Thursday, May 17, 2007

Tripod Selection Can Be Tricky

If you are a backyard birder with binoculars always handy, you might also be a gardener who looks for flowers, shrubs or trees to attract birds and butterflies. My gardening focus has turned to this area as I try to add plant species in the flower beds which will attract birds. Books on landscaping for birds recommend a variety of shrubs and ground covers, some of which are not readily available at local garden centers and must be ordered over the internet. As I wait for my orders to arrive, I tend to my already established flowers and often have the company of a pair of Eastern Bluebirds. Even after being fed twice during the day, they will still come to watch and talk to me while I garden, as if to let me Lower Summit Lake.jpgknow they would like just one more mealworm dinner. I must admit I am soft-hearted about bluebirds, but at the rate I am going I will soon need to increase my grocery budget to keep up with this mealworm cuisine.


Budget comes into play many times for our customers and especially when purchasing spotting scopes. Not only do you need to purchase the spotting scope, eyepiece, and sometimes a spotting scope case, you must also remember to shop and budget for a tripod to mount the scope on. If you go to the Eagle Optics homepage, the right side offers a menu with tripods and mounts listed below binoculars and spotting scopes. Click on tripods and mounts and a drop down menu with choices of: All, Tripod Heads, Tripod Kits, Tripod Legs, Tripod Accessories, Monopod, and Car Window Mounts may quickly overwhelm someone unfamiliar with tripods. At this point, feel free to pick up the phone and call us at 1-800-289-1132.


If we aren't open, I recommend you start by searching the Tripod Kits. The manufacturers have simplified the selection process by now packaging head and tripod legs as a set. You will still need to assemble the head and legs when they arrive, but the kits are an advantage for several reasons. The specifications chart with the description of each kit offers important information about the legs and head as a set. First consideration should be given to the total height of the tripod kit. You must be sure the legs and head will offer a height compatible with the height of the users and the type of scope you are mounting. If you have an angled scope, the height requirements for comfortable use will be less than the height needed for a straight scope. An example of tripod kits that are great performers but have different maximum heights would be the Bogen/Manfrotto 128RC/190XB at a maximum height of 61.6 inches and the Bogen/Manfrotto 3130/055MF3, which reaches a height of 71.1 inches.


Weight is another area where the manufacturers are offering more options. You will need to assess how much weight you want to carry. Tripods can get pretty heavy, even after a short distance. The weight of tripod kits will vary greatly. Take a look at Bogen/Manfrotto Digi Tripod Kit which is very compact for travel and weighs only 3.9 lbs. The Bogen/Manfrotto 3130/055MF4 with carbon fiber legs is a strong and lightweight tripod kit weighing only 5.3 lbs. Swarovski's CT 101/FH 101 Carbon Tripod Kit designed with carbon fiber legs weighs only 4.4 lbs. The Gitzo G2180 Tripod Head combined with the Gitzo Mountaineer 6 x 3-Section Tripod Legs weighs only 4.3 lbs. and offers another very sturdy pair of tripod legs with a low profile head. This is only a sampling of the tripod kits. Keep in mind, you can tailor the tripod legs and head to your needs by using the sections listing tripod heads and tripod legs. We are happy to help you find the right combination for your usage.


As you can tell, there are a lot of new and exciting options in this area. One item we will soon have in stock is the Bogen 560B Monopod with a fluid head. Our staff got the opportunity to put this to use and found its compactness and performance to be remarkable. We are already taking backorders from our customers ordering high power binoculars like the Swarovski SLCnew 15x56 WB Binoculars. This monopod would be a good fit for smaller scopes with lower magnifications like the Nikon Fieldscope 13-30x50 ED Straight Spotting Scope or the Eagle Optics Denali 60mm Angled Scope with 15-45 zoom. You need to hold the monopod when the equipment is attached, but this monopod is lightweight and portable.


Eagle Optics continues to keep staffers busy as they come and go to birding festivals. Binoculars, spotting scopes and tripod demos taken to these shows just got back from the Kachemack Bay Shorebird Festival in Homer,Moose!.jpg Alaska (thanks for the pictures Kate) and are out the door again to the Detroit Lakes Birding Festival in Minnesota. We are lucky to have the opportunity to be in the field for excellent birding opportunities, meet our loyal customers, and show new shoppers the awesome equipment offered by Eagle Optics.


Our dedicated staff takes phone calls from 8AM until 6PM central time. If you need a tripod and find the many selections are driving you crazy, do call us. We will help you find a tripod within your budget and have it shipped (free UPS Ground) to you in no time!


Kristin


Eagle Optics Staff









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