Eternal Tripods?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by cmo, Mar 9, 2013.

  1. cmo

    cmo Member

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    Today you can buy numerous brands of tripods, most of them are relatively cheap, not all of them are stable, and future will tell how long they will survive of they are used often.

    Most beginners ask for a cheap, lightweight, stable tripod, though getting all these features in one tripod is quite impossible.

    Which old tripods would you recommend in terms of stability and usability if beginners so not have a big budget and are at risk buying a cheap, shaky tripod that will not hold their camera steady? Which are most likely useful after many years and will work for many more years?

    I collected some names and hope you can add some more:

    - Linhof tripods in general (Rekord, Rekord Profil)
    - Gitzo Gilux Reporter
    - Velbon Aluminium tripods from the 1970s
    - Berlebach ash wood tripods
    - Pentacon tripod, a good choice for macro photography
    - Benbo tripods
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 9, 2013
  2. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I have a Manfrotto 3221wn. A good tripod is great!

    Jeff
     
  3. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Member

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    Old Bogen/Manfrotto tripods are often sold cheaply and they last forever. I still use my old Bogen 3011 with 3047 head every day. I bought it new when I was 15 years old, 22 years ago! It still works perfectly; I'd buy an ancient used one with no worries if I needed another for some reason.
     
  4. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I have a 40 year old Leitz Tiltall that sill works perfectly, a larger Bogen that is just fine and a Gitzo carbon-fiber that for its size and weight is perfect for traveling. The Gitzo will hold a mf with a
    250mm lens or a 150 with a 2x. It's better to invest in a good (used if available) tripod. It will be supporting equipment that costs more than the tripod and should last many years and probably one's photographic lifetime.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  5. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    Thalhammer wooden tripods are nice, sort of an obscure gem.
    +1 on Tiltalls.
     
  6. FL Guy

    FL Guy Member

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    Linhof has a great reputation, Velbon I have never used but I have heard good things about.

    I bought a Marconi "Tilt-All" new over 30 years ago, all aluminum construction, durable and very well made. It is a workhorse, I think you could mount a 4x5 or 5x7 View camera on it without any problems.

    Even though they might be heavier, the 1970's or 1980's vintage aluminum tripods aren't the lightest but very well made and durable. I believe the Marconi Tilt-All was made by A.B. Marconi & Co. in New Jersey, if they are no longer around I bet their products are still floating around for sale out on the web.

    FL Guy

    Correction:

    I went to get the Tripod for further review, Manufactured by CM Marchioni & Co. in Rutherford, NJ. Model #4602, "Tiltall".

    To give a better idea of the craftsmanship with this product, the descriptive information was printed on an aluminum tag, "riveted" to the central unit of the tripod................You don't see that very often anymore.

    At least I got the state of Mfg. right.........

    FL Guy
     
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  7. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Old Leitz/Marchioni Tiltalls offer the best bang for the buck in used tripods, in my opinion. They go for around $100 and include the head, are relatively compact and weigh about 6 lbs. They were made for 4x5". A new one is about the same price, but an old one in good condition is a better tripod.

    For larger cameras or people needing a really tall tripod, Majestics are usually a good deal. If you get the extension legs and the combination geared column with the rapid column inside it, it goes up to at least 15 feet, and they have separate bubble levels for each leg, which is a great feature. The geared head is pretty heavy, but if you have the type where the head clamps onto a tube, you can get an adapter for it--still made--for a standard 3/8"-16 tripod head bolt.
     
  8. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Tiltalls began in the 40's(66 years) and unless they've been abused are still going strong.
    There are not many items that have that longevity.
    Yeah, new owners, & production is Chinese but still essentially the same tripod.
     
  9. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

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    I bought my Tilt-All used about 12 years ago. Best money I ever spent on photo gear. Not real light, but like you say, you could put a view camera on it and it would be stable. I use a tripod strap to carry it which makes it easier.
     
  10. jimrohrer

    jimrohrer Subscriber

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    I too, have a soft spot for the older Tiltalls. No bells or whistles, but they are simple and reliable equipment. I've used one with cameras from 35mm to 4x5. They can be had for short money too!
     
  11. BradleyK

    BradleyK Subscriber

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    +1 on the Marchioni/Leitz Tiltalls (both of which are well-regarded for their quality of workmanship) with a qualifier: while they work very well for 4x5 and 2 1/4, I would not recommend them for use for 35mm work with any super-telephoto lenses. If my (20-odd years') experience is any indication, they are simply too light to support anything at or longer than 300mm (I have used them with my 300mm F2.8, 400mm F3.5 and 600mm F4 Nikkors, and have consistently found the results far too soft); for the longer glass, I break out a Manfrotto-Bogen monster (O56, with some modifications) and shoot away. As well, as I mentioned in a related post, I hold to the view that the Tiltalls do not respond well to Canadian winters (-25Cish and worse...) :smile:.
     
