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BarryS
14-Oct-2015, 09:40
I just got a new Gitzo series 3 systematic tripod and I'm looking at my head options. For up to 8x10, I've been happy with my Arca Swiss B-1 ball head, but reframing after leveling the camera can be a pain. The panning control at the bottom of the head is useless unless the tripod is completely level. Replacing the clamp on the B-1 with a panning clamp looks like it might be a good solution, since the panning platform will usually be leveled. RRS sells some nice (but pricey) panning clamps, and Sunwayfoto also sells them (at less than half of the RRS price).

My hesitation is never seeing one in use by another large format photographer. Is there any reason it wouldn't be a good solution for large format shooter already using a ball head? Is anyone using the RRS or Sunwayfoto versions? Thanks.

AtlantaTerry
14-Oct-2015, 09:53
For my 4x5" work with Cambo and Crown Graphic cameras, I use a Gitzo video tripod with fluid head.

The fluid head makes it very easy to adjust verticals and horizontals.

141006

Jim Noel
14-Oct-2015, 10:18
You answered your own question. The proper method for setting up a tripod is to have the base for the head level before making any other adjustments. Saves a lot of time, money and frustration.

Jac@stafford.net
14-Oct-2015, 10:37
What Jim Noel wrote. For tricky situations I use a Manfrotto 338 leveling device under the tripod head. Once level, recomposing is simpler because all axis are locked in relation to each other. But I gave up on using a ball head for a 3-way head with long handle controls.

BarryS
14-Oct-2015, 12:18
Leveling the tripod can be time-consuming, especially on uneven terrain. I almost ordered a RRS leveling base that allows the tripod platform to be adjusted in a 75mm bowl. That's along the lines of Terry's suggestion of using a video setup. That's great for a pan head, but a ball head would also need to be leveled, in addition to the platform. A panning clamp seems to address this problem, but whether it's practical for a large format camera is my question. I do have a Gitzo G-1570M 3-way head and a Manfrotto fluid head, but I find the ball head faster and simpler to use--with the exception of the panning issue.

Peter Lewin
14-Oct-2015, 13:26
Arca-Swiss puts panning heads on top of their newer ball heads and their (super-expensive) 3-way heads, so clearly having a panning head on top of the basic tripod head is a good and workable idea, for exactly the reasons BarryS gives.

BarryS
14-Oct-2015, 15:30
Guess I'll order one and see how it works--the simplicity appeals to me.

--Open tripod

--Level ball head

--Mount camera

Whir-Click
14-Oct-2015, 17:16
I have a Sunwayphoto DYH-90Ri Rotating Leveling Base with panning and highly recommend it. The build quality is excellent and the action silky smooth. Also, the price is far lower than all comparable options from other manufacturers. I was hesitant to take the Sunwayphoto plunge since they're not widely reviewed, but I have been very pleasantly surprised.

Bill L.
14-Oct-2015, 17:28
Check out the acratech leveling base to put under the ball head. Get the tripod close, and the leveling base will let you level so you can pan and still keep the camera level. I'm sure there are other brands, but think about a base under the ball head as opposed to one on top of it.

Cheers!
Bill

Dan Fromm
14-Oct-2015, 18:28
The Manfrotto 438 is an alternative to the Acratech. I've used one and its predecessor the 138 under 3-axis heads for decades.

I had no idea what a panning clamp is so Googled. This http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/34361589 suggests that a ball leveler under the head is much preferable.

Greg Miller
14-Oct-2015, 18:53
The Acratech leveling base is nice, but nowhere close to being robust enough to support LF.

I have used most of the leveling bases available. The RRS tripod with bowl leveling base is by far the best I have used.

Sal Santamaura
14-Oct-2015, 20:48
...Replacing the clamp...with a panning clamp looks like it might be a good solution, since the panning platform will usually be leveled. RRS sells some nice (but pricey) panning clamps...Is there any reason it wouldn't be a good solution for large format shooter already using a ball head? Is anyone using the RRS or Sunwayfoto versions?...That's exactly how I've configured my support system for use with larger cameras. I found it took a Burzynski ball head on a 3-series Gitzo to prevent vibration for anything above 5x7, but had the same issue you do, so added a RRS panning clamp.

