6
$\begingroup$

I have a Celstron SkyMaster 20x80 binoculars, and a tripod — Vanguard 263AT with a SBH-100 head.

The binoculars weighs 2.2kg, while the head is rated to a loading capacity of 10kg, and the legs to a tilted loading capacity of 5kg. This means that the tripod should work well, but it doesn't — it vibrates a lot even when my face gently touches the eyepiece, even without the center column extended, so much so that it becomes a pain to use the binoculars.

So I'm considering upgrading my tripod legs. I'd like this tripod to work well not just with the 20x80 binoculars I have, but also with a 25x100 pair of binoculars I'm considering buying (weight: 4.6kg), and maybe a small telescope (say with a 6-inch aperture).

Am I correct in understanding that:

  1. I need to upgrade my tripod legs.
  2. I don't need to upgrade the head, since it's rated to twice the capacity of the legs, and to twice the weight of the biggest binoculars I'll use.
  3. I should look for legs that are rated to twice the weight of the biggest binoculars I'll use.
  4. I should look for a set of wooden legs, since these have greater stability than aluminium legs while being affordable, unlike carbon fiber.
  5. What else should I keep in mind when I look for an astronomy tripod?

I read that:

[...] the most popular materials are aluminum, carbon fiber, and, somewhat surprisingly, wood. It’s one of those common compromises—pick two of the following three: weight, price, and/or vibration dampening.

Wood is extremely good at absorbing vibrations, and is pretty affordable, but weighs a ton. Carbon fiber is light and stable, but you’ll pay for it. Aluminum is affordable, and fairly light, but is prone to channeling vibrations.

So I'll prioritise stability and affordability over weight.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Got a surveyor's store in your town? Surveyors like stability too, but not the fancy prices that often come with astronomical tripods. You can probably get the things online as well. $\endgroup$ – Wayfaring Stranger Dec 6 '16 at 14:36
1
$\begingroup$

I need to upgrade my tripod legs.

Yes, this seems to be the case

I don't need to upgrade the head, since it's rated to twice the capacity of the legs, and to twice the weight of the biggest binoculars I'll use.

Seems right to me. However, if you have some money to spare, I think you should consider investing in a Parallelogram Mount (P-mount). These usually look like long arms with counterweights and a place to attach your bino. They make it easier to adjust the height, observe objects close to zenith and are usable from a chair.

I should look for legs that are rated to twice the weight of the biggest binoculars I'll use.

I don't have this problem with binoculars as the ones I own are pretty light but with photographic equipment, I try not to exceed half the declared capacity. The better the brand, the closer you can get, I suppose.

I should look for a set of wooden legs, since these have greater stability than aluminium legs while being affordable, unlike carbon fiber.

I've used wooden legs for a small telescope and I wouldn't like to do it again. Unless you're only planning to use a tripod around the house. Wooden tripods are usually heavy, clunky and not very portable.

Carbon fiber tripods, on the other hand, tend to be very light so you'll have to be a little more careful with a big and heavy bino than in case of an aluminium or wooden one. If you get one, make sure it has a hook under the column, on which you can hang something to shift the center of mass closer to the ground.

I once had a carbon tripod almost tip over after a strong gust of wind when I had a large-ish telephoto lens mounted on it. Managed to catch it just in the nick of time.

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. I guess carbon finer is too expensive, and prone to breaking if it falls, so I don't think that's the right choice for me. $\endgroup$ – Kartick Vaddadi Nov 23 '14 at 6:50
  • $\begingroup$ Follow-up: If I buy a tripod that can hold 18kg, does it work for a telescope with 300x magnification and 6-inch aperture? Is there a formula or rough rule of thumb for this? $\endgroup$ – Kartick Vaddadi Nov 26 '14 at 3:26
  • $\begingroup$ @KartickVaddadi what kind of a tripod? Are you sure you'll be able to mount a telescope on it? Is this a German or an altazimuth mount? Does it provide you with micro adjustment? BTW, 300x seems too much for an aperture of 6 inches. As a rule of thumb, I wouldn't go above 30 times the aperture in inches (180x in this case). $\endgroup$ – toniedzwiedz Nov 26 '14 at 6:53
  • $\begingroup$ I created a chat: chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/info/18980/… $\endgroup$ – Kartick Vaddadi Nov 26 '14 at 7:07
3
$\begingroup$

I have the exact same binocular, and in fact I also have a very similar tripod and head. I'll take a photograph this evening to demonstrate my setup.

I am very happy with the setup, and I find it very stable. I usually sit the tripod on grass, but I do not recall ever having a problem with it on concrete or stone. I do try to keep the neck as short as possible, and use the legs for height. Also, the binocular can have it's tripod mount moved fore or aft, I think that mine is in the full aft position.

You might be able to hang a large mass (bag, perhaps) from the underside of the tripod; you should find a hook already there made specifically for this purpose.

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for reminding me to hang a large mass. I'll try that trick and get back to you. $\endgroup$ – Kartick Vaddadi Nov 23 '14 at 6:49
  • $\begingroup$ I need to take that picture for you! $\endgroup$ – dotancohen Nov 23 '14 at 6:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.