I know, we all think it. Is it time to trade in this old tripod for a newer, bigger, “badder” tripod? Maybe I’ll go with one of those cool, sleek, black Manfrottos with a new head; or maybe I’ll go with a bright, colorful, more portable Mefoto tripod? Well, maybe we don’t all think about these things, but as the “Tripod Guy” of Spartan Photo Center, I get asked these kinds of questions a lot. Here are a few questions to ask yourself in order to find a good match for you, or if you should consider getting a new tripod.
Question 1: What am I using this tripod for?
Are you in the studio? Are you hiking outdoors, going bird-watching, or backpacking? Are you going to be doing more portraiture, action shots, macro, or landscape work? These are some of the questions we are going to ask when you walk in the door to look at tripods. It’s important to know what you have in mind for this tripod before you purchase it. Many people don’t know that different tripods are built for different kinds of work and equipment. All tripods have a weight rating showing how much they can hold, in other words you aren’t going to put a Canon 5D MarkIII with a 70-200mm lens on a baby Sirui travel tripod, it’s just not going to work out in your favor. Also, if you’re really interested in macro work, you might want to look into a tripod with a center column that swings down to the side for a better close up view.
Question 2: Is my old tripod really that terrible?
Most Manfrotto and other high end tripods have parts available to repair your investment. If you’re missing just a small part, it might be better to just fix your tripod. You can actually find parts at manfrottotripodparts.com or bogentripodparts.com. However, if you have a part that is broken and you are thinking about buying a new tripod, go back to question one. Is your current tripod servicing your needs? If you have a tripod that doesn’t have replacement parts, you will have to send in your tripod for repair, which can get rather pricey. Ask question number one again. If you aren’t satisfied with how this one is working for you, you might be better off investing in a new tripod that will have replacement parts available. How old is your tripod? If it’s from the 1960′s or 1970′s, they probably don’t repair your tripod anymore, or even yet have replacement parts for your tripod. If they don’t have parts for your tripod, it’s probably time to say goodbye to your good old friend. It’s not you this time, it really is them.
Question 3: Should I go with the pricey one or just go with the inexpensive one?
This is the sticky part. Ask yourself again, what are you using this tripod for? If you’re a pro and you’re making a living off of your photography business, it might be better to invest in a heavier duty, more pricey, piece of equipment that is going to last and make you look good on the job. There are a wide range of options for people who are long time veterans of the photography business and those who are just beginning to dip their toes in the waters. If you’re a hobbyist, or you are just using your tripod for family photos and trips, it would be a good idea to look at a light duty tripod. That being said, be warned that if you purchase an inexpensive tripod and it breaks, and is out of warranty or doesn’t come with a warranty, your repair cost is probably going to be about half or more than what your tripod is worth. My day is riddled with distraught customers who realize that their bargain $50 tripod from the thrift store is going to require a $20.00 quick release in order to function, or be sent to the manufacturer for a $50.00+ repair. Make sure to ask when you come in if parts are readily available for your brand of tripod. If not, does the tripod come with a warranty? If you’re just using it for lightweight recreational use, these may not be very important to you.
We want to help you find what is best for your needs! Come in and let us know what you’re interested in, or you can find a selection of our tripods at iTripod.com
What is your favorite tripod?