Product Type: Hama tripods
Newest Review: ... price, height, weight and leg circumference. The model I bought and reviewing is the Hama Star 75 Tripod, which came with a strong, black ... more
Three Legged Lightweight
Hama Star 75
Member Name: Zmugzy
Hama Star 75
Date: 23/07/08, updated on 24/03/10 (748 review reads)
Advantages: Very cheap, lightweight, quick and easy to set up, and comes with a quick release plate.
Disadvantages: A bit flimsy for use with long lenses or heavier cameras/camcorders.
~~ The Importance of a Tripod in Photography ~~
There are a number of reasons why a photographer requires the use of a Tripod: it is useful for taking portraits; doing close up work, macro photography and low light or night time slow timed shots. Photographing certain weather subjects also requires a tripod-mounted camera: lightning, aurora, mesospheric clouds and twilight colours, the sun and moon, zodiacal light and star trails can only be done well with some sort of tripod. A tripod is also a must if you have a timer on your camera and you want to take self-portraits when there is no one else about. After the camera and lenses, the tripod is probably the most important piece of equipment. Using a tripod can also have a psychological effect. Not only do you automatically look like a serious photographer, using one also makes you think more about the subject matter you are trying to capture. You will end up giving your photography just that little bit more care and attention and as such, are bound to notice an improvement in the pictures you take.
Of course you can take decent pictures without a tripod, but as most professional photographers should know, holding a camera by hand is fine if the shutter speed is shorter than about the inverse of the focal length used (t < 1/f). What that means is, if you use a 50mm standard lens to photograph a scene, you can hold the camera when shooting if the shutter speed is about 1/50 second or less. Using a longer exposure time or a longer lens without a tripod increases the likelihood that the photo will be blurred. The choice of lens/tripod combination all depends on the type of subject matter you want to capture and the light conditions in which you operate.
~~ Appearance ~~
I would say that the Hama Star 75 is an entry level tripod suitable for beginners but also for those requiring a lightweight tripod that is not going to be too cumbersome to haul around. The Hama 75 is constructed from lightweight aluminium and is both stylish and durable. I really like the sleek appearance of this tripod. It comes in a kind of metallic tarnished champagne finish with black plastic trimmings. This makes a welcome change from the more common aluminium grey or black. At around £11 it might be cheap, but it doesn't look cheap.
~~ Weight Factor ~~
The Hama Star 75 is very much on the light side weighing in at 620g. This is a great advantage if you have to carry it around a lot but a lighter weight tripod ultimately means a less sturdy apparatus once set up. This is always an important factor to take into account when choosing a tripod. A heavy tripod can be a burden but will stand more steady on its feet. I didn't find the lightweight of the Hama 75 to be much of a problem when using small compact digital cameras or SLR cameras with short lenses. However, if you're going to use a large telephoto lens on your SLR or a large video camera of some sort, then you might struggle to keep the unit steady. When using a large 300mm telephoto lens the tripod did feel a little flimsy and top heavy when the legs and central column were fully extended. Although I never used it outdoors, I would not imagine it to be very sturdy when it's blowing a gale.
~~ Plus Points ~~
I did like the fact that the legs of the tripod could be manoeuvred independently. The legs are connected by a brace that moves up and down the central column as the tripod is extended or retracted. So you are guaranteed a certain amount of flexibility combined with a certain amount of sturdiness. Each leg is extended via quick-release hinged latches that clip and unclip easily - a mechanism that is far more preferable than a screw release mechanism. Quick-release hinged latches has the advantage of allowing you to set up more quickly. Although they don't support as much weight as screw-type leg locks, they are more than suitable for this tripod.
The tripod is equipped with a three-way head assembly and quick release plate. A three-way head provides three separate, screw-like controls to tighten each of the three X, Y, and Z axes (Up, Down and Sideways). In general this is preferable to a ball head assemble as it is easier to more precisely control your camera. For example, if the camera is not level with the horizon, you can use one of the head controls to level the camera without worrying about twisting it around in the other directions at the same time, as is often the case with a ball head.
The quick release plate is also an important feature that you should look out for when buying any new tripod. All tripods use a universal 1/4-inch screw that connects to the bottom of most cameras and camcorders. Therefore one tripod can be suitable for all of your cameras. The quick-release plate is lake a small rectangular pad encasing the screw that screws into the bottom of the camera. It can be permanently left attached to your camera whether your using the tripod or not. When you decide your tripod is necessary you simply snap and lock the plate (attached to your camera) into place. When you're finished a quick-release lever on the tripod head quickly releases the camera and plate from the tripod. There's nothing worse than having a tripod without a quick release plate so that you have to tediously thread your camera onto the top of the tripod every time you set up. Meanwhile the lighting conditions might have changed or your subject has wandered off into the distance.
The Hama Star range of tripods are the first ones I have seen that have in-built spirit levels to give you an indication if the shot is level with the horizon. This tripod has a spirit level on the tripod head to give you a good idea if your shot is going to be parallel with the horizon - especially useful when shooting landscapes. In practice however, I find that I seldom rely on the spirit level to any great extent and continue to rely on the camera viewfinder in order to determine how level the shot is going to be.
~~ Drawbacks ~~
The central column has a continuously variable height adjustment that is extended by a wind up knob. This is less user friendly than a wind-up handle that you can pull out. Such a feature would allow you to extend the column much more easily and more quickly. Unlike the Hama Star 61 tripod, there is no carry handle on the tripod stem. This might seem like a trivial point, but trying to carry a tripod for any length of time is never the easiest of tasks. A carry handle is very useful feature as it allows you to easily carry the tripod around without a case.
The feet of the Hama Star 75 are made of rubber but they are not as flexible as those on the Hama 61. They also lack protruding spikes that allow you to dig into soft ground. This was a feature on one of my previous tripods and provides that extra grip required if you're taking pictures of crocodiles on a muddy African riverbank or trying to capture some interesting scenery upon the sandy mounds of Bondi Beach. Another possible drawback is the height. Ideally a tripod should extend fully to your own height; this is not the case with me. I'm 180cm and the Hama Star 75 only extends to a height of about 125cm, so I find myself having to crouch and bend over a lot. On the plus side, the tripod does fold away neatly and is quite compact at a closed length of 42.5cm. Tripods are never the easiest pieces of kit to store away and it's a pity that, unlike the Hama 61, this tripod does not have a hook on the bottom of the central stem. This would allow you to turn the tripod upside down and conveniently hang it up in a cupboard for storage.
~~ Conclusion ~~
Despite some minor issues the Hama Star 75 Tripod is still a good buy and can be purchased at an excellent price online at Amazon for around £11. For a handy lightweight tripod I would recommend it at this price, but if you're prepared to fork out an extra few quid for a slightly heavier tripod, I would recommend instead the Hama Star 61 or 62.
3-way tripod head and spirit level and quick release plate
Diameter: 19.8 mm
Closed length: 42.5 cm
Fully extended length : 125 m
Weight: 620 g
Summary: A good all-round tripod for basic photography.
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