In My Bag - Support

Part 5 of a series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

One leg or three? 

For studio work, still life, macro etc a tripod is essential and after 11 years, I am still using the same Manfrotto MN055PROB Classic tripod - it was certainly made to last. It has been out on location, at sports venues, football pitches and art galleries, been thrown in the car, onto a train and knocked around by workshop participants in my studio but it is an absolute gem and I trust it completely. So much so that when I needed another tripod for the Hasselblad, I chose the updated version of this same tripod which allows greater flexibility, lower positioning and more acute angles. Now, with the same heads as well, I can set up both cameras alongside each other - great for workshops

Carrying a tripod around for any length of time is not my idea of fun however, so often find it more convenient to use a Manfrotto monopod, strong enough to support yet light enough to carry around. It provides some very unique means of support when wedged against trees or even walls and s indispensable where tripods are not allowed or practical so mine lives permanently in the back of the car. Using the same quick release plate as the tripod, the monopod makes a good, solid support when needed and I can switch between it and the tripod easily. The head I currently use is a Manfrotto 134RC which has a 90 degree angle of movement but can be locked into position when required.

A beanbag comes in very useful when doing low level work as well as for resting on gateposts and also on the roof of the car or an open car window. It is also useful for placing on the sill of a window in a hide, giving the lens somewhere to rest and to hold it steady by placing a hand on the top of the camera housing.

When I first started working professionally, I bought a sturdy Manfrotto MN055PROB Classic Tripod which allows the legs to be positioned individually so it can be set up on uneven ground or on an incline with no loss of stability and the adjustable angle legs also allow for low angle shots.

The first tripod I owned was a Star - I got rid of it after it fell over and scratched my then new Canon 10D camera. I couldn't trust it after that. Never scrimp on a tripod - it will be the best purchase you can make.


The heads 

To assist more with studio work, I acquired a Manfrotto pan and tilt head. So pleased was I with it I bought another to use on the second tripod. Both work with the same quick release plates so it seemed a logical choice as both cameras can be used easily and switched between the tripods with the controls all working in the same way.

A Manfrotto Macro Rail mounts onto the tripod head, providing slow, accurate movements ideal for macro work or for still life images indoors. It is proving very useful.

I replaced an earlier Manfrotto 128RC pan and tilt head with a Linhof Profii II ball head from Linhof Studios. Superb quality! It holds even the heaviest combination in place without the slightest creep, which was the problem with the 128RC, and still allows fluid panning which is essential for birds in flight.


Read more about my Digital Darkroom

Part 6 - Storage