Though I have been drooling over their monopods and Caitlin uses their tripods and heads, I’m currently a Gitzo/Really Right Stuff guy. On a quick skim it seems they are using Manfrotto products in the examples but parts of it are relevent to anyone with a halfway decent tripod.
Why not go cheap?
Well you can get good mileage out of a crappy tripod.
God knows I did until recently and there is nothing wrong with that. Just realize that most cheap tripods are set up for video which means the head is a real fucking pain in the ass to use or level. You can’t go down low with them either and they’re not usable on windy days. When I went cheap I let my father keep the Velbon (this particular Velbon was the one that comes free with a purchase of a video camera) and took his flimsy no-name brand. It worked great while it lasted because weight is a big issue for a hiker. (Plus a cheap tripod is good if you are hiking along a beach. Sand just kicks the shit out of your tripod.)
But instead of that, why not get an UltraPod (for remote control or timed exposures) and a monopod (for a stable platform)? Then you can get a decent tripod when you can afford it and still have two useful pieces of equipment.
As Thom Hogan says you will pay for a good one sooner or later.
Well I used to drool over them and one day I had money enough to afford one. While the auto-leveling feature may sound useless if you use a ball head, it saves me from having to purchase a panoramic clamp or special panoramic head (all I did was buy a rail). Also if you are outdoors, I just can’t be bothered to mess with the legs.
Why Really Right Stuff?
While I notice the Manfrotto tutorials mention the strange Grip Action heads that George swears by. I tend more to heads that use the Arca-Swiss mounts. The construction on Really Right Stuff’s stuff is perfection. For instance, the L-bracket for my D70 allows me to mount it both horizontally and vertically, is exactly the width of the camera, and has gaps in the bracket that match up with the port covers. It’s super light so I just leave it on my camera all the time. How cool is that?
Why mention these tutorials?
I haven’t a chance to look at them closely. I need to look at these tutorials sometime.
I think these tutorials are a great idea for Manfrotto since I think a people need to see a “use case” for all these different tripod models and heads to make a purchase. For instance, in the tutorial on outdoor photography with long lenses they use a mag fiber tripod and a ball head: a similar setup to mine. (Minor quibble is they use a three section tripod and their ballhead is a bit tall: this won’t fit as a carry-on if you travel a lot.)
I don’t know how Web Photo School benefits since I have no real inclination to use them. But maybe it will generate some traffic.
(BTW, is it me or is Manfrotto’s website egregiously slow?)