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Thread: 4x5 tripod for mountaineering

  1. #1

    4x5 tripod for mountaineering

    I've read a few posts here regarding acceptable tripods for 4x5, but none catered specifically to mountaineering where low weight is absolutely a necessity (if you're too tired to climb or climbing too slowly you have to turn back and wont get the shot).

    I have been very "creative" over the past 1.5 years making a dolica proline work (it only 1.33 kg with ball-head but shakes like a leaf). However, with bigger and bigger objectives, I would like to be confident that camera shake will not be an issue.

    I'm going to head to my local shop to test the suitability of various tripods. Your field tested opinions would be of great value in addition to the in-store testing.

    My needs are:
    A tripod + head kit that weighs between 1.4 - 1.8 kg.
    A tripod with maximum height around 62" (would be nice to have the option to stand up and shoot when its safe).
    A tripod that will not shake in 10-30 kph winds (in high winds I will be kneeling with little tripod extension)

    My mountaineering kit:
    Wista DX rosewood (2kg)
    Nikkor-M 300mm f/9 (0.290kg)
    Nikkor-M 200mm f/8 (0.18kg)
    Fujinon SW 90mm f/8 (0.407)

    With film holder and filters max weight on the tripod would be <3kg.

    An example of a suitable design would be the Gitzo GT1532 series 1 Carbon Fiber. Would the series 1 legs be stable enough?
    A cheaper alternative would also be nice.

    Patrick

  2. #2

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    Re: 4x5 tripod for mountaineering

    How do YOU define "mountaineering" and how long, timewise, are your treks? It sounds like carbon fiber would be the logical choice. I assume that there are several options from different manufacturers, and that you will be fighting a weight vs price vs stability battle. Like much in life, something has got to give -- which is completely your call. My experience has been that in high wind on a high ridge, there is NO tripod that is rigid enough.

  3. #3

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    Re: 4x5 tripod for mountaineering

    A neat accessory to help stabilize a lightweight tripod is a "weight hook" mounted on the bottom of the center column. I use this (on my lightweight Feisol CF) in two ways...one being to hang a string bag then place a nearby rock inside this, and the second to drive a tent stake directly underneath and then join the hook to the stake with a tightened, slightly stretchy nylon cord.

  4. #4

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    Re: 4x5 tripod for mountaineering

    Does your current tripod have an anchoring hook? I use paracord and tarp weighed down with rocks until the weight holding the tripod down is 20 to 30lbs. But I also use a carbon fiber tripod, which also contributes to rigidity with the weights.

  5. #5

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    Re: 4x5 tripod for mountaineering

    A simple solution is to simply drape the shoulder strap of your camera bag over the tripod head and legs. In my case that adds 25 pounds of stability without having to find rocks, move them, find something to put the rocks in, etc.

  6. #6

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    Re: 4x5 tripod for mountaineering

    Talk to Ari.

    Kumar

  7. #7

    Re: 4x5 tripod for mountaineering

    All good ideas. One issue I have with the anchor hook is that when I'm setting up lower down, the weight (i.e, my pack|f-stop lotus) ends up touching the ground and provides less and less benefit, and when I am shooting at minimum height, it simply doesn't fit under the tripod (the dolica proline has camera shake even when set up at minimum height). In addition my pack is necessarily my camera bag, and I need to access things from it right up to grabbing my film holders, and I prefer if it's not dangling from the pod (this is a bit of personally preference as well as sensible precaution to not lose anything to the mountain as the bag tends to rotate when I'm accessing things).

    Like I said, I've been "creative" and rather successful at stabilizing a generally unstable tripod, but there are certain limits and distances I'm willing to go to, especially when personal safety is a concern.

  8. #8

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    Re: 4x5 tripod for mountaineering

    Quote Originally Posted by B.S.Kumar View Post
    Talk to Ari.

    Kumar
    +1. Look up "Ari" in the forum member list. He is the importer of FLM tripods and heads for Canada (and I think the U.S. also). I have the FLM-Traveler tripod which is around 1.2 