Tripods, Ballheads, and L-Plates

A solid support system for your camera is essential to many types of photography. Here are the items that I’ve found to be the most reliable and helpful in this category.

Oben CT-3520 5-Section Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod with Ballhead

I was amazed when I first handled this full-height tripod because it weighs less than a 2-liter bottle of water. As amazingly, the legs fold back 180º and tuck up against the ballhead to make a very compact 16.6″ kit  (as shown at left). For those shoots when you don’t need a full tripod, one of the legs unscrews and converts into a monopod. The plate on the Oben BB-1T Ballhead fits Arca-Swiss plates—which means that my Really RIght Stuff L-Plates on my camera work without a hitch. With a load capacity of 22 lbs., this lightweight rig can handle any combination of lens and camera that I want to park on top.

Read full specifications at B&H

Oben CTM-2500 Carbon Fiber Monopod

When shooting fast moving sports, it’s often more convenient to have a sturdy monopod rather than a tripod. The single point of a monopod allows you to pan the camera rapidly. The Oben CTM-2500 weighs slightly more than a pound, yet it will support 26 pounds. If price is more of an issue than price, check out Oben’s wide range of aluminum monopods.

Read full specifications at B&H

Gitzo GT2540LLVL Tripod with Leveling Column

If you are like me and shoot video along with stills these days, then you’ll appreciate the convenience of a tripod with a leveling column—especially when paired with a fluid head. The importance of having the camera perfectly level will be learned the first time that you try to pan without leveling the camera—essentially your camera will move on a diagonal. With a leveling column, rather than have to adjust three legs perfectly, the turn of a small level unlocks the center column so that you can use the attached bubble level to quickly find a true vertical. Then, move the lever back and the column is locked in place.

Read full specifications at B&H

Really Right Stuff Ballhead BH-40 LR 

A ballhead gives you the ability to turn one lever and then move your camera in any direction. I will never go back to a traditional tripod head that requires me to turn one lever to tilt and another to pan, never ever. When combined with a quick release plate on the ballhead and an L-plate on the camera, it takes literally a few seconds to mount a camera and position it exactly where you want it. Life’s too short for multi-lever tripod heads. You deserve a ballhead.

Read full specifications at RRS

Really Right Stuff L-Plates

Every one of my DSLRs gets a Really Right Stuff L-Plate attached to it on the first day that I use it. Every one. When used with a RRS ballhead or another compatible ballhead (like the Oben BB-1T head mentioned above), the RRS L-Plate enables me to switch my camera between vertical and horizontal orientation in a matter of seconds. This is a huge benefit during a fast paced-shoot, such as when the sun in setting and I want to get a range of vertical and horizontal shots.

Each RRS L-plate is machined from a solid block of aluminum to fit a specific model of camera. Then it’s anodized for an elegant look and extreme durability. No matter what model of camera you shoot, chances are that RRS has customized an L-plate to fit it perfectly.

Read full specifications at RRS

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