Thursday, April 09, 2015

The quest for portable tripod

I never use those tripod specially geared for astronomy, except a few sets of wooden legs bundled with those equatorial mount.  I soon switched to camera tripods with tailor made adapters in order to maximize the portability.

Gitzo G1415 has been my heavy duty work horse.  It has been used with my APM Giro mount, and also Meade LXD55 and maybe a couple of other heavier duty mounts.  But then when I began to switch to absolute portable stuff, I go back to my Gitzo G106 for all the time.

Gitzo G106 is extremely small.  When the first time I met it in the shop, I could not fall into sleep that night and I go to the shop to buy it on the next day.  It supports my C5 well enough, even with a Nexstar SE mount.  It supports my GOTO Mark-X very well too!  It has been with my to solar eclipse trip, and also some traveling with my family.

However, it could be still quite big that I have to carry it with my hands.  It couldn't easily stow inside my backpack.  Until recently Velbon comes out with a mini white:

Crazy indeed, right?  I placed my regular sized mouse for comparison!  It's rated at 6kg capacity, just like my Gitzo G106, but it's way shorter and quite lighter!  The best thing is that, it's in the size of a camera lens and thus it could be placed inside a bag!

It's a bit cheaper than my G106 about twenty years ago.  The tripod head interface is 1/4" instead of 3/16" but then conversion screws are easy to find.

I couldn't wait to put it side by side with my G106 tonight.  I still believe the G106 is a bit stronger, but for absolute portability, this is going to be with me in the time to come!


I got home and couldn't wait to compare them side by side.  The tiny Gitzo G106 is a big boy in front of the Mini White!   Something like half of the height.

However, when fully extended (without the central column), they're pretty close in height.  The Gitzo has its traditional twist lock which is very effective and durable, however, it could be pretty slow to get all the legs fully extended, as you will need to do it one by one.   On the contrary, the Velbon twist lock action is very quick and easy, you can turn a leg until all the sections disengage, and then you can pull it all out, and turn on the opposite direction to get it fully locked.

However, such a locking mechanism has a price to pay, see the following picture.

There are quite a lot of plastic there, I doubt how long it would last.  The Gitzo, however, has brass locking rings and it's still kicking after like twenty years of services.

Anyway, the Mini White is still attractive, due to its size and weight.  To close this little preliminary impression article, I placed it side by side with my Canon 100-400mm... you see how small it is!

I won't hesitate to bring it out every time when I wanted to take photographs! 

Like a telescope, the one which got used the most is the best telescope.  This is going to be the best tripod as it's going to be used as much as it could be!

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