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Lightweight travel tripod

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#1 HUsher

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 11:38 AM

I'm off to China for the eclipse in a few weeks time :cool: and am working out what to pack. I think I'll take my PST and a Canon 20d (not to use together). I'm wondering about the best support for these two? As we're travelling around a bit (and I'm not very big and strong) it'll need to be pretty light and fit in a suitcase... Anyone got any recommendations on a good balance between lightness and stability?

thanks

Helen

#2 EdZ

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 01:19 PM

Bogen 3205 Junior tripod and
Bogen/Manfrotto 390RC2 Junior Tripod Head
The Bogen 3205 black is a Manfrotto 190B
It's the same tripod as the Bogen 3001 silver.

Bogen 3205 only weighs 3.8#.
Bogen 390RC2 head weighs 1.6#
total weight 5.4#

The Bogen 3205 collapses to 4.5" dia x 21".
54" fully extended carries an 11# load.

edz

#3 HUsher

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 01:55 PM

Thanks EdZ! I have look at some UK sites for these

Helen

#4 GaryML

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 03:17 PM

For a travel tripod, I replaced my Bogen/Manfrotto 3001 with a Gitzo GT 1930 "Basalt" tripod. It saved over a pound in weight, yet it is sturdier and taller than the 3001 and its successors. The Gitzo costs more, but the Basalt line is much less expensive than the Gitzo carbon-fiber tripods. You might want to check out the current version of the GT 1930 (GT 1931?). Every ounce counts when you are carrying a tripod all day.

As for the head, I use a Kirk Enterprises BH-3 ball head. It's great for photo use, but a ball head is probably not the best choice for a telescope. I will defer to others as to a good travel head for astro use. I have a Manfrotto 501 HDV for use with my binoculars, but it is definitely more weight and bulk than I would want to carry for travel photography.

I put the tripod and head in my checked baggage. I have a fairly large suitcase for checked baggage that will hold the tripod+head with some room to spare. The tripod goes in a little Tamrac bag that I use for carrying the tripod and I use clothes for padding around the Tamrac bag in the suitcase. My suitcase is just short of maximum bag size for domestic flight checked bags (length+width+depth < 62"). You will need to check the international flight checked baggage limits and get a suitcase within the limits. This may force you into a 4 section tripod instead of three (shorter but not as sturdy or convenient), or require that you remove the head, or both.

#5 HUsher

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 04:05 PM

Thanks Gary, I'll look into those too. I agree on the ball head though - I've had a few frustraing evenings with my husband's as its really awkward to make fine movements to track on object. His Bogen 410 head is much, much easier, but also much, much heavier!!

I'm off to decide which suitcase I'm taking and work out maximum sizes. At least it'll be hot in China so I won't need so many clothes!!

Helen

#6 GaryML

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 08:46 PM

I used a Bogen 410 geared head for a number of years and it worked well with both a 90mm spotting scope and my camera (used it for precision macro work). But I agree it is too heavy to carry around for travel use.

EdZ recommended the Manfrotto 390RC2 head (I think the current model is the 391 RC2). I tried various Manfrotto 3D heads a number of years ago and they are solid and reliable heads. My main complaint was very jerky motion ("stiction") due to very simple bearings. I haven't used any of the current or recent models. If you want to try a Manfrotto 3D head, be sure to test drive it in a store to see if it is smooth enough for you. In general, Manfrotto is a good value for your money and I've been happy with most of the Manfrotto products I've owned and used.

Be sure to check out video heads as they are designed for smooth motion and work well with telescopes. I saw two heads in a quick check on the Internet that might be along the lines you are looking for - both small video pan and tilt heads. One is a "Novoflex "D in O" Pan & Tilt Head (Silver) - Supports 6.60 lb (2.99 kg)." The other is a "Swarovski FH101 Fluid Head - Supports 7.7 lb (3.5 kg)." Both are expensive at over $300 U.S., but I'm just suggesting the idea of a decent quality, compact video head that will give you smooth motion for aiming the telescope and composing photographs. Be sure it will go up to 90 degrees vertical (some only go 60 deg.). Look for something that is rated for TWICE your intended load for astronomical use to ensure steady performance while aimed vertically -- and with due credit to EdZ for making this point in his many helpful posts on binocular mounts.

Have a great time on your trip!

#7 HUsher

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 11:24 AM

Thanks guys. I've done a bit more research and have found two heads which look promising

http://www.warehouse....aspx?sku=10901

and the 391 http://www.warehouse...=1031027&Type=1

I plan to visit a camera shop tomorrow to see if I can test them out.

For a tripod I've been playing with my husband's 55MF4 and found that the centre column can be split and the bottom section removed. It takes away some flexibility on height adjustment, but also removes quite a bit of weight. I'm going to experiment with it to see how it performs with the kit I plan to use.

I'm making progress, so thanks guys!

Helen

#8 GaryML

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 06:18 PM

Thanks guys. I've done a bit more research and have found two heads which look promising

http://www.warehouse....aspx?sku=10901

and the 391 http://www.warehouse...=1031027&Type=1

I plan to visit a camera shop tomorrow to see if I can test them out.

For a tripod I've been playing with my husband's 55MF4 and found that the centre column can be split and the bottom section removed. It takes away some flexibility on height adjustment, but also removes quite a bit of weight. I'm going to experiment with it to see how it performs with the kit I plan to use.

I'm making progress, so thanks guys!

Helen


You might need the center column for astro use on the Magfiber, but you can then leave it behind for day use. That may be a good option.

Be sure to bring your camera and scope to the store -- you can then take it for a real test drive with the telescope pointing up. Maybe even bring the MF4 tripod and that way you can try the complete package before you buy. It may look geeky but who cares? I once spent about an hour hiking around in the camera store with my complete camera kit loaded into various camera bags to see which as the most comfortable. The store didn't care as long as I bought a bag when I was done!

#9 Eddgie

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 06:37 PM

If you are not set on a photo-tripod, the Vixen HAL 110 tripods are compatible with most Alt-az mount heads that work on Vixen or CG5 clones. These are in my opinion excepetional mounts. They are light and very stiff. The don't fold as small as some photo tripods, but they will fit in a standard suitcase with room to spare.

Another alternative is the Celstron Alt-az being sold on Ebay these days for $90 brand new. These have slow motion controls alt and Az. They tend to not work well on telescopes with heavy eyepieces when they have to be tilted back very far (they cascade), but depending on the load, they may be quite acceptable for this purpose, and the price is right. I just bought one for my ETX 90 spotter and it has been excellent.

Search Celestron 93607

Have a great trip.






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