Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Tripod for Tall People!

User report of the Slik Pro 700DX, and


Originally posted, May 2008

Reposted, September 2008

the Bogen / Manfrotto 486RC2 Ballhead.

    As most everyone who takes pictures knows,  a tripod is an essential part of your kit.  I, like most relative novices in the field, spent my share of time trying to use tripods found at the local big box store.  My most recent mistake, a Slik U8000 (I wont grace it with a picture here), is now resting comfortably in the closet.  Lesson learned.

    I found that the U8000 and all the other tripods I have ever used were flimsy, easily broken, would shake in the slightest breeze, and most of all they were too short!  In order to get my eye to the viewfinder I would have to  extend the center column nearly all the way up, thereby making the general floppiness even worse.  So, a few weeks back, I began my search for a real tripod, with a real ball head.  My needs were not exactly simple,  I am 6 feet 4 inches tall, and I tend to break things easily.  So a tripod would need to be Tough, Tall, and very stable.

    Enter the Slik Pro 700DX.                                                                                               


It came with a rather large Pan and Tilt head, which does work pretty well.  But I replaced it with a Bogen / Manfrotto 486RC2 ball head, which works way better!  Also, it is easier to store with the Ballhead, as it does not have those arms sticking out the sides.  My first impression was "this thing is HUGE!"  and  "AWESOME!"

   Without extending the center column the camera eyepiece is now just a couple inches below my eye, and if I extend it up that last couple inches it is still plenty stable.  Height to the RC2 plate is 58.75 inches without extending the column at all. It can go up to 74 at full extension.  Folded length is 30.5 inches.

    I found it not to be all that heavy in normal use, and I am thinking to convert a tripod bag into a backpack, just for this.  My camera gear rides around in a Tamrac Explorer 2, which will be a subject of a later post, and so 7 pounds of metal strapped to my back is not going to present a problem.  (I recently walked halfway across Kyoto, Japan and back with a 30 pound backpack on)




In the pictures above, notice the size difference between the Slik panhead and the Bogen Ballhead.  Also, look at the quick release plates.  The Bogen plate fits neatly under my camera body (Olympus E500), while the Slik plate sticks halfway out the back and hits me when I look into the viewfinder.  I included the shot next to the car for a scale comparison.  It really does stand very nearly as tall as a 2004 Subaru Forester.

    In conclusion, I love this setup.  The tripod is everything I could hope for.  Tall, Tough, and Rock Solid.  The 486RC2 ball head is easy to use, sturdily built, and I especially like the way the locking mechanism works.  When you unlock the small brass safety and pull the locking lever back, a small spring loaded pin pushes the plate up out of the mechanism and the lever locks in its open position.  When you put the plate back into place and push it in a bit, the spring loaded pin is reseated into the mechanism and the lever automatically returns to the lock position.  In one motion you can mount your camera and be ready to loosen the set screw and find your subject.

I would absolutely recommend this tripod and Ballhead to anyone!

Tripod purchased at Padgitts camera in Waco, Texas.

Also available online.

Ballhead purchased online through

Check out my Favorite Photography Podcast!

Shutters Inc.  And the associated Flickr page.

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