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Thread: Exaggerated Tripod Load Cap...

  1. #1
    WTF?! 400d's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006

    Exclamation Exaggerated Tripod Load Cap...

    OK, since most of us are not mechanical engineers, how do you know your tripod is really holding up?
    I wonder what is the standard of the manufactures when it comes to load capacity of their tripods.
    Say, I came across this Velbon Tripods:

    Velbon EL Carmagne 530A Carbon Fiber Tripod
    Maximum Height 60.8" (154.4 cm)
    Maximum Height w/o Column Extended 46.9" (119.1 cm)
    Minimum Height 6.3" (16 cm)
    Folded Length 20.9" (53 cm)
    Load Capacity 25 lb (11.3 kg)
    Leg Sections 3
    Leg Lock Type Flip lock
    Independent Leg Spread Yes
    Center Column Sections 2
    Weight 2.8 lb (1.3 kg)
    OK, 2.8lb supporting 25lb????? Hello???

    The light tripod I have now is the Slik 614 CF:

    Slik Pro 614 CF Carbon Fiber Tripod
    Maximum Height 61.2" (155.5 cm)
    Maximum Height w/o Column Extended 49.4" (125.5 cm)
    Minimum Height 4.3" (11.0 cm)
    Folded Length 17.9" (45.5 cm)
    Load Capacity 6.6 lb (3 kg)
    Leg Sections 4
    Leg Lock Type Twist lock
    Independent Leg Spread Yes
    Center Column Sections 2
    Center Column Type Sliding
    Weight 1.9 lb (860 g)
    So yea, my tripod can only support 6.6lb. I load up my 4x5 with a ballhead-10lb 15.6oz, my Slik haven't snapped, but I can see the slight bent from the sections when the tripod is fully extended, although this setup is still operable.

    The question is, do they determine the max capacity at the point right before the tripod snapped like a squished spider?! How true is the spec of the Velbon I wonder, or is it B&H once again doing their infamous job-inaccurate products description??
    From the Velbon page:
    The Sherpa Pro CF-530 weight 2.99lb and the suggested load is 11.0lb and the max is 44lb<-WTF?! Now don't ask me if the CF-530 from the Velbon page is same as the B&H's El Carmagne 530A...I just don't know.
    Last edited by 400d; 17-Aug-2006 at 19:50.

  2. #2

    Re: Exaggerated Tripod Load Cap...

    It's the same as with MPG on your car; you'll never get anywhere near the advertised fuel efficiency, short of coasting down hill with the engine off.
    With tripods, experience tells me halve it at least.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Zurich, Switzerland

    Re: Exaggerated Tripod Load Cap...

    I'm not a structural engineer, but there are many examples of lightweight structures being able to support vastly more than their own weight.

    So, my question to you is this: what makes you think the manufacturers claims are wrong or exaggerated?
    Last edited by joolsb; 18-Aug-2006 at 03:32.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    Re: Exaggerated Tripod Load Cap...

    Remember there are camera setups and there are camera setups.

    Take something like a 4x5 monorail. Something that you can set the tripod mount to the centre of the weight. Mount that on a tripod.

    Then take something like a 35mm camera with a huge long lens. Mount that on the tripod.

    The 4x5 is nicely balanced on top of the tripod. The 35mm is falling over nose first. Maybe the 4x5 is even heavier then the 35mm. So what's the weight limit for this tripod? It's not strong enough for the 35mm but it can handle the 4x5.

    BTW if you're tripod is flexing IMHO it's not supporting the weight. You want the camera stable. Flexing or worse snapping is far from the point you want.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Rondo, Missouri

    Re: Exaggerated Tripod Load Cap...

    A few years back, I had a job selling pro photo gear. The store also catered to amateurs, so there was a mix of equipment. We had Gitzo, Bogen, Velbon and Slik tripods. The Velbon ranged in quality from cheesy to mediocre. The one that used tension clips snapped the clips on a regular basis. The ones that screwed tight were nearly as bad. If you looked cross-eyed at them the threads would strip. And the best part of all was that getting warranty service out of them was worse than getting my kid to clean his room.

    Other than that they were pretty nice tripods.
    Michael W. Graves
    Michael's Pub

    If it ain't broke....don't fix it!

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    No. Virginia

    Re: Exaggerated Tripod Load Cap...

    I know it's the head that says how much weight a tripod can really handle. But... I wonder how Gitzo can rate a 1228 with those skinny little flexing bottom legs the same as a 1227. Or any other 28 to 27 series. Three extensions has to be stronger than four.

  7. #7
    Is that a Hassleblad? Brian Vuillemenot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Marin County, California

    Re: Exaggerated Tripod Load Cap...

    "Load Capacity 25 lb (11.3 kg), Weight 2.8 lb (1.3 kg)"

    I believe it. Because if it's printed in the B&H catalogue, it's just got to be real, right?
    Brian Vuillemenot

  8. #8
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Honolulu, Hawai'i

    Re: Exaggerated Tripod Load Cap...

    I suspect that these figures usually refer to how much the tripod can hold without slipping. Whether they will actually provide a solid support for the camera is another thing entirely and depends on leverage (long lens, long monorail, etc.) as much as weight.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    San Francisco Bay Area

    Re: Exaggerated Tripod Load Cap...

    There's the rated capacity before it breaks, and the effective capacity for the task in hand. The effective capacity is probably half the maximum, evenly distributed. I have a Velbon 530 that does a decent job with my Wista DX or a Mamiya TLR, but I doubt that I have anything that would approach even 12 lbs, let alone an 11x14 8-). You need some extra capacity for a ballast bag in some situations, and that reduces the effective maximum.

  10. #10
    Jim Jones's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Chillicothe Missouri USA

    Re: Exaggerated Tripod Load Cap...

    The load rating is arbitrary, and not particularly useful in determining how well a tripod works in particular conditions. My ancient Tiltall has done O.K. with a 21" lens on a 5x7 flatbed camera under favorable conditions. It might not do at all in a gale for light cameras with WA lenses. Buying a tripod is a little like getting married. You never know how well it will work until it's been tried through better and worse. If you choose well, both a good tripod and a good spouse will last a lifetime. Neither come with a rating that lets you predict this. Both may come with a rating by a manufacturor or a prospective spouse that can be misleading.

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