Tripod and Head Recommendations for 4x5 Chamonix

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by georgeqiao, Jun 18, 2014.

  1. georgeqiao

    georgeqiao Member

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    Hi, I am new to this forum, and pretty much new to large format photography. I took a class earlier this year, and now I am trying to assemble a system.

    I am going to purchase a 4x5 Chamonix. I am wondering what tripod to buy, and what 3 way or ball head that I should buy.

    I am concerned about weight, and my budget for the tripod and head set is below $1000.

    Thank you so much.


    George
     
  2. Trail Images

    Trail Images Subscriber

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    George, not sure if you've seen this video by Michael Gordon from awhile back now, but it is a nice review of the Chamonix 4x5 in general. I know he is well versed with those units as well as having had them long enough to sort out tripod & ballhead ideas. You might contact him directly through his website, he is always very helpful.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEJ0GMWJk-Y
     
  3. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    George, where will the tripod be used? Is it studio work, is it long distance hikes? 1/4 mile from car? Airplane carryon?

    I'm a big fan of the tiltall tripod for medium duty 4x5 work outdoors.
    For heavy duty outdoor work, the tripod+head to beat is something from Ries, but it's not lightweight...
    For indoor, older Majestic or Davis&Sanford are good options.
     
  4. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    Chamonix 4x5's weigh about 3 pounds or slightly more.

    I'd second jp498's recommendation for a Tiltall. Buy an older used version for less than $100.00 and you will have plenty of money left over for film and lenses. I paid $75.00 for my Leitz Tiltall.

    If you do a lot of hiking the Gitzo carbon fiber jobs are popular but they are expensive.

    For me a pan tilt head is much easier to use with a 4x5 camera. To be perfectly honest I hate ball heads. There are those who like them and use them though. Poor guys, I feel sorry for them! :D
     
  5. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    A metal manfroto tripod An older Gitzo or 3 axis Manfroto will be more than enough, the Chamonix are so light you really don't need to have an insanely expensive tripod setup, use your money on a lens or film and get a more expensive tripod when you get a heavier camera.

    The tiltall are the universal LF tripods but when I look at them all I can think of is that they aren't very adjustable looking and for the kind of work I do, I don't think I could get close enough to the ground with them, nor strap them to my backpack. So not very versatile if you aren't planning to use your car... That's my THOUGHT but I have never used one. Overall start cheap and work your way up if you need it.
     
  6. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    They go from about 2' to 5' height without any use of the center column, and my backpack has straps, so it carries easily for me. Get the anodized one if you use it near salt water. The Marchioni version is not anodized. The head spins around, tilts side to side and up/down, just what's needed. You and I might get the camera down low sometimes, but 99% of what I see for LF documentary selfies seems to be at pretty close to chest or eye level.
     
  7. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    Good to know, that certainly wouldn't be low enough for my work, for example this was taken with the base of my Toyo45a at about 3 inches from the ground...

    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1403128109.586003.jpg

    I'm not saying 2 feet isn't good for most people but I often find needing to get much lower than that.

    So it depends on what the OP's style is, just giving other options not saying one is better than the other, just different abilities, I'm sure the tiltall will do much better in a wind storm.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 18, 2014
  8. jacaquarie

    jacaquarie Member

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    About the Tiltall the center column is removable, the knurled ring at the bottom unscrews, you remove column and invert, insert from bottom, tighten knurled ring which is now at the top and keeps the center column from falling out, now how low can you go?
     
  9. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I have a Chamonix F1 4x5 and have been using a Manfrotto tripod with a ball head. I wouldn't say it's perfect, but I haven't had any issues with it slipping or being too heavy for it (the tripod and head are about 10 years old and not all parts work as they should - hard life). I also have a wooden Berlebach that I bought to use with my monorail Cambo and it would be overkill for the Chamonix.
     
  10. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    You would be surprised. Stone can go pretty low! :laugh:
     
  11. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    Haha!
     
  12. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    Hey Stone, you like Manfrotto. Have you ever used one of those 410 Junior Geared heads? I hear they are pretty nifty!
     
  13. georgeqiao

    georgeqiao Member

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    Thank you guys. I am thinking about doing more urban shots than landscape. So I will carry the camera and tripod around, but not day hikes like that. I am planning to travel internationally and shoot photos in China, so I don't want anything too big, too long, or too heavy. I am considering a Gitzo GT 2540. I don't know whether that will work well with the Chamonix plus lenses. Also, I am wondering whether the Manfrotto 808RC4 three way pan/tilt head will do? Or if there is better options, since the Manfrotto head is a little chunky and heavy.

