Plumbing the tripod column.

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by George Collier, Aug 7, 2010.

  1. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    I guess this could be for any format, but since I use Rollei's, I'm posting here.
    I shoot a lot of multiple "pan" images, from 2 - 4 shots, and connect them when matting / framing. I compose each frame and control the overlap carefully, holding the overlap to a minimum. I have found that using a RolleiFix shifts the optical center of the lens far enough that parallax between shots is minimal, at least for landscapes.
    When I set up, in order for all the shots to sweep level, I have to level (plumb) the tripod column as well as the camera mount plate for this to work. To do this, I use a dial level, mounted to a right angle bracket. I set up with my best eyeball plumb, then place this level on the opposite side of each leg, get level, move the the next, etc. I can get the column plumb in 2 complete cycles, sometimes 1 if my eyeball set up was close enough. Then I level the camera mount.
    The question:
    I would like some faster (and more convenient) way of doing this. Maybe 3 smaller levels I can attach to the column (like by rubber band wrapped around it), so I don't have to hold the level with one hand and finesse the leg lock (on the other side) with my only other hand, for each leg.
    I have looked on line for a vertical mount level small enough for this and can't find one.
    Any ideas?
     
  2. MkII

    MkII Member

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  3. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    My Rollei panorama head has a little bubble level in it. Have you tried one of those?
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Do you have a tripod like a Tiltall where panning means rotating the column, instead of using a panning base on a stationary column? If that's the case, I'd just use a different tripod with a leveling base (I have an Acratech, but there's also a good Manfrotto and there are others) under the tripod head, so that you don't have to make fine adjustments to the tripod legs. This is the Acratech Leveling Base--

    http://acratech.net/product.php?productid=14

    It goes between the tripod and the head so you can pan on a level surface, even if the column isn't plumb.
     
  5. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    MkII - I have seen these, thanks.
    ic-racer and David - even if the head is leveled, if the column isn't plumb, you lose the level when panning. I have a Manfrotto (Bogen) 3221 tripod with a 3047 head. The column doesn't rotate, but the disc to which the head is mounted still has to be level for the head to stay level.
    David - does the device at your link basically intermediate between the tripod platform and the head, allowing independent level to be achieved, with the panning taking place there, rather than at the tripod platform?
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The purpose of a leveling base is to do precisely what you want to do. A leveling base does not itself pan, though I wouldn't be surprised if someone like RRS might make a panning base with a built-in leveling base underneath it. The leveling base mounts on the platform on top of the tripod column and allows you to make fine adjustments (usually on the order of 15 degrees in any direction) to create a level platform for either a simple panning head, which mounts on top of it, or a normal three-way pan tilt head, which can then pan 360-degrees without losing level.

    Here's a link for the Manfrotto version, which is a bit larger than the Acratech, though the Acratech should be fine for a Rollei TLR--

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0000AE667

    Put that or the Acratech leveling base between your 3221 and your 3047, and you won't need to fiddle with three separate legs and level contraptions. Just get it close, and make the fine adjustment with the leveling base.
     
  7. herb

    herb Subscriber

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    Plumbing the tripod column

    I have the Feisol tripod which has a sperical leveling grip on the base plate of the tripod. They only give a center bubble level device, but i have done some HDR shots, where you merge 3 images, and if they were not matching, you would be out of luck.

    Once the head is level, it doesn't matter what the column is doing.
    It may be the problem is the accuracy of the level measurements-talk to a surveyor-they would know.
     
  8. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Not with the Rollei device. The device spins on its own axis, the tripod head does not move.

    If I need to plumb my column, I have a Bogen tripod and Bolex tripod both with a bubble on the legs.
     
  9. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I'm not quite sure if this will help but I bought a laser gaget at Home Depot that has the capacity to show right angle and other features that may be of value to you. I got for another purpose than leveling a tripod but I'll have to give it a try.
     
  10. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    Finally decided to just get a Rollei Pan attachment - seems like the best deal for the money.

    Thanks, everyone, for your suggestions.
     
  11. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I'm interested in how you are presenting your images.

    I have tried gluing the images together showing the rebate, and also trying to match exactly, and also with individual white borders like a triptych.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    ic-racer - I scan negs and assemble in Pshop first to plan the final. Then I print each one to small size on RC to find out exactly how they overlap, find the common edge at the bottom and top, etc. Then I print to final size (16x20 paper, usually) on FB, cropping exactly to all outside edges, allowing only a very small overlap between frames - 5-10mm). When I frame, I cut multiple windows in one matte, overlapping the prints like wallpaper underneath the "mullions", which are about 8mm thick, but revealing about 1cm of white paper beyond the edge of the exposed image on all of the outside edges. It's a lot of work, but it's the best way I have found to frame them.
    I use to dry mount them with a very small space (1mm max) with a single matte window covering the very outside edges. This looks good, but recent preferences in the business are not in favor of dry mounting, and it was still a lot of work, just a different kind of work.
     
  13. goros

    goros Subscriber

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  14. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    Thanks for that tip, Alfonso. I may pick up one of these eventually. I want to see how the Rollei Pan attachment works first. This would be good for other formats.
     
  15. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    I recently purchased a Rollei pan attachment, one of the "old" style. It's a nice tool, but the click-stops for each frame do not allow enough overlap. I make each exposure at about a half-frame rotation. Other than that, it works really well.

    Peter Gomena
     
  16. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    I received mine today - the newer type 2 that includes the pins to lock into the front of the camera.
    2 things I'd like to ask of those familiar with this:
    It rotates in only one direction. I can't get it to rotate counter clockwise, which makes set up for a shot inconvenient. Is this normal?
    Also, the tab with the level on it is somewhat flexible, and looked to be slightly bent downward when I received it. I discovered it is quite easy to "adjust", which surprised me. Is this normal?
     
  17. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    An interesting thread-though when I first read the title I thought you wanted to put a faucet on it! :wink: