I preface every review with the same disclosure. I am not a professional. I do not shoot test charts. I do not try every lens with every camera. All opinions are my own, and are only based upon my own experiences with the gear. I haven’t had a ton of gear, or all of the expensive gear. I won’t list every specification or test for every specification. My review is not meant for professionals – if you are a professional, you shouldn’t need a review from an amateur. The information below is simply my own observations while doing normal photography, and is for other car enthusiasts and amateurs like myself.
Shortly after I bought my D5100, I bought a tripod. After reading Ken Rockwell’s review, I figured that getting a Dolica AX620B100 tripod was a no-brainer. At that time, it was only $35 for one, and while some people had doubts about it, I figured I could risk that small of an amount.
It turned out to be my go-to tripod up until last week.
Link to the tripod on Amazon:
This tripod is probably the best bang-for-the-buck that you can get, if you are just shooting regular DSLRs and lenses. No, it’s not going to support your 400mm f/2.8 lens steadily, but it will do great if you are shooting your D3100 with your 18-55mm or 55-200mm. I used it regularly with my gripped D5100 and 17-55mm and never had an issue. It’s not the quality of some of the high end tripods, but it never let me down.
I shot over 15,000 shots on it, using my D5100 and D70, with a variety of lenses. I never had a shot where I could say, “If I had a better tripod, the shot would be better.” Not once did it give me an issue.
In case you thought that I got the one good copy, a friend of mine ordered one at the same time, and still has his. It is built just the same, and has had no issues either.
The heaviest setup that I used on it was my 80-200 AF-S with the D5100 and a SB-800. It handled that fine, but that was probably overloading it a bit.
As to height, the tripod is around 47 inches tall with the center column down, and about 62 with everything fully extended. The way that I shoot, I rarely had to extend the last section of legs, and I usually avoided extending the center column. This, of course, adds to the stability of the tripod. I didn’t do it for stability though, I did it to get my shots at the level/height that I like to shoot at when shooting cars.
I’m going to write an article soon about how I choose a tripod, and how I don’t always agree with the advice that the pros give on this matter later. Check back for it.
So what did I choose to replace my Dolica with? Another Dolica – the new Dolica CX600B502D/S. I will be evaluating it shortly. It is on sale currently at Costco’s online store. A friend of mine and I have ordered 2 of them, so I have more than one sample to evaluate.