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.
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.
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.
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...
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.