The Milagro Tripod Wars

, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

If you have been following me online at all this week, you probably already know that I’ve ordered a new tripod head. What you maybe don’t know is that, secretly (now I guess maybe not so secretly) I’ve been waging my own private version of the Milagro Tripod Wars.

Tripods you see, are necessary beasts. We have to use them, we must use them, but we also hate them. I’ve got a bad back, sometimes I can hardly walk, and I just *hate* mine. Seriously. I’d rather face some kind of uber cruel Japanese water torture than carry a tripod for ten minutes. But, like the rest of the lot of photographers, I recognize that I need one sometimes, so purchase one I must. (Ugh. There goes more hard earned money doing all that it can to break what’s left of my aching back yet again.)

For years, many years in fact, I had a Gitzo tripod. I had a great Gitzo, which I liked very much, and a Slik trigger style head. I actually purchased my Slik head used from a friend and I’ve had it for about 15 years or more. It’s wonderful and I love it.

So why am I getting a new tripod now?

The problem comes from carbon fiber. They now make nicer, much lighter tripods out of the stuff. And it’s wonderful, really it is. It’s “all that and a bag of chips” as the kids today might say.

About three months or so ago, I picked up a new set of tripod legs, made out of this newfangled carbon fiber stuff. I did the right thing-I went to my local camera store, asked a few questions, got the guy to show me a few tripods, and picked one out. They weren’t all that expensive and so I came out with a new set of legs. Not bad for a middle-aged camera buff, right? New legs at my age? Wow, who new, right?

Wrong. Everything was wrong. For starters, just after I got my new legs, my tripod head started acting up. At one point, my camera almost came off and fell (I actually caught it…with my hands!) because the quick release is…well…let’s just say it’s not so quick anymore and leave it at that, ok? It’s suffering from years of abuse and no T-L-C, not to mention the new tripod legs are much lighter and the old tripod head now makes the entire rig a bit “top heavy” which is not all that much of a good thing even on a quiet day. Strike one for the beanfields, the tripods, it would appear, are getting the better of me.

There’s another lesson for those of you paying attention to this little tale of woe. I used to have a Gitzo. I loved my Gitzo. I would marry my Gitzo except for that “well it has 3 legs” bit. Yeah, Gitzos are tops in my book. I don’t care how much they cost, they are worth every penny, each and every last dollar, if you ask me. They just really are that much better, ok? (If you’re reading this and you’re not a photographer yourself, well, you’ll have to just trust me on this one. I’m not usually all tied up in brands of anything but Gitzos just really are tops. )

The new carbon fiber legs? Not Gitzo. Nope. They are Bogen. Now, I realize Gitzo and Bogen are technically one and the same company so, in theory anyway, they should be one and the same tripod but no, no, no, they’re not. Not even close. Sorry all you Bogen fans out there but Gitzo’s got it all over my Bogan brothers and sisters. Really. It is better and it is worth the extra money you spend upfront, in the purchase of the tripod.

So where does all of this leave me? Without a tripod for starters. I plan to order another carbon fiber tripod to replace the new one (the Bogen one) and to replace the old Gitzo. This time out, yes, I’m getting a Gitzo. There just really is no substitute so I’m going for the tops. I’ve already started playing with their on-line configurator tool to see which Gitzo will fit my needs.

I’ve ordered a new head, it’s a joystick style head, and I plan to try this out for a while.It’s a Bogen head and it’s supposed to be lighter than my old Slik trigger head. If that doesn’t work, I’ll get a new Slik trigger head to tie me over and maybe look into getting a fancy new magnesium head to go with my fancy new carbon fiber tripod legs.

All this talk of heads, torsos, legs, magnesium elements, and carbon fiber really has me thinking that now I know a bit how The Stig must feel when he steps into a car. Come to think of it, does he step into cars actually or just sort of glide effortlessly, maybe even float into place? Hmmm.

Don’t really know about that, but I do know for certain that, right about now, I sure wish a new tripod rig would float my way real soon now. And, frankly, if I should happen to break a pipe in the middle of the night, well, I can count on you folks to not say anything, right? Right? RIGHT? (Yeah, I thought so.)

Until next time…


  1. mythopolis
    April 11, 2011 / 10:37 am

    I wish I could order a new head, and I'm not even a photographer.

  2. Pj
    April 11, 2011 / 11:02 am

    Double Hate on my tripod…Just sayin'

  3. Carol
    April 13, 2011 / 3:31 am

    Mythopolis, if it were for real, I'd need a new head, a new body, new legs, and a total new "butt" makeover. Unfortunately, it's just a tripod. :~)

    PJ, mine's not feeling any love from me right now either. In fact, you're so right about this, double hate is not even strong enough to describe it. Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.

  4. painting techniques
    April 19, 2011 / 12:33 am

    I could tell, well i hope carrying that tripod after some time won't be much of a burden…Daniel

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