Tripod for consumer camcorder?
August 6, 2008 2:00 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a fairly-inexpensive ($100 - $200, ideally) tripod for shooting video. Any recommendations?

I'm a distinct amateur, and this'll be used with a consumer-level JVC Everio, so anything professional is overkill. Still, I want something sturdy and reliable.

I'll be shooting indoor video -- people speaking at conferences, mostly. So I think I need something that'll get fairly tall so I can shoot over the backs of a seated audience. My camera -- and any I'm likely to use -- has image stabilization, so I don't need some crazy super study carbon fiber or anything.

Lightweight would be a bonus since I'll be traveling with this a bit, but I'd take cheap and heavy over expensive and light.
posted by jacobian to Technology (10 answers total)
Best answer: Ideally, given your price range, you'd might be suited to something like this.

I would stay away from anything too light. Tripods should be heavy.
posted by popcassady at 2:12 PM on August 6, 2008

I personally like Bogen tripods. Here are a couple of decent ones that fit in your price range:
posted by billysumday at 2:22 PM on August 6, 2008

I would stay away from anything too light. Tripods should be heavy.

This is good advice. However, one can always add weight to a tripod with sandbags, or by other makeshift heavy objects to keep the support steady.
posted by billysumday at 2:23 PM on August 6, 2008

A funny thing about tripods: the heavier they are, the better they are at... being tripods. I always thought it was kind of silly how carbon fiber tripods are so expensive when their main selling point, low mass, is actually a huge detriment to stability.

This is especially noticeable when you're using a low mass camera (like your JVC Everio), as there is really nothing keeping the tripod from moving around. My recommendation: get a heavier tripod or a tripod that has a hook that you can hang a weight from.
posted by strangecargo at 2:34 PM on August 6, 2008

To echo what others have said, you can (and probably should) always add weight to the tripod to give it extra stability.

I would just buy a light tripod with telescoping legs and a hook for adding weight (like this one) for under $50. You can get practice using it until you decide whether a more expensive one is worth it.

Consider also that technique, not just equipment, can accomplish a lot too. For example, you might be better off putting the tripod on a higher surface (a table, balcony, etc.) than relying on extra-tall tripod legs. And it'll look far better to shoot in the front row off to one side than dead-on from 25 rows back over people's heads (the extra zooming will make the speaker look distant even even if he/she fills the screen). And image stabilization features are no substitute for executing a smooth tilt or pan.

Good luck!
posted by Rykey at 3:04 PM on August 6, 2008

Best answer: There's a real difference between still camera tripods and video tripods. It's all in the head of the tripod. A video head has hydraulic damping to allow smooth, fluid movements, and it has one big control stick to further help you get the movements smooth. A still head has several short little locking handles which are very good at making and locking in small adjustments. These small movements are not nearly so important in video. It's a real pain trying to get smooth pans with a still camera head. Your video will look jerky. Use a video tripod and you'll get a more professional look.

Heavier is always better with tripods, but it's not so much the absolute weight as the ratio of the weight of the tripod to the weight of the camera. If you can go to a store and try a few out, do. Try panning back and forth, with smooth starts and stops, and you'll be able to tell pretty quickly if the tripod is solid enough for you.
posted by echo target at 5:05 PM on August 6, 2008

It's a bit goofy-looking, but I've heard good things about the $14 d.i.y. tripod/steadycam - and bonus - you can make it from bits from the hardware store.
posted by grippycat at 5:23 PM on August 6, 2008

Best answer: Velbon DV7000. US$110 from B&H.

(Which, as it happens is the same tripod suggested to you by popcassady.)
posted by The Monkey at 6:16 PM on August 6, 2008

I got a used one from Craigslist for $10 or $20. It looks like there's nothing affordable near you right now.

From experience, it might have a head that squeaks when it's adjusted; just record audio separately.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:21 PM on August 6, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, folks; I'm going to give the Velbon DC7000 a try; seems about my speed.
posted by jacobian at 5:41 AM on August 7, 2008

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