Saturday, 24 May 2014

All gear, and no idea? (pt 2)

In my last post, I shared my camera and lens gear combos. This post pertains to the accessories, and how all this comes together in the field.

Tripod – Manfrotto 190CXPRO3 – not the lightest at 1.7kg, but certainly not the heaviest. This is made out of carbon fibre and has locking levers. With a ballhead its height is around 2ft / 63cm folded. It fits diagonally into most standard suitcases and has no carry case, therefore I bought a tripod sling from Optech to carry it around with.

I like the locking levers of a Manfrotto over the twist lock mechanism of Gitzo. I just find it a lot faster to assemble / disassemble but that's just personal preference. In one of the greatest eternal debates about photography ever, there are those who never click the shutter unless their camera is fastened to a tripod, and those who shoot handheld all the way, baby. I am somewhere in between, with a decided bent for the latter.

Personally, I find that the weight of the tripod plays a huge part in how much I use it. Sirui users, you know what I'm talking about..

 Manfrotto 190CX-3
Manfrotto 190CX-3

Ballhead - I initially bought a BH-55 RRS ballhead online and had it shipped from the States. If you have ever done any research on ballheads, you'll know these guys are the Rolls-Royce of ballheads and clamps, amongst other things. They only sell it out of their website so I had no frame of practical reference in the form of a visit to the local camera store. Big mistake. 862g seems very abstract and *not that heavy* until you actually couple it with a tripod for a total weight of 2.5kg. Ouch. This is one of the dangers of buying sight unseen.

Luckily I discovered that buying top-notch equipment has very good resale value - the ballhead was snapped up within hours of posting it up for sale on a local photography interest group website, with various buyers fighting for the privilege of buying the ballhead at cost (US$455).

In the end, I settled for the modest Kangrinpoche NB3-a. Weighing only 350g, this was a decent weight and quality compromise (I think I paid abt $250 for this brand new).

Personally, I would only buy ballheads with Arca-Swiss compatible clamps. You can separately buy a Arca-Swiss compatible plate and mix and match with a variety of ballheads/clamps. With customized ballheads, the plate is useless without the clamp and vice versa.

KangRinpoche NB3-A ballhead

Carrying the cameras around - I use a Think Tank Modular Utility Belt with a Cotton Carrier Side Holster to hold one camera. The other one swings from a Black Rapid Camera Strap slung diagonally across my upper body (see below).

Not as glam as the low-slung gunbelts of the Wild West, but it works fine when standing or walking. When crouching, one needs to be careful cameras don't scrape ground. When sitting, camera on side holster has to be removed if chair has arms.

Notice that the cameras' tripod mounts are used as connection points to the Strap and Holster respectively. This precludes attaching Arca-Swiss compatible plates to the tripod mounts.

I am using the standard Camera Hub that comes with Cotton Carrier. A bit of a pain to remove to screw on a tripod plate, but I don't use the tripod much anyway. For those who do,there is a universal adapter plate made by the company that solves the problem.



For the Strap,you can use Black Rapid's FastenR-3 connector or replace it with the work of art below, Gariz' XA-PC1 2-in-1 plate connector and hook ring. The Amazon page below has very detailed photos of the item from almost every angle - there are grooves on 2 sides to connect to Arca-Swiss compatible tripod heads, and a hook ring that flattens out when required. It is small and compact, and never gets in the way.



Hope this helps!

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