I get asked a lot of what is my primary tripod that I use.
Personally, I believe one should have tripods for certain situations. Light tripods for traveling, heavy tripods for stability and will not fall over due to wind.
When I started doing photography right after college, many, many years ago, I used to purchased the cheap plastic tripods that one could get at Best Buy.
They worked effectively for my needs back then, as I used point-and-shoots, not DSLR’s. Or to hold camcorders. But the more I got into photography, I started to read a lot of photography forums and I noticed that many professionals were using Bogen 3020 or 3021 tripods, especially for nature shots.
While they are still sold and are now sold by Manfrotto (now known as the 055), I bought older tripods (made before 1999) on eBay for around $100 each. Both are used and still had the Bogen name and are in very good condition.
Both the 3020 and 3021’s are nearly the same. The main difference that I can see is the mechanism where the legs bend. Also, the 3021 has a big Bogen sticker and a different logo than the 3020 (in which the Bogen logo is in a helvetica typeface and shows “Made in Italia”).
Both are built for durability with tough aluminum legs, when collapsed they measure at 25.75 inches and when extended, it reaches 70.5 inches and they are heavy at nearly 6 pounds and a load capacity of 13.2 pounds.
I have shot with using a 500mm lens and DSLR and a Vanguard Endeavor 65S spotting scope with a DSLR and didn’t experience any major shaking.
While I know many people have leg locks that have broken over time, mine haven’t broken. Actually, the only thing that has broken is part of the lever of my 3021 to extend the head. The lever is still there…Just missing a round piece, so I can still adjust it. But not as comfortable to put my hands on as the plastic is a bit sharp.
But I have had these for years and they are still my go to tripods whenever I want durability, whenever I’m shooting outdoors, especially with a lot of wind. I want something that I can put my DSLR on and not worry of it being tipped over. But most importantly, on photo shoots where I know I have time and I’m not walking miles (as they are heavy).
Granted, I do keep a few sandbags just in case, as I always try to prepare myself for any given situation.
I own several number of tripods but when it comes to durability and tripods that I trust my equipment on, the Bogen 3020 and 3021 tripods are worth owning and if you can find them cheap on eBay in good condition for under $100, that would be a great deal!