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Tripods.
Old 03-13-2006   #1
Stephanie Brim
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Tripods.

I have one. I'm happy with it for the Canon P and medium format cameras and I'm pretty sure that it would be great for a small view camera, but the one I'm getting is slightly larger than a Graphic. The tripod I have is pretty darn strong, but the head needs some work for ANY camera to work on it. It's a Velbon Victory 250 and I have no idea if heads are even still made for the thing. Would probably need to have the legs reinforced when I'm using it with the view cam.

I do, however, have a decent stash of wood (don't ask) that could be used to build a sturdy (and rather hard to store) tripod specifically for the view camera that wouldn't be TOO heavy.

What would you do? Working in multiple formats is going to be a lot of fun, but it can also be a royal pain in the arse.
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Old 03-13-2006   #2
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Buy a Manfrotto/Bogen tripod in the following configuration : 3221WN legs and 3030 head. I had one - it was the best all-round tripod I've ever used/owned. Great for everything from my mom's Kodak digicam to my 4x5 monorail camera. Strong as heck, sturdy, tough as nails. . . but kind of heavy. Worth the weight, however. I sold it to a member since I no longer shoot with anything heavier than my RF645.
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Old 03-13-2006   #3
Stephanie Brim
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I'm looking for a cheap temporary solution until I get the money together to buy a Manfrotto.
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Old 03-13-2006   #4
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three sticks and some duct tape

is it "duck" tape?
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Old 03-13-2006   #5
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A bean bag will do wonders. I'm quite chary of those tiny table top tripods that are meant for digital point-and-shoots. They can only hold so much weight when the head is not aligned horizontally. I had foolishly mounted my SLR with a 135mm lens on one and it snapped on me.

I got a used Manfrotto / Bogen 055 for about 80USD, and a used 3221 Ballhead for about 60USD. When I fully extend the tripod legs (but not the column) and mount the ballhead and my camera on it, I have to stand on tiptoe to look through the viewfinder (but I am only 1.65m tall).

Taking pictures with it was certain proof that a tripod will get you sharper pictures than any pedigree lens held by hand. Of course, they're meant to be used in different situations, but that's just the point. If your photography for the day is going to be of the meditative compose-and-shoot-and-recompose-and-shoot-and-bracket-and-bracket variety, then bring a tripod.

If I could hijack / piggyback this thread: Does anyone here have any good monopod holding techniques to recommend? It's like a martial art, what with all the different stances.
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Old 03-13-2006   #6
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Heh. The brand name I use is 'Duck' tape.

I figured I'd at least hammer the thing together. But Duck Tape could make it easy to assemble/disassemble.
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Old 03-13-2006   #7
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I am submerged by Manfrottos (I would say totally Manfrotted), tripods and monopods with various heads (ever tried the grip heads?). The last ones are carbon fiber. Gorgeous and very functional. And yet sometimes with a light camera I would like to have a lighter alternative expecially monopod because I like to use slow film and my hands are not so firm anymore. I was unable to find a solution at the same level of quality of Manfrotto. Maybe if I had the spare time and find stick of bamboo....
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Old 03-13-2006   #8
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here is a cheap solution for a tripod. I built one to replace the broken weak tripod that came with a telescope I had. It was made with 3 aluminum crutches and some scrap wood. Instead of a tray for a spreader between the legs I used thin chain from the hardware store. The legs are easy to adjust too and mine looked great when done.
Here is one like mine. I may have spent $10 on it.
http://www.hackaday.com/entry/1234000877061535/
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Old 03-13-2006   #9
Stephanie Brim
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Ooooh...that would be perfect. Wonder if the hospital has any old crutches they want to throw out...thanks a lot!
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Old 03-13-2006   #10
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Steph as long as your old tripod has a 1/4" stud any ne head will work. I have a new grip head on my old Velbon/Sears
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Old 03-13-2006   #11
Patman
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Check out this site
http://www.amvona.com/v7/shop/
Their Tripods are about the best i've ever used and the prices are realistic. They also s\manufacture bags and lighting. I have the 6906 Super Pro which would probably hold up a small car.
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Old 03-13-2006   #12
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Forgot to add that I got mine friom Goodwill for $5 a pair.
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Old 03-13-2006   #13
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My initial response is that one should _NEVER_ cheap out on a tripod. It's easily one of the most important components to any good camera system. I would actually wait on using the LF camera until after I bought a better tripod. But it's your choice, and your $$.

Having said that, the first thing you should do it look up the load capacity on your current tripod and then weigh the view camera. My 5x7 isn't _that_ heavy, and yours might actually be okay.

As for a head, this is tough. If you prefer a ballhead (as I do), then you're going to have a hard time getting the LF camera level. Talk about ballhead flop. It's easier if you prefer a pan-tilt head, but many folks do not.

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Old 03-13-2006   #14
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http://www.berlebach.de/e_index.php

Model 1032 is the best bang for the buck for large format or lenses longer than 200mm.

You will not need a head as there is considerable movement with the platform attached to a built in ball.