The attached image shows my Ebony SV Wholeplate, with S.K. Grimes-fabricated custom baseplate (including Arca-style dovetail), atop the panning clamp. In reality, for the Ebony with its dual levels simultaneously visible via an adjustable mirror, I could have gotten away with a plain clamp. However, when using my Phillips Compact II on the same support, being able to level the clamp before attaching the camera and still having the capability of changing camera direction without upsetting level is a huge convenience. You're on the right track -- go for it.

Dan Fromm
15-Oct-2015, 05:11
The Acratech leveling base is nice, but nowhere close to being robust enough to support LF.

I have used most of the leveling bases available. The RRS tripod with bowl leveling base is by far the best I have used.

I can't say anything about the Acratech, never had one, but the Manfrotto 438 did well under my failed Baby Bertha that weighs around 25 pounds. I first used one of my 138s under Baby. It broke, the ball cracked. The 438 is much more robust.

Greg Miller
15-Oct-2015, 05:38
I can't say anything about the Acratech, never had one, but the Manfrotto 438 did well under my failed Baby Bertha that weighs around 25 pounds. I first used one of my 138s under Baby. It broke, the ball cracked. The 438 is much more robust.

I had several Manfrotto 438's but they would break after about a year of steady use.

The Acratech is the worst of the bunch for LF. The tightening screw would require very heavy cranking when used for LF, and even then you could get it to slip with just slight pressureo n the camera.

BarryS
15-Oct-2015, 07:08
It seems like leveling bases without bowls usually have limited adjustments--the Acratech's travel is only 10 degrees. If I was going that route, the RRS would be best because of the bowl, and it's a drop-in replacement for the Systematic platform. The issue remains--any leveling system below the ball still requires separate leveling of the clamp. If I was doing multiple row panos, a leveling base would be a better choice, but in at least 75% of my large format work, the camera base is leveled.

Sal--Thanks, that's helpful information. I'm going to try the RRS PC-PRO panning clamp and see how it works out.

Emmanuel BIGLER
15-Oct-2015, 07:32
Guess I'll order one and see how it works--the simplicity appeals to me.
--Open tripod
--Level ball head
--Mount camera

Hello Barry, from Besanšon.

A short time after I bought a new Arca Swiss B1, I bought the upper panoramic kit.
The kit was user-friendly and I installed it myself.
So I work exactly as you intend to do, no care for how the tripod platform itself is levelled, ground can be as uneven as you may imagine [provided of course that the tripod will not fall (https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10200812522543149&set=vb.167411846605359&type=2&theater), this is a major concern for a 8x10" camera mounted on a tripod, on a really uneven ground!], the ballhead defines a proper vertical and eventually the upper panoramic movement has a vertical axis even if the tripod platform is not horizontal.

I have used the device with a 4x5" camera only, but I do not see any reason why it cannot be used with a 8x10" camera.

With the Arca Swiss P series, like the P1 which is an inverted ballhead, there is no panoramic movement at the bottom, only the one actually useful, on top.

The idea of the inverted ballhead already existed in the Oschwald catalogue, basically it was made of 2 ballheads attached to each other upside-down. Apparently the device did not have a great success, although it solved the question of defining a vertical panoramic axis on top of an un-levelled tripod platform.

Sal Santamaura
15-Oct-2015, 08:36
... I'm going to try the RRS PC-PRO panning clamp and see how it works out.I have the PC-LR. I generally dislike screw clamps, but really hate them under view cameras, thus selected the lever version of Really Right Stuff's (RRS's) panning clamp. Although I had S.K. Grimes machine the dovetails on my custom Ebony baseplates to match RRS profiles, some newer RRS lever clamps, including the one integral to its PC-LR, automatically adjust for a wide range of dovetails.

This is particularly useful with my Phillips Compact II, since it sits on a no-longer-sold Kirk four inch square plate whose dovetail is slightly narrower than RRS dovetails. In older, conventional RRS lever clamps, the Kirk plate's dovetail isn't clamped tight. The new RRS lever clamps hold it with complete security.

Jeff Keller
15-Oct-2015, 11:45
If you order a panning clamp pay attention to where the knobs are. I have one which has the panning lock knob at about 30 deg off axis from the bottom Arca Swiss dovetail. When trying to clamp it into an AS clamp, the knob gets in the way of all but small clamps. If the panning clamp is screwed to something it is nice because the knob is positioned well with respect to 0 degrees.

Good luck,
-jeff

Jac@stafford.net
15-Oct-2015, 15:04
I wish head makers would offer control extenders so we could use some under LF cameras. I made my own but they are kludges.