ADSS Installation

Back with more rail-related photos. This photoshoot was for the installation of the Auto Dielectric Self-Supporting (ADSS) System on the Joondalup Line.

It’s essentially a fibre-optic cable that is used for communications data. This is the first time it’s been used in the Southern Hemisphere on a rail project, so a bit of a milestone!

_MG_1243-Under-Bridge-Rail-Man-Walk _MG_1217-High-Rail-Vehicle-ADSS -Installation_MG_1370-Night-Cable-Pull-Rail

Tripod Hunting: Optex T165 to Gitzo 2541EX to Benro C2682TB1

I have been on the hunt for a new tripod after my first one lost a fiddly screw that attached the head to the legs.

My first ever Tripod was a cheap Optex T165 that was ~$65 and suited my needs brilliantly for years. At the time it allowed me to explore a new world of photography with sharper landscapes, panoromas and my first foray with long exposures (I’ll have to find one of my first long exposures) and light painting. It has been to Malaysia and Japan with me, carefully bundled up with clothes in my check-in luggage.

In hindsight upon looking for a new tripod I have come to realise my trusty old Optex was actually more suited for video than photography. It has a 2 way pan head and a brace between the legs, give-away signs now, but in my earlier years simple meant “INDEPENDENT CONTROL” and “STABILITY”.

Losing the screw within days of a photoshoot, I borrowed a mate’s Gitzo 2541EX for and the differences were stark. The jump in quality was almost mind blowing. Independent legs that were able to be angled and locked in any position, serious heft for stability, carbon fibre construct, ball head with multiple levels. Definitely had me drooling. This thing was a tank.

Unfortunately I came to realise that my Optex had two things even whilst broken that ultimately led me to using it for the photoshoot over the Gitzo.

  1. It still stabilised my shots
  2. It was light enough to pack and not worry about it.

Doing some research and asking for advice from fellow photographers I have been looking (and lusting) over some good gear out there but decided I needed to make a list of specifications on the tripod for me whilst also upgrading my previous experience with tripods.

  1. Cost less than $1000 all up – Really Right Stuff and Gitzo gear sure do add up fast. I want high quality and medium price.
  2. Be light and travel friendly – so that I’ll actually pack it. The worst kind of tripod is an expensive one you leave at home!
  3. Extend to my eye height – something my Optex was unable to do, leaving me hunched over for periods
  4. 3 leg sections preferable (4 if necessary.) – I don’t enjoy huge chunks of time setting up if I’m moving around a lot
  5. Centre column hook – If the tripod is light, having a centre column hook to hang my bag off will help increase stability.

With these specs in mind I have settled on the Benro C2682TB1 Travel Angel suggested by my fellow photographer Ze Wong.

Benro is a Chinese brand that is rumoured to have close relations with Gitzo’s manufacturing factories in China. This has led to Benro models being resemblant of Gitzo’s tripods. In my research, “85% of Gitzo’s quality at 50% of the price” was a phrase that stuck in my mind referring to Benro’s standing.

The specs of the Benro C2682TB1 meets everything and more:

  • Price: ~$350 AUD
  • Weight: 1.77kg including the Benro B1 Ball head
  • Folded Height: 460mm – easily packable into luggage or my backpack
  • Max Height 1645mm with column extended
  • 4 leg sections with twist lock – I prefer flip locks but I will probably get used to this.
  • Centre Column Hook
  • Able to be converted into a Monopod
  • Interchangeable Rubber and Steel Spike feet

I’m eagerly awaiting this and will post an update once I receive it, but I’m sure you can tell I have high hopes! Whilst this will be my first time using a ball head I’ve left options open in the future to upgrade this to a RRS BH-40 or BH-30 and possibly get an L bracket to go with it.

For others wanting to get a Tripod and serious about photography; Thom Hogan’s article “Serious Support” is a fantastic insight and will hopefully save you some cash in the long run. Even if I decided to head down a slightly different path!