How to buy a tripod – Part 2

Before making my purchase, I needed to be sure of my choice.  Virtual shopping and reading other people’s blogs and reviews can only get you so far and I needed to confirm my findings by visiting a local camera store. This purchase had to pass the eyeball test because I was told by my wife that I was only getting one shot at this tripod purchase, so I had to get it right.

My visit was both miraculous and disastrous.  First the disaster…the Manfrotto 190 was not for me.  It was too short and unstable.  It is a well-made unit and I bet it’s great for traveling and hiking, but for the long exposures I am interested in, there was too much room for camera shake and vibration atop a wind blow mountain.  Fortunately for me, the salesmen at Bergen County Camera in Westwood, NJ was outstanding.  He managed to salvage my hopes as he walked me through 5 or six different tripod and head combinations from the Manfrotto 055 and 190 series to a few Vanguard and Giottos models.

In the end, the Manfrotto 055xPROB with the 322 joystick style head was the right combination for me.  It is slight heavier than I had wanted, but after hiking the entire Appalachian Trail with a 30+ pound backpack, what’s an extra pound or two in my camera kit.  Figuring out which components to purchase was just half of the battle…the actual purchase could make or break the entire exercise.

The best prices I could find for new items was on Amazon.com, $285 for the legs and head with free shipping and no tax. Not too bad…but not in my price range, especially during the summer when money is tight at the Howard House.  Off to Craigslist and eBay.

Read the conclusion of my tripod saga tomorrow.

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