Tripod

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by b.e.wilson, Dec 4, 2002.

  1. b.e.wilson

    b.e.wilson Member

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    I shoot a Graflex Super Graphic, and currently I have a Manfrotto 3030 pan-and-tilt head on a set of 3001 legs. It's a bit light for a 4x5, but it's handy when I'm hiking.

    I want to get a leg/head set that is more sturdy, one that I'll use out of the car.

    What recommendations might you offer me? I'm leaning toward a wood tripod, something like one of the tripods sold by Fine Art Photo Supply: http://www.fineartphotosupply.com/fieldtripodspage.htm.

    Perhaps you could let me know what you use, and what its good and bad points are.
     
  2. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    The FAPS tripod appears to be very good, and at a good price. I am not a fan of the spike legs, sure they are fine in dirt, grass, etc..but try them on rocks....or nice wooden floors....I would definitly ask to have some sort of sock shipped with the tripod so that it can be used in different surfaces. I use a CF tripod and I love it, but for the money if I had to do it over again I would go with the FAPS tripod.
     
  3. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    I use a Zone VI tripod with the Manfrotto head which Fine Arts markets as the TRH-2. Same principal. Heavy and wooden. The wood absorbs vibration. My 8 x 10 is rock solid steady up to about 7.0 on the Richter scale. You can't go wrong. Ries is also good.
     
  4. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member

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    How much does your zoneVI weigh? The faps is 19 lbs without the head. Yikes, that's heavy! But I guess if your shooting 8x10 you shouldn't have a tripod under 20 pounds? I'm in the market for an 8x10 tripod, but not sure what weight to go for. Since NZ is very breezy, I should probably go with something heavy. My back is already starting to complain...
     
  5. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Is this Zone VI tripod the one that has a little string to prevent the legs from saying too much? If so I did not think that was a very good idea, how have you found out it works for you? I like the leg stops to be at the collar this way I am not guessing.

    On the FAPS front one advantage you have is that Anthony is trying to build his business and he is very customer motivated (at least at the moment). On my recent trip to Houston I e mailed him from Mexico and ask him to build me a 12x20 negative box, and ship it to Houston, so the box would be waiting for me when I got there. He had 4 days to do this....and he got it done with no problem. This kind of response gave me a warm a fuzzy feeling, nothing like dealing with someone who wants your business and is going out of his way to please you.
    He has been ranting and raving (meant in a good way Anthony..dont get your feathers in a ruffle) about tripods being too flimsy and light, so if you dont find his very sturdy and firm you certainly have grounds to return it. As a matter of fact his last news letter deals with this problem. e mail him and ask him to send you his electronic news letter, it is free and reminicent of the Zone VI done by Picker. h
     
  6. jmcd

    jmcd Member

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    The spike feet of the survey-type tripod are unnecessarily obtrusive. They leave obnoxious tracks even when it might not be appropriate. If they weigh 19 pounds, that is too much.

    I love my Ries tripod, a J100-2. It is extremely sturdy, and has spikes on one end of the legs, rubber feet on the other. It is absolutely solid with a 12-pound camera, as far as I have tested it. It is the one piece of equipment that I am always happy to use. It is 11 pounds.

    Charles P. Farmer (charlespfarmer-photo) has a used one in excellent condition for $439.

    Good luck finding something that works for you.
     
  7. carlweese

    carlweese Member

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    I find the J-series Ries tripods entirely adequate for 8x10 and much lighter than 19 pounds. Even works ok with my 7x17 Korona when hiking out far from my truck. The bigger and heavier A-series Ries is also wonderful for cameras at least up to 12x20 (I don't have anything bigger to try it on). I haven't seen these FAPS tripods but if they are really the same as the Zone VI units they are not at all in the same category for design, fit, and finish. If they're a lot cheaper, they may provide good value but if the price is anywhere near a Ries, then get the Ries. I do in fact use the larger tripod for 8x10 work when I'm just a few steps from the truck, but if 8x10 is your largest camera the lighter model will do just fine. The spikes on these tripods are reasonable, work find on concrete and rock surfaces, and as someone else pointed out, you can reverse the lower leg section to get the opposite rubber end on the ground. The switch takes just seconds on the small tripod. On the A-series it's mechanically a bit more complex and takes maybe two minutes to do. Seldom a problem.
     
  8. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    On the other hand, these big tripods might be overkill for the original poster's 4x5" Super Graphic.

    If I'm shooting 4x5" instead of 8x10", it's because I want to travel light, so I use an old Leitz Tiltall. You can find used Leitz or Marchioni Tiltalls in good working order for about the same price as the new one, but the older ones are better made. I did have to modify mine slightly to work with my 4x5", because the platform interfered with the rotating back and drop bed of my camera, but these may or may not be issues with your camera (I sliced off two pieces of the platform, front and back, so now instead of a circle, it's like a rectangle with two straight sides and two sides that bulge).

