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New Tripod

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I have been wibbling on in the last few posts about my new tripod so I thought it was time I wrote a bit about it here. I've never owned a tripod before, although I do have a monopod. Instead I've relied on Beth's tripods. However even she acknowledges that they're not great.

Now we've moved up here I decided to get one. For several reasons. Firstly for taking photos of the Aurora Borealis because, sadly, this far north even though we see it more often than in England it's pretty faint so you really need a long exposure. For example those two aurora photos I posted here were both thirty second exposures.

Secondly because I've joined the Nairn Camera Club and they encourage you to have a project for the year, so I've got two: learn how to use a tripod, and take photos of the Aurora Borealis.

Using a tripod also ties into my obsession with "legacy" lenses. They don't have image stabilisation so if you want to get decent images you either need to use fast shutter speeds or ... a tripod.

New tripod So I started looking around. Beth suggested I think about carbon fibre rather than aluminium so I did and the one that came up often was the QZSD Q999C Carbon Fiber(sic) Tripod which is marked under various brand names but I got a Qingzhuangshidai one, from eBay as it happens but you can also find it on Amazon and elsewhere.

It's designed for still cameras rather than video so it's got a ball head and it's a joy to use. It's also rock solid, especially if you don't extend the centre column.

Another nice feature is that at the bottom of the centre column is a sprung hook so, if you want to make the tripod more secure, you can hang something suitably heavy from it. That would have been handy the second time we went aurora hunting as it was blowing a bit of a gale and Beth had to stand on the upwind foot of the tripod to stop it blowing over. I'm thinking this would be an ideal place to hang an external battery pack for taking extended timelapse videos.

It comes in a stout bag with what is, in theory at least, a shoulder strap but it's far too short. It just slings comfortably over one shoulder but you can't cross sling it, which is how I like to do it; so that's going to have to be replaced.

You can also convert it to a monopod by unscrewing one of the legs and screwing that into the centre column, which is a neat trick.

It comes with the usual quick release base plate to screw into the bottom of your camera but it's a bit big for my little NEX-6. Luckily it's also compatible with another base plate of the Peak Design Capture Pro Camera Clip which Beth bought me for my birthday. So I've been using that.

New Tripod in use taking photos of sunset

And here it is in use, taking my first time lapse.

The only problem I've had with it so far (other than the bag strap) is that the hinges on the arms are still rather stiff. Not sure how to fix that yet. I've also been warned by various articles that I need to be very careful if I take it on the beach as carbon fibre, salt water and sand is now a happy mix. But that's something to worry about later.

Anyway generally speaking I'm very happy with it and for the £62 I paid for it I think it's a bargain.

Tags: photos, toys Written 03/10/16

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