|The New Hakuba HG-503MX
Carbon Fiber Tripod
by Gary W. Stanley
Those of you who follow my column are aware that I have been using carbon fiber tripods now for about four years. You probably also know that I have been thrilled with the performance of these tripods from the folks at Hakuba. If you shoot with carbon fiber tripods know the advantage of their weight reduction. That's only part of the story.
Carbon Fiber seems to have the ability to absorb vibration in much the same way as the old wooden field tripods. When I first traded my big old workhorse of a tripod for a lightweight carbon fiber model I was really concerned that my images would not be as sharp. The weight difference was fantastic, my back said thank you, but my conscience keep saying "Heavy is better." Well I have to say, if there is a difference in the images, I can't see it.
Great Gary, I'm sold, you talked me into it, now who's going to loan me the money to buy one? Yes carbon fiber tripods are a little more expensive that the more traditional aluminum versions, but prices are coming down and the advantages far outweigh the initial outlay of cash.
Enter the new 503MX Carbon Fiber from Hakuba. The manufacturers have found a way to give you a very well made tripod at a reasonable price, give you a lifetime warranty, and package it so that you don't have to go back to the store for more accessories if you don't want to. I've found this tripod to be steady, rugged and extremely compact.
I've just finished up my workshop season in Acadia National Park by leading a workshop for Bill Fortney's Great American Photography Weekend. I brought along four or five carbon fiber tripods for the students to try. The 503MX proved to be the most popular, in fact after the second day of the workshop I never saw the tripod again until Sunday when we were ready to leave!
With average street prices starting at $500 for a carbon fiber tripods you'll be very happy to know the HG-503MX should sell on the street for around $325 with a head, a carrying bag, the neoprene leg covers and a stone bag. Not bad at all!