how essential is a center column

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by game, May 29, 2006.

  1. game

    game Member

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    hi,
    I am in the run for a new tripod as some may have seen in 'the older gitzo topic'
    I was wondering in this light, how important do you guys consider a center column, wether it's geared or not.
    Is a column less tripod any good? I can imagine the adjusting can me quite a pain when one has to adjust all three legs all the time.

    I am curious about this. Thanks!

    game
     
  2. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    One brand that does rather well without a column of any sort is the highly regarded Ries in its many versions. I am just starting to use a twelve pound 7x17 inch camera. Many have suggested that using a column increases problems with balance. Several users of this camera use a carbon Gitzo. To make the rig lighter I may go this route. I have to ask if any of those have a column. I think not, but am not sure.

    John Powers
     
  3. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Two of my five tripods have center columns.

    I never use them - except on the short-legged Gandolfi tripod. I prefer columnless.
     
  4. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    I almost never use the centre column. Somebody said a centre column turns a tripod into a monopod. Not sure it's true but I don't use it normally.
     
  5. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    My Bogen/Manfrotto 3021 'pod has a center column that can be shortened. I removed the bottom half and have used what remains every so often when just a little more height (like when turning my MF camera on its' side) is required. It does diminish the rigidity a tad, but if I lean on the thing when I press the shutter, I get very sharp negs.
     
  6. game

    game Member

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    that's what I use it for too. Just that little adjusting.
    Strange to read most people seem to favor no use of the center column.
    But to really cancel the center column from your tripod, I don't know...
    How do you guys decrease and increase your tripod? by taking every leg and adjust those every time??

    Game
     
  7. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It's not essential. I sometimes use it to make a small adjustment or occasionally to mount the camera on the bottom of the column or mount the column upside down (depending on the tripod) for a low angle shot. Occasionally the extra height can be handy, say for shooting from a ladder, but it's not the most stable setup.

    I have two old Leitz Tiltalls with rapid columns, a Bogen 3033 with a geared column, and a small Linhof studio stand with a rapid column.
     
  8. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I generally have a fair idea of how high I want the tripod to be before I set it up. If i then decide to change it a little, I reposition the legs (my Stabil goes all the way out to FLAT). Otherwise I'll sometimes hold the camera, loosen all legs, reposition, and lock all legs. Or one at a time. It isn't really difficult!
     
  9. Mike Kovacs

    Mike Kovacs Member

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    I think whether adjusting height with the legs or not works for you depends a lot on the style of shooting. E.g., with my macro work its just not possible to work this way. Sometimes the tiniest movement is necessary and moving the legs is far from precise.

    I have an older Manfrotto 055 that had a ridiculously long centre column. I used a tubing cutter to make it rise maximum 5cm, which then allows me to work nearly at ground level with the legs spread flat. I can easily adjust the legs if I need more. I would never use the centre column just to gain height - that's just asking for problems IMO.
     
  10. Marco Gilardetti

    Marco Gilardetti Member

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    I seem to disagree with all other posters. I find it extremely useful expecially in macrophotography, when you want to adjust camera's height in regard to the subject precisely (most of the times it's a question of millimeters).

    I sometimes used it to raise the view camera over my head and take the picture from a higher perspective without needing to change focus. It is a Manfrotto geared unit. Mine raises up more than 3 meters tall. I took pictures from over a wall or bush in a pair of occasions this way.

    When stability is a priority, I simply collapse it and lock the gear.
     
  11. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    For millimeter adjustments, I'll use camera movements...
     
  12. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    All of my tripods have columns, but rarely do I ever use them, I shoot alot of wildlife photos with 35mm which involves large heavy lenses(600mm f4, 400mmf/2.8) if you raise the center on these lenses it becomes a sail in the slightest breeze and makes it very difficult to get sharp pictures, when shooting LF 4x5, 8x10 I have modified one of my tripods to have the center removed and I use a solid plate to mount the cameras to, giving my maximum stability.

    R.
     
  13. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Centre columns are convenient, there's no doubt, but they add a LOT of weight and do nothing for stability/vibration reduction when they are extended. Geared centre columns are a snare and a delusion on anything except big, heavy tripods because they add even more weight.

    Most of my tripods (I have about a dozen) have centre columns, but only two are geared (Gandolfi, 6 kg, and Linhof, 11 kg) and two of my favourites don't have centre columns.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
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  15. cdholden

    cdholden Member

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    I've had a Bogen 3021 with a center column... didn't like it much. It seemed loose and wouldn't tighten completely. My current 3046 has a geared center column and I love it. Yes, it is heavy. It's also solid and holds my 8x10 without a grunt or groan. If I need to raise it, I crank it up, then tighten the friction knob to secure it... plus there's a safety lever that keeps the column from dropping unless you want it to. I recently changed ball leveler and fluid head to a Bogen 405 geared 3 way head. I love it. No need for worrying about surprises. Every move is controlled. The only thing I have to worry about is finding time away from work to use it.
    Chris
     
  16. Mike Kovacs

    Mike Kovacs Member

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    You're posting the the wrong forum :wink:

    Seriously though, in macrophotography, using shift in lieu of changing the camera position does not always solve the main problem: changing the camera viewpoint to include/exclude desired/undesired background features. I spend as much time looking behind the subject for a macro shot as I do on the subject.
     
