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In looking at tripods I have noticed that there seem to be no objective quantitative measures on their performance. I do understand that heads are a personal preference, but I would expect there to be some sort of stability measure for the legs. Even for the heads I would have expected some sort of measures like smoothness, fluidity(?).

The only numerical measure I have seen so far is that in general more money is supposed to be better. I do not like this measure because it is trivially gamed.

So my question is: Do there exist objective measures of tripods?

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    Seems like a lot of this is already covered here: What should I pay attention to when choosing a tripod? and here What should one consider when choosing a style of tripod head?. Could you explain what specifically you are looking for that isn't already covered in those? – dpollitt Feb 16 '17 at 3:31
  • Also related (the answers go into more than what the question might suggest): Tripod Vibration; Magnesium Vs Aluminum? – scottbb Feb 16 '17 at 3:49
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    @dpollitt: The questions you referenced are not what I am looking for. I am not looking for how to buy a tripod, but for objective measures of tripod performance. An analog of what I am looking for might be something like MTF curves for lenses or signal-to-noise ratios for sensors. – John Smith Feb 16 '17 at 4:03
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    I'm pretty sure when you note "In looking at tripods" you actually mean "looking to buy a tripod", so yeah I think those questions are highly related. Not many (if any) people look at tripods with no intention of purchasing one. – dpollitt Feb 16 '17 at 4:10
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    Height and weight and number of leg sections and clamp technology and material construction are all objective measures of a tripod. – user50888 Feb 16 '17 at 4:22
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Unfortunately, no, there isn't an industry standard test to objectively quantify / rate tripods or heads.

Generally, tripod testing will usually boil down to measuring vibrational modes, i.e., maximum deflection of a laser beam at a reference distance to a measurement target. That is the one that should really matter to photographers.

Other tests could include maximum weight before slippage of joints or axes; maximum drift or deflection of a certain off-center test mass; etc. However, again, there is no common/standard test for these effects.

Manufacturers often list their "maximum weight rating" for tripods or heads. In general, these "ratings" are suspect at best. Related questions and answers:

Some quick Googling produced an interesting report comparing certain Induro, Manfrotto, and Gitzo tripods. This report is hosted on Induro's website, and was ostensibly performed by a (hopefully independent) third party. The test methodology and criteria are clearly laid out. However, this doesn't represent any industry standard testing method.

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