Using a tripod in Rome?

Old Mar 22nd, 2005, 06:29 PM
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Using a tripod in Rome?

Does anyone have experience using a tripod for outdoor photography in Rome? I am wondering if I should expect anyone to question or stop me when setting up my tripod in places such as St Peter's Square, outside the Colosseum, etc. Thanks!
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Old Mar 22nd, 2005, 08:43 PM
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While I have no experience using a tripod, I think that no one will care in St Peter's Square; it's as big as a half dozen football fields. But you wouldn't try to set it up INside the basilica (or any other church), would you?

Outside the Colosseum, be prepared for the "gladiators" (in full costume) to want to be part of your pictures, and then expect that you will pay them 5 (or more likely 10, now) euros a pop.

Best wishes,

Rex
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Old Mar 22nd, 2005, 09:01 PM
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I've never had a problem using a tripod outdoors in Rome, or anywhere in Italy, but they are usually forbidden inside.

As long as you keep your camera pointed at the tourist sites, and not any government buildings, you should be OK...especially at night.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2005, 09:06 PM
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Jim, I hope Nutella doesn't mind me posing a brief question on this thread (and I'm not sure how I'd take it back!)

Anyway, I have never traveled with a tripod, but was wondering if you had a recommendation for a tripod suitable for travel? Was packing size, carrying weight a concern in your purchase?
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Old Mar 22nd, 2005, 10:17 PM
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Depending on the monument, time of day, and whether police are around, using a tripod can solicit a request for permits. I've been approached on several occasions. Sometimes I had papers and sometimes not. If you don't have the proper paperwork, the police will shut you down. For some reason, the Trevi fountain is particularly troublesome, especially at sunrise. Tripods in the Forum definitely require a permit.

Rome is better than Paris. The police at the Louvre will run after you and ask for the film. In Rome, I've mastered the hide and duck technique and wait until the police leave the area before I set up. Chances of getting your tripod shot in Rome are fairly good.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 01:42 AM
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Clifton. when I travel I carry a Leica table tripod with me. It is only about a foot long and is extremely flexible and sturdy. it is around $90 US and you will also need ball and socket head to suit; although at around $170 US, I purchased an alternative ballhead with 1/4 to 3/8 adaptors.
I shoot slide film and use it with an SLR camera and fixed/zoom lenses. If you can place this tripod on a sturdy support, there is no reason why you can't obtain good sharp images. The Leica tripod part number is 14100. Any further advice let us know
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 03:40 AM
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i never thought about this. i only have ever used one of those tiny table top tripods and i wouldn't expect much trouble with that.

however, i'm a little naive and don't fully understand the issue that an amateur looking person would have using a full-sized tripod. Of course, a professional shoot that impedes traffic or otherwise blocks access, etc one would expect to need a permit. Also, i understand that some private places do not want professional quality shots taken as they could be used commercially-therefore robbing the organisation of much needed royalties.

Also, i understand if a tripod could harm a delicate environment.

but what is the issue for outdoor areas that are clearly in the public domain? not saying i disagree with it, just have never heard of an amateur being hassled when shooting in an outdoor, public place with regular, amateur equipment (no special lighting, professional models, multiple cameras, etc).
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 05:36 AM
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Thank you navgator, that's very useful information. I'll check that Leica model out!
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 05:40 AM
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I have a cheapy tripod, from Target I think, that extends to about 40" and collapses to <1 ft. Weighs about 2lb.

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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 05:48 AM
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Thanks ira. I should probably shop around a little too, and Target is as good a place to start as any. I have a very nice full height tripod and it collapses fairly short, but it's very bulky. So, I'll never pack it for a trip, when I'd enjoy it most.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 07:05 AM
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I know a professional photographer who uses a telescoping "mono-pod" for improving sharpness when he's roaming and shooting more-or-less casually. Obviously, it's not as good as a true tripod (and it doesn't help you get into the shot, if that's an objective) but it's very easily carried and very unobtrusive.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 07:07 AM
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Don't know about Rome but their's a big sign banning their use at Milan's Duomo.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 09:29 AM
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"however, i'm a little naive and don't fully understand the issue"

walkinaround, this is evidenced by the questions you asked. Here are a few considerations:

a) There is no such thing as "an amateur looking person" and local authorities who protect and enforce copyright law (yes, many monuments are copyrighted) do not have any profiling training. Anyone with a tripod, regardless how cheap or flimsy, is assumed to be professional. Proclaiming "student" status or ignorance of the language will get you nowhere.

