View Full Version : New to LF seeks help with tripod head choices for Gitzo

David Wolf
25-Apr-2016, 17:40
Hello all,

Would appreciate your kind and experienced advice regarding three potential choices for my Gitzo Studex Performance tripod, circa '80's, rated at 20lbs load, previously used with MF. I've only rented a LF camera to this point, and am looking to purchase a monorail for studio use, likely a Cambo/Calumet or possibly a Toyo or Wista. Any of these options seem to weigh about ten pounds, +/- 2lbs.

I've found these three different heads: the used Rationale 4 and PL5 seem to be the same vintage as my current, lighter duty (Rat 3) head and tripod. The PL5 has a much lower center of gravity. Would be interested to hear your comments on the respective merits and detractions of both. The third head is Gitzo's current quick-release model G-2272M, which is also available with both a fixed square or long platform. I'd likely have to buy this new. As you can imagine, the price difference between the three heads is considerable ~ certainly a factor, but not necessarily the most important one.

I'd be interested to hear your advice and suggestions comparing the three for practical use. Feel free to chime in on the relative worth of quick release as well, or even bypassing the issue altogether and just use a leveling head (which I've only just learned about).

Thanks everyone for your time, I appreciate it!

25-Apr-2016, 18:27
IMO, you need to start with the tripod! If you plan to use a LF rig that weighs about the same as a MF setup (say, for example the weight of an RB67 with normal lens), then your current tripod should be OK. If going with a monorail or any LF setup weighing 10 or more pounds, I'd suggest a heavier load capacity tripod. Some LF photographers I know seem to get away with what I'd call flyweight setups, but they've never worked out for me. I do shoot exclusively outdoors, though, so wind is a consideration for me.

As for the head...my Bogen 3047 supports my lightweight Wista without issue, but heavier setups? Not so much. This isn't one of the heads you mentioned, but might be useful for a comparison.

Good luck!

Alan Gales
25-Apr-2016, 20:00
Of the three pictured I think I would go with the middle one. I'd want something very sturdy and low profiled.

Myself, I use Ries tripods and heads.

Peter De Smidt
25-Apr-2016, 22:07
I have and use the middle one. The lower center of rotation is an advantage. I have a whole slew of tripod heads, but I use that one the most. I don't like Gitzo's quick release plates.

Jerry Bodine
25-Apr-2016, 22:47
I have Sinar Norma monorails 4x5/5x7/8x10. I use your middle head (it's bombproof) for 8x10 on a Gitzo Series 5 alum tripod when weight is not a factor; Gitzo Series 4 alum tripod w/ Sinar Pan-Tilt head for a bit lighter 8x10 setup, as well as for overkill w/ 5x7 & 4x5. In my younger days I used the Ser 4 setup for 4x5 on 10-day backpack trips (sigh ... no longer can do). I've never used QR plates, but instead leave the Norma rail clamp attached to the head for a "quick" setup.

John Olsen
26-Apr-2016, 15:38
I have the middle one on my Gitzo Studex. Altogether it's a 17 lb package, but very solid. The head axes rotate smoothly and lock with just a slight twist on the handle. I never end up jerking the rotation by having to twist the handle hard for a lock. I even use the heavy setup for my 35mm whenever alignment is really critical. It will definitely hold a heavy 4x5 rail camera or 8x10 field camera (see attached picture).
Good luck,

David Wolf
26-Apr-2016, 16:17
Thank you all for your replies! Wouldn't you know it, when I returned to the auction site this morning to purchase the middle head, unanimously endorsed here, it had been sold! Perhaps another LF reader also benefitted from your advice!

From what I've learned here, it seems like the lower profile of the PL5 (middle picture) is what gives this head the advantage, yes? I'll keep looking, and return soon (hopefully!) with an alternate choice for your consideration. Thanks again!

26-Apr-2016, 16:23
Only a three-axis head is worth considering.

Jim Andrada
26-Apr-2016, 16:52
Oh I don't know - I like the three axis heads, but I'm pretty happy with the FLM head I got for my trip to Japan. Being able to lock the side to side tilt and the fore and aft tilt separately addresses most of the things I dislike about ball heads, and it's quite compact. Of course something like the Arca Cube would be nice too, but a bit pricey to say the least.

26-Apr-2016, 20:04
I use this Series 5 Gitzo G1570M Rationalle head http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=170918&gclid=CLCPn5PorcwCFYVrfgod-rINEQ&is=REG&ap=y&m=Y&c3api=1876%2C91438732682%2C&A=details&Q= on a Series 5 Gitzo G1500 tripod for my Toyo 810G (17 lbs w/o lens). That head will allow you to attach two tripod blocks to the platform. Two tripod blocks provide far greater stability than just one