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sergiofigliolia
21-Aug-2017, 01:16
Hi all,
I am looking for a precision bubble level as I realised my bubble levels on my manfrotto 055 legs as well as Chamonix view Camera are not quite precise.
I was thinking at this:

https://www.amazon.it/gp/product/B071696LRH/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?smid=A339SJRLGRKCZN&psc=1

or this:

https://www.amazon.it/gp/product/B0001P0TNM/ref=ox_sc_act_title_2?smid=A11IL2PNWYJU7H&psc=1

Has anyone got experiences with either of those or suggest something else?
If it helps I require it for both 4x5 and 8x10.
I see the precision for these is 0,029 = 0,5 mm/m.

B.S.Kumar
21-Aug-2017, 03:04
Most levels built into cameras are not very precise. Why that should be the case, I have no idea.
I use something similar to the Stabila torpedo level. It is made by Ebisu here. Ebisu makes a credit card size level that is quite good, and has the same precision.

Kumar

martinf5
21-Aug-2017, 03:52
That's crazy, I've ordered the one from Amazon too on Saturday.

https://www.amazon.it/gp/product/B071696LRH/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?smid=A339SJRLGRKCZN&psc=1

I had a similar one from my neighbor and it worked fine with my weekend jobs on 4x5 and also in the darkroom for leveling the enlarger.

Alan Gales
21-Aug-2017, 04:09
Most levels built into cameras are not very precise. Why that should be the case, I have no idea.
I use something similar to the Stabila torpedo level. It is made by Ebisu here. Ebisu makes a credit card size level that is quite good, and has the same precision.

Kumar

My other hobby is grilling and barbecue. If you look at gas, charcoal and wood grills and smokers, they all have cheap dial thermometers. They say companies like Weber buy their thermometers from the cheapest suppliers. They also place the inaccurate thermometers up high where they look good and not down low where the food actually cooks. I don't worry about it with my gas grill were I cook fast. On my charcoal grill I modified it with an electronic fan which blows in oxygen when needed to control heat. It has a sensor that clips right on the grill where I place my food so I know exactly what the temperature is. I can cook at 225 degrees for hours.

I suspect camera and tripod companies have the same business practices.

LabRat
21-Aug-2017, 05:17
Typically, most of the half decent levels from the hardware store will exceed the levels typically built into your gear... Even inexpensive units... No need to go to very high precision units, as there is some very minor error that can come from holder seating, how film sits in the holder, etc... (You will find high precision analog + digital units VERY difficult to set up your camera, as they are so sensitive to very minor changes, and really major overkill that's not needed for general photography...)

What's important is not so much with the rest of your rig, but the leveling of the camera itself...

Steve K

mpirie
21-Aug-2017, 05:27
Isn't there an app for the iPhone (called Inclinometer I think) that you can sit on the head or parallel surface to perform the same function?

Not sure what the accuracy is like, but chances are you have one in your pocket already !

Mike

Ari
21-Aug-2017, 06:23
This shoe-mounted 2-axis level is made in Austria and is quite good: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1265741-REG/flm_12_02_901_type_2d_bubble_level.html

But I prefer to use the same Ebisu card level that Kumar recommended, because I can level off the ground glass.

EdSawyer
21-Aug-2017, 06:37
Actually if you want a shoe-mounted level, this is the one to have, it beats all others:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/419394-REG/Jobu_Design_LVL_DB_Bull_s_Eye_Double_Bubble_Level.html

Jac@stafford.net
21-Aug-2017, 07:58
Isn't there an app for the iPhone (called Inclinometer I think) that you can sit on the head or parallel surface to perform the same function?

Yes, indeed there is. It is called Clinometer (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/clinometer-bubble-level-slope-finder-3-in-1/id286215117?mt=8). I calibrated mine (a one-click operation) on my workbench and checked it using a laser level. Clinometer is easy to read and gives three axis measures.

