View Full Version : Ball head and plate for my Deardroff 8x10 and Kodak 2D 8x10

20-Dec-2008, 19:22
As a newbie to 8x10, this forum has helped me a lot to research and information and many thanks.

I would like to seek advice on a head for my two camera just got last few months. I have used Acratech Ultimate Ballhead with Quick Release but the camera simply move by itself unless the camera is absolutely right on top ball head.

Coming from dSLR, I tried RRS site. I am thinking about the BH-55 with B2 AS II clamp (with to me is a new design; all my ball head seems to like their B2-Pro II clamp plate. Also, I follow the RRS advice for Wooden Camera plates and the site said B35: Flat Plate with 2 1/4"-20 screws. 2 screws? I talked to RRS by email but surprisingly when I asked why 2 screws, at least the lady has no idea (even I have mentioned my wooden camera Deardroff). I lost a bit confidence as obviously these days shops sold items for dSLR not Wooden Camera.

Hence, may I ask for advice once again in this forum:

a) Is my choice of BH-55 with B2 AS II clamp and B35: Flat Plate with 2 1/4"-20 screws right and do you have any experience of this combination or similar combination?

b) Is there any better or more suitable options for my cameras?

BTW, I found that if there is no strong wind, having a light tripod seems to be ok (as long as have some weight on the hook). I used Kenro (Gitzo 1 copy) and Gitzo 2 legs (also from my dSLR purchase). Any comment on this part as I was told you need at least Gitzo 3 series or above.

Thanks in advance for any advice and Merry X'mas.

Gary Beasley
21-Dec-2008, 08:45
A light tripod will cause unsharpness even with no wind. There will be microscopic shifting during a long exposure. I found out the hard way. Had a Bogen 3055 head with the hex plate and a Bogen tripod that I used with the 4x5. I never got anything sharp until I swapped to a massive bogen with the 3 way pan tilt etc head with the hex plate, it had struts between the legs to stabilize it and the pictures immediately got sharper. I wouldn't recommend a ball head of any kind for such heavy cameras, adjusting is too awkward with all angles slipping at once when you loosen the ballhead to try to make an adjustment.

Ernest Purdum
21-Dec-2008, 08:57
I have occasionally put a light 4" X 5" on top of a ballhead, but the idea of using one foir an 8" X 10" seems like self-torture.

Brian Ellis
21-Dec-2008, 09:26
I agree with Gary that a ball head just isn't very practical for the two cameras you have (I've owned both), you need a pan/tilt type head. With the weight of your two cameras it's virtually impossible to make an adjustment in one direction only when using a ball head.

But I disagree about the light tripod part of Gary's message, though it might just be a matter of how "light" is "light." But I've always used a tripod that's much lighter than the tripod's rated capacity and have never had any problems with "sharpness." For example, my Feisol tripod and RRS heads are rated for 35mm and digital cameras but they worked fine with a 4 lb 4x5 camera. I used two tripods and heads with my Deardorff and Kodak 2D. One was a Gitzo aluminum tripod that was rated as a medium format tripod, with a Bogen 3047 head. The other was more along the lines Gary is suggesting, a Bogen 3057 head and a Bogen tripod with struts the model number of which I don't remember. I used the latter only when I wasn't going to be doing much walking. But I do not believe you need a "massive" tripod for 8x10 (depending, of course, of what one considers "massive"), you're correct that a light tripod can work fine as long as there's no wind (again, depending on what one considers "light").

21-Dec-2008, 16:44
Many thanks. May I ask more - is there any suggestion of what pan/tilt type head for the two camera I have? Do they need to use quick release plate as well?

Really Big Cameras
21-Dec-2008, 17:14
I have occasionally put a light 4" X 5" on top of a ballhead, but the idea of using one foir an 8" X 10" seems like self-torture.

Of course, it's a matter of personal preference and shooting style, but I personally find carrying a big, heavy 3-axis head with long levers that constantly get hung up on trail side vegetation to be a much more serious form of self-torture than using a ballhead with a large format camera.

Using a ballhead with a big heavy camera is certainly doable and can be a downright pleasurable experience. Of course, you need the right ballhead and the right technique. The first thing you need is a quality ballhead of proper size with an adjustable tension preset control. With the the tension control set to match the weight of the camera, you can grab the back of the camera with both hands, and while viewing the ground glass, point it where you want it, release the camera, which will stay in place if the tension preset is adjusted properly, and tighten the ball locking knob so the camera position won't be disturbed when inserting the film holder.

This is exactly how I use my 7x17 camera with a ballhead. And while I have a couple really nice, big sturdy 3-axis heads, I find I prefer the ballhead for the compact size and lighter weight. The notion of camera flopping around all over the place when using a ballhead comes from either a poor quality, undersized ballhead without a proper tension preset control, or from poor technique.

