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Sharon
4-Oct-2015, 17:14
Hello, I've recently shifted from medium format to large format and am struggling to find a tripod (or other kind of support) that can secure a large format camera low to the ground. I'm mostly a macro photographer and often want to take photos of subjects on or near the ground, such as mosses and lichens, but our tripod, even at its lowest and particularly by the time you add on the head, is still a good couple of feet off the ground. This means either I just can't get close enough to low subjects, or the perspective is much more top-down than I would like.

At the moment I'm using a 4x5 monorail, but I'm looking for a bigger camera again with extra-long bellows (probably something like an 8x10). Given that I'm struggling to find the right kind of support, I'm not sure if I would really want another monorail or a field camera.

So I'd really appreciate anyone's thoughts on what combination of camera type and tripod/support might be suitable--including if you think I might need to just build something!

Thanks very much,
Sharon

Bob Salomon
4-Oct-2015, 17:19
Novoflex has several devices that can do this. Berlebach make sure a ground spike that can also do this.

vinny
4-Oct-2015, 17:26
My gitzo 1325 works well for ground level work. It's not made any longer but similar models exist with legs that open up to 90 degrees.

Randy Moe
4-Oct-2015, 17:51
A lot of tripods offer the option of hanging your camera upside down from the center post.

But this whole exercise depends on how big and how heavy your camera is.

Need more data. :)

Jac@stafford.net
4-Oct-2015, 18:36
The lower the tripod, or other support, the less you need be concerned with the flaws of a longer tripod. I have found that even a Leica tablepod resting on a little piece of plywood with a strong head suffices. There's almost nothing in that support that can vibrate or fail. If that idea seems non-intuitive, then go ahead and spend some money on Berlebach's overpriced low tripod. If Berlebach's solution doesn't seem expensive enough, then surf for motion-picture low-level tripods.

Guaranteed frustration will come from mounting the camera upside-down on the center column of a conventional tripod.

It is not really a difficult issue.
.

LabRat
4-Oct-2015, 22:40
I had to shoot floor level 4X5's for a commercial shoot, and I borrowed an idea used in MP, by taking a head and directly bolting it to a 14" (X 3/4") square piece of particleboard for the flat floor... One shot had to be raised several inches, so the wood was then sitting on a cinderblock... If I had using this on uneven ground, I would have added 4 t-nuts + holes in each corner and put in bolts + locking nuts for levelers...

And like Jac, I use a Leica table pod to place on top of walls & objects... (Don't let it topple, always have a hand on it!!!!!!)

Steve K

Tim Meisburger
5-Oct-2015, 05:30
I just checked my Amazon Basics travel Tripod and if you spread the legs as wide as they will go (i.e. almost flat) the top of the ballhead is about a foot off the ground. If you cut the column you could get it down to about six inches, and if you cut the collar at the yoke and bolted your head direct to the yoke you could get it down to the height of the head. Because its a tripod you would also be able to get some height if you wanted it, but with a monorail th epractical limit might be around three feet, as higher might get wobbly (its a small tripod).

DrTang
5-Oct-2015, 07:33
majestic with an outrigger and a 25 pound bag of lead shot

Kevin Crisp
5-Oct-2015, 07:34
The ubiquitous Majestic tripod with the sidearm will do this very well.

towolf
5-Oct-2015, 08:21
The lower the tripod, or other support, the less you need be concerned with the flaws of a longer tripod. I have found that even a Leica tablepod resting on a little piece of plywood with a strong head suffices. There's almost nothing in that support that can vibrate or fail. If that idea seems non-intuitive, then go ahead and spend some money on Berlebach's overpriced low tripod. If Berlebach's solution doesn't seem expensive enough, then surf for motion-picture low-level tripods.

Guaranteed frustration will come from mounting the camera upside-down on the center column of a conventional tripod.

What kind of frustration? With a thread on the top it seems quite usable.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/l2VhzjXe03ndyjzl9-JAWPpnw86XRlCfQK1P4H6D4BZ5kDA4NcuFGl-5Mt3KoXPBrEIyDFBr7FJQakRQV3jRyvrtGk29XEmL7pPxuQuiwIYL5sYMnIynIR5nmQbmQ8ihJYdyhPsrq0T9-I2nFzzULpoNyDXj8hDGBPAvBawu2mmcxXFI8S9c9Sj-LvAjMHvK5Q6f4juZwDnTg1QxBVhORKHLFTtgWo5WWNCqJIgcoilzpPWMa0JZMeftU5Qmw3759LFTR5_TzwVw6jcDq3iWl5k5AEkky32FPfgrCP4OruebDM4EEtZzR2nJR2zmaRv1E8j6DOhGW1Fl4GZSeUk5TVtnaYPvsg0rd2qArxuKoF3-pzYySuDF-SJdFvPqsfuglUSE1B1uZi6VvvDUS9xLTAFiIYENz7hss6JKYcJVvXBPvQTY0VSWDA4IEf5bLp5l7iKZYZs3F-qB9NIOWOaSNvWQ2e0Q-_BJ4cIvqDEznhk1lT4l2-tZL8jhBbhk4lJbD23Y8suyrqCaTQ8UZezL1MRgfBp_ycMfNf2T9Ky2dPM=w400

A_Tabor
5-Oct-2015, 08:53
I've found that mounting a camera under the tripod tends to lead to more awkward working conditions as you end up with a leg behind the camera, or bumping into the front legs if you're pivoting the camera left and right.

If I were consistently doing very low to the ground work, then I would probably reach for a floor level light stand and attach a head to that. The one I currently have has no adjustments other than swivelling the feet around, but I have seen a few models with adjustment pads on the ends of the legs to give you a few inches for levelling it.

But a ground level tripod is a tricky thing to design due to the wide variation in usage, so I would be really curious to see people post up photos of their setup for various shoots.

Ari
5-Oct-2015, 09:14
All FLM tripods feature a removable centre post, and the legs can be spread almost perpendicular to the ground; the result is that the top of the tripod is only a couple of inches above ground level.
I've been using the same CP30-S3S tripod with 8x10 for a number of years now.

Jerry Bodine
5-Oct-2015, 09:44
Whatever the choice of setup close to ground level, consider having enough room to insert a film holder - particularly with a vertical ("portrait") composition - without moving the camera while inserting. Use of front rise/fall may be of some help.

jp
5-Oct-2015, 11:45
My Ries Jr tripod spreads out flat to the ground. I have a 3025 tripod head which is only about 4" tall on it. There's a knob that sticks down a couple inches. But it's still the lowest tripod I've had.
see:
http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?36782-Show-off-your-Large-Format-camera!&p=1255316&viewfull=1#post1255316

Will Whitaker
5-Oct-2015, 12:50
Look up "hi hat"; there are usually some interesting entries on Ebay.

lfpf
5-Oct-2015, 14:03
On the ground or in a shallow hole (entrenching tool) a monorail mounted on plywood plus rocks or spikes for stability would be low and stable. Focus with rail movements and blaze away. LabRat and lead shot were headed in similar directions. Might get away with no tripod or tripod head. Have fun with that!


I'm mostly a macro photographer and often want to take photos of subjects on or near the ground, such as mosses and lichens, but our tripod, even at its lowest and particularly by the time you add on the head, is still a good couple of feet off the ground. This means either I just can't get close enough to low subjects, or the perspective is much more top-down than I would like.

At the moment I'm using a 4x5 monorail, but I'm looking for a bigger camera again with extra-long bellows (probably something like an 8x10). Given that I'm struggling to find the right kind of support, I'm not sure if I would really want another monorail or a field camera.

So I'd really appreciate anyone's thoughts on what combination of camera type and tripod/support might be suitable--including if you think I might need to just build something!

Thanks very much,
Sharon

John Kasaian
5-Oct-2015, 14:43
Tiltalls have a reversible center column so you can hang your camera upside down at ground level if desired. Since the weight of the camera adds to stability rather than offsets, you might even get away with hanging an 8x10 camera if there is enough room.

Bob Salomon
5-Oct-2015, 16:04
Tiltalls have a reversible center column so you can hang your camera upside down at ground level if desired. Since the weight of the camera adds to stability rather than offsets, you might even get away with hanging an 8x10 camera if there is enough room.

Almost all professional quality tripods have a reversible center column.

Jac@stafford.net
5-Oct-2015, 17:09
Almost all professional quality tripods have a reversible center column.

The more discriminating designs to not because of the problems. Just because some feature can be made does not mean it should be made.
.

John Kasaian
5-Oct-2015, 17:16
What I like about reversing the column is that you don't need so much room to splay the legs out flat like with the Ries and risk jostling (or tripping over) them. If this is good or bad depends on the ground where you're shooting. Of course, it's also easier to drop your camera in the dirt when hanging from the bottom of the tripod :o

Jac@stafford.net
5-Oct-2015, 17:22
What I like about reversing the column is that you don't need so much room to splay the legs out flat like with the Ries and risk jostling (or tripping over) them. If this is good or bad depends on the ground where you're shooting. Of course, it's also easier to drop your camera in the dirt when hanging from the bottom of the tripod :o

Ah, true! One feature of the later Technika is a tripod mount under the accessory shoe, but clumsy seems to prevail. I am evidence of such. :)

Randy Moe
6-Oct-2015, 17:31
Tripods aren't good enough. With enough assistants here is the way to go.
http://www.deardorffcameras.com/deardorffcameras/wp-content/gallery/deardorff_gallery/16a.jpg

MrFujicaman
7-Oct-2015, 11:47
You could do like Irving Penn did in "Worlds in a Small Room". He had a heavy 10" steel plate with a tripod head mounted on it and 3 holes drilled thru it with screws with spike points to level it out.

Sharon
11-Oct-2015, 20:05
Thanks all! I think we've decided to try building something. Our thinking is two planks of wood in an "X" that can pivot around the centre (where the camera would be mounted), with height-adjustable feet at the end of each bit of the "X." We reckon this should be strong and adjustable without being too heavy.

Thanks again for your advice,
Sharon

mstrickland
16-Oct-2015, 14:19
Check these out.

http://www.reallyrightstuff.com/Shop/Carbon-Fiber-Tripods/TVC-32G-Versa-Series-3-Ground-Pod.html

John Koehrer
17-Oct-2015, 20:12
It's easier to level using three points rather than four. Use a triangle or square of plywood and three carriage bolt, head downward threaded into "T" nuts.