  12. Randy Moe

    Randy Moe Member

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    It all depends on usage. I own quite a few tripods, most old. 1960's studio cine Linhof with all options. I have 2 Arkay Studio stands that I use all the time, they will never break, one has a big LED monitor and digital camera for portraits and I use the other one right next to it, holding a Horseman 8x10 for LF film portraits. I love Majestic heads, still made in Chicago, all parts available and they do anything. I also use old wood studio cameras and the 3 wheel platform stand called a Semi-Centennial that works like new, 100 years later. Most old stuff was built real strong, since old cameras were quite heavy. Now those big old tripods are great to hold the new expensive cameras you never want to drop.

    Found an old wood surveyors tripod at a garage sale, a like new bargain. I have 2 new lightweight tripods I almost never use.

    Oh, and a desktop Manfrotto that is 20 years ageless. I take it everywhere, fits in my back pocket.
     
  13. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    I use a couple of Manfrotto tripods, an ancient 55B when I am out and about but not walking to far, and a 190 when I am walking. The 55B is a beast of a 'pod and when equipped with a B&S head plus the hexagonal quick release platform adapter it is faultless.

    I always thought Tiltall was made in conjunction with Leitz(?) I have a book where the Lieca Reflex series is discussed and examined where there are used including a superb Tiltall monopod which I have a sample. Ideal for use at places like air shows and race meetings.
     
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  15. flatulent1

    flatulent1 Subscriber

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    If you like Berlebach, you should also see Ries Tripods, from right here in the Pacific Northwest.
     
  16. Peltigera

    Peltigera Member

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    Cannot fault my old Velbon.
     
  17. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Most of the older, made in USA, are better, especially if there were the better products when new. Unless abused, will work good as new.
     
  18. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    Since 1969 I've usually preferred Tiltall tripods over the several other brands I own. Some people claim those labeled Leitz may be better, but in my experience the differences between the original Marchioni and those labeled Leitz or Star-D are insignificant. The Star-D did have plastic knobs which can break if grossly abused. Tiltalls work well enough with a 5x7 camera and 21" lens on wind-free days. A Marchioni Tiltall gave me no trouble in Greenland, with temperatures down to -60 Fahrenheit. Cameras may come and go, but a good tripod is a lifetime investment. Choose it well.
     
  19. cmo

    cmo Member

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    I had a short look, never heard of them before. Compared to average Berlebachs they weigh and cost a lot more. Quite similar to Berlebach' s ultra-stable UNI series that owners of very heavy telephoto artillery buy. Most people get the Report series that cost and weighs much less. It's interesting that Ries and Berlebach have similar concepts but follow different routes.
     
  20. cmo

    cmo Member

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    I asked the original question to compile a list for beginners on a budget.

    My first tripod was a Velbon in 1978, and I sold it last year only. These old aluminium Velbons are eternal and good enough to be used as a weapon. But they are only tall enough if you extend the middle column, and then they are not stable at all, and for that size they are very heavy.

    My second tripod was a Berlebach, very stable, quite cheap, taller than the Velbon, approximately the same weight.

    I made a choice a year ago and purchased a Gitzo 3541XLS, very stable, up to 2 meters tall (very useful for architecture and landscape photography), and it only weighs 2kg. The only downside is the hefty price. It's only okay because this is probably my last tripod.

    What would you recommend to young photographers that look for a very portable, lightweight solution?
     
  21. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Reis isn't a low-cost option, but if you look at one up close next to a Berlebach, you can see the difference.
     
  22. flatulent1

    flatulent1 Subscriber

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    Induro carbon fiber. Half the price of Gitzo, nearly the same weight. Very nicely made. I bought one last year to replace my two-ton Bogen 3001. I suspect they're durable as long as you don't drop them on a large outcrop of granite.

    My first tripod was a Slik, with aluminum channels for legs. Bought almost 30 years ago. Very inexpensive. Nice and light, and utterly useless for holding anything steady. Gave it away a year later. You get what you pay for.
     
  23. cmo

    cmo Member

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    As I said, they seem to be similar to the costly Berlebach UNI tripods.
     
  24. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Tiltall, the Marchioni or Leitz versions.
     
  25. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I like Manfrotto/Bogen tripods. I have Bogen 3021 that's 30 years old. It's battle scarred, covered with gaffers tape. I've replace various parts through out the years and it
     
  26. Nuff

    Nuff Member

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    Love my CF Feisol. Light, tall, very small when folded so I take it with me overseas. Quiet stable too, of course, not as great as a heavy tripod, especially in very windy weather. It does have a hook so I can hang my camera bag from it for extra stability.