Leszek Vogt
21-Aug-2017, 11:16
You can obtain a Smart Tool (digital) on Amazon too. What I like about it, that you don't even have to look at it....and when it beeps it's level to 1/10th degree (v. precise). Anyway, in my experience, it runs circles around any bubble-level I've had or seen. I've had this gidgit for over 10yrs.

Les

Bob Salomon
21-Aug-2017, 11:37
All you need is one level that you can place against the back of your camera, note the position of the bubble and then place it against the front and adjust the front till the bubble is in the same place as it was against the back.

Ari
21-Aug-2017, 11:45
I forgot to add: in any given situation, either your bubble level or your subject will not be true/level.
The bubble level should serve as a rough guide to get you in the ballpark.
The rest, fine-tuning your camera back and other framing, should be done by eye.

Alan Gales
21-Aug-2017, 11:57
All you need is one level that you can place against the back of your camera, note the position of the bubble and then place it against the front and adjust the front till the bubble is in the same place as it was against the back.

Naw. That's too easy! ;)

Drew Wiley
23-Aug-2017, 10:52
Most filmholder backs don't seat the holder that precisely anyway, even when the standard is level. But nothing discussed so far even remotely resembles a precise bubble level. Even the concept of magnetic tape spoils that possibility. The only halfway decent cheap small levels I've encountered were made by Stabila. Otherwise, buy something real deal by Starrett US mfg machinist division (not their Chinese carpentry levels. The typical home center doesn't know the difference between a level and a garden rake.

tgtaylor
23-Aug-2017, 12:47
The ones on all my Toyo's seem pretty precise to me. After all, they are small, equally filled with water and respond to the slightest movement. It's gravity that determines whether on not things are in balance. I wouldn't waste money by buying a "more precise" bubble level.

Thomas

Leigh
23-Aug-2017, 14:11
I find bullseye levels are much faster and easier to use than vial lavels.
They give you information in all directions rather than in a single line.

Here's a good one from McMaster-Carr Supply Co., accurate to 30 minutes in all directions:
https://www.mcmaster.com/#2308a37/=192j1ea

It's 4 inches in diameter, 3/4" high, and costs $82.34.

- Leigh

LabRat
23-Aug-2017, 15:04
If in doubt about your camera levels, take a decent level and check it against the camera vials when the camera is set up...

Like I said before, high precision levels are not needed, and would be difficult/time consuming to use for general use...

I have some Starrett high precision levels used to set up machine tool tables that the ends would only need to be raised a few thousands of an inch to send the bubble to the very ends of the vial, so this would be useless for general use...

A decent torpedo or circular level from the hardware store is fine...

Steve K

Drew Wiley
23-Aug-2017, 16:34
You're correct, Steve, but referring to things like miniature bench levels and cross-test levels. Starrett Massachusetts also makes a linear pocket level for only about thirty bucks that is quite practical for view camera use. But I personally prefer basic inclinometers if leveling is truly necessary (not many buildings are truly level or plumb, not even the newest skyscraper in SF !)

sergiofigliolia
24-Aug-2017, 00:22
It's gravity that determines whether on not things are in balance.

But it depends whether the bubble level was placed correctly. If it has an inclination with the plane you are trying to level (which is the case I think with cheap levels generally placed on standards) then...

Yours might well be precise by intention of the maker or chance but I am pretty sure the ones on mine are not.

sergiofigliolia
24-Aug-2017, 00:27
I would use an external bubble level only for crucial shots. This thread starts with an issue I had and it has more to do with tripod legs levelling than camera levelling.
The situation is a panoramic shot of 2 buildings done with 2 single shots by rotating the camera on the tripod (via the tripod head). On right side when I took the first shot everything was levelled. When I rotated to the left I found the camera was not levelled. Not a big issue as I could level it but it would have been better to have a more precise bubble level so everything would be level...

LabRat
24-Aug-2017, 03:25
There might also be an issue with your head as it was leveled before, there might be a flat spot or mis-tracking during it's rotation, so also check for that... (I'm assuming that your rotation axis is above the leveling device on your head...) Putting a panoramic head directly under your camera on a leveled tripod plate should rotate level (or there's an issue somewhere...)

Steve K

GG12
24-Aug-2017, 04:10
leveling is oddly strangely difficult. There are many stories that bubble levels in mounts (RRS or Arca), camera and a digital back are not in agreement. That's my experience - I have three different answers. Each piece of gear has its own independent spirit.In-field negotiation tends to be best in resolving
this: correction by eye.

Peter De Smidt
24-Aug-2017, 06:51
Regarding the "Ebisu makes a credit card..." Are these available in the USA?

RichardRitter
24-Aug-2017, 07:12
I have watch more photographer spend more time leveling their camera then they spend on composition.

Throw the levels away or only use then when you are photographing building were you need the back plumb to the building.

One simple tilt of the back plus a swing and the horizon is on a tilt across the ground glass.

Best thing to do is take a good long look at the image on the ground glass and make adjustments as needed. Which sometimes includes tilting the head of the tripod to level the horizon on the ground glass. Yes the camera is no longer level to the ground.

Ari
24-Aug-2017, 09:43
Regarding the "Ebisu makes a credit card..." Are these available in the USA?

No, not in the USA nor in Canada.
Quality Tools UK will ship them.
Here's the one I use:
168741

Peter De Smidt
24-Aug-2017, 11:29
Thanks, Ari.

Drew Wiley
24-Aug-2017, 11:54
The gist of the problem is to make things look rectilinear or properly horizontal and vertical, even if they're not! And that's why I rely on GG grids on such occasions, and almost never bother with levels. Enlarger alignment is a different subject.

B.S.Kumar
24-Aug-2017, 12:41
Peter, if you'd like to buy the Ebisu card type level, let me know. It'll cost 2,000 JPY, including e-Packet shipping.

Kumar

Drew Wiley
24-Aug-2017, 15:22
None of this stuff is really precise. I've got the yaw correction of my biggest enlarger attached to a micrometer-driven forged silicon bronze heavy naval artillery aiming mount that would easily cost forty or fifty thousand dollars to make today. Not exactly a ballhead. I found it for free, of course. And I had access to borrow lasers corrected for the curvature of the earth if necessary. And I dealt with a company which had a device that would draw a contour map in millionths of an inch showing the dimensional changes in a solid granite block induced by you merely breathing on it. Hardly one of my humble modified Saunders vac easels. But it might be quite handy if you're spending a billion $ on an observatory. So "precision" is a relative term.

Peter De Smidt
24-Aug-2017, 15:43
Drew's back to form. :)

faberryman
24-Aug-2017, 15:48
None of this stuff is really precise. I've got the yaw correction of my biggest enlarger attached to a micrometer-driven forged silicon bronze heavy naval artillery aiming mount that would easily cost forty or fifty thousand dollars to make today. Not exactly a ballhead. I found it for free, of course. And I had access to borrow lasers corrected for the curvature of the earth if necessary. And I dealt with a company which had a device that would draw a contour map in millionths of an inch showing the dimensional changes in a solid granite block induced by you merely breathing on it. Hardly one of my humble modified Saunders vac easels. But it might be quite handy if you're spending a billion $ on an observatory. So "precision" is a relative term.
Knowing the proper tool for the job at hand is at least half the battle. You can make an exquisite print without using Commander McBragg's "micrometer-driven forged silicon bronze heavy naval artillery aiming mount" to align your enlarger.

Jac@stafford.net
24-Aug-2017, 15:58
Drew's back to form. :)

OMG, and is he. I would appreciate Mr. Fromm's famous quotes regarding overkill.
.

Greg
24-Aug-2017, 16:18
I use two of these circa 1960s pocket levels resting on the camera bed, one facing forward and the other left to right. Chamonix levels get me close, and then these levels take over. Reaction time of both bubbles almost instantaneous. Plus they work on all my view cameras.

