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I enjoy taking winter photos and lately the colder it's been the more I liked the results. The last 3 times I've been out shooting it was between -20C to -30C and windy, so probably colder with the wind chill factor. My phone died as soon as I puled it out of my pocket but the camera kept working fine. The problem was my $100 Aluminum Oben tripod ($100 at the time of purchase) which I found works perfectly fine under normal conditions down to about -15C. I was not able to move various parts of the tripod and the main head actually become loose. I was trying to tighten it as best as I could but to no avail. As soon as the tripod warms up all is fine.

I understand that metal expands and contracts depending on temperature but I would have hoped that the engineers that designed the tripod would have taken this into account.

I realized I will probably have to spend more than a $100 to get a good unit but are there tripods that will deliver in extreme temperatures? Even carbon fiber tripods still have metal movable parts and heads.

I would appreciate some recommendations/experiences.

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I'm going to keep recommending Benbo until people start listening. The knobs and levers are huge and easy to use with heavy gloves/mittens, the legs are "upside down" (with the fat tube at the bottom so they're safe in snow, slush and mud), and everything locks up solid (and slides smoothly when not locked) in temperatures both hotter and colder than you can handle without a space suit. Oh, and you can do things with the legs and column that you simply can't do with other 'pods.

That still leaves finding a suitable head, but the case can be made that you don't really need a head with a Benbo (or any other tripod, for that matter) — it just makes fine positioning easier. A good three-way head may be better for extreme conditions than a ball head, precisely because the lock controls can be made larger and more positive while allowing for greater play in the mechanism. That's not to say that there aren't ball heads that are well-behaved and easy to use in the cold, but they do tend to be on the expensive side. The Benbo isn't Walmart cheap, but it's not tremendously expensive either, and a decent, positively-locking three-way with large knobs/handles can be had for a reasonable outlay as well.

  • Thanks! Fat tube at the bottom - sounds ideal for snow and sand. – Jakub Sisak GeoGraphics Jan 29 '13 at 20:47
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    @Jakub -- worked for me all over Northern Ontario, including Attawapiskat in winter ;-) – user2719 Jan 29 '13 at 22:00
  • Right, you were the one who recognized Neskantaga was on Attawapiskat. Wish I could get out there again. Thanks for the suggestion - really does look good. I might just have to save up for one of these. – Jakub Sisak GeoGraphics Jan 30 '13 at 13:45

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