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The Velbon Maxi 343E
Is this the perfect tripod for digital cameras?
One of our "finds" at PMA 2002

Scroll down to read about the Velbon Maxi 347GB
the slightly bigger brother of the Maxi 343E
I never even considered using a light weight tripod before testing the Velbon Maxi 343E. It's light weight and sturdy construction makes it easy to take anywhere.

CoolPix 990 mounted on the Velbon Maxi 343E Tripod
My CoolPix 990 mounted on the Velbon Maxi 343E Tripod

Velbon Maxi 343E Tripod

Velbon Tripods are distributed by Hakuba. Velbon is one of those after market names I remember from about 30+ years ago when I first started shooting pictures. I was particularly impressed with the Maxi 343E tripod. It seems to be the perfect balance between size, weight, sturdiness and cost.

17.5 inches folded
weighs 1.9 pounds
Extends to 62 inches
Topped with a sturdy removable ball head
All metal construction and has the sturdiness of far heavier tripods.
Carrying case included
Advertised for under $90 on the web

How to use a light weight tripod for sharp photos
Always use the wider leg extensions before the narrow leg extensions as needed for a comfortable working height. Extend the center column about six inches and grasp it firmly with downward pressure with your left hand. Operate the camera with your right hand. I just finished shooting over 1800 pictures on a Southwest trip with the CoolPix 5000 (and CoolPix 950) using this Velbon 343E maxi tripod. Only three pictures from the entire trip had to be deleted due to unsharpness. And only because the tripod was settling into the sand at Monument Valley.
In searching on the web, I found a story that describes how this tripod came to be built. Herb Keppler of Popular Photography was frustrated by the lack of a tripod on the market that met his needs as a traveling photographer. So he listed the necessary features and challenged Velbon to build it
Roger Hicks wrote a full page about the Velbon Maxi343E in the March 2002 issue of Shutterbug Magazine.
Herbert Keppler and Larry Berman
"The Tripod Guys" at PMA 2003
Herbert Keppler from Popular Photography with Larry Berman
The Velbon tripods were written up in Imaging Resource newsletter 12/13/02
"A while ago we were impressed with Larry Berman's story of his Southwest trip in which he relied on a lightweight but capable tripod from Velbon manufactured by Hakuba. That turns out to be the tripod Keppler fell in love with, too. Who are we to argue?
The warranty is reassuring. The pedigree (Berman and Keppler) is inspiring. But love has a mind of its own. And we did fall in love with this tough little tripod."
The Velbon Maxi 347 GB Tripod
with Pan Quick Release Head
Shown with the Maxi 343E
Velbon Tripods
Velbon Tripods
Velbon Tripods
Velbon does make some inexpensive, light weight, but sturdy, tripods.
It's approximately the same height but slightly sturdier. I do wish it came with a ball head though. The pan head is awkward to use with the swivel body CoolPix as you can't lean the camera forward to look down through the LCD because the pan head handle hits you in the face. But for any other style camera it's easy to use. The pan head also contains an easy to use quick release plate. You can see that both tripods are extended to full height without using the extension of the center column.
Comparison between the Maxi 343E and the Maxi 347GB
The 343 is 1/2 pound lighter. The 347 is one inch shorter when folder but one inch taller when fully extended. It also contains leg braces for added stability and a geared center column for more accurate camera positioning.

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