Bought from Harbor Freight a pocket "Digital Angle Gauge". Very accurate and very easy to use with 100% instantaneous readings. BUT.... it takes batteries and you have to calibrate it to 0 degrees level every time you turn it on. Resides in the tool box.

Drew Wiley
24-Aug-2017, 21:11
You guys have never seen that enlarger. It's 14ft tall. The easel weighs several hundred pounds, and I can stand on it without deflecting it. The colorhead requires a block and tackle system to lift. So yes, a genuine piece of military surplus hardware saved me thousands of dollars in custom machining. The adjacent enlarger is a Durst L184 8X10 color unit, and it looks tiny by comparison.

AtlantaTerry
24-Aug-2017, 22:50
You guys have never seen that enlarger. It's 14ft tall. The easel weighs several hundred pounds, and I can stand on it without deflecting it. The colorhead requires a block and tackle system to lift. So yes, a genuine piece of military surplus hardware saved me thousands of dollars in custom machining. The adjacent enlarger is a Durst L184 8X10 color unit, and it looks tiny by comparison.

Drew,

Does your Durst enlarger use a large doughnut-shaped heavy metal lens holder? I once bought a lens from a closed Los Vegas photo lab and the lens came with a mount like that. You can have it for the cost of shipping.

If you are interested, I will measure and photograph it for you.

Lemme know.

Terry

Pere Casals
25-Aug-2017, 00:44
Hi all,
I am looking for a precision bubble level as I realised my bubble levels on my manfrotto 055 legs as well as Chamonix view Camera are not quite precise.
I was thinking at this:

https://www.amazon.it/gp/product/B071696LRH/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?smid=A339SJRLGRKCZN&psc=1

or this:

https://www.amazon.it/gp/product/B0001P0TNM/ref=ox_sc_act_title_2?smid=A11IL2PNWYJU7H&psc=1

Has anyone got experiences with either of those or suggest something else?
If it helps I require it for both 4x5 and 8x10.
I see the precision for these is 0,029 = 0,5 mm/m.


A precision bubble level usualy is 0.05mm/m machinist level, this can be found used for $200 . (Ralmike's Precision Machinist Level Cat. # 082-2-556)

Cheap levels say 0.5mm/m , but this has to be checked, if that works in practice like manufacturer says it is not clear to me.

A very flat 1m bar can be used to test the level, when leveled invert the tool right to left to see if it conserves the "reading", then place a 0.5mm plate at one end of the bar to see if that is detected.

To test level performance I placed a 6mm (M6 metric) bolt at the end of the flat bar, every complete tour is 1mm, so half tour should be detected.

I needed that because dry plate coating, where really good leveling is important. http://www.thelightfarm.com/ teaches how to obtain a good level for the coating table, beyond what a cheap level can reach.

Regards.

Drew Wiley
25-Aug-2017, 10:45
I sold levels to check levels, and squares to check squares. Might not matter if you're trimming down fence post, but it certainly did to every competent cabinet shop or mechanic. I even used a bar of precision flat stock with a depth micrometer set in it to check the film plane seating in all my view cameras, and guess what.... And yes, the resultant corrections did make a difference in big enlargements. Long ago I learned never to take things for granted. You test shutter speeds, don't you?

Serge S
25-Aug-2017, 14:46
Been reading this thread with interest.
I'm always trying to get my landscape horizon line level in the distance. I have a pretty good success (but could be better) using an inexpensive level I purchased at the hardware store.
I'm always anguishing over getting it perfect. Last time I processed my film I noticed the holders were not all that precise, so it appears that they are a variable I need to account for as well. I need to go back and see which ones: the older Riteways or Elites are off...pretty sure it's the Riteways.

I generally level my tripod with the tripods bubble level & then tweak the camera level with a level on the deardorff's base & check the vertical as well. Wonder if the camera is off a bit being it's old (1920's and wood).
Also when I look at the groundglass I tweak to make it level, but am not sure if I should. Plus I don"t have gridlines. I bet that would help!
Need to keep experimenting!

