Some time ago you answered a question about selecting tripods (Which type of tripod should I buy?) and I bought one then, but it’s too big to fit into my suitcase. We will be travelling in Asia this summer and I want to take a tripod, but the small ones that I have seen look flimsy. I will be using my Nikon D800 with the 24-120mm f/4 or with the 70-200mm f/4 lens. What do you recommend?
Your question is timely, Mei, since many people will be traveling this summer. I just completed an article about travel tripods for the August/September issue of the magazine. Your camera with the heaviest lens weighs about 1.7 kg, so you’ll want a tripod and head with a maximum load capacity of 2 kg or more. In this respect, any of my recommended travel tripods (with head) would suit your needs; they vary in price from about $150 to $900.
Check out the following travel tripods on a Canadian photo retailer’s website: the Benro Travel Angel and MeFoto series, Gitzo Traveler GK1580TQR5, Optex CF100 Travelite, SLIK Sprint Pro II, Velbon Ultrek UT-43D and the brand new Manfrotto Befree. For the greatest stability, do not extend the centre column even if that means you’ll need to bend down to see the LCD screen or to look through the viewfinder.
If you insist on something even more portable (folding to 29 cm in length and weighing 762 g with its head), you’ll want the very rugged Joby GorillaPod Focus with Ball Head X, made with flexible ball-socket joints that bend and rotate, allowing the legs to be attached to a solid object. While the GorillaPod resembles a tripod, I would not use it in that configuration. You’ll get much greater stability (for a load up to 4 kg) when the accessory is firmly attached to a tree branch, a car’s external rear view mirror, or a fence post, for example.