Trading Up the Tripod this Christmas

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.

Dynatran AT-A102T Tripod

Dynatran AT-A102T Tripod

Top of Tripod

Top of the Tripod

ATH-04H Pan Head

ATH-04H 3-way Pan Head

Twist Leg Locks

Twist Leg Locks

Bag Hook

Bag hook for added weight and stability.

Compass and Level

Compass and Level

3 thoughts on “Trading Up the Tripod this Christmas

  1. Good grief! This thing just popped up in my rss feed. Here’s to never cleaning out those old subscriptions. :)

    Interesting that you were on the hunt for a new tripod because I am too. Currently, I have a Sony “whatevermodelnumber” and I’ve never been that pleased with it. At the time I thought I needed a 72” high and really light tripod. The problem is that I don’t really trust it. The legs are a little chintzy and the telescoping rod is a little too loose. It has a little bit of wobble even when tightened down. Not so great on windy days. I guess that’s what I get for going cheap. I think I would rather have something built with 2×4’s instead. Really! I don’t think I would mind the weight.

    At work I have an old Bogen. It has to be at least 20 years old. I’m not sure where it came from. It’s been here longer than I’ve been here. The ball head is a bit of an antique compared to the Manfroto that I have on my Cinemover but it’s still smooth and doesn’t slip. What I like about the Bogen are the legs. Beefy. It’s light but quite sturdy when tightened down. It feels very solid. I’ve even mounted my heavy-duty halogen construction site lamps to it. Those suckers weigh a ton.

    I’ve been looking for something rugged that I can plop down in the bush when I’m out shooting landscape shots. Something sturdy enough not to move when a gust of wind crops up. The Dynatran looks pretty good. Please let us know how you get along with it.

    • It’s pretty solid. My daughter had it out the other day to try a few shots. Sadly I haven’t used it much. Gotta get back to it. I should get a decent ball head since the thing it came with is solid but consists of a few different handles and pieces and it’s frankly a pain in the arse. If it had a ball head, then I’d likely be more eager to use it. You quickly forget how much nicer video looks when you shoot with an open lens on a tripod. Very cool. I’ve also got the micro-usb to female usb cord, but I still need the one going into the camera to try using the Nexus7 as a camera display. That would be cool to try as well.

      • Ah! Just last night I had my GNex plugged into my dslr for the first time. I bought 5 otg (micro to std female usb) cables for the kids to use with their Nex7’s (which we can’t get to work). I used a free app called Helicon Remote. It’s not bad but not great. I plug in a remote timer similar to a Canon TC80N3 (but some knock-off brand) so I don’t jerk the camera when taking HDR shots. I was hoping maybe the android app might be a little nicer. Jury is still out on that one.

        As far as my tablet goes, I use DSLR Controller (Beta) with a USB cord. It works well but I haven’t lugged my tablet with me yet so I haven’t really used it much.

        Anyway, I have a birthday coming up so I thought a new tripod or new backpack for my gear would be nice.

        Ha! Btw, I just realized that this is a two year old post. Not sure why I just received it again. I need to pay more attention to these things. :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *