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Tripod couplings - old fashioned sort
Old 12-26-2019   #1
Barry Kirsten
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Tripod couplings - old fashioned sort

I find I'm getting really cranky in my old age over tripod couplings. A search of all the main manufacturers shows that there are very few tripods on the market that don't have so-called quick release couplings. I hate 'em. I have three tripods which cover all my cameras from LF to small format, and they all have QR couplings, which are all different.

What's so wrong about the old fashioned screw coupling for attaching a camera to a tripod? They're not slower than a QR coupling IMO. In fact I find them finicky to use, especially when mounting a heavy camera to the tripod, where guides and slots have to be perfectly aligned, or the damn thing won't work. With a screw you know where you are - sit the camera on the screw and tighten from underneath.

I guess it's an example of the sort of marketing used by inkjet printer manufacturers - sell the tripod and then a whole lot of extra QR plates for everyone's cameras. Well I wonder if anyone has thoughts on the matter or am I the only one getting uptight about this. I'm even thinking of modifications that might be possible to remove QR couplings and replace with a screw attachment. Has anyone done this? To my mind it represents an engineering challenge that might be outside of the average person's capabilities. If anyone has done this I'd love you to share your results. Thanks all. /rant
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Old 12-26-2019   #2
CMur12
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Hi Barry -

I think the only way to accomplish what you seek is to get a new tripod head with no QR. Are they no longer available?

I've had my old Bogen (Manfrotto) tripod for a long time, and it has the old-fashioned screw-mount that you favor. I always thought the QR heads looked convenient, but it wasn't available with the medium-format 3D head that I liked, so I just stuck with what I had.

I normally use only one camera when I go out shooting, so I just affix it to the tripod, sling the tripod/camera over my shoulder, and off I go (for short distances). So, not much advantage in a QR head for me, either.

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Old 12-27-2019   #3
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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Barry, I mostly use vintage cameras so my solution is simple, affordable and effective—I fit my cameras to a vintage tripod. I have a heavy duty and a lightweight tripod both made by Linhof, and I love my tripods almost as much as some of my cameras, they're gorgeous. Yes, buying an old tripod can mean dealing with worn out parts and broken pieces, but Linhof made wonderful quality supports. Find an example that's not been abused, and it will outlast all of us.
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Old 12-27-2019   #4
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I am approximately your age (at 76) and felt the same way about the quick releases for 30 years. (And did try briefly the Beseler type at one time.)

But, recently I won a Acratech head on ebay that happened to come with a (removable) arca-swiss type quick release clamp. Found a used and cheap (at $10) Acratech plate for my Sinar to try.

The Sinar is a little ungainly to attach to a tripod with the old screw method. By opening the clamp wide I can just DROP the Sinar down onto the plate and tighten it.
It is much faster to attach it this way and much faster to remove the camera. So now I am a believer.
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Old 12-27-2019   #5
View Range
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There are so many fine tripod heads available today that are optimized for specific purposes. An example is the Wimberley gimbal head for long lenses. And ball heads are great for general photography but are poor for close up work. As a result most quality tripods are sold without heads. So pick the head that has the quick release system you like, or no quick release system at all. If you use an Arca-Swiss quick release head system (two breach mount plates), you can use one head easily on many different tripods. This approach is far better than the old 1/4" or 3/8" screw.
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Old 12-27-2019   #6
Godfrey
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I dunno, Barry. It seems to me that the mistake you made was to buy tripods with heads that take incompatible camera plates. If you pick a clamp and plate attachment system, and then pick heads and tripods based on that, none of the issues you are talking about surface.

All of the heads I consider have Arca-Swiss type clamps on them as delivered or are fitted with Arca-Swiss clamps once I get them. I have a range of Arca-Swiss compatible plates that fit all my cameras. For several of my cameras (my Hasselblads, the Olympus E-1 and E-M1, etc) that I use almost exclusively on a tripod, I fit a camera plate that never comes off the camera. The semi-permanently attached camera plate adds little to the bulk and does not detract from the use of the camera without it.. So using camera and tripod together means pulling out and setting up the tripod, then attaching the camera. Simple.

Stop buying tripods/heads with incompatible clamp/plate systems, and the cause of your frustration disappears. A properly fitted plate and a sturdy, precise clamp system is a significant improvement in both ease of use and security over a single 1/4-20 or 3/8-16 screw and mounting boss.

G
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Old 12-27-2019   #7
presspass
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I have, and use both styles. The older tripods, including a Benro, have the older screw mount heads. A really heavy duty Manfrotto has that company's quick attach plate system and it works very well with cumbersome lenses, including the 400 2.8 Nikon. The newer and smaller tripods have the Arca Swiss style and they work well with smaller cameras and have one major advantage over the screw mounts - when you use the camera in a vertical mode, the camera does not pivot around the screw. That works very well with F2 Nikons when they have a Chinese made grip attached.
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Old 12-27-2019   #8
Phil_F_NM
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Berlebach still offers the old school thread and plate but I have found attaching a camera to a tripod this way to be far more potentially hazardous to the camera than using a properly sized, fitted, matching QR plate. They can be attached much more securely using either an Allen key, screwdriver, or even the D rings attached to the screws. It's all personal preference, really.
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Old 12-27-2019   #9
Barry Kirsten
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Thanks everyone for your thoughts. As I suggested and on further reflection, making engineering changes is not a good option. I agree that older Linhof 3-way heads or even ball heads, with screw attachment is the way to go for me. They're legendary. I will concede that there was one QR system I had in the past that was really nice to use: I had a Toyo 810G monorail which I used on a large Manfrotto tripod having a hexagonal QR plate; it just dropped in and locked securely with that heavy camera attached. I sold both camera and tripod some time ago, and none of the tripods I've had since compete with that. And another thing I have against QR plates is that contrary to one suggestion above it's not always possible to leave a plate permanently attached to a camera. A case in point is my Kowa 6x6 where an attached QR plate prevents removal of the magazine for film changing. Another reason why for me they're a pain.
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Old 12-28-2019   #10
Kai-san
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Linhof tripods are a good choice, they are reliable and do not cost a lot used. I have three of them plus a table clamp. I've got four different heads, one is a quick release. Speed is not a concern, it's more important to have a sturdy base for my cameras. Slow photography is a good life.
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Old 12-28-2019   #11
Godfrey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry Kirsten View Post
Thanks everyone for your thoughts. As I suggested and on further reflection, making engineering changes is not a good option. I agree that older Linhof 3-way heads or even ball heads, with screw attachment is the way to go for me. They're legendary. I will concede that there was one QR system I had in the past that was really nice to use: I had a Toyo 810G monorail which I used on a large Manfrotto tripod having a hexagonal QR plate; it just dropped in and locked securely with that heavy camera attached. I sold both camera and tripod some time ago, and none of the tripods I've had since compete with that. And another thing I have against QR plates is that contrary to one suggestion above it's not always possible to leave a plate permanently attached to a camera. A case in point is my Kowa 6x6 where an attached QR plate prevents removal of the magazine for film changing. Another reason why for me they're a pain.
I never said you could do that with any/all cameras, Barry. I said for the cameras that I always use on a tripod, I fitted a plate and never took it off.

When I pick a plate for a camera, I try to make sure it allows me access to changing film, backs, batteries, and storage cards while it's in place. For some cameras this is impossible, like your Kowa. For most, there are either enough standard plates*to choose from, or a custom plate made, that allow this.

BTW: The 'quick release' part of the name is to me just a tag ... I take about the same time to fit my camera to a tripod and make sure that it is properly fitted and secure with a QR system as I do with a screw mount. The reason I use a QR system is that ultimately it's more convenient and more secure, and the orientation of the fitment is more consistently repeatable than with a screw mounting.

Sounds like you're just dead set against using a clamp and plate system. So be it.

G
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Old 12-28-2019   #12
PRJ
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The only super solid actual quick release I've ever used was the Linhof. It was a bit fiddly to engage the plate, but after a while you get the hang of it. Holds the camera rock solid and is automatic basically. These days I use Arca releases on everything. It is just easier. For a while I had three quick release systems on the tripods I use. That was a total pain until I finally had enough and bought Arca type for all of them.

If you have problems with a plate interfering with changing film you have the wrong plate. Universal plates aren't universal. I end up modifying most universal plates in one way or another.

I never liked screw heads. I'd always end up scratching the bottom of the camera trying to find the screw...
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Old 12-28-2019   #13
t6un
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I share the dislike of QR plates but have so far done nothing about it. One inelegant but non-destructive solution might be to make a simple adapter plate that has a mounting screw at one end and 3/8 threaded hole in the other. Fix it via QR plate to the tripod so that the mounting screw hangs over the edge and leave it there. Should work well enough for Leicas with off center tripod holes. For slr’s and medium format not so much?
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Old 12-28-2019   #14
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I use QR plates and a ball head and I'm happy with the combination. What I don't like is using the camera hand-held with the plate on it, even though it's not very big. So I take it off, which involves having an allen key with me.


What could have been done to make life more convenient: cameras could have been made with grooves in the base of the bodies so a plate wasn't needed. It's too late now that we all have enough cameras though.
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Old 12-28-2019   #15
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I use QR plates on my tripod so that I can easily mount cameras with 1/4 and 3/8 tripod sockets.

I can't use the 3/8 to 1/4 bushings as that will rule out using the camera cases.

Also, with QR plates, I can quickly take the camera off the tripod, but it in the camera bag, when moving between locations.

Steve W
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Old 01-04-2020   #16
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There's a fairly universal quick-release system based loosely on a dovetail design by a French/Swiss company called Arca-Swiss. Yes you install a plate on your camera; they are thin and all my cameras have these plates permanently mounted.

I have a lot of tripod heads and have also installed Arca-Swiss clamps on the apex of my three tripods - two RRS and a Berlebach wooden. My ballheads and geared heads have small Arca-Swiss plates screwed into their base. I can change the head on my tripods using the same system as changing out the camera. The Arca-Swiss quick release system is the dominant QR in use because it's convenient, small in size, well designed and very secure.
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