One of the things on my relatively short list to Santa this year was a new tripod. The one he brought me a few years back finally gave up the ghost when the plasticky knob thingy that tightens the plasticky pan head from rotating on its plasticky stem tore loose from its plasticky housing leaving a plasticky hole.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love Santa. And I used that tripod (though not nearly as often as I should have), but it was an entry level tripod not really suited for DSLR use. It was clearly more happy carrying a Flip camera or something of that ilk. Add to that its mid-level support braces and it just didn’t cut it for me. And bless his jolly old heart when he once again bought me a light-duty attractively priced store-brand tripod steeped in mid-level braced plasticky goodness. Clearly I just had to bite the bullet and exchange it.
So off I headed to the local camera shop on the day after Boxing Day determined to improve my situation. Initially, trying to be as price-conscious as possible, I was eyeing a slick little Manfrotto 785b travel tripod with a super-nifty looking pistol-grip head. Picking a display unit up and handling it, I quickly realized that its nifty pistol grip and skimpy legs felt a little too wobbly for my Canon 7D. So I decided to talk to a sales guy about my conundrum. I wasn’t about to exchange my sub-100 store-brand tripod for an 800 dollar Gitzo, but I wondered aloud if there was something a little more realistic for my situation.
Surprisingly, he told me there was. He picked out a relatively sturdy looking Dynatran AT-A102T carbon fibre tripod base and demonstrated it for me. Biting my lip, I asked him about the price. I told him I had wanted a ball-head for it, but he pointed me away from that solely on price. His logic being that he could pick out something that would work well with a 7D sort of weight and keep me at a reasonable price if I went with a 3-way pan head. Going to a ball head that would do a good job of supporting this sort of weight would be significantly pricier and it was something I could always upgrade to later. So he picked out a Dynatran ATH-04H aluminum pan head. He told me he could put that tripod and head together for $180.00. I was sold.
Now this may not be a pro-quality Manfrotto or Gitzo setup, but compared to what I walked in with, this was a huge step up. I may be way off base with this (and time will tell of course) but it seems to me that a carbon fibre tripod with a 17.5 lb load rating (the one I walked in with had a measly 6.6 lbs capacity) and a semi-decent aluminum pan head for 180 bucks is an alright deal.
I may do a proper review once I actually put this thing to use, but for now, here are a few photos of the new rig:
NB: The photos are in a superdy-duperdy lightbox display so if you’re reading via RSS you’ll likely have to hit the post directly to see them properly – ugh.