Medium Format Tripod

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by mporter012, Dec 8, 2012.

  1. mporter012

    mporter012 Subscriber

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    I'm looking for a Medium Format tripod recommendation - I don't necessarily have a set price, but spending $1000 for something to set a camera on top of seems a bit outrageous - i.e. a Gitzo. There must be extremely high quality, durable tripods for 1/4 the price of the aforementioned alternative? I'm starting to shoot mainly landscapes and often carry the tripod all day. I have a cheap, heavy tripod that just isn't working. Far to heavy and the head is crap.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Film Photographer

    Film Photographer Member

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    Medium format cameras are not necessarily heavy maybe the one you own is I would def recommend Gitzo legs I use a basalt one sturdy as hell on the downside it's heavy don't buy Gitzo heads that are not as good you can get an Arca Swiss z series that are ball heads of high quality and easy to use. Hope this helps.
     
  3. rawhead

    rawhead Member

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    I've been using a Velbon El Carmagne 630 + Giottos MH3 ballhead for the past several years, and it's been hadling everything up to my Speed Graphic with the monster Kodak Aero Ektar just fine.

    OK, the SG/AE combo is pushing it a little, but anything lighter than that is no problemo. I can't see any MF system out-stressing it.

    I probably paid a total of $380 for that combo and an additional $50 or so for several extra quick-mount shoes.
     
  4. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I bought Bogen/Manfrotto legs and head (separately) about 7 years ago for maybe $350. The legs are mag fiber and can hold up to about 18 pounds (maybe more). The center column can come out and be put in sideways to shoot downwards at something. The whole thing is lightweight enough I'm fine with hauling it through the woods for awhile. My old tripod was a Slik that weighed a ton and was a pain to use, therefore I never used it. This one is holding up fairly well.
     
  5. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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  6. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I recently acquired a Manfrotto 054 ballhead that works really well with my Mamiyas: RB67, 645 Pro and C330.

    I have it mounted on a set of older, fairly heavy tripod legs that are a decent Chinese clone of a basic Manfrotto tripod. I'd like to upgrade the legs, but I don't really need to.

    Probably the best advice I could give to you would be to decide first on a new head, and then go from there.
     
  7. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I have an Induro AKB-2 that is stout enough to hold my Calumet cc-401 rock steady, yet light enough to pack into the back country. If you dont like the ball head then the AKP-2 has a pan head. These are both under $200 from B&H or Adorama. They also make the same models with carbon fiber which would be the CKB or CKP series, for a bunch more moola.
     
  8. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    What camera system are you using? SLR? Longest lens likely to be used?
     
  9. Noble

    Noble Member

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    mporter012, the other posters are right. Your specific intended use makes a big difference. Medium format cameras vary greatly in weight as well as mirror/shutter vibrations. TLRs have no mirrors. The Pentax 645NII's mirror is so well damped that it doesn't even need mirror lockup, and the Pentax 67II's shutter is so violent that even with MLU certain lens/tripod combinations lead to blurred images. Leaf shutters are allegedly less vibration inducing than focal plane shutters.

    This is an interesting article that will guide you in your decision making process. It was written in 2003 so the equipment names have changed but it still gives you an overall idea about some of the pitfalls to avoid. The author came to the conclusion that you should get something in the $800-$1000 range. A lot of his advice seems sound. Unfortunately I don't shoot enough to warrent spending $800 on a piece of equipment I only use a fraction of the time. It's nice to daydream of the ultimate tripod but instead I went inexpensive. I went inexpensive but kept some of the things the author said in mind. I eventually settled on a vintage Star-D. It is one of the nicer ones that seems identical to the Tiltall's of the same era. Except for the large handles it is all aluminum and brass. I got it for about $70 on an auction site. It is in really nice condition. So check out vintage Tiltalls if you want a solid work horse that has decent resale value. If you find a good condition vintage Tiltall at a reasonable price on Craigslist or an auction site I would get it. The beauty of it is if it doesn't fit your needs you can sell it and you are only out a few dollars... or you may break even.

    The other thing to consider is you often have conflicting needs when you get a tripod. The best tripod would be heavy to form a stable platform for your gear. But it also needs to be light enough to carry as far as you need to carry it. If all you are doing is studio work you could buy a gigantic wooden tripod. It would be heavy and have good damping properties. But if you need to hike up a mountain then you need something lighter. I guess my tripod is 6 pounds including the center column. Some people pay feel that is heavy. It works for me and I hike a couple of miles away from by car on sloping ground with it. My backpack full of medium format, DSLR, and sometimes 35mm camera equipment along with my tripod would break my girlfriend's back. So you have to realistically figure out what works for you.
     
  10. jovo

    jovo Membership Council

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    I use Feisol carbon fiber legs, and a Manfrotto 3038 ball head for my Pentax 67 system that includes lenses up to 300 mm. I also use it for my 4x5 kit that includes a rather large 450mm lens. The weight and mass of the ball head absolutely damp the sometimes considerable mirror/shutter slap of the P67, and the thing is rock steady on the Feisol 3301 legs. The head (used) and legs (new) come to about $325 and I feel no need for anything more expensive. Yes, the head isn't light, but again, that mass is a large part of the whole point of using the tripod in the first place. Here's a link for the Feisol legs. Kerry Thalman also carries a number of ball head lines that are worth checking out.

    http://reallybigcameras.com/
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 9, 2012
  11. mporter012

    mporter012 Subscriber

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    Thanks for the replies - I'm using a Mamiya 645 pro, for those who have asked. I should have mentioned that. My goal is to upgrade to a Hasselblad 500. I don't currently use long lenses (nothing over 150mm)

    Thanks!
     
  12. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    Like Noble, I use American made Tiltalls. The ones labeled Leitz, Marchioni, and Star D have all served me well for decades. The new imported ones have a poorer reputation.
     
  13. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    I have a set of Feisol legs with a Kirk BH3 head. Works great for my hasselblad and 4x5. Highly recommend both. Can't imagine anything better.
     
  14. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Tiltall, the Leitz or Marchioni versions. About $70-$100 used, good for up to 4x5.