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I have a Vanguard Veo 2 265 CB tripod. I really like it and it has been performing, but lately I am trying to get my pictures as sharp as I can get and I noticed something. It must be trivial to ask, but here goes: I was using manual focus on the distant trees and I was using the zoom button to have the leaves and branches in perfect focus. And I noticed that the camera was vibrating? a little. I mean it wasn't as stable as it should've been. When I do astrophotography and zoom in at the star at 10x, I notice these vibrations too. The tripod says that it can support the weight of the camera and lens that I am using. But I feel it is not doing a good enough job of doing so.

Is it one of the reasons for the pictures not coming sharp enough? Do the pro tripods trump these mid ones because of this reason?

What makes a $1000 tripod better than a $200 one? If is it the sharpness then there is no trade-off, I believe.

  • It simply might have been vibrating due to your actions on the camera during the zooming. What camera have you been using? You say you press the zoom button - that in itself will be enough to move the camera slightly. – John Hawthorne Oct 21 at 14:59
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    @MichelKeijzers I have the shutter release which I always use during my landscape shots. – MAK Oct 21 at 15:15
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    @JohnHawthorne The vibrations happened as I zoomed in remained after I left it at 10x. – MAK Oct 21 at 15:15
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    You want to use the heaviest tripod that you can carry to your destination. This is why a lot of people have two (or more) tripods, a very heavy tripod when you don't need to carry it far, and a lighter weight tripod for hiking. Yours is advertised as a travel tripod. – Mattman944 Oct 21 at 17:25
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    Possible duplicate of How can a tripod be unstable? – Michael C Oct 22 at 0:23
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Honestly, you may be thinking in the wrong direction. Let me explain:

Why you may not actually want a more pricey tripod

More expensive tripods tend to be made of lighter materials (carbon fiber is a favorite, and it's what yours is made of). This is for the benefit of photojournalists (etc) that have to carry several cameras, lenses, and other gear. Every pound they can avoid is another thing they can carry.

What you probably really want to do

For your purposes, assuming you are not hiking long distances or carrying a plethora of accoutrements, you may actually want to find a cheaper tripod or one around the same price point that is made of heavier material.

A (perhaps more economical) option

Alternately, you can buy slings that attach between the legs for accessories. Instead of filters and lenspens though, you can just drop some rocks in it from the surrounding nature. Another (almost identical) option is sand bags. Giottos makes sand bags that velcro to your tripod legs. Anything that increases the weight of your support will also increase the stability (up to a point, then it'll snap in two).

Giottos Sand Bag

Here's why

Your problem is almost definitely caused by wind, as no other forces can really be acting on your setup. I'm assuming, of course, that you are either using a remote release or you are shooting with a drive mode that implements a shutter timer. If this is not the case, you may actually be causing this minute movement when you release the shutter.

Remember that any movement at all will botch a long exposure if your subject is comparatively well lit (like stars, in your case). So removing your finger from the release after triggering the shutter will almost definitely be visible in the final image.

You don't say what body and lens you are using, but it would have to be pretty monstrous to exceed 17 lbs (the capacity of your tripod), so I don't think that's your issue even if your QR plate isn't properly balanced.


One last thing to check

There is one possibility I haven't covered. That is your tripod feet. Most tripods have little rubber feet on them, but little rubber feet aren't always ideal for gripping terrain. For this reason you may be able to order other feet with little spikes on them that will grip in loose earth and softer mediums. Having brought that up, I'll say that I can't imagine this being your issue if the vibrations in your exposures are consistent on different surfaces.

  • Thanks for your in-depth explanation. I think the vibrations I see in live view are due to the result of me using the magnification button to get the far trees in focus and would have died eventually after dampening. I will test that out this week. Also, the idea of a tripod with more stable legs would definitely improve the stability of my setup. – MAK Oct 24 at 13:40
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First things first: have you turned off image stabilisation? Next thing is that the best tripod has a hard time against an unbalanced mount, so is the tripod mount supporting the camera and lens at a point close to their center of gravity? For a tele lens of non-trivial size this pretty much implies using a good lens clamp and fixing that to the tripod rather than the mount point of the camera.

Then it may be worth investing into a remote. Good video cameras can usually be zoomed remotely (and branded gimbals often contain a LANC controller to do that without touching the camera), but for still cameras, at least a remote shutter control connector is typically available.

  • Yes, the image stabilization is off. I didn't open the tripod all the way and I was shooting vertical. I have an L bracket and the camera was centered and am pretty sure that it was close to the center of gravity. I have the shutter release and was using it for the shot. – MAK Oct 21 at 15:17
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One difference I noted is the build quality of all the clamps locks and joints - if you, for example, look at an old-school Linhof/Schiansky, the clamps (and heads too) will take some force to operate, but will be as stiff as welded once fully engaged - and they seem to be designed to NOT easily wear out in any way that lets contact surfaces diminish or clamping action to wear loose. Comparing some worn consumer tripods I have around, the difference feels drastic.

Another thing (took me some time to understand) is overreliance on spreaders/struts in many modern, inexpensive design: Especially in outdoors situation, these can actually keep the legs from establishing a good bite in the ground. Ground tends to be very sturdy and well dampened. A tensioned rod of metal or tough plastic however is known to be great as a guitar string...

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