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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Gadget Bag: Carbon-Fiber Tripods

They’re lightweight, rock-solid tools that are guaranteed to make an immediate improvement in your images

Labels: Gadget BagTripods

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Flashpoint F-1328
Then consider the tripod head (some tripods come with a head, but usually this will be a separate purchase), leg locks and feet. Judge the leg locks for operating speed, as well as strength. Locks should be quick, but secure. Feet usually are rounded rubber with retractable spikes for gripping outdoor surfaces. Hint: If you’re working in mud, duct-tape a crutch tip (available at many pharmacies) over the foot to prevent debris from infiltrating the mechanism.

Finally, check what materials were used for the other parts of the tripod. The spider, or hub where the legs attach, can be aluminum or hybrid synthetic. More expensive models use magnesium or other lightweight metals. Confirm that adjustment knobs and handle arms are durable and well made. And look for the little extras. Many carbon-fiber tripods come with a case, and some models feature a spirit-type bubble level that many find indispensable.

Giottos MT-8270
Checking in at 3.5 pounds, the Benro TRCB269 Travel Angel Tripod kit is built from eight-layer carbon fiber and die-cast magnesium. It features a 180° folding mechanism, which allows the legs to enclose the top plate and spider for greater compactness. Travel Angel tripods feature individual leg angle adjustments (24°, 55° and 80°), a reversible center column with a spring-loaded bag hook and a leg lock design that helps resist dust and moisture. Closed, it’s 14.6 inches, but fully extended it’s 63.1 inches, and it supports up to 26.4 pounds. The TRCB269 features removable rubber feet and accepts optional stainless-steel spikes. The kit includes a matched Benro B-1 ballhead with quick-release plate, Deluxe Carry Case, a strap and a toolkit.

The Flashpoint F-1328 Carbon Fiber Tripod combines high-tech features, excellent performance specifications and an affordable price tag. Four leg sections collapse to 21.6 inches for easy carry, but extend to a maximum height of 63 inches. Pack weight is less than four pounds and total capacity tops out at a healthy 24.2 pounds. Like all Flashpoint tripods, the legs of the F-1328 have rubber double-grip twist locks. The center column comes apart and can be used as a low column for ground-level use. There’s a bubble level built in to assure straight horizons, and the leg tips feature rubber pads with retractable ground spikes. Nice touch: The included wrench can be used to adjust leg friction to meet your preferences.

Gitzo GT1541
The Giottos MT-8270 Classic features a unique center column that can be used as a lateral arm with angle adjustment, making it highly suitable for macro work. Plus, the column can be reversed, providing 360° horizontal and 180° vertical adjustment. The legs are 32mm in diameter and constructed of 12-layer aerospace carbon fiber. Pack weight is 4.8 pounds and load capacity is a beefy 32 pounds. Maximum height is 66.9 inches, and the center column includes a retractable bag hook. Also included are a toolbox and neoprene rubber foot.

Using Carbon 6X carbon-fiber material for its leg construction, the Gitzo GT1541 Mountaineer is said to be stronger, yet lighter than its predecessor. Carbon “6X” is made using a complex, 3D process weaving six layers of carbon fiber into smooth, solid tubes. At a scant 2.5 pounds, the GT1541 Mountaineer stretches to a maximum height of 62.6 inches and supports up to 17.6 pounds. The Anti-Rotation Leg system makes it possible to extend legs quickly. The unique Ground-Level Set feature gets you closer to the ground by removing the center column and attaching the mounting plate directly to the spider—without tools.


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