    I used to have a Bogen 3030 head, like you, and I found the QR system to be wobbly and I thought the platform sat too high on too thin a support. For the larger cameras and long tele work with smaller formats, I switched to a Gitzo G1570M head (magnesium alloy, low-profile, 3-way pan head), and I quite like it--excellent support but light weight, and available at a good price from www.robertwhite.co.uk. For 4x5", you might consider one of the smaller versions of the same head.
     
  9. jmcd

    jmcd Member

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    You are right, David Goldfarb, this thread has broadened beyond the scope of the original post.

    For a step up to a sturdier tripod with a 4x5 with no intention of using the tripod for a larger camera in the future, and keeping in mind that the tripod is not doubling as a hiking tripod, I would personally choose the Ries J100-2 at 11 pounds, or the J-100 at 8 pounds. The J100-2 is not only more than heavy enough, it is bottom heavy, as if it had built-in sand bags. It holds the camera solid.

    The Ries two-way tilt heads are a pleasure to use with a view camera. Further, they are made to endure, and are absolutley solid, positive, and reliable. Other setups will probably work great, too; however, I can wholeheartedly recommend Ries.
     
  10. LFGuy

    LFGuy Member

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    Having done plenty of land surveying in my life, these tripods look awfuly similar to surveyor's tripods (except those use a 5/8" connection).... they could be modified, of course.

    Yes, they are very heavy (how much, I'm not sure). But they are also very sturdy. They're meant to hold precision optical surveying equipment that measures angles and distances from a fixed point, so you don't want the tripod moving around at all. I've used them in all kinds of weather (except the extreme) without problems, too. I wouldn't want to walk too far with these strapped to my shoulder, although it's bearable with a shoulder strap.

    These are overkill for 4x5. More suitable for ULFers, in my opinion.

    Having said that, my old school, no-name wooden tripod is pretty dang light and carries my 4x5 and 8x10 without a problem, even light wind.
     
  11. fineart

    fineart Member

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    Thanks for all the nice words!

    May I say something?

    I don't recommend our field tripods for use indoors. That's what I hated about the old Zone VI philosophy - they gave you no choice. They had that silly stick thing to use indoors. Very inconvenient if you had to move the rig around.

    I recommend our Majestic tripods for indoor use. The 6500 is good for outdoor work too except in the Rochester cold. Ouch!

    I find the other wood tripod to be neither an ultra rugged field tripod nor a good studio tripod - it's a little of both. And it costs a lot of money. Also, lots of medium format people hate the heads.

    Was that a commercial? Sorry. E-mail me and I'll send you a sample exposure record to attone for my sin.

    ...and our field tripods are different from the old Zone VI models. They're better - and without that silly string.

    Anthony - Fine Art Photo Supply
     
  12. William Levitt

    William Levitt Member

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    I use and highlyreccomend the Berlebach wooden tripod. Excellent construction, sturdy and while not as light as a carbon tripod, certainly to be considered lightweight. And best of all, 1/2-1/3 the price of a a Ries tripod. I use a Berlebach with my 8X10 Wista and have never had a stability problem. And a nice feature of the Berlebach is you can choose a center colume that is on a type of ball joint, allowing for corrections of around 20° in all directions, without the need for a tripod head. Now I do indeed put a Ries 250 head on my tripod, but if shooting 6X6 with my Rolleiflex, the Ries head is not only overkill, it makes the kit heavy and kind of looks dumb as well. As far as spikes are concerned, the berlebach that I own has retractable spikes which is quite convenient.

    In case you want to take a look:

    http://www.berlebach.de/e_index.php

    BTW, as I recall, my tripod legs ran about $150.00.

    I just looked at the tripods from Fine Art Photo Supply, and they are, with exception of 3/8 modifications identical to surveyors tripods I was looking into buying just a few months ago. To be fair, I did not see one similiar to the wooden one being offered by faps, but the Aluminium and the yellow metal are exactly the same, with of course a difference in price. The ones I looked at were all around $120 - $175, but again, without modification from 5/8 to 3/8. The silver/orange model had me interested, but I resisted the tempation. It was lighter than I expected, sturdy, but the clamping style leg holders could not withstand a good leaning of my bodyweight without slipping, and what bothered me most of all was how tall they were even when closed down to their smallest size. A good 10-15" longer than a Berlebach (or more). That would make for very awkward walking through a wooded area.
     
  13. b.e.wilson

    b.e.wilson Member

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    Well, I've chosen the Berlebach model 4032 tripod. It's the tallest one with a built-in adjustable-angle ball head (it has no tensioner, so it isn't a fully-functional ball head). The cost, which will not include the 16% tax, is 182 EUR for the tripod with 48 EUR shipping. The EUR to USD conversion is almost exactly 1.00, so the total cost is a very inexpensive $235 or so.