    Thanks!!!
     
  14. Dr Croubie

    Dr Croubie Member

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    I originally bought my Vanguard AltaPro 283 CT for my *slr, it weighs 1.7kg and can carry 8kg. Best thing it the camera is eye-level with the column down. Infinitely-tilting centre column (compared to the Manfrotto 055CXPro's 90/180-only) has proven great for macro, but also for those weird situations shooting ultra-wide angle where I had to push the camera forward to get the legs out of frame (wish I'd taken a photo of the setup at the time).
    On top of that an Arca-Swiss Monoball P0, upside-down panning ballhead, so once you get the top level you can pan any which way horizontally (I used to do a lot of digital-panorama-stitching, but not anymore since I upgraded to 617).

    Also, everything I own has proper A-S clamps, including my Kirk SS1 strap, can take anything hiking and clamp to tripod with no fiddling (except the stupid monoball P0 with a clamp is not a true "AS-style" clamp, so had to buy a bare one and Kirk clamp separate).

    I've been using it with my Toyo 45GII recently with absolutely no problems in stability or vibration-blur. The upside-down panning is invaluable for 4x5, once I get the thing level I just pan it to the correct view and rise-fall as needed. So far not too far from the car, maybe 200m and 5m up a slippery hill to get a 617 vertical waterfall shot last weekend, or a 1km round-trip trek over rocks at the beach is the furthest I've taken the 4x5 with the tripod. I've also flown with it (both carry-on and underneath), and drove a few thousand kms with it and a Mamiya 645AF last year.

    If you've got a lighter field-camera setup, I would highly recommend a similar setup, will also work great for any smaller formats. I've got nothing against pan-tilt heads, as long as the setup stays level as you pan it'll be fine. Just remember you can't always level out by using a levelling base or relying on the legs (depends how adventurous you get in the back-country / outback), urban you're fine but you never know what else you might want to shoot one day (like I said, I bought my kit for my *slr when I had no MF or LF gear at all).


    I've now got a Cambo SC 8x10, total weight 10kg or so, so need a new tripod. Definitely thinking no centre-column, you don't really need one with LF (even though I did use it last weekend at the waterfall). Weight is no real factor as long as I can carry it with 10kg worth of 8x10, so I'll be watching this thread for suggestions on heavier cameras too.
     
  15. Trail Images

    Trail Images Subscriber

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    George, for what it's worth I use a simple setup with my 4x5 that does double duty with my RB67. I won't go into too much detail on ballhead & pan heads, there are a zillion out there and I've had success with most of them I've used. However, for a tripod I'm super happy with my Feisol 3301. The newer Feisol units have non-rotating legs and the twist locks have a metal seal. You might check out the tripods and ballheads at Really Big Cameras. Kerry is always there to assist with ideas.

    http://www.reallybigcameras.com/
     
  16. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    What you are looking at will easily hold a Chamonix with a lens and plenty of extension.

    I would check out Ebay and try to find something used. You might find a tripod with head together for a much better price even if you go with carbon fiber legs. I rarely buy anything new and I have some nice equipment. Be patient and something will come up. After you start shooting your camera you will decide you want this lens or that one plus spending plenty of money on film. Trust me.

    You ought to join Large Format Photography Forum while you are at it. It's free and it's a great forum like APUG. Stone and I and others are members. After you are a member for a month you can check out the for sale section. I'd look there and also the for sale section here on APUG. Your local Craigslist can also be a great place to buy a tripod. Sometimes a deal can be had.
     
  17. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    If you want a travel tripod (i.e. if you intend to leave the house, ever), I recommend the Feisol carbon fibre tripods. They're not quite as nicely made as the Gitzo, but they don't need to be and they're a lot cheaper. Far, far nicer than carrying some metal monstrosity around! I use a CT-3442 with the Feisol 50mm ballhead, it easily supports my Toyo 45A or my RZ67 (similar-sized but heavier cameras than your Chamonix, with lenses that are about as long). Mine has done a lap of the world and some, working flawlessly and weighing basically nothing.

    Make sure you buy a quick-release plate for EVERY camera you own, they're cheap, and buy the long one (100mm) if your camera has a large area for the plate to grip. The tripods are very modular, so if you want to travel light (legs+head only) you can, then you (later on) buy things like tilting plates, column, extension arm and all that jazz.

    If you're shooting in a studio, don't use a tripod. Use a studio stand - it weighs more than you but will hold anything up.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 18, 2014