Tripod recommendations

edited March 2015 Posted in » Nikon D3100 Forum
I am all excited that I found Moose's page and I am getting all packed up with my D3100. I purchased 2 cheat sheets already but I need a tripod. I want to know what you friends recommend for me. I am new to this and want to get all the gear needed little by little. I appreciate your help and can't wait to start using my camera. I bought it in 2011 and I'm barely getting ready to really put it to use. Shame on me for not using it before, but thanks to Moose, he really inspired me to get it out.


  • edited March 2015
    The subject of tripods is fraught with variation and argument. As a sort of general rule for serious photographers, the rule is that a tripod will outlast several generations of equipment, and that if you start with a cheap one you'll end up getting better anyway, so splurge now.

    That, of course, is not a course everyone can follow, because very good tripods are shockingly expensive.

    Because the D3100 is fairly light, you can get away with something fairly light, especially if you don't expect to be using it on windy mountaintops and the like. These days many better stores have relatively inexpensive good tripods, some made in China that are decent copies of much more expensive European ones. It's hard to make a specific recommendation, but I will suggest a couple of things.

    First, if at all possible, avoid the cheap chain store kind with stamped aluminum legs and leg braces. They will be flimsy, hard to operate fast, and lacking in versatility.

    Also, avoid if possible video heads that pan and tilt, but do not offer a conveniently variable horizon. In order to get a level shot with these, you must adjust the legs. Since you probably wont, or won't have the time, you will end up with tilted horizons!

    Look for either a three way head, or a ball head. Look if possible for independently spreadable legs, which allow placement on difficult terrain, and also for macro positioning.

    If at all possible look for a quick release head, that allows you to attach a pad that stays on your camera, and then to snap the camera on. That's especially useful if you have a ball head, because the pad must be pretty tight to the camera or the camera will shift when you're steering the head.

    There have recently been a couple of brands of very light but well made travel tripods that might be worth looking at if you have a shop nearby where you can try things. Some of them, such as Mefoto and Sirui, are not dirt cheap, but they are very nice and include a very good ball head with a high grade quick release pad, and some nice features. Some of these fold up quite small, and a few can even be disassembled to provide a monopod, which is very handy.

    For tabletop and odd placement, the larger Gorillapods can be surprisingly handy. No floor placement for those, but nice for hanging your camera on a signpost or a stair railing or a chair.

    All this will depend a bit on what you want to spend and what you find. Any tripod at all, even the worst piece of junk, is likely to be better than none. If you really can't afford or justify something expensive, get whatever you can, but keep your eyes out for bargains. You'd be surprised what can turn up. At a yard sale last year I got a Manfrotto 3021Bpro with a special leveling post, a 3 way head, and an angle bracket, for $12. It's a few years old, but new it would have cost a good deal more than my camera did! You never know.
  • edited March 2015
    Well thanks very much for the info! I will consider all learned till now. I will keep you posted on what I end up getting or see any more recommendations.
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