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What tripod would be recommended that is sturdy enough not to wobble in the wind, yet is light enough and easily and quickly movable so that I can use it to trek up hills, through awkward places and generally easy to move from A to B.

Some of the cheaper ones seem to look a bit flimsy. Ideally it needs to be to the cheaper end of the scale from $100 - $150 or under.

I have already read this post: Tripod for up to $100 and it didn't answer what I needed to know.

I am not interested in being able to use super heavy lenses (I don't have any) but it would be useful if it could support heavier lenses just in case!

I am happy to try solutions that would have separate bodies and heads so I can taylor the tripod for future plans.

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8 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

my choice is Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro Tripod Legs (Black) see amazon055XPROB

I've been using it for 3 years and it handles all but my large lenses (its a little shaky for the 400mm) and it has a loop I can hook stabilizing weight to if I need it.

Check it out it may be a bit above your price range but it will serve you well for several years. I used to buy the cheap tripods for hoofing about in the woods but they rarely last a full season so I made the jump and haven't regretted the extra expense.

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That sounds about right for what I am after. What head do you use? –  Designer023 Feb 18 '11 at 14:14
    
I love that set of legs but I certainly wouldn't call it "light"... –  ahockley Feb 18 '11 at 15:46
    
Most of the time Manfrotto 222 Joystick Head ( bhphotovideo.com/c/product/554077-REG/…) because I like to shoot insects and it allows me to track the little devils without a lot of fuss. the Newer Manfrotto 324RC2 Joystick Head is what I will trade up to eventually. As a general purpose head look for a Manfrotto 486RC2 - does a lot is very versatile. –  kloucks Feb 18 '11 at 15:54
    
@ahockley: When I wasn't carrying the flimsy under $100 disposable tripods I'd been carrying around a Manfrotto 3221 for years so the 055 seemed like a good compromise on the weight & price issues –  kloucks Feb 18 '11 at 15:59
    
@kloucks The tripod-head combo you are using sounds pretty good, I think that is probably what I am after. I might use a slightly different head which has a horizontal grip instead. Thanks –  Designer023 Feb 21 '11 at 9:37
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I went with the Joby Gorillapod as a solution. It is small and light. When I want to take a picture I wrap/attach it to a sturdy object. Have worked well for me as a compromise when I don't want to haul around my heavy tripod (which isn't that solid but was cheap).

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When it did work it was pretty handy for grabbing onto random objects but the gorilla pods I have had for smaller cameras eventually became weak and wobbly so I wouldn't want to buy another one for a bigger camera. –  Designer023 Feb 21 '11 at 9:28
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You could try the Gorillapod (it has been mentioned in the post you've indicated). You can fasten it to different surfaces & it is fairly steady from my experience in using one. It is ultraportable (in fact I can carry it in the small bag that holds my DSLR). There are quite a few varieties available too depending on the size of your camera-lens combination.

However, the main limitation is that you need the surface to be at the right height & it is not very stable unless you fix it to a surface.

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If you don't need height, you could get a beanbag tripod, like from www.thepod.ca.

I'm not positive, but I believe this is the tripod I have: http://www.amazon.com/Dolica-AX730P105-73-Inch-Proline-Tripod/dp/B001MYL1B0 . It is sturdy enough for me, and gets the viewfinder to within an inch of my eye height when fully extended. If I don't extend the legs, it is fairly sturdy in brisk winds, but it wobbles a bit when I make it taller if it's windy. I can tell it won't last forever, but I wasn't ready to spend $700 on a tripod when I got it (and I'm still not sure I'd really make use of a $700 tripod), so it seemed like the right choice for me. I believe that you can take the head off and maybe even replace it with a different one, but I haven't really tried. Also, it has a quick disconnect plate, which is pretty handy.

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There's always the thinking outside the box crowd answer too: http://news.smugmug.com/2011/02/15/the-making-of-a-gigapixel-image/

He basically used a 5 gallon pail and some lumber to build a mobile platform for his camera. The results are pretty impressive.