    Thanks, everyone, for you insight and comments.
     
  14. lee

    lee Member

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    I use the smaller zone 6 tripod for everything under 12x20. Pretty solid. It has the string and until I figured how to use it, it was just in my way. I replaced the leather strap that holds the legs together with a 14" dog collar. When I use it indoors I slip some mittens on the feet. In real life they are tennis balls that I sacrificed for the good of the cause. I had the larger zone 6 and it was just too heavy.

    lee
     
  15. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    As I live in Norway, the decision was easy for me when I decided I needed a sturdier tripod. Stabil from Sweden (www.stabil.nu).
    It is a wooden surveyer's type thingy, but with inverted metal cups instead of spikes. Truly amazing grip on any kind of surface, and an amazingly stable tripod as well.
     
  16. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    If you want to go the cheap route and don't mind not having a ball head (a sacrafice I know...), look on EBay and get an old tripod from the era of press cameras. I got an old Star D for about $20.00. Now, it is far from an ideal tripod. It is heavy, has a pan head, and is as ornery as a rabid dog to set up. But I only use it in studio or "within walking distance of the car". It is not my "main tripod" by far. But it works well and even does a decent job (although not ideal) with my old Calumet 4x5 which is VERY heavy.

    Not bad for the money. You may want to consider going the "old and used" route.
     
  17. fparnold

    fparnold Member

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    I was using a Bogen 3021 + 3025 head (I know, too light) with the Bender 4x5 and the 75/135/203 lenses, which generally worked well as long as the wind was moderate. The 75 kept the camera crunched up to where all the mass was centered over the head, and the 135 and 203 are small lenses in small shutters. This system failed when I was given a 12" Wollensak in #4 Betax. So, when I acquired recently a Burke and James tailboard 5x7/4x5, I upgraded the head to a 3047. My back will not be happy, but so far no signs of problems in stability either.
     
  18. michael9793

    michael9793 Subscriber

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    I have ries tripod. There are several reason to spend the money and go with this tripod.
    1) weight, same or lighter than tripods of the same class.
    2) life time guarentee (sp). I sent one back because of a fracture and they replaced it with wood that matched as close as possible.
    3) vibration. Wood dampens the vibration better than anything else out there. metal or alum. is next and last is carbon tripods then love vibration, then will pick it up better than anything.
     
  19. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    I started out with a Bogen (aluminum and can't remember the number). I had a terrible time with the aluminum galling and I came across an surveyors tripod that must have been made by the same people that made Zone VI tripods. I attached my Bogen 3047 head to it and have used it for years. Heavy, you bet, but I have no vibration problems including my 'dorf.
     
  20. SteveGangi

    SteveGangi Member

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    I am just weird. I use a massive ITE tripod, with a Bogen 3030 head. A 3047 would be better probably. I can beat it, kick it, climb on it, and could probably even use it for zeroing in a rifle. But, you do not want one. It is gross overkill and is brutally heavy. On the other hand, my Calumet and everything else (including telescopes) will not budge when I lock it down. To give a sensible answer, my vote is for the Ries, if I had it to do over again, and the spare cash.
     
  21. lee

    lee Member

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    I had the Zone 6 heavy mutha and sold it and got the smaller one. Indoors I put some slippers on its spiked feet that I made from tennis balls. Out in the wind you make any tripod more stable by taking a spike from your tent and driving it into the ground and then set your tripod right over it. Now get a bungi cord and hook it to the stake and to the bottom of the tripod making sure you have a lot of downward pull on the tripod. The tripod should not move at that point. You can also take a sleeping bag bag and fill it with rocks and hang it from that same bungi cord. Not as stable and you have to go find you sleeping bag when you are through as the wind has most likely blown it away. But in really rocky ground, it is an alternative. I have a canvas triangle that I made that I hang under the head on the legs that I keep my stuff that is not in the bag. That is generally everything because the bag I have is so shitty that everything has to come out for me to use my stuff.

    lee\c
     
  22. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    ..
     
  23. lee

    lee Member

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    Where are you gonna post it? What is the proper section?


    lee\c
     
  24. David Hall

    David Hall Member

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    I have both the Gitzo CF and a Ries...the ries with legs that come apart so it packs small.

    At first glance, the Ries seems a lot less sturdy because of those jointed legs, but interestingly once the legs are out and the camera is on, it is very steady.

    In fact I find myself using it a lot more than the Gitzo because it seems significantly less prone to vibration, and is actually easier to maneuver in the field. The downsides are the weight compared to a CF Gitzo, and I (found out the hard way) you have to check it at the airport because of the spiked feet.

    dgh