Tripod vs. Noxon

Sunset GD-3000

I’ve been in the market for a really good, solid tripod for the longest time. I’ve had a few that were flimsy and not very well constructed, ultimately breaking apart (you get what you paid for). I’m no professional photographer but I take my photography serious enough now to start considering using a quality tripod that will suit my needs. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to spend a lot of money on any one of the various Manfrotto tripods and heads. Also, with all the choices available, picking one tripod was proving to be as difficult or even more so than choosing the right camera (I settled on the Nikon D90). Last year my tripod problem was resolved when a friend gave me his used tripod and monopod.

My friend Paul had a Sunset GD-3000 tripod which he generously gave to me without a second thought. Pulling it out of his trunk, I saw that the tripod had gone through some pretty heavy use. I was still very appreciative of his kind gesture. Since then the tripod had stayed in my trunk without being shown the love that it deserved for over a year. I simply forgot all about it. Frustrated at not being able to find the right tripod to fit my budget and of quality, I remembered, and turned to the Sunset tripod in my trunk.

It was worn, dirty, had some dings and scrapes on it and some small spots even showed some rust. Hey, that’s a testament to how heavily used it was, no doubt providing some great shots during its lifetime. Still, it was very sturdy and solid, weighing in at 4.5 lbs. It was clearly aluminum but it contained another metal I couldn’t identify. The only plastic part on the tripod was on the handle which was made of a  heavy plastic. The head was fixed and provided only three-axis. However there is a ring at the base of the head which appears that could be unscrewed. Maybe it can be removed but hard as I tried, I couldn’t make it budge. Perhaps it was only for cosmetic purposes. There was no quick release mechanism on the head and this was the only drawback that I really didn’t like. There was also no level built in. The metal clips that held the legs in place when extended were difficult to release and tighten. I don’t think I’ll be having any problems with the legs slipping. Extending the tripod height was an ease as the crank turned very smoothly. At its full height without camera, tripod stands half an inch shy of five feet. Turning the tripod over, I saw that the  thick rubberized ends could be twisted to reveal metal spikes. This was a really nice touch.

Appreciating the tripod after closer inspection, I decided to give it a thorough cleaning. Looking online, I saw people posting various techniques and product recommendations. One consensus was to use WD40. I didn’t agree so much with that so I finally took the tripod to the neighborhood hardware store. These guys never let me down before and were really old school. The guy at the counter took one look and quickly recommended Noxon. I never heard of it but he swore by it, claiming that it would clean and shine my tripod. It could handle seven different types of metals: stainless steel, aluminum, chrome, pewter, brass, bronze and copper. It was milky white and of thick consistency containing ammonia. Forking over $5, what did I have to lose?

For the next couple of hours on a Friday night, I took the knobs, legs, clips and other parts of the tripod and disassembled them. Taking a rag and soaking it with the stuff, I sat in a well ventilated area and while watching TV, put some work into cleaning it. I wish I had taken pictures BEFORE I had cleaned the tripod. Looking at the finished work would’ve been much more appreciated. I really, really started to like the tripod! It was looking good and smelling clean. The only thing left was to use some lubricant around the moving parts of the tripod. I guess I will get some WD40 to spot clean some areas but it really isn’t necessary. I’m fine with the results.

I'm very happy with the results of my cleaning!

I left it to dry and shortly thereafter, starting taking some night shots with it from my window. I plan on purchasing a quick release adapter with plate for the tripod as I feel this is the only thing that is missing. Screwing and unscrewing my camera to and from the tripod is a little time consuming for my tastes. Looking online, I saw that Amazon and B&H had the Bogen Manfrotto 323 RC2 for under $40. I found it on eBay for $21.50. If I win the bid, I’ll write about it when I get it.

What’s better than spending $100 – $300 on a good tripod? Getting it for free of course! It’s not the type of tripod that I would take overseas (it is a little heavy) but for my purposes,  it will suit me just fine. This tripod has seen better days but now it’s about to get its second wind and give a new owner some more fruitful years of photographic enjoyment. Thanks Paul for a very good tripod!

PS – If anyone has any further info on this tripod (manufacturer, date, etc.), please drop me a comment.

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9 responses to “Tripod vs. Noxon

  1. Wow

    I’ve had my Sunset GD3000 for almost 40 years. I never have been a big tripod guy, but for those times when I need it, as for my HEAVY 400mm F3.5 Nikkor, the GD3000 has worked well…..but in all those years I never turned it upside down to see the spikes in the bottomof the feet. I had to play with it for a minute before I saw how to get the spikes to show.

