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Thread: Thoughts on wood tripods

  1. #1

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    Thoughts on wood tripods

    I am soon in the market for a new tripod. My current cheap $60 department store tripod is not cutting it. I have looked around online and I find many onions on the matter.

    According to some, wood is best for LF because its ability to absorb vibrations and its resistance to cold weather fluctuations. The thing I like most about wood tripods is that you can get them for about half the cost of carbon fibre. Also, the Berlebach tripods are nice because they don't require a separate head. I looked into Ries as well, but they're more than double a berlebach.

    Looking at the CF, they are just too expensive for me. Aluminum seems like a good compromise but I would worry about resonance vibrations on an aluminum tripod.

    Most all of my photography involves some light hiking to my destination. I don't think I'll mind the added weight of wood, especially when I know my wallet is much better off because of it.

    What recommendations would you have

  2. #2
    Youngin Daniel Stone's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts on wood tripods

    wooden tripods are great. If I wasn't so attached to my 5-series gitzo, I'd seriously consider a Ries tripod for my 8x10 camera(my primary format).

    Please let us know what you're going to be mounting on the tripod(of any variation) equipment-wise.

    -Dan

  3. #3

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    Re: Thoughts on wood tripods

    Thanks for the quick response. I have a Tachihara 4x5. I like the ries but they are out of my price range. To me it looks like I can get into a Berlebach for under $300 whereas the ries would rum me over $500.

  4. #4
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    Re: Thoughts on wood tripods

    I have an old zone vi that works quite well, without the prettiness of a reis. Perhaps there are some on the used market. I like wood because it's so much more comfortable to carry around than aluminum. Smooth surfaces, no parts to pinch you, not as biting in the cold, easy to work with gloves.

  5. #5

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    Re: Thoughts on wood tripods

    I use two different size Ries tripods for my LF work. They are great. This doesn't mean I don't enjoy a quality carbon fiber tripod, because I use them with my medium format and 35mm work.

    What's nice about Ries is their lifetime commitment to assuring you replacement parts. I have had them send me the smallest missing screw for absolutely free years after buying their products.
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

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  6. #6
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts on wood tripods

    I too have a Zone VI wood tripod, and it works great with my Zone VI 4x5.

    However, I use a Majestic for the 8x10 Tachihara. The wood tripod is not quite up to the task.

    - Leigh
    If you believe you can, or you believe you can't... you're right.

  7. #7

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    Re: Thoughts on wood tripods

    For my 4x5 GV2 and 5x7 Speeder, I've found a used Tilt-all (around &70 on eBay) worls well ... for heavier cameras like the V8 'dorff, I use wood.
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  8. #8
    45-57-617
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    Re: Thoughts on wood tripods

    I've just bought a secondhand Ries. Its an A100-2 with an A 250-2 head. My initial thoughts are not that good.

    When the legs are spread somewhat, I can press down on the top of the tripod and the legs spread further. The leg locks found on tripods like the Gitzo and Manfrotto basically stop the legs from spreading past their allotted angle.

    The legs on the Ries aren't going to flex anytime soon like the carbon fibre and aluminium ones might - but they do spread. The head is huge and rather clumsy too. Luckily, LF photography is a considered pastime where 30mins per photo is quite normal ! I miss the levelling of the Gitzo on the Ries.

    I'm not really sold on Ries I must admit. I also own a top-of-the-line CF Gitzo a GT2540LVL with the big LF head and a Manfrotto 190 type. I'm still looking for the perfect tripod - or a really good one.

    I get the impression that companies like Ries and Manfrotto are resting on their laurels a bit. I can improve on each so surely their R&D departments can !

  9. #9
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts on wood tripods

    My Ries is one of the best investment I made. Personally I have had no problem with the legs spreading -- except when using the spikes on a smooth floor. In fact I have to remember to lock the legs after setting it up, not that I am worried that the legs will spread, but to reduce the chances of vibrations, or kicking a leg out with my size 12's! I do need to re-sharpen my spikes on of these days.

    But it has take abuse that would have badly damaged a carbon fiber or aluminum pod. Since I often get off-trail I have taken some interesting falls. Whacking a metal or carbon fiber pod against sharp rocks is usually not a good idea. I have had to replace a leg on a Gitzo before from denting the tube enough to keep the inner legs from moving...and have had the threaded portion of a leg crack off.

    Wood does tend to give a little rather than dent or break -- and is nicer to carry on cold days.

  10. #10

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    Re: Thoughts on wood tripods

    Quote Originally Posted by dexmeister View Post
    ...

    According to some, wood is best for LF because its ability to absorb vibrations and its resistance to cold weather fluctuations.
    ...
    Looking at the CF, they are just too expensive for me. Aluminum seems like a good compromise but I would worry about resonance vibrations on an aluminum tripod.
    ...
    Hmm. Now, what kind of vibrations do you think of? Those from the ground or those from the shutter?
    You say you need a tripod for hiking. What kind of vibrations from the ground do you expect in nature? Shutter vibrates the camera (if it does) the same on a wooden or CF tripod because the vibrations start on the camera (if they do at all) not under the tripod.

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