Rick, I had responded with a lengthy private note to Jim but am pasting my note here since you ask:
The confusing thing about tripods is that different tripods are built for different uses - photography with a simple camera, filming with a video camera, astronomy, birding, etc. You have to make sure you’re getting one to use with a spotting scope for birding.
There’s a good basic discussion on choosing birding tripods at http://www.optics4birding.com/abouttripods.aspx There’s also a short YouTube video on choosing a tripod for birding at https://youtu.be/NbSo7QnMDfg. The guy who does the video is Simon King, a British birding guru. You might want to start there. Actually if you just go to YouTube and search for “tripods for birdwatching” you’ll get a lot of hits.
Since you mentioned the weight issue, I just want to note that there is a trade-off between heavy and light when it comes to tripods. Lightweight tripods are of course easier to carry but with the scope on top, it may be top-heavy and therefore unstable, particularly in windy conditions. A medium-weight tripod will give stability, balance, and some weight savings.
Another issue is regarding the mechanisms for locking the legs in place and swiveling the head. Sometimes lightweight tripods are also inexpensive, and the low-quality fittings make them hard to manage in the field.
Pay attention to the head- the part where the scope attaches. Lower cost tripods come with an attached head. The higher priced ones come without a head but give you a choice of what kind of head to buy to go with the legs. You will want a head that allows smooth horizontal panning and also gives the ability to swivel the scope up and down (sky to ground). For best use in the field, the head should have separate locking mechanisms for the up-and-down and sideways movements. There should also be an arm to use when panning the scope left and right, and the better tripods offer adjustability in the position of the arm.
I started out many years ago using a low-cost, lightweight Celestron tripod. It was a pain to use in the field. It finally gave out on me one day out on an all-day trip at Hart-Miller Island when a leg fell off. The rivet that held it on gave out and it was unrepairable.
I replaced that tripod with a high-end Manfrotto carbon-fiber tripod. The carbon-fiber is fairly light and strong. It is slightly heavier to carry than an aluminum tripod but much stronger and is extremely well-balanced and stable. There are no issues with top-heaviness. The fittings for the legs and pivot head are top-notch and the tripod is a pleasure to use. All of the parts are replaceable if anything breaks. I’ve had it for over ten years now with no issues. It is pricey but I highly recommend it.
FYI my tripod with scope on it comes in at 15 lbs. I use a Swarovsky 82 mm scope and I’m on the small side. I can carry my scope all day if need be. Hint: putting foam pipe insulation on the upper part of the tripod legs makes it easier to carry it on the shoulder - acts as padding. See photo of me and my scope.
Patuxent Bird Club
A Chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society
> On Feb 7, 2018, at 6:23 PM, Warblerick <ricksussman1955...> wrote:
> I see no reply from Marcia. Did I miss something?
> Rick Sussman
> Woodbine, MD
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