Lightweight Tripod Help Please.

Hello all.

I really need to get an ultra light tripod for my travels. I love my Vinten 5AS and 100AS with CF legs, these are great, but they are around 6kg/8kg and possibly more of a bind is the length of the legs when collapsed. I really need something a bit easier to travel with, especially for my arctic expeditions and overseas workshops. On my recent Asia trip I was typically around 5kg over my baggage allowance on many flights, partly because of the weight of the tripod but also because of the size of the case required to transport it. In addition a big broadcast tripod does tend to catch the attention of customs officials. So I need something that will work with a bare bones FS700 or F3 (3-4kg payload). I realise that cutting back to the minimum on the tripod will effect my ability to achieve stable shots and smooth pans, but most of the shots I do are wide angle.

I’ve looked at a few options. Maybe a Manfrotto 504 head with the single tube CF legs, or one of the Miller Solo systems. I don’t have a big budget for this so perhaps I’ll just get a set of single tube 75mm bowl legs to use with my Vinten 5AS head. So what do you guys use, what are your recommendations? Please leave a comment with your suggestions.

8 thoughts on “Lightweight Tripod Help Please.”

  1. I looked for a long time for a decent lightweight tripod – i always ended coming back to solo legs.

    I too couldn’t afford to splash out on the carbon ones, so I use the cheaper alloy ones. The legs by themselves are 2.9 kilos. The carbon ones are 2.5, so I didn’t think the weight saving was worth the expense.

    I love the versatility of the solo- goes impressively height and impressively low, or you can splay out just one leg on a boulder and the other two on the grass. You can put then camera exactly where you want it to be.

    Stability wise, not too bad for a light tripod, but the solo has one of those little hooks under the bowl, so i carry an empty sandbag with me – and when its windy, fill bag with rocks on location and hang from tripod.

    I’m not a big fan of the 504 head you mention. They’re good when you first get them, but i’ve found they don’t wear well. We’ve got 4 where I work, all a year old and they already need a service and tilt locks aren’t holding anymore.

    I was going to replace the miller head on my solo for something a bit better, but i’m happy with it so far. Its a little small, and I miss all the features of a more pro head. But it’s cheap and cheerful, and most importantly, after a lot of use, sand, rain, snow and airport baggage handler abuse, it still remains smooth and fluid!

  2. I researched this more than a person should. The smallest packing size and weight tripod I found that could hold that range weight for a lock down is the Manfrotto 190cspro4 (which is carbon fiber) photo tripod with 701 HDV flat top head. I got the 190cxpro4 after doing a trip with a Sachtler FSB 4 which was a little heavy. I found this rig just adequate for my EX1R.

    The Sachtler legs I have are the DA-75/2D ENG. These legs are aluminum 2:1:1 design with a 75mm bowl but are only 26″ long and 5lbs. They will fit straight in an airline compatible 28″ checked suitcase or at an angle for anything less. They are very compact.

    I am abandoning the Manfrotto 190CXpro4 legs and on my next trip. Instead, I am using the Sachtler legs but with a 75mm ball equipped 701HDV head which at only 2 lbs keeps the whole thing at 7lbs. You would probably want a little bit more head. I also picked up a Parker Plastics XHDT2719-10 which is an ATA case but the shape/design of a pull around wheeled piece of luggage.

    The DA-75/2D ENG Sachtler legs are the smallest bowl tripod legs I could find and they are the smallest in the Sachtler product line. The 26″ dimension is the critical one for fitting in a standard piece of luggage. Here’s an interesting chart:

    I’ve since heard of a Korean built set of legs from a company called Fesler with a bowl design but I know nothing of them.

  3. dear Alister,
    I use a Miller Compass (75mm bowl) with solo legs for my travels with the F3.
    Great legs, very good head for its size.
    Take the head of and it all fits in a regular suite case.
    sometimes give the head to my Director or producer to put in their case.
    works great.
    just hope the producers realize how much I save on overweight ; )

  4. This has been an ongoing problem with me for several years. Recently sold my P2 Varicam and replaced with Canon C300. Love my Sachtler 18p with carbon sticks, but am trying to downsize with mixed results. While some may say that the 18p is too much head for a C300, I disagree…for me it would be the ultimate head for an iphone!! I bought a Vinten Vision Blue with Manfrotto 536 carbon sticks, and while it is lighter, it is not even close to the 18p as a filmmaking tool – and still way too heavy for what Alister is looking for.
    The Manfrotto 701 was mentioned. I have one of those too. Best used as a lockdown-only head. Pan and tilt only if you have time for multiple attempts – had it on the great wall of China recently and was tempted to throw it over.
    I haven’t tried the smaller Sachtlers – was told that they’re built with lesser materials/standards than the 18p, but cannot varify that.

  5. I’ve also needed a more lightweight solution than my trust Sachtler Video 20 with the Carbon EFP legs for quite a while now. After looking at all the options I finally decided on the Sachtler FSB 8 kit with the carbon legs which weighs in at 5.15kg.

    As with all Sachtler gear it’s rock solid and very well made – able to support my PMW350 with no problem, although if I was doing a lot of long lens work I’d still take the beefier kit.

    The legs are no longer than a standard lighting stand so will go in quite a lot of cases.

    Not particularly cheap but much better than anything Manfrotto makes and should last forever. My video 20 is about 23 years old and it was used when I bought it!

  6. Hi Alister,

    When weight is your main issue, there is nothing like a Gitzo.
    It is a bit more of a hassle to find the right combination.
    But they are feather light.

    p.s. I’m not affiliated with them in any way

    good luck!

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