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View Full Version : Improving Balance on Wista SP Field Camera



neil poulsen
3-Nov-2016, 22:24
I recently received a Wista SP 4x5 camera as part of a larger package. It’s an excellent camera, one that I look forward to using.

However, I noticed that the camera’s tripod mount appeared to be a little too far towards the rear of the camera. This provides good balance for short focal length lenses that don’t rely on balance for stability, but not so good balance for longer focal length lenses that need the extra support.

So, I decided to move the tripod mount forward a little towards the front of the camera. The first photo shows the camera (post modification), and the second photo shows the camera’s tripod mount on the underside of the camera before the modification.

I use Manfrotto 3039 and 3047 heads with the hexagonal plate system.

neil poulsen
3-Nov-2016, 22:25
How to proceed?

It would have been easy enough to drill the additional holes needed to advance the Wista tripod mount forward by whatever distance one would consider appropriate.

But as it turns out, my long since discontinued, 4”x4” Manfrotto hexagonal base (with which many will be familiar) fits perfectly into the recessed portion on the underside of the Wista SP. So, I drilled a single hole just far enough forward to enable the 4”x4” plate to fit into this recessed area.

The first photo below shows the Wista tripod mount in its original position and with its black leatherette removed. Removing the three screws makes it possible to remove the tripod mount. With the tripod mount removed, the second photo shows where I added the additional hole needed to mount the Manfrotto 4”x4” square base. The third photo shows the 4”x4” plate mounted onto the bottom of the camera. The fourth photo shows the bottom of the camera on the inside and how it was possible to anchor the Manfrotto 4”x4” plate to the underside of the camera. I included a large washer along with the nut for extra support.

neil poulsen
3-Nov-2016, 22:27
The photo below shows a side view of the camera mounted on the tripod after adding the large Manfrotto plant, and of course, after moving the balance point forward by about 3/4".

In brief, I’m very pleased with this modification. Moving the balance point forward is better for longer lenses, and given that the Manfrotto 4”x4” plate makes up 35% of the camera’s overall base area, the camera is rock solid on the tripod. It’s like they’re one piece. That’s a definite win.

Some caution. Obviously, I decided not to use the camera’s round tripod mount in attaching the large 4”x4” Manfrotto plate to the bottom of the camera. (It would have gotten in the way.) This works, only because the plate that I used is large. The thickness of the metal on the bottom of the camera is just shy of 1/8th inch. For smaller tripod head plates, the camera’s mount will likely be needed for the strength that it would add to the connection.

LabRat
3-Nov-2016, 23:54
Nice Job!!!!

Though I use a drilled out piece of 3/8" aluminum with every other hole drilled out clear for a knob ended 1/4-20 screw to hold down the camera (or part), and the other holes tapped out to secure to the tripod head, so there are many positions to mount to, as balance points will change depending on lens, back, extension, holders, angle, etc... I have also made them out of hardwood using T-nuts, and they can even be slotted to slide the points around (unsecured)...

Having the ability to rack the mount with a fine movement possible sure helps a lot when doing C/U or macro work!!!!

Keep up the good work!!!!

Steve K

Ari
4-Nov-2016, 06:36
Nice work, Neil; this is a situation where using a slightly long QR plate would have also worked.
I usually keep a 130mm plate attached to my 4x5/8x10 cameras for those times when I would need to balance the weight for different lenses or extensions.

neil poulsen
4-Nov-2016, 10:19
Nice Job!!!!

Though I use a drilled out piece of 3/8" aluminum with every other hole drilled out clear for a knob ended 1/4-20 screw to hold down the camera (or part), and the other holes tapped out to secure to the tripod head, so there are many positions to mount to, as balance points will change depending on lens, back, extension, holders, angle, etc... I have also made them out of hardwood using T-nuts, and they can even be slotted to slide the points around (unsecured)...

Having the ability to rack the mount with a fine movement possible sure helps a lot when doing C/U or macro work!!!!

Keep up the good work!!!!

Steve K

Thanks!

I'll check into these screws, etc. Sometimes it's a matter of knowing what's out there. For example, I can probably find a thin nut of the same 1/4" diameter and thread pitch.

Jac@stafford.net
4-Nov-2016, 10:39
Thanks!

I'll check into these screws, etc. Sometimes it's a matter of knowing what's out there. For example, I can probably find a thin nut of the same 1/4" diameter and thread pitch.

The term for such a thin nut is Hex Jam Nut.

faberryman
4-Nov-2016, 10:52
I think I would have just used an Arca-Swiss compatible clamp and 120mm or so plate. Not as much fun as playing with drills though.