To Carbon or Not to Carbon

GoddessOfLand, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

I got an email the other day, from somebody who follows the blog, asking if I prefer carbon fiber tripods. He was going to purchase a tripod and wanted to get my opinion. While I don’t usually comment on gear, I thought it would be a good idea to comment on this, since I have fought (and lost) the “battle of the tripod” so many times it’s not even funny.

My opinion (this is what I gave him) was that carbon was worth the money. For me (or somebody like me-he has a bad back too) carbon makes all of the difference in the world. It’s lighter, easier to carry, my Gitzo folds up small and can fit easily in a carry-on or tucks neatly away in my luggage. Gitzo makes wonderful tripods, I would highly recommend them-the only real downside is the price. For this reason, I told him, “unless you are a broke 19 year old college student who is in really great shape and can lift/carry things easily, go carbon. You won’t regret it.” He wound up ordering a carbon fiber tripod and now he’s happy he did.

There are some other, not so obvious advantages to carbon that become clear as you shoot it. If you’re used to metal tripods, the carbon doesn’t get as hot or as cold. This is helpful if you shoot in the southwest or the desert (as I do a lot.) The carbon fiber tripods tend to fold up smaller and are easier to pack. They tend to be more expensive, yes, and they can be easier to tip over, so you need to watch them more on a windy day and be careful not to bump them. In general though, they make for sharper images, because they are lighter but just as stable (if not more stable) than metal.

While we’re on the subject of gear, I should point out that I’ve now signed up to become a B&H photo affiliate. Over the years, running this website, I’ve been contacted by everybody from baby food companies to record producers, to you name it, asking if they could advertise, become an affiliate, or just use this space to give something away. Most of these advances are met with a firm “No thank you!” but B&H is a store I actually believe in. I shop there myself. It’s a great store, they are great people, and it’s an outfit I believe in, so I decided to take the plunge and answer their email requesting me to affiliate.

Now, I’m not going to turn all commercial on you. I’ve simply put the button up and will probably provide a few links, as I review specific gear, to their site. I figure that, well, if you’re like me, you’re probably going to buy from them anyway, right?

Finally, in other non-related news, I hope that you enjoy the new template. I am starting to like it very much, as I find it easier to read, and I hope you do too.

Until next time…


  1. mythopolis
    August 6, 2009 / 4:51 pm

    I'm not really a camera buff, so this question may sound simplistic. But, how do digital cams hold up in extreme weather such as the desert, or the seaside? Sand…dust…salt air…heat…etc

  2. Carol
    August 6, 2009 / 8:11 pm

    Not as well as their mechanical counterparts, I'm afraid.

    When I'm in extreme conditions, like at White Sands, the beach, shooting in the rain, etc. I try to use as much "camera armor" as possible to prevent dust, dirt, sand, etc. from getting into any of the mechanisms.

    It can be a hard fight though. I've had to resort to things like shower caps, plastic wrap, etc. to keep the dust bunnies, sand traps, seaside, etc. at bay.

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