Drew Wiley
25-Aug-2017, 15:06
If your film sags or bows, the horizon line will likewise be warped a little, regardless of level. Nor does film typically lie in an exact position in the holder slots, nor the holder in the camera frame. If tolerances were too tight, there would be no margin of error for expansion/contraction stress. So you ultimately have to control the appearance of level in the darkroom. Film flatness requires some kind of precision holder (vac or adhesive).

Pere Casals
25-Aug-2017, 15:57
You test shutter speeds, don't you?

Of course. My newest shutter is 37 years old, and I've a limited asset of 4 Ektachrome frozen boxes, so it would be a sin not testing shutters.

I use a photocell and an USB oscilloscope for it.

Jac@stafford.net
25-Aug-2017, 16:15
All horizons are not level.

Drew Wiley
25-Aug-2017, 16:20
My 4x5 Ebony is allegedly a top-notch wooden folder, but all it took was a little bubble in the varnish to slightly skew the focus plane where the holders seat. Easy fix, but I'm glad I checked. Most of you probably already know that it only took a tiny fleck of paint underneath a calibration device to screw up the first Hubbel telescope mirror - probably the only spot they never checked first.

AtlantaTerry
26-Aug-2017, 01:16
My 4x5 Ebony is allegedly a top-notch wooden folder, but all it took was a little bubble in the varnish to slightly skew the focus plane where the holders seat. Easy fix, but I'm glad I checked. Most of you probably already know that it only took a tiny fleck of paint underneath a calibration device to screw up the first Hubbel [sic] telescope mirror - probably the only spot they never checked first.

Well, yes that. Plus there was no third party check of Perkin-Elmer's construction of the Hubble mirror.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubble_Space_Telescope#Construction_and_engineering

http://www.scienceclarified.com/scitech/Telescopes/Hubble.html

Greg Y
26-Aug-2017, 08:57
Ari I bought several of those levels at Lee Valley in Calgary a few years ago

Ari
26-Aug-2017, 10:04
Ari I bought several of those levels at Lee Valley in Calgary a few years ago

Hi Greg,
Same here, but they no longer stock them.
And I cannot find them anywhere but in the EU or Asia.

Serge S
26-Aug-2017, 10:30
All horizons are not level.

Very True:)
I see that, which adds another dimension to contend with...sometimes I can't decide how to balance it out!

Serge S
26-Aug-2017, 10:38
If your film sags or bows, the horizon line will likewise be warped a little, regardless of level. Nor does film typically lie in an exact position in the holder slots, nor the holder in the camera frame. If tolerances were too tight, there would be no margin of error for expansion/contraction stress. So you ultimately have to control the appearance of level in the darkroom. Film flatness requires some kind of precision holder (vac or adhesive).

Yes, that's exactly what is happening. I tend to tweak in the darkroom/scan, but try to get it close to right in camera if possible:)

Drew Wiley
26-Aug-2017, 12:14
I was directly involved with the folks who made the correction lenses for the Hubbell, but only as a supplier of machine tools and sealants. Prior to that I worked alongside the fellow who machined the Pioneer satellite optics; and he was more interested in recounting NASA shop pranks on co-workers than technical details. I was already good at pranks.

Cor
30-Aug-2017, 02:33
Coming in late here, but I usually rely/use the grid lines on my ground glass when I photograph buildings..works for me..I do not do these multiple pan thingies.

Good luck,

Cor

toyotadesigner
30-Aug-2017, 11:33
I am kind of late, but here is a link to very high quality precision bubble levels:

http://www.ehipp.de/EN/index.html

I am not affiliated with them, just using some of their bubble levels on my Arca Swiss

AtlantaTerry
30-Aug-2017, 17:19
I am kind of late, but here is a link to very high quality precision bubble levels:

http://www.ehipp.de/EN/index.html

I am not affiliated with them, just using some of their bubble levels on my Arca Swiss

I looked at their website. Now to figure out which ones to order to install on my two Cambo monorail cameras where the spirit levels have dried up.