Lightweight Tripod & Quick Release

Tripod Head With CameraSmall, lightweight cameras with long zoom lenses are constantly getting better. The good news: touring bicyclists can carry an excellent lightweight camera for catching that once in a lifetime wildlife photo on the other side of the marsh bed. The bad news: it is difficult to get sharp images while hand holding a long zoom lenses camera. Vibration reduction technology helps, but even this has it limitations, and tripods can be heavy and bulky. Enter the Davis & Sanford Quick Connect tripod.

The D&S tripod weighs 11.5 oz, the collapsed length (with ball head folded over) is 15.5”, and the maximum extended height (ground to top of ball head) is 44.5”. The diameter of the collapsed folded tripod legs is 1.75” and the folded width at the top of the ball head is 3”.

Davis & Sanford TripodI also purchased a Tamrac Zipshot Quick-Release kit to allow easy removal of the camera from the tripod; the ball head attachment weighs 0.4 oz, the small camera attachment weighs 0.2 oz, the large camera attachment weighs 0.4 oz, and the cell phone attachment weighs 0.9 oz. The quick release mechanism does quite well with my small camera; it is plastic which can be subject to breakage if excessive pressure is placed on the disconnect arms.

Even though I don’t use the cell phone adapter I did attempt to ‘try’ it out, but neither my Galaxy 2 nor Galaxy 4 phone would fit the holder. The maximum cell phone width that it would accommodate is 2.25”, which seems fairly small by today’s standards; the maximum length it would hold is more than adequate.

I use the tripod/quick release adapter system with a Samsung WB250F camera which weighs 7.5 ounces. Advertisements for this system indicate that its ‘maximum load capacity’ is 3 lbs. In my opinion, there is a big difference between maximum load capacity and functional load capacity.

I have a Nikon DSLR that weighs (with the small zoom lens) 2.73 pounds which I attached to the tripod. The tripod appears somewhat unstable with that much weight on top. There are a couple of tricks which improved the stability: when the camera was vertical I kept the lens weight over one of the tripod legs, when the camera was tilted at 90 degrees I kept the camera weight over one of the tripod legs, and I spread the legs out so they were slightly bowed inward which placed them in tension. These items made the set up somewhat more stable but this is not an arrangement that I would use with any confidence.

The ball head allows 360 degree horizontal rotation of the camera as well infinite vertical angles between 0 – 90 degrees.  I had trouble keeping the ball head screwed tight to the tripod; a little Permatex THREADLOCKER BLUE gel (medium strength) took care of that problem. I also used the gel to attach the quick release base to the ball head.

ElkThe tripod legs are connected to the tripod base with hinge pins. The tripod base/ball head will be somewhat loose if you just spread the legs out. As mentioned above, I place one leg on the ground, and then pull the remaining two legs back toward me so there is a slight inward bow on all three legs. Viola’, the tripod base/ball head is nice and stable.

Small bungee cords hold the individual leg sections together as well as holding the legs to the tripod base. As advertised, all you need to do is hold the tripod base and shake to get the legs to snap into position; most of the time it works. The leg bungee cords could be shortened and one of the 11.25” leg sections removed which would save a little weight; the overall height would be reduced to 32.5”, and the stability would be improved slightly. I have given this some thought, but haven’t actually done this.

Collapsed TripodWhen collapsed, the entire bundle is held together by two self contained bungee cables. These are easily wrapped around and attached, or unattached. It was a nice thought. When collapsed, I turn the top of the all head sideways to minimize the chance for damage with it sticking straight out.

For my purposes, this system has worked very well. I have used it on various types of ground and pavement with different slopes. I have even folded one leg section up to set a short tripod leg on a steep hillside. I have used it in light to medium wind with good results. My camera has a fairly sensitive picture button so there has not been an issue with camera vibration, however, the timed release feature could be used if taking the picture results in blurry images.

The Samsung camera has an 18X optical zoom feature which is more than I can hand hold for sharp pictures. This tripod system has worked well at the maximum zoom. At times, stability has been an issue taking pictures close to the road when big trucks pass by (road vibration and wind turbulence), on flimsy wooden structures such as decks (people walking around), and during more than moderate winds.

JavelinaOne item to be aware of: the thumb knob that locks the ball head in place has no retention device and can easily back out and fall loose. Unfortunately, the thumb knob threads are 6mm metric which might not be that easy to replace if lost when on the road.

For less than $20 this tripod is not the same as a sturdy expensive model; it is not designed to replace a Bogen or Gitzo. On the other hand, it is a LOT cheaper and weighs substantially less.  Overall, I have been very happy with this system. Images at the extended zoom (x18) have been clear and sharp. If you are toting a small, lightweight camera with a big zoom lenses it just may work for you, too.

