful things. My test is a diagonal move, very slow. Can you pick and angle and follow it without jerks. many can pan smoothly and tilt, but the pressure to go up and down is different to going left to right. unless you can get them adjusted to be the same, the head is no good!

How many times I have smiled watching a keen newcomer with an expensive camera walk away from it and see it slowly tilting down, then suddenly going lens up or down, and the accessories all flapping around when it does it!