Ballheads aren't for everyone, but they do offer the best combination of strength vs. weight of any type of head, and that makes them very appealing for anyone who has to carry their gear on their back for any appreciable distance.

Kerry Thalmann
Really Big Cameras (http://reallybigcameras.com)

21-Dec-2008, 19:40
Many thanks Kerry for the advice.

If ballhead can do the job, I prefer ballhead -- I used it for 4x5 and it is ok. Any advice what is the ballhead I shall aim at.

My limited exposure to ballhead is only from two shops Acratech and RRS. Is the one I mentioned above has the pre-tension feature you think it is important.

Really Big Cameras
21-Dec-2008, 22:06
Many thanks Kerry for the advice.

If ballhead can do the job, I prefer ballhead -- I used it for 4x5 and it is ok. Any advice what is the ballhead I shall aim at.

My limited exposure to ballhead is only from two shops Acratech and RRS. Is the one I mentioned above has the pre-tension feature you think it is important.

I won't make any specific recommendations - due to an obvious conflict of interest (I sell two brands of ballheads), but any top quality ballhead of sufficient size with a tension preset should do the job.

If you want to continue this discussion by PM or email, that's fine, but I don't want to abuse the discussion forum by mentioning/recommending the products I sell here.

Kerry Thalmann
Really Big Cameras (http://reallybigcameras.com)

21-Dec-2008, 22:48
I use a ball head (arca swiss which I don't recommend) as my only head for medium format up to my 8x10. It's not ideal for view camera work as a geared head is but it's lighter and works fine for me. I had a bogen 3275 or 410 geared head and it got loose and wouldn't hold my pentax 67II steady.

Ole Tjugen
22-Dec-2008, 08:19
I use ball heads for everything (from 35mm to 12x16"), but never quick release plates. I have always had too many cameras to keep a quick release plate mounted on each, and without that it serves no purpose.

Since LF photography is a slow process anyway, I don't feel the few seconds it takes to mount a camera without a QR plate makes a useful difference.

22-Dec-2008, 13:25
It looks like I'm in the minority, using an Arca ball head & QR plate on top of a Feisol for a Deardorff 8x10

I prefer the QR plates more for the convenience of not having to try and align the mounting plate with the tripod screw and it let me avoid scratching up the plate any more than it already is.

adjustments aren't a problem as long as you've preset the minimum tension level correctly, and making sure you always have one hand on the camera to avoid any surprises.

To be fair, I'm about to jury-rig an extension for the deardorff to use a 35" Artar, and I'll be using a Majestic head on a Gitzo 5-series under the camera for a little extra weight and support, using the Feisol/Arca combo for the bellows extension.

22-Dec-2008, 17:49
As Keith wrote, a quality ballhead would be a good tool for 8x10. But I use a Ries 2-way head, and as Dakotah wrote, it is very easy to mount my 8x10 on the head. I put the tilt all the way to vertical and hold the 8x10 (Zone VI woodie) vertically so I do not have to bend down to look underneath the camera to match up the screw and the hole.

To solve bbauer's problem of aligning the camera, I drew a line on the base of the camera (w/ sharpie) that lines up with the platform of the head as I tighten up the screw. Besides, scratches on the bottom plate give a camera some character!;)


PS...here is a link to a photo of the bottom of my camera...lots of character! You can see the line I drew, also. It ain't pretty, but I thought I would never re-sell the camera, so I did not worry about it. As I get older, a light weight 8x10 is sounding nicer....but by t he time I can not carry a 50 pound pack (and 15 pounds of tripod), I will have gotten the value of the 8x10 in use...I have had the 8x10 for about 12 years...so that is $100 a year, a great deal already...and it keeps on getting better!


23-Dec-2008, 05:20
Thanks for all.

So far it seems no one is using the RRS.

My Deardroff and Kodak 2D both have a lot of character and may be I experiment a bit further before I jump onto the best ball head. Merry X'mas all or season greeting (as some does not do X'mas in some culture.)

Carlos R Herrera
24-Dec-2008, 10:50
I have a Zone VI 8x10 mounted on a massive Studioball with a stock Arca plate (single 3/8 screw) on a Ries J100-2. Rock solid as that head can hold a ton of weight, but I would feel even better having a double screw plate. My camera only has one screw mount, but I just got a quote from Richard Ritter concerning adding another screw mount so I can use one of RRS' Mulit-Purpose rails or the B35. I would probably go with the Multi-Purpose Rails because they are much meatier....


A big 8x10 and beefy ball head make a great combo.