  17. Sandeep

    Sandeep Member

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    I never use the center column and it introduces vibration to your camera. My last Gitzo I went out of my way to remove the center column and replace it with a Kirk tripod base.
    See: http://www.kirkphoto.com/tripodaccess.html#FP100200

    Most of the Gitzo high end line don't even come with a center column.
     
  18. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    No, I'm not. :smile:

    For macro photography in MF I would use my LF camera with a rollfilm back. Change the viewpoint with front rise and shift, then frame with back movements. Far easier than moving the tripod, and a lot easier than using extension tubes on a Bronica.
     
  19. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

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    I have an old tiltall and use the center column some and feel comfortable using it with Nikon and Blad.

    I have a Bogen 3221W and will NOT use it's center column, not stable enough.

    Mike
     
  20. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Manfrottos with their lever leg release are easy to adjust without a centre column. I extend the bottom section fully and lock it and the top section to the approximate height I want. Releasing one or more of the top section's levers allows me to push the tripod down to the level I want - the friction of the legs in their splayed position prevents sudden downward movement...

    95% of my photography is landscape so this works for me and gives me the rigidity I want without having the camera swaying about on top of an extended column. For closeup this will probably not give the precision required in which case I suspect keeping the column as low as possible combined with a macro focusing stage would be the preferred option if you do a lot of macro.

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  21. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    What's wrong with tubes? Even get TTL flash. OTOH why does an empty tube sell for more then the macro lens?
     
  22. Mike Kovacs

    Mike Kovacs Member

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    Ole, fair enough!

    I'm trying to imagine the effect of rise/shift vs moving the camera. Other than perspective correction, it seems you would get the same effect on background coverage as tilting a rigid lens camera upward.

    My Calumet monorail is way too bulky for though to even consider this an option for MF. One of these days I will be able to afford a nice field camera for LF. In the meantime, the monorail gives me a sore arm for field work :wink:
     
  23. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    we're getting way off topic here, but: Keeping the bed stationary and raising both front and back is equivalent to keeping front and back stationary with regards to the camera bed, and then raising the whole camera.
    I don't know the Calumet, but I can assure you that it works just great with a Carbon Infinity. Bellows draw from 30 to 550mm also gives it far more flexibility than any MF camera I happen to own, and since you can focus with front or back independently getting the right framing and perspective is - well, only limited by the photographer's competence. :smile:
     
  24. kswatapug

    kswatapug Advertiser

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    IMO it depends on what you plan to put on top of the tripod and how you plan to use it. To minimize vibration, ideally one would eschew use of the center post, but many of the new center posts have features that make them desirable, such as hooks to add weight for stability or special adjustments that make awkward positions possible.

    For instance, current Manfrotto 3021 has a center post that can be extracted and repositioned in the top of the tripod to run perpendicular to its normal orientation. I am quite fond of using that feature with my Pentax 67 for images straight below the tripod. I'm not as confident that it would work as easily with the 4x5 due to the weight, but I'm sure it could be done.

    And since the 3021 doesn't quite make it to eye level with its legs fully extended, on occasion, I find it handy to goose it up a bit now and then with my 4x5, and even more on with the 67.

    That same tripod has a feature that looks to be a PITA that permits one to have the tripod legs splayed flat, with the head only inches above the ground. But, it involves actually unscrewing the tripod head from the center column and reattaching it to this little triangular piece. I find it much easier to just invert the center column and work between the legs, or use that perpendicular feature I mentioned earlier.

    Since I am carrying multiple formats in my bag anyway, I find I prefer the flexibility that having a center post provides, but just use it with an eye on minimizing any of the issues it might introduce.
     
  25. mark

    mark Member

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    I never really thought aboutthe center column until I did not have one. On the other hand I only use it to get the camera closer to the ground. If your tripod gets low enough for you, then why bother with the column. JMO
     
  26. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    Mike, I am having much trouble accepting this comment. The Calumet monorail will do everything and anything you are capable of doing with it. A bit bulkey yes! But a proven proformer through many years of use by thousands of photographers through out the world. I maintain that it is the most view camera for the money ever manufactured. It is limited only by the operator. You may spend tons more money for a view camera that won't deliver any better negative than the Calumet. Your results will be largly be dependent on what you hang on the front of it.

    I am not wanting to argue with you, just state another proven opinion.


    Charlie.................................

    I do use the center column from time to time, it's not a bad thing!