Have tripod, will travel (by air)

Some thoughts on a vexing question.

When I must have a tripod, here’s what I’m carrying in my Thinktank rollaboard: Induro carbon fiber tripod with small Linhof ball head. (Model numbers change, so I focus on length of the package with the center column in backwards, fully compacted.) Mine measures 20.5 inches. length, dimension for “domestic” carry-on is 21 inches. So this is an exact fit. Measure your carry-on to see what dimension you’re aiming for. Normally, I stick with Gitzo or Manfrotto but for this purpose length is the key. The Induro has worked well. I like Linhof ballheads because they’re compact, precise and you won’t wear one out in this lifetime. A standard tripod head is bulkier and won’t fit in the bag as well.

If you can live without a full-size tripod the large Gorrila pod would be a good choice. I don’t use one but I keep thinking I’ll get one. Also, the Leica tabletop works great. I bought a used one 20 years ago, still works great. In addition to tabletops, this works for door jams, ceilings and I used mine underwater on a Nikonos once.

If you don’t think you’ll be using the tripod a lot, I’d go with a foldable or string tripod. The string tripod will likely be integrated into my tool bag because I now have BlackRapid connection points. Since I started using the BlackRapid strap system all my bodies have stainless eye-rings screwed into the tripod hole. A bit of cord with a small carabiner attached makes the string setup quick and painless.

Several have asked about carrying on a mono pod. I haven’t because I’m 99 percent sure TSA would put this is the same category as a nine iron, YMMV. (Ignore the fact that the removable center column of my tripod is essentially a mono pod, heavily weighted on one end with a ball head.) Don’t get me started.

Since I started using Nikon’s D3 and D3X bodies I’m finding low light easier to tackle without a tripod. Juicing up the ISO setting gives me a fast enough shutter speed to get sharp images while the newer sensors/processors make pulling detail and color out of the dimmest light possible.

The key consideration for me is how many situations I’m able to cover in a given time window. Using a tripod considerably reduces this number, so I tend to roll without one.


~ by keithphilpott on August 18, 2009.

One Response to “Have tripod, will travel (by air)”

  1. That one will be an added advantage to have BlackRapid connection points. Thank god that i have no need to carry that extra bag of bulky tripod. Thanks for this well written article.

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