"Video" vs "Photo" tripods

Ed Chejlava's picture
Last seen: 3 weeks 6 days 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?


Jack Wolcott's picture
Last seen: 12 min 43 sec ago
Joined: 01/02/2008 - 11:51pm
Plus Member Online

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.