Noob Q: Unable to get spirit levels to level out on Toyo.

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by analoguey, Nov 5, 2013.

  1. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    Hello

    I just got delivery of my Toyo F (going by pictures on the web - the seller only knew it was a Toyo). I have since assembled the camera - surprised me with the ease in putting it together.
    I then put on the tripod clamp and mounted it on the tripod only to discover that I was unable to get the spirit levels to level out at all. They always seemed to be off by a bit - I checked both standards to 0 degree tilt/shift, as well levelled out the tripod as best as I could see visually.
    Didnt see any change, I then removed the whole thing off the tripod and placed it on the floor to do the same, and still couldnt get the spirit levels a-ok.

    My question is - would this be a major hiccup? And what would be the way to fix this?

    I did contact the seller(frm Japan), who was very nice about it, but didnt know much on fixing the camera and would only offer a refund.
     
  2. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    Reading up on this thread, but not sure its the same issue.?
     
  3. gleaf

    gleaf Subscriber

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    Checking vial levels. Remember the error seen when the vial is reversed is double the actual leveling error. Correct only half the error you see and recheck. A few iterations will get the vial very close.
     
  4. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    I have circular spirit levels on both front and rear standards - would that still hold good?
    I have tried to adjust earlier, but the 0s hold on both standards' tilt and shifts and I am still not able to get them in the center.
    Is there any particular standard I should first try to level out?
     
  5. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Don't worry about the levels, they're of limited value. For architectural work, they're useless - use a gridded groundglass. My 4x5 has a round bubble level, which is accurate, but I've never used it. My 8x10 has no levels and I've never missed them.

    Just get the levels as close as you can with shims, use them as a guide to get the camera close to plumb and level - the final arbiter is the GG . You only get a flat and level horizon at sea, anyway.:wink:
     
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  6. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    So ignore the spirit levels you say? Or just get them somewhere close enough? :-/
     
  7. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    As I posted, "Just get the levels as close as you can with shims..."
    Those little round bubble levels are useless for precision leveling anyway, I don't know why people obsess so over them.
     
  8. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    Got it. So something like this, or much closer in the inner circle?

    Sent from my LT26i using Tapatalk
     

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  9. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    I use an inexpensive torpedo level I purchased at the hardware store. It works great and I can use it with multiple cameras.

    I agree with E. about people obsessing about the camera being perfectly level. What looks good on the ground glass is what is important.
     
  10. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    Back when I was an apprentice sheet metal worker I was hanging some ductwork in an old fire station which was built in the late 1800's. My foreman walked up to me and told me it looked terrible. I put my level on the ductwork and showed him it was indeed level. He had me drop the line until it looked level which was actually 2" out of level. I ended up splitting the difference at 1" out and thats how it's hanging today. The actual building was so out that it made my ductwork look out of level.

    My point is that even if something is level it may not look right.
     
  11. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I agree with the eye-ballers. I refer to the grid on the ground glass and with the cross-hairs on my 2 1/4. If you don't have a grid you could print some references on transparent film and just overlay it on the ground glass when setting up. Best to remove it for focusing.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  12. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Well, how far off level does half a bubble out of the circle represent? A precision level has this calibrated.
    The trouble is, I don't know your camera, or how to zero those levels. You can use a torpedo level to get them closer, but then you could just use the torpedo on the camera itself to level it - the torpedo, if a good one such as a Stabila, would be far more sensitive and accurate than those wee tiny bubbles. Actually that's not quite fair, the round bubbles can be decent if well made. But they're still no substitute for a proper level, which you don't really need very often.
     
  13. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    Hm, okay. I will see if there's an alternate spirit level available here, or else I'll just see what it comes up with. I suppose this probably wouldn't even matter for table top photography. Maybe just architectural then?

