Thursday, 6 August 2009

stable relationship?

I know that I’m not the greatest photographer and I most definitely belong to the ‘point and click brigade’ but I’m generally pleased with how most of my photos turn out. I don’t do much editing other than the occasional slight rotation to make horizons not quite so squinty and wonky and maybe cropping a photo to make a small subject fill the picture. I’m starting to get slightly more adventurous fiddling with things like longer exposure time and slower shutter speeds which was making me think about a monopod, tripod or some other means of holding the camera steady. It would also make getting shots with me in it more easily achieved and then there’s the whole panorama thing...

I had a quick look about on the internet (I think the final straw that got me looking was when I found myself constructing a small cairn to place my camera upon just so I could be in the shot!) and everything I looked at either weighed a ton, collapsed down to 6’ for easy transport or cost well into 3 figure sums. This was no good and the engineer in me (or is it tight bastard?) decided to try and make one. I made 500g my target to beat weightwise and was intent in keeping the budget as low as possible. I tried a couple of ideas I had using scrap materials I had lying around the workshop at work but eventually settled on using an old mini tripod that came with my old camera and making telescopic legs out of car aerials...the weight was good the cost almost free but the design? Well it was a bit wobbly and frankly just pish.

Around this time one of my colleagues asked me “what on earth are you up to?” and when I explained he said “I’ve got a cheapo Hama one off of the interweb. It’s just what you’re after.” No I explained, “They’re all heavy beasts and I’m not lugging half a kilo up the hills just to take nicer photies!” Well he brought it in anyway to let me see it and do you know what? 500g isnae as heavy as you’d think. The quest for lighter gear must’ve scrambled my ability to estimate how heavy a given weight actually feels like in the hand...mind you, if I find one at 300g I'll be even happier! A quick wee search on fleabay found me one at 510g. It collapses down to about 35cm, has an operating height of 115cm and best of all it only cost me a tenner!

Soon, I will fully expect everybody to start commenting on how wonderful my pics have suddenly become ;o)


  1. Thats interesting, I've been looking for a lightweight tripod to modify and that looks like it would work for what I had in mind. Are the legs independant or is there a brace thing that connects them all to stop them spreading. (looks like there isn't which is what I want)

  2. Looks like you got a bargain there!

    I went for this:

    Tiny. A snip over 270g and a fuly functional tripod with ball head etc. I push it a bit hard putting 800g of DSLR on top of it and I cant use the column fuly extended cos it wobbles to much and I'm not going to get top notch 10minute exposures but it gets me a bit more use out of the camera. It'd be perfect for a lighter camera.Only down side with the v-pod is price. The less you get the more you pay in this sector it seems.

  3. Thats light Dave, and if it works with your camera it'll work with mine I think I'll get one.


  4. That does look good Dave, I wish I'd seen that before I got this one now.

    Mac E there are other models in the Hama range that have what you are looking for all available for about £10-£15 but they are around 500-600g. The one Dave pointed out is maybe best.

  5. Mac E: Yeah I noticed (I think on CT's blog) that you'd gone for an E420. Nice buy. I'm hooked on the E400. The 14-42 kit lens is I think pretty close to ideal for what we do. The V-pod works, gives me more options in low light and lets me get into the frame/group shots. I'd warn you that the E400 does push the thing to its limit though. Like I said you won't get much extension out of the column before it vibrates too much and it's never going to give you realy long exposures. That said with IS in the 420 you've got a head start on me. Í'm going to experiment with hanging some dead weight under the head (a filled 1l platy?) but I think the leg locks might give in at that weight.

    BBF: See how you get on with yours. If it does the job and you don't feel the weight then it's money well spent. If not, then there's always e-bay.

  6. Aye I plumped for the E-420 in the end, the EP-1 didn't wheel my peats so to speak. I well pleased with it and the 14-42 does the job. Just one thing though, the E-420 doesn't have IS, it's the E-510/520 that has the IS. I think adding a bit of weight (Platy/Stuff sack with stones etc) would help to stabilise the tripod a bit.