Gitzo Reporter 1227 carbon fiber with a Leica ball head for 35mm up to 200mm lenses. you can use a light 4x5 on it, but not with the Leica ball. Light is a Zone VI with 210, not a Sinar Expert.

Ries is of course the best 4x5 pod, but would be only marginally better.

My choices are for me because I am 6 feet tall and will not extend a center column except for rare instances or bend over to view. If you are 5.5 feet, possibilities are greater.

Last edited by Ronald M : 03-13-2006 at 06:58. Reason: more info
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Old 03-13-2006   #15
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I wouldn't recommend a cheap tripod, either, but if you don't have the money to spend on a good one, then you'll have to do something else. Here's something to check: go to a big hardware store like Home Depot and look at the tripod-mounted shop lights. You can usually get an adjustable steel tripod and two 500-watt lights (which can be used as hot lights, if you're not too picky) for something like $40. With a couple of pieces of wood and some duct tape, you probably could rig up something really solid; and if you have access to a drill, you could probably make a pretty nice and very strong, but also very heavy, tripod.

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Old 03-13-2006   #16
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The interesting thing about tripods is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the smaller and lighter the camera is, the heavier the tripod should be. This does not mean, of course, dragging out a Zone VI wooden job for shooting with an XA, but the concept is that if the camera itself is providing minimal anchoring weight to the structure (which I suspect was the engineering principle behind more than a few popular, 35mm-specific tripods over the last few decades), it is the tripod's inherent structural integrity alone keeping everything (hopefully) motionless. Upshot: if you're out to get a new tripod for yourself, to be used with multiple formats, get the strongest thing you can stand carrying, but no stronger; if you end up with something crazy-heavy, guess how much use you won't get out of it (unless you have ready access to a car, in which case the sky's the limit)?

Side note: Manfrottos seem pretty popular here. I have a 3205G with 3265 pistol-grip head (good for anything short of a 4x5, I think), plus a 3216 monopod with 308RC ball head. I got both when i was still dealing with AF SLRs with crazy-heavy zooms. For what I'm shooting with now, they are somewhat overkill (whenever i feel the need for auxiliary support, which isn't often), but that's pretty much as I want it.

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Old 03-13-2006   #17
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Barrett's comment about tripod weight is also very relevant when it comes to carbon fiber tripods. They are great because they are ridiculously light, but they are so light they can blow right over. They do absorb vibrations very well, too. If you're going to use one, you will need to hang a bag off of it to keep it from falling over.

I have a Bogen/Manfrotto 3021. It's not too heavy, and it's more than strong enough for my 35mm, MF, and LF stuff. What I need is a better head.

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Old 03-13-2006   #18
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I have a hard time understanding the obsession with a light tripod. The function of a tripod is not just hold the camera up but also to hold the camera steady. My Manfrotto is rated at 11 pounds. My 5x7 Burke & James is around 7 pounds. No problem? Big problem. When the bellows of the 5x7 are extended the head starts to flex. There should be no flex. Zero. Nada.

It was a long strange trip but I ended up with a Majestic tripod for $107 (eBay, of course). It's rated for 35 pounds. What is more important is that the head is RIGID. I've never had a tripod this solid. Not only that but the geared center column and geared head make it very easy to use. You have to raise the center column up quite high before you get any flex. Check out the link for pictures on just how hight it will go.

Is it heavy? Certainly. But Sally Mann uses one of these with her 8x10 Toyo. If a small woman can schlepp one of these around I figured I could too. It's so much easier to use than the Manfrotto that I use it for my small cameras, too.
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Old 03-13-2006   #19
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The head flexing has nothing to do with the stability of the tripod (unless it's an integrated system, of course). The ball head on my tripod flexes, too, but it's because it's not as good of a ball head as I'd like, not because of anything to do with the tripod itself. I have tried out an Acratech and a Kirk ballhead that belong to friends, and they are absolutley rock solid with all of my cameras.

If you backpack, a carbon fiber tripod is very enticing, and the low weight is quite useful. I would not hesitate to get a carbon fiber tripod and a nice, strong ball head such as the Acratech or Kirk. I would need to put some weight on the tripod to hold it down, but I think it would be more than strong enough.

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Old 03-13-2006   #20
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If you can find a surveyors tripod at a yard sale or thrift shop and add an appropriately strong head you might find that works too. Your camera when set up ready to go will really stress a tripod with any kind of wind, it is like a big sail. Another reason not to go too light. The good news is that if it is windy you may not want to photograph anyway with wind induced shake/vibration likely roining sharpness.

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Old 03-13-2006   #21
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I learned a few lessons about wind and LF cameras when I went out to shoot a few weeks ago.

1 - yes, wind can really mess up your sharpness. one otherwise great negative doesnt' have anything that is razor sharp. ARGH!

2 - I'm glad I didn't put velcro on my focusing cloth, and wrapped it around and attached it to the camera. It would've pulled the whole thing over several times.

3- My home-made focusing cloth was great. I'm glad I went that route for $15 rather than a retail one for $50+

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