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  15. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Not even a tiny little bit. As for architecture, if you are photographing buildings which are perfectly plumb and level, you can spend a lot of time leveling the camera to match the building - you'll have to go over the building first of course, to be certain it's plumb and level:wink:. Or you can spend a few extra seconds lining things up with the grid on the GG - the results will be indistinguishable, and if the building isn't plumb and level, the levels on the camera are worse than useless, so you'll have to learn to use a grid anyway. Paint the things black and forget about them.
     
  16. Terry Christian

    Terry Christian Subscriber

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    I agree with E. The camera should be reasonably level/plumb with itself, and you should indeed use the levels on the camera and tripod to get yourself to a decent starting point, but it's what's on the ground glass that counts, as that's what the film will see. Obsess over that -- not over the preliminary set-up.
     
  17. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Actually I should have mentioned this before. My heavy tripod (for 8x10) has two tiny tubular levels at right angles, and I do use these to get the head of the tripod reasonably level when setting up - this can make a difference with a heavy camera on a ball bearing pan head meant for a newsreel camera. It's just about the only time I do use a level of any sort, for all I know the one on my 4x5 has dried up.:smile:
     
  18. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    :laugh:
     
  19. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    New construction is of course quite a bit better but not perfect. Some old buildings are so out of plumb and level it's ridiculous.
     
  20. Dr Croubie

    Dr Croubie Member

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    I noticed the other day (on my OmegaView 45D) that I could get the top bubbles level, but then I spun it around 90 degrees on the tripod head pan and it was off (I've got the upside-down A-S Monoball P0, pan on top of ballhead).
    Turns out that there's some sideways-play in the clamp that clamps twixt the tripod head and the rail.
    Easiest way to calibrate is to set all the standards to default, no shift/tilt/swing. Take the camera off and level the tripod head (I've got a circular-bubble on my A-S clamp). Put the camera on and then level the top bubbles using aforementioned clamp. Now I know that the top bubbles are square and true to the tripod-head bubble (at least, until I move that clamp or change rails).
     
  21. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    I think I have the very same camera- Toyos and Omegas are just rebranded items, aren't they?
    I did try taking the camera off and leveling but it proved quite impossible to do that. And yes the tripod clamp has quite a bit of play - doesn't make sense why it does.
    I'll try wedging-in a piece of tissue to firm things up.

    Haha.
    How does one measure btw? Does that old weight tied to string thing work best?
    Btw wouldn't successive road-work mean that buildings are out-of-whack because of that? Or maybe moved because of the ground beneath them shifting, ever so lightly?



    Ah I see. I am assuming by heavy camera you mean something much heavier than a Toyo View45/F.



    Thank you all for the information. I'm feeling much better about the utility of my new purchase then!


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  22. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Before pointing the finger at the Toyo, consider that spirit levels, especially oil-filled, are not infallible to error. If you have rubbed (or somebody else has) the spirit levels with a cloth, they will be electrostatically charged and will resist centering (e.g. they'll rush to left or right but won't centre, or be slightly off centre even when everything appears correct). Use an Ilford antistatic cloth or spray to de-charge the levels. I have done this on everything from builder's levels to trailer-beam bullseye levels and it does work. It has also been done on Linhof Master Tek. cameras. Today the same trick has been applied to one of three levels on my Manfrotto 498RC4 ballhead.
     
  23. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    Ah I see. Will the charging stay for a while? Shouldnt the charge dissipate after a while?
    It sounds like what the spirit levels seem to be doing here, I'll try that :smile:
     
  24. gleaf

    gleaf Subscriber

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    Does anyone have a photo or drawing on how the levels mount? Especially if there are any adjustments built into the mounting.
     
  25. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    From what I've seen, I rarely want the camera square to gravity. I want to make sure trees, buildings or horizon lines are straight. Since those are on the ground glass I never understood why I'd want to go to the effort of leveling the camera only to adjust it later. I've found my eye can pick up less than .5 deg on the ground glass easy and circular bubble levels would have a hard time with that.
     
  26. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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