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Reader Question: Really Right Stuff Tripod Choice

See also Really Right Stuff posts of all kinds.

Dan B writes:

From your blog postings and subscription articles it seems that in the recent past you gravitated towards the Really Right Stuff TVC-24L as your go-to tripod for out in the field.

However most recently it seems you are using the Really Right Stuff TVC-34L. Is that because the 34L is better for the heavy pano rig, or perhaps you might prefer the 34L over the 24L when not doing panos but when it is windy?

In your blog article of May 15 you have two tripods in the field - the 34L and the prototype shorty. So, how do you get both tripods into the field - one on each arm? If you were hiking a fair distance with your camera equipment and two tripods did you eat a can of spinach before starting out - Popeye the Hiker Man ? :-)

DIGLLOYD: generally, I eat a can of sardines before or during.

I always carry the tripod in my hand, rarely in my pack (unless it’s a class 4 climb). That’s because I need the space and pockets in the pack for food, water, clothing and camera and lenses, and sometimes other things, like fishing lures. Since it can snow even in August and camera packs have load capability for water or food or clothing, rarely do I have any free pack space, so this is why I hand carry my tripod.

Two tripods is a “car shoot” meaning that I am not far from the car. The “shorty” is small enough by itself that I could probably stow it in the pack or strap it on somehow. But together with its nifty tripod head, it becomes bulky enough to not really be compatible with also carrying a full-size tripod like the TVC-24L on long hikes. Which is a pity. I'll have more experience this summer to prove out what might work because the shorty is tremendously useful for low-to-the-ground work.

For long hikes, it is always the TVC-24L and only that tripod— two tripods and heads on daylong hikes is a chore and there is just no space to do so. The TVC-24L is just under the threshold of what I can comfortably carry with the Arca Swiss Cube mounted. Anything heavier fatigues my hand and arm.

For shorter hikes near the car, I prefer the TVC-34L or the super beefy TVC-44L, the later being just lovely in use if I don’t have to carry it far. So I love working with the TVC-44L, but it’s heavy and half a mile would be my outer limit for carrying it along. The TVC-34L I will carry if there is a compelling reason for its extra mass—rare, but super teles qualify as does using the PG-02 Pano-Gimbal head, which itself is quite beefy. It’s not a question of supporting weight (all sizes do that just fine), it’s more about mass and stability to avoid a top-heavy rig.

Wind affects them all about equally, wind means resonance in the legs and for long lenses it’s a teeter-totter for the lens tripod foot (virtually all of them suck that way), and larger doesn’t generally help for resonance, necessarily, though RRS tends to be slightly better (Gitzo had some reversals when I researched this in detail, e.g., larger was worse).

Really Right Stuff TVC-34L tripod with Arca Swiss Cube vs new shorty TFC-13S model with PG-01 Compact Pano-Gimbal Head,
Hasselblad X1D clamped in place with Really Right Stuff BX1D-L
f1.8 @ 1/2000 sec, ISO 25; 2017-03-23 12:14:55
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back dual camera 3.99mm f/1.8 @ 28mm equiv (4mm)

[low-res image for bot]

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