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+1 for outside of the box ideas! –  Designer023 Feb 18 '11 at 17:29
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For cheap, I have a Vanguard Mk-2. It's 0.9 kg (2 lbs), it's in aluminum, quite small folded, max height is just perfect for me (I am 6 feet tall). Fop 28$ on Amazon, it's hard to get better price for a small and light tripod. Cons, obviously it's lacking in sturdyness, but for long exposure, I use a remote controle like the Nikon ML-L3.

Here's Vanguard Mk-2 official page.

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That is good for the price. I have all the remotes too so wobbling it when snapping isn't an issue. Just the sturdiness if there is strong wind. The tripod I have at the moment is a cheaper version of something quite like that and can get quite wobbly sometimes. –  Designer023 Feb 18 '11 at 15:27
    
I didn't try it in some huge wind, but I have tryed it on the top of a highway viaduct. Here's one of the pic : plavoie.smugmug.com/Night/Aut-20-Nuit/… I think it's pretty good for a frozen winter night. –  Philippe Lavoie Feb 18 '11 at 15:32
    
wow there's a lot of camera shake in that image. I thought it was just the rough road, then I saw some of the fixed lights on the left side. –  cabbey Feb 18 '11 at 17:18
    
Yeah maybe, but for 30 sec exposure.. I didn't expect better from this tripod in the snow. –  Philippe Lavoie Feb 18 '11 at 21:34
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Yeah the wobble is fairly noticeable, but it could be the viaduct that is wobbling with the vehicles travelling by. If it's just the tripod then tat is pretty wobbly! –  Designer023 Feb 21 '11 at 9:30
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Sadly I think its a case of "cheap, sturdy, portable... choose two".

Personally, I went with the Feisol carbon fibre CT-3441S which both sturdy and portable (about 1kg and folds up quite small)... but around $500.

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Yeah it seems it may have to be too. Ideally I would choose sturdy and portable, but cheap(er) is one of my main factors! The Feisol you have looks really sturdy. Shame it's out of my budget range. One Day! :D –  Designer023 Feb 18 '11 at 14:06
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Don't buy a cheap tripod knowing it won't be quite good enough. You'll just end up buying another one in a few months or a year's time and then you've wasted whatever the first one cost. My original budget was $300, but I'm pretty sure if I'd got it, I'd have bought the Feisol or something similar, later on, anyway and been down $800 instead of just $500. –  drfrogsplat Feb 19 '11 at 8:23
    
That is a very good point. I'll try and think like that, to make sure I don't spend more money in the long run. –  Designer023 Feb 21 '11 at 9:33
    
cheap and portable, sturdy and portable, both are doable. Cheap and sturdy? Haven't seen it yet (unless you mean a pile of bricks, literally). –  jwenting Feb 23 '11 at 9:35
    
Sure a pile of bricks would do! Or just a used, 20- to 30-year-old pro tripod on ebay/garage sale/pawn shop/etc. You won't find really old carbon fibre ones, but I'll bet there's some cheap, ancient yet sturdy tripods about. –  drfrogsplat Feb 28 '11 at 11:58
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A sturdy tripod is heavy, basically the heavier the better. On the other hand you want it to be easily moved, which means that it should be as light as possible. Naturally it can't be both, so you have to find a compromise between them.

There are some materials that are relatively sturdy while being light weight, like carbon fibre, but they are also expensive, so that also conflicts with the price range that you desire.

Simply put, the heavy, light, cheap and expensive tripod that you would like, can't exist. You have to decide how important the different factors are in relation to each other to be able to pick the right balance between them.

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Keep in mind, though, that a tripod can be very strong yet lightweight, and that adding extra weight to the tripod using a bag full of heavy stuff (water, rocks, sand) can make it more stable. As long as you aren't carrying the rocks around with you all day, it's like having your cake and eating it too. –  user2719 Feb 18 '11 at 13:18
    
+1 for eating cake! You do make a good point about the weight to add to the base. I might try with a shopping bag filled with rocks once I get a new tripod! –  Designer023 Feb 18 '11 at 14:15
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