A little different topic today.
One of my readers asked if I travel with a tripod on my international trips.
First of all, I like to shoot long stretched panoramic images and this requires shooting anywhere between 8-30 shots that are then stitched together. Domestic or international plane travel gives me opportunities to shoot outside of my immediate neighborhood (California, Nevada) and I very much welcome every opportunity to do so.
Secondly, I equally love shooting still lives and close-up images and some of these require long exposure times as I'm not always schlepping strobes and lights around. Although I have lighting equipment I can check in, I prefer shooting natural light as much as possible.
I seldom use a tripod shooting people unless I'm going for exposures that exceed 1/8". I prefer hand holding a camera when I shoot portraits and action as the communication with the subject is so much easier.
After some research and looking at all the critical parameters in a tripod and the way I use them, I settled on a carbon fiber tripod from Induro, CT214 and their 5-way PHQ3 head. Pictures of the tripod and below.
I won't be going in detail over the specs of this combination as these can be found online but suffice to say that with the head mounted on the tripod and stored in the bag (comes with the tripod), the total collapsed height is just under 26" and the bagged tripod and head fits nicely in my 26" TravelPro suitcase. Yes, I check my this suit-cased tripod in and have done so on numerous occasions without any issue. TSA or airport security will verify the contents of my suitcase and leave me a little not but that's their prerogative, not mine.
The risk of permanently losing the luggage is not higher than leaving the tripod on board ... I've done the latter, never experienced the former ... ouch ... forget about ever getting a lost tripod in the cabin back, it doesn't happen !
Few words about the PHQ3 head though. When shooting panoramas, this head is indispensable. It allows to level the actual head and either rotate around the tripod axis or a tilted axis and both options are needed for die-hard panoramic shooters. The fold-up handles require some getting used to but it is exactly this feature that allows a very compact storage of the head on top of the tripod so that everything fits in the tripod bag.
I also use a nodal plate with built-in bubble to fully utilize the 5th way, correcting for lens parallax. For my purpose a 7" long plate is sufficient as this covers all my lenses for the Mamiya 645AFD II and the Nikon D3 I'm taking on my trips. I've even used this with the 500mm Mamiya f5.6 lens and camera + lens was perfectly stable on this platform. I do use remote releases when I'm shooting with a tripod, never tough the camera during the exposure for best results. There's a wide choice in nodal plates on the market but I choose one with integrated clamp as this one will fit in the side pocket of the tripod bag together with the spikes. Never leave home without them.
I highly recommend Christof Hejnar's ARCA compatible plates and accessories. Made in USA at reasonable prices and expertly engineered. Christof also custom designs accessories as needed for a fee.
That's it for today, next time I'll show how I pack for airplane travel and what it takes to get this in the overhead bins.