Tripod heads - standardized sizes for mounting?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by mabman, Jul 3, 2012.

  1. mabman

    mabman Member

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    I picked up a Calumet cc401 4x5 monorail recently (my first foray into large format, so forgive the possibly foolish question). I was given a cheap aluminum tripod with a 3-way head several years ago, which holds the Calumet in its default portrait orientation just fine, but when I move the head to get a landscape view, the head can't hold it at 90 degrees - it just flops over as far as it will go (and it can't be tightened any further).

    I was just given a Velbon Victory 450 tripod. It looks sturdy enough for the Calumet (at least as sturdy as my generic model), and is definitely newer than my other one, but it only has a 2-way head - so, I can't flip the Calumet. However, it does appear that the head comes off, exposing a bolt.

    I know almost nothing about tripod heads - are they standardized (ex, should the head from 1 manufacturer fit on another manufacturer's body)? I can't find a definite answer - failing the above, do other Velbon heads fit on the Victory 450? It's a low-end model, and it was given to me, so it's not a big deal if they don't, but it would be nice :smile:

    Thanks!
     
  2. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Why are you flopping a CC-401 on its side? It should have a rotating back.
     
  3. mabman

    mabman Member

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    Ha! So it does :smile: Like I said, my first 4x5. Never mind :tongue:
     
  4. andrew.roos

    andrew.roos Member

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    For future reference, the ISO standard specifies two standard tripod threads - 1/4"-20 UNC and 3/8"-16 UNC. If, as is likely, your Velbon tripod has either of these then there should be no problem mounting heads from other manufacturers.
     
  5. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    However, tripod threads were traditionally 1/4" and 3/8" British Standard Whitworth so you might find both Whitworth and UNC.

    When I looked into it a while ago, I found one manufacturer using UNC and another using Whitworth. However, I suspect both use a cut profile optimized to fit either thread without binding.

    There is not much between them other than a five degree difference in cut angle. Threads per inch are the same for both standards.


    Steve.
     
  6. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Not quite so simple, some tripods have the female socket on the head and the male bolt stem on the tripod, others are vice versa. So there's a lot of permutations. Ian
     
  7. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    The new tripod may work out well for you..........BUT when or if it loosens up or fails, invest in a decent major name tripod. Too many of us have gone through the experience of trying to save a few bucks each time only to spend more than a decent tripod would cost in the first place.
     
  8. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Most or All. not some! :surprised:)
     
  9. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    +1 to this I had a Manfrotto/Bogen tripod and got a Berlebach when I got my monorail and realized the head on the Monfrotto wasn't quite as stable as I needed for the bigger camera. Worth every penny.
     
  10. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    While that's true, it makes no difference in the case of photographic tripods and camera mounts.

    The 60° UNC and 55° Whitworth threads are inter-matable except when component tolerances are very tight,
    which is not the case with any photographic equipment.

    - Leigh
     
  11. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    I think a UNC screw will go into a Whitworth thread but a Whitworth screw could bind in a UNC thread.


    Steve.
     
  12. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    It all depends on the class of fit.

    Photographic threads are loosey-goosey because they're designed to work even if dirty or damaged.
    These are not high-precision parts.

    - Leigh
     
  13. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    I think you're right. Which is why I suggested that the actual thread used by tripod manufacturers is probably a modified form of one or the other designed to fit both.


    Steve.
     
  14. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    I think modern tripod/camera threads are all UNC, but with wide enough tolerances that they mate with Whitworth.

    One factor that affects inter-matability is length of engagement, and tripod screws are very short.

    The Whitworth threadform was quite popular with Leitz. They may be the ones who standardized on it for tripods.

    - Leigh
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 5, 2012
  15. graywolf

    graywolf Member

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    UNC was specifically designed, during WWII, to be compatible with the same size British Standard and the US standard course threads. Whitworth was something else, but has not been much used since the 1950's (Well, some British bicycles were still using it up to 1973, while others had been using the BS threads since the 1930's).
     
  16. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    Some British cars were using it well into the 1970s too. Sometimes with metric size hex heads on the bolts!

    I thought Whitworth was the British standard which UNC was based on.


    Steve.
     
  17. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    Perhaps, but only in a very general way since they have fundamentally different threadforms.

    The American UNx threads all use a 60° included angle, while the Whitworth thread uses 55°.

    - Leigh