Gitzo now offers a leveling center column option on the Basalt range: a handy
feature, seen on many ancient Linhof tripods but surprisingly rare nowadays.
Cameron tripods are new to the US market and are noteworthy for excellent value.
These are not cheap tripods, but they are not expensive either.
Velbon has a new Sherpa series to replace the discontinued (and sadly missed)
Chaser series. For a while, they had nothing much between high-end (read: expensive)
and low-end (read: basic) tripods, but now they are back in that sector of the
market where, after all, most of us actually buy our tripods.
Other Camera Supports
The big $171 suction cup from Kupo is a very clever camera support if you need
to attach your camera to glass, ceramics, (thick, well-finished) automobile
bodywork, and any other shiny surface. It even has a vacuum warning gauge so
you can see if the adhesion is weakening.
RAM (National Products) can clamp (almost) anything to (almost) anything: a
camera to the handlebars of a motorcycle, a cell phone to a baby carriage, a
GPS system to a Land Rover bulkhead. Clamp-on, bolt-on, glue-on: they can do
it. Check their website, www.ram-mount.com,
for more of an idea of what they can do.
Manfrotto has a new true fluid head for video; the OSN collar-lock ball-and-socket
head that I saw last year in prototype form is now in production (with improvements)
as the PH15 Collar Lock Panhead; and Novoflex has a new Classic Ball 3, which
I hope to test. It might not seem that there's much to test in a tripod
head, but that may be because you have never tried anything from the top end
of the market. The incredible smoothness and infinitely adjustable drag of the
Classic Ball soon explains why they are as terrifyingly expensive as they are
(suggested retail for the 3 is over $400). I'm also hoping to test the
Q-base (quick-release) angle bracket that allows almost instantaneous change
from vertical to horizontal format. At the other end of the Novoflex price scale,
but still with superb German quality, the new, tiny 19 and 19P ball heads (the
P has a separate panoramic base plate) are both under $50.
A trend in tripod heads is that more and more of them are sprouting quick-release
plates, and even at the least expensive end of the market. Most of these are
a lot more secure and a lot less sloppy than they used to be, including a range
of six ball heads from Benro; the quick-release on Slik's AF 1100E (their
baby pistol grip); and new Giotto heads.
Manufacturers/Distributors' addresses can be found online at: www.shutterbug.com/manufacturers.