Plumbing the tripod column.
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.
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.
My Rollei panorama head has a little bubble level in it. Have you tried one of those?
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--
It goes between the tripod and the head so you can pan on a level surface, even if the column isn't plumb.
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?
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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--
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.
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.
Not with the Rollei device. The device spins on its own axis, the tripod head does not move.
Originally Posted by George Collier
If I need to plumb my column, I have a Bogen tripod and Bolex tripod both with a bubble on the legs.
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.
Finally decided to just get a Rollei Pan attachment - seems like the best deal for the money.
Thanks, everyone, for your suggestions.