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    Ultracheap Tripod?
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    Cartoni, Miller, O'Connor, Sachlter, Vinten. Yeah, we're not getting any of those. We probably can't even afford a Manfrotto. In fact, we can't even afford a knock-off of a Manfrotto. I'm looking for something less than $50, preferably around $25.

    As laid out in another thread, my brother bought a Panasonic GH3 for his son to shoot Youtube videos. Often he won't use a tripod. When he does, it would just be so he can film himself. So it will be locked off. I know some of you have bought cheap tripods for locked-off secondary camera angles. Any pointers?

    While he won't find one with a fluid head, I think a level would be nice and a quick-release plate required. Amazon Basics has one for around $25. But I was hoping to help him find more bang for the buck in the used market. Any brands you would recommend? In high school, I had a decent one by Slik. Anything to look for or to stay away from? eBay has thousands in this price range. So I'm actually overwhelmed. I would rather find a diamond in the rough than flip a coin. (Okay, a cubic zirconia in the rough.)
    Last edited by combatentropy; 12-24-2020 at 04:57 PM.


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    Senior Member ahalpert's Avatar
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    You could get a still photo ball head and put it on top of a light stand

    Something like this https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H9789YR..._8Kt5FbSN2BA1E

    On something like this https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BH2111Q..._lMt5FbWCT361K

    Also has the benefit of going vertical easily. And maybe you have a light stand already that would work


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    Senior Member Peter C.'s Avatar
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    Light stand with ball head is a good cost saving idea. Although be careful, it's easy to not fully tighten either or kick a leg and your camera comes crashing down. Once you get below $50 it's hard to get anything remotely decent. The used ebay market isn't that great for that price range because shipping cost more than the item. I have a lot a gear that just isn't worth trying to sell once you figure in the time to list, package, and pay for shipping. Sadly its easier to throw out.


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    Craigslist in Atlanta shows about 5 that are $30 or less, so you might want to look at your local CL


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    Any consumer range product is going to be crap, even from decent brands like Slik. B&H sometimes puts the Magnus PV-7451M on sale for $50. It's a crappy tripod with no quality control, but perhaps not as crappy as AmazonBasics or Targus tripods. It has some nice features like 73" max height, and center column polling out into a monopod, albeit gimmicky in the implementation.

    Used Davis & Sanford tripods should be cheap, they're not phenomenal, but punch above their weight.


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    Senior Member paulears's Avatar
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    I've got two things in mind. For locked off cameras, most will work to keep a camera pointing in one direction. My other point is to do with risks. How much is the value of the thing perched on the tripod? 250 plus a lens, so probably what? 400-500? It's madness to use a tripod so cheap but perfectly capable of putting the camera on the concrete. My only rules is never risk more than you can afford. So if breaking the camera isn't the end of the world, I'd take the risk, but if a replacement for a broken one is impossible, then that dirt cheap tripod really wasn't sensible.

    On a purely looking back basis. None of may cheap tripods over the years have survived. Both my manfrotto heads gradually got replaced because they started to perform worse and worse, and my remaining 'cheaper' tripod, a Lybec, seemed to be surviving until I slipped and sat on t he legs when it was folded, on the floor and my weight bent two legs which jammed in the clamps, and I broke trying to open it up. People always spend their money on cameras and lenses carefully, but think of support as an afterthought. In my studio I have some really good vintage support gear that is from when cameras were crazily heavy, and they don't even notice my camera is attached and quite a bit was bought on ebay for very little money.


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    Senior Member ahalpert's Avatar
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    This photo tripod is on sale today for $90: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...um_tripod.html
    www.VideoAbe.com

    "Captain, the most elementary and valuable statement in science, the beginning of wisdom, is 'I do not know.'" - Lt. Cmdr. Data


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    Thanks for all of the suggestions. The light stand is a creative idea, but this boy wants to shoot outdoors. So I think he needs a standard tripod, to handle uneven terrain.

    I'm uninterested in new items. It's very old advice that cameras depreciate quickly, but things like lenses and tripods retain their value. So whatever he would spend on something new, I think he could take that same money and get something better used. So I'm really looking for recommendations on how to buy well in the used market. For example, the recommendation of the brand Davis & Sanford by Imamacuser was along the lines of what I'm looking for. Thanks!

    For now, let's set a limit at $50. I see literally thousands on eBay under $50, including shipping. Some look fine. If he needed it today, I would have already recommended one and been done. But since he isn't in a hurry, I am spending a little more time researching, to help make the most of his money.

    (I'm open to alternatives, but I would need to hear some reasoning. I've been into video production since 1990, so I think these constraints are going to be okay for him, although of course not ideal. I know it's actually a weird question, because like me, most of you probably have had a budget of at least a few hundred dollars for a tripod.)

    So I was not necessarily expecting any replies and appreciate all the feedback. But the kind of information I was wondering was out there were things like:

    • These are some brands that were good, at least for such-and-such decades.
    • In the 1990s there was a line of tripods by Brand X that were really good value for the money and are still a good buy today
    • When buying used, make sure you get one that has Feature X
    • Watch out for tripods that used uranium-tipped tripod feet. They have been known to cause some people to grow a third eye. (Or some other weird thing to watch out for.)

    Otherwise, I will just apply general used-market surfing skills:

    • Try to find a name brand
    • Buy from a reputable seller (on eBay, anyone with less than a 99% good rating is actually bad, I've heard)
    • Look closely at the photos
    • Look closely at the description
    Last edited by combatentropy; 12-26-2020 at 02:27 PM.


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    Senior Member ahalpert's Avatar
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    I guess I'd go manfrotto out of familiarity...something like this https://www.ebay.com/itm/Manfrotto-M....m46890.l49292

    Part of the reason I suggested a ball head was because you can actually get a pretty decent ball head for $50 and then you just worry about the sticks. As opposed to getting a flimsy and hard-to-lock more complex head for $50


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    Senior Member Peter C.'s Avatar
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    These are the broad budget categories I put tripods in:
    1. No name Chinese sold on ebay/amazon. These don't last, they're extremely light and are prone to breaking, passable for a lock shot.
    2. Low end brands such as Smith & Davis, etc. If it's sold on B & H it has to pass some level of quality.
    3. Higher end Chinese brands such as Benro.
    4. Manfrotto.

    The quality gap between 2-4 isn't that large. Manfrotto generally being a little better.
    Then there's the used market the only caveat I can think of is that really old heads can lose their pan/tilt smoothness as the oil inside degrades.

    Besides all the brand/price considerations you have to decide on how big and heavy you want and this directly relates to the camera that will be used. What sort of plate you want. Lot of people using mirrorless prefer plates designed for photography. If you're going to do pan and tilts you'll need a video head. For locked of vlogging a ball head is usually used...
    Last edited by Peter C.; 12-26-2020 at 03:34 PM.


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