    BBF, I bought the Velbon off ebay this morning, couldn't resist. What I had been thinking of with the HAMA was cutting off 2 of the legs leaving only short 2-3" stubs and using my trekking poles (or sections of 13mm alloy tent poles from a write off Robens Double Dreamer), thats why I wanted to know whether there was a leg brace or not.

  7. The majority of both your posts there is gobbeldygook to me, clearly I have a lot more to learn about this iconography lark. I'm just beginning to do things like play with exposure in poor light. long as I dont start spending as much of the old hard earned on camera gear as I do on just general outdoor gear I'll be ok...

  8. Don't worry, stay away from photography mags/forums and you'll be fine. I bought my 1st camera, a 35mm SLR Olympus OM10 back in the early 80's and happily used it up until 2005, then I started to buy camera mags and frequenting forums, I'm on my 4th (and thankfully last) DSLR now. (haven't bought a camera mag in over a year and stopped visiting the forums)

    Just say NO!! ;-)

  9. There must be help groups somewhere where you all sit in a circle and then you have stand up and say

    "My name is BBF and I haven't bought any shiny kit it over a month....."

  10. LOL

    Too many shinies, so little time

    I darent even look at DSLRs. I'll stick with the high end compact for now thanks very much :)

  11. I'm the same, it's compacts for me too...but now I've got this nagging want to find out about those model numbers and letters the other two were on about now :o(

  12. I was tempted by a compact myself, a Panasonic LX-3 but I've always used SLR's so I like the way they operate plus the E-420 and lens at £295 not only fitted into my existing Olympus film/Digital setup but was cheaper than the LX-3.

    The LX-3 is a real top performing compact, performing close enough to most 4/3rds/APS-C DSLR's 90% of the time IMO but much lighter.

  13. yup,

    I like my LX3 and I may be tempted to splash out on the 12mm lens adapter. Its all the camera I really need at the moment, in fact the camera is way better than my ability!


  14. long as I dont start spending as much of the old hard earned on camera gear as I do on just general outdoor gear I'll be ok...

    Be careful. Be very careful. As far as gear fever goes you've got it bad. Cameras are,for me, the shiniest of shiny things and it looks to me like you're teetering on the brink. Given that you apply gear methodology to buying vacuum cleaners I would say that Macs advice is on the money. Stay away from from the photo rags.

    On the subject of vacuum cleaners, my first was a Blomberg storm (cool scandinavian sounding name), 1500 watts, in purple :o

  15. I wasn't going to write this but then decided i would. Your pics and the first part of your story reminds me of my Dad. (Not that your old or anything - or are you? :o) ) but in the sense that if there is something he needs but can't find it then he'll have a go at making it, and usually it turns out fine! There are countless things scattered around our house/garden that he made at his work. Are all engineers like that? :)

  16. Dave

    I'm looking over the edge...I'll just have to be carefull not to get too close! Besides, I think I've just discovered a new hobby. One that I can enjoy with Louise no matter the weather. Oh aye and it's all TBW's fault ;o)


    Nope, I'm just a spring chicken me.

    Engineers? I'm afraid so, there's nothing in the world that can't be fixed with a wee tinker or fiddle ;o)

  17. I'll second that, my Dad is an Engineer too, if it couldn't be found or afforded it would be made; often with a lot of cursing & the unwilling assistance of my brothers but successfully made. You definately learn a lot about ingenuity living with engineers, in the 80s(before all the wiz bang bike seats for babies currently on the market) my baby sister travelled in a luxury bike seat made from bit's & pieces Dad found in the shed - I remember lot's of foam & duct tape!

  18. My Dad's favourite used to be the green & yellow electrical tape! It was used for everything-bike handlebars, lose cables on Christmas tree lights etc. We've also had many an iron gate & fence, hanging basket brackets, fire pokers when we had a coal fire that have been loving made & welded by him... Gotta love it :o)

  19. Ok.. when are we getting a new post??


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