Garmin Quarter Turn Bike Mount

Edge 800 Mounting BracketOn my cross country bicycle ride I used a Garmin Edge 800, which worked very well regardless of the weather conditions. Unfortunately, the Garmin Quarter Turn Bike Mount did not prove was so durable.

The quarter turn mounting unit is retained on the bicycle by 2 rubber O rings . I am not sure if the ones that came with my Edge unit were defective, or they typically deteriorate due to exposure to the elements. The instructions with the mounting unit does state: To avoid damage to the device, use EDPM (Ethylene Polypropylene Diene Monomer) replacement bands only.

I used the Garmin for 6 months before the trip and replaced the O rings, with Garmin supplied rings, after several months due to some cracks appearing in one ring. Before the trip I replaced both rings, again using Garmin products, just for preventive measures. Three weeks into the cross country trip I went to remove my Edge 800 and realized that one of the O rings had broken.

Garmin Mount With String 1Rather than use more O rings I used a length of nylon string wrapped around the mount and handlebar, in a crisscross pattern, to make my own attachment system. It might seem somewhat crude, but seven months later the quarter turn mounting unit is still firmly attached.

In the future I plan to ‘tie’ all of my Garmin mounts to the handlebars rather than rely on the O rings.

Garmin String Mount

 

Seek Out Cycling

Seek Out CyclingLast year I posted a review on Seek Out Cycling‘s indoor bicycling videos. To summarize the review: I enjoyed using the videos because they encouraged me to exercise more, push myself harder, and, most importantly, enjoy indoor bicycling exercise.

I am 67 years old. I am a plugger. I have heart issues. I hate to exercise, and indoor exercise in particular. Last year Seek Out Cycling‘s bicycling videos helped me mentally and physically prepare for a self supported bicycle ride across the United States. This year I am getting ready for a ride from Billings MT to Prudhoe Bay AK. Based on the successful results from using their previous products I decided to take a look at two of the newer sets: Colorado Springs and Boulder.

I was pleasantly surprised right off the bat. These products came in standard size DVD boxes, which store more easily in my video rack. The earlier products came in nice CD type boxes, but I like these much better. The cover/back printing is larger and overall I feel the packaging looks better. Ah, but on to the videos themselves.

The Colorado Springs set consists of 4 videos: Cheyenne Canyon Fitness Test, Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, and Columbine Chutes. The Boulder set also consists of 4 videos: Flagstaff Mountain Road, West to Nederland, Foothills and Flatlands, and Off Road in Betasso Preserve. All of the DVDs, with the exception of the Fitness Test, are an hour long.  I was happy to see that the videos were ‘standardized’ around one hour, which is about right for me.

As in previous videos, each of the rides feature various intensity levels.  “How do these levels relate to me”, you might ask. The 45 minute Cheyenne Canyon Fitness Test actually helps each rider develop a personal gear/cadence or heart rate for each intensity level. In my case, the Fitness Test results tracked very closely to my own heart rate levels that were developed in a professional gym setting. In addition to a discussion about intensity levels, each video begins with a nice discussion of the ride using a topographic map, an elevation profile, and an intensity level profile.

David Kriegshauser, owner of Seek Out Cycling, continues to provide guidance and encouragement during the videos: stand up, pedal faster, you can do it, change the intensity to . . . , only a few more seconds. These and other instructions help vary the workout to make it interesting, taxing, and extremely realistic.

I found the video quality and background music on these DVDs to be better than the earlier ones in my collection. The images are sharper and seem to be better stabilized (no vibration). The earlier videos are not bad, and I continue to use them, but these are noticeably better.  The background music seems more dynamic and fits well with the various intensity levels which helps me  ‘keep with the pace’ of the ride.

David uses two methods to show the intensity levels: bar chart and level box. The bar chart, located in the lower center of the screen, ranges from 65% to 105% with the appropriate level being circled. The level box appears in the right hand corner with the appropriate numerical level displayed. Personally, I prefer the level box, but either method works fine. Sometimes a count down timer box appears to let you know how much time remains at a given intensity level. I really like the count down timer and wished it were used more frequently.

The videos feature very life like rides: scenery, traffic, people, other cyclists and pedestrians, and various paved and off road conditions. I find myself getting zoned in on the ride and wanting to make a turn or swerve to avoid an obstacle.  Most of the time there is a lead rider in the video which I enjoy; it provides someone for me to chase.

If you want something to buildup/maintain your fitness level and take the boredom out of indoor bicycling then I highly recommend these two sets from Seek Out Cycling: Colorado Springs and Boulder. They certainly work for me, and I feel sure they will work for you.