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Monday, June 16, 2014

My Favorite Tripod for Travel

'Mountain Magic'            5x7            pastel          ©Karen Margulis
 Traveling light has just gotten easier for me. I found the ideal tripod for plein air and photography. I have tested it in the field from the beach to the desert and it meets all of my requirements for a travel tripod. I am looking forward to taking it to Iceland later this week. (please no strike on the 20th!)

I loved my old Manfrotto tripod but it was just too bulky and heavy. It barely fit in my largest suitcase. I wanted a tripod that would fit in my backpack yet still be strong and stable. This tripod does both. It is an Oben AT-3400 with a ball head BA-OOT.  This model is discontinued but you can find the replacement tripod and detailed specs at B& H Photo here.

testing my pastels for my Iceland kit
 What I love the most about this tripod is the compact size. If you take off the Ball head it is only 15 inches long. With the ball head attached it is 16 inches which is small enough to go inside my backpack next to the Gogh Box. It comes with a carry case which is nice but too bulky for packing light. I'll be leaving that at home.

my travel tripod fully folded
A Quick Lesson on Tripods
If you are new to the world of tripods it is helpful to know that the better tripods are sold without the head. This is the part that is attached to the legs. A Ball head sits on a ball and when loosened it will rotate all around and allow the camera to be placed vertical or horizontal. The Head comes with a piece called a Quick Release Plate. This piece snaps into the head. You usually attach the quick release plate to the camera or your paint box. This makes it easy to take the camera or paint box on and off the tripod. (if you use the tripod for photography and painting you may want to get another quick release plate to make it faster to switch)

My Oben tripod has a ball head with a quick release plate. Once I figured out how to operate the double locking plate taking my Gogh Box on and off the tripod was a breeze.  Some reviews of the tripod complain that the ball head tends to get loose easily and I did find this occasionally but it really wasn't much of an issue for me. It was strong enough to hold my Gogh Box and pastels. It is supposed to hold 6.6 pounds so be sure to weigh your box and pastels to make sure they aren't too heavy!

Tripod and Gogh Box in the desert
TIP: Whenever you set up your camera or paint box on a tripod it is important to make sure it is weighed down.  An open paint box can act like a sail in the wind and a gust can blow the box and all of your pastels over!  This tripod has a hook on the bottom of the center post. I attach my backpack to this hook and this is enough to keep the tripod stable in windy conditions. **I never walk away from my box without closing the lid. It isn't worth taking chances even with the backpack weight.

In tomorrow's post I will share how I am packing the Gogh Box and backpack.


Christine Troyer said...

Costco has had the donica brand. Don't remember if the length was the same or a little shorter. Us artists are always trying to make the load lighter, huh? Appreciate your sharing. Makes my day!

Lora said...

Thanks for sharing your tripod recommendation. I currently use a bulky wooden easel when I work outside and would like to switch to a tripod and painter box.