    I am looking to get an additional tripod for my newly purchased 4 x 5 camera and the more I look, there is nothing out there close to the features this Sunset tripod has. I am going to end up paying $475 or more for a heavier version of this tripod and probably still won’t get those spikes.

    I was just looking at it – you are correct all metal except for the plastic handle, the feet have those braces, the legs have the flip lever locks, the built in head has a fairly large platform, and the controls for the head make it pretty versatile. It has a geared center column. As I mentioned I never used mine that much so it is like new. It is also pretty light. I picked up a Manfrotto 055Xpro in the store and it is heavy (and no braces on the feet).

    I am really going to start using it for my medium format photography, there is no need to get something for that as this is a fine sturdy tripod. It’s probably a tad small for a 4×5 camera.

    You and I are fortunate to have this little jewel.

    Bob

    • Hey Bob, thanks for the comment. For a moment there I thought I was the only one that owned the GD3000: information on it is very scarce. I love this tripod very much although I AM looking for a quick release mounting plate to add to it if I can. Hey, maybe you can answer this question: is it possible to unscrew to the top portion of the tripod in order to replace it with a new head?

      • Yes, I just positioned the handle of mine in a horizontal postion, perpendicular to the tripod legs, and gave it a counterclockwise tug and it does unscrew to reveal the standard 1/4″ tripod threaded lug.

  2. …by the way Prudhomme, it is slightly too small for medium format work, only a larger tripod prevents camera movement/mirror vibrations from showing up in 8 x 10 prints….even if I use the camera’s pre-release for the mirror. It will continue to work well though for 35mm work and digital….it is so light for travel.

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  4. Hi Guys, Was looking around the web for anything on the Sunset GD3000 and came across your comments. Just purchased a Canon 60D and have been investigating tripods. I seemed to remember my dad had a tripod and it was stored under my cellar steps. I went digging and found the Sunset which is in brand new condition. Can’t tell you how excited I was. My camera with 18/200mm lens only weighs 3.1 pounds. I am sure this tripod is heavy enough to hold that weight. Do you guys agree?

    Hope this thread is still open.

    Thanks,

    Dave

    • Hey Dave! You found a brand new one? Good for you on this precious find! My D90 is pretty heavy especially with the zoom lens attached and it proved to be just fine on this tripod. Just go ahead and give it a try. As Bob above can attest, it’s working just fine for him. Drop me a line and let me know how it worked out for you.

  5. Hello tripod fanatics’ 🙂
    Barely yesterday I got this Sunset F0-2000 (Made in Japan) for $5 from a friend. Because I’m majoring in cinema & photography, I thought I could give it a try. Mostly bc I always have to rent one -althogether w/ a camamera- from my school. In reality, I dont know how much it cost to get a new one or even a used one, but I saw posted this Sunset tripod somewhere on the net (something like XX-3000) for about $. 6, 000!! Well, after seing that my heart started o beat a lite faster,but still, I found other sites w/ postings around $40 or so. (But their models were like BG-40 etc ..always with smaller numbers than 2000 like my tripod). I did research about it all night until I found this post.

    The info on the “Tripod vd. Noxon” series attracted my attentuon for the following reasons:
    1_ I thought on dissasembling my tripod to lubricate it & polish it myself.
    2_ The dissasembling procedures that came from the input from this page is highly technical (I’m a pro-mechanic my self w/ tons of years of experience).
    3_ Never in the net there was a site offering such handy info. Not that I know.
    4_ This page is a good referent point toward tripods in general & also specifically on Sunset tripods.
    5_ Hopefully some one else can provide us w/ valuable info such as the type of lubricant needed for moving points & general maintenance procedures.

    But most important to me, is to find about this marvelous “Sunset” Japanese manufacturer & about my tri. What I would like to know exactly is in what year wad made & for what type of applications can be used (still photo camera or motion pic cmera; or both). This is because one of the sites I accessed last night specifically tell you the Sunset tripod model & also for what camera it was made.i believe that’ll be interesting to know, but as a mechanic, I will try this baby on both types of cameras from school. Of course that for the cinema proggy teachers always rec to use a “flexible head” tripod, or what you guys refers as “ball head” or something.” Anyway, thatnx for this great info & I hope that some one else show up some day w/ Sunsets’ web site addy & we can get closser to this magnificent tripods manufacturer.

    Sincerily,

    🙂

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