b) A "professional" shoot requires nothing more than a photographer, his/her camera, and a tripod. Most travel and leisure images that appear on magazine covers, especially those of architecture, nature, and cityscapes, require nothing more. Not one person gets inconvenienced.

c) A quality tripod can almost guarantee perfect sharpness for the area of focus. Perfect sharpness is the goal of any professional publication. The ability to produce a large-format version (where perfect sharpness is most crucial) of any image is always a consideration. Many amateur photographers care enough about quality to endure traveling with a tripod. Just because an image may not sell or there is no intent to sell doesn't mean an amateur photographer must settle for less perfection. The perfect image, as illusive as that sounds, is always the goal, pro or not.

d) A three-year-old child is more environmentally unsafe than any tripod I've used.

"but what is the issue for outdoor areas that are clearly in the public domain?"

Rome was much more lenient before the Jubilee Year. The city spent a fortune to clean up many buildings and now they want to collect permit fees from professional photography assignments. Rome views it's monuments as "art properties." It will be assumed that any photographer with a tripod is shooting to make income from the sale of his "art property" image. Therefore, the authorities require proper permits and proof of payment of those fees from anyone "assumed" to be professional.

The Gitzo is my tripod of choice but there's nothing cheap about it. Whatever weight I lost with the lighter carbon, I gained with my Linhof head. Oh well, no pain no gain.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 09:56 AM
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You may have heard of the trick of attaching a long string to a screw that you screw into the tripod thread on your camera. A company called Kirk has made such an accessory and they are selling it for $30. www.kirkphoto.com/accessories.html
I've never tried shooting this way, but I made my own with a cinch strap and a Bogen quick-release plate. I'm probably going to bring it with me to London just to see how it works out.

FWIW, my travel tripod is a Bogen Compact Digi Tripod 714SHB. It folds down to 14 inches, comes with its own little carrying bag, and weighs just over 2 pounds. I put a Bogen monopod head on it, which weighs an extra pound. It will only bear about 5.5 pounds, which is fine for most of my needs. Hope this helps someone.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 10:10 AM
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Unfortunately, if someone can think of a product, they'll make it and find a way to sell it.

Sorry, sunny16. That's the biggest waste of $30 I've ever seen. If I ever saw anyone using such a thing, I'm not sure I could hold back my roaring guffaw.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 10:47 AM
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sunny16, I could not figure out what the long string would do so I had to go to the website to see. I have to agree with NYCFS -- I'm afraid I'd laugh out loud if I saw someone using this. But hey, let us know if you think it works. I have been wrong before, once or twice.

walkinaround, not every photographer with a tripod is a professional, but you can bet that every professional has a tripod.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 01:49 PM
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Clifton, I use a Gitzo carbon fiber tripod...sorry, I forgot the model number. They are quite expensive, but small, light and very sturdy for anything under a 300mm lens.

I also carry a Bogen tabletop model for shooting indoors because it is less conspicuous than a regular tripod.

Like I said, I've never been hasseled about a tripod, outdoors, in Italy...and I've shot extensively there.

Interestingly, I'm hasseled more in the USA than anywhere else. But that's the climate we live in today. No big deal.

Carrying a tripod is a hassle. Unless you're really dedicated, a tabletop model that fits in your bag will work fine.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 02:27 PM
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I'm still trying to figure out what using a tripod has to do with focus. Either the focus is set correctly, or it isn't.

If your film isn't fast enough, I suppose you might have to slow down the shutter to get an exposure in fading light, requiring stability.

Even opening the aperture wide doesn't create any depth of field issues at "scenic" distances. But my f1.2 is plenty fast enough for anything I've ever wanted to do with Astia 100F.

If you want to shoot time exposures, maybe you could use a clampod. You can make one yourself by welding a standard mount to a pair of vise-grips.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 02:38 PM
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<<I'm still trying to figure out what using a tripod has to do with focus. Either the focus is set correctly, or it isn't.>>

Well, I'm no student of photography, but it seems intuitively obvious that movement is the enemy of clear sharp focus. And it would seem a rare human being that could maintain as motionless a position as a metal tripod.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 02:47 PM
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Hey, I didn't invent the thing, and I have no intention of dropping $30 on this thing. Seriously, the string is supposedly an old trick that I'd heard about way before I saw this product. I figure it couldn't hurt to try it out since it will pack up into nothing on my trip, although I usually prefer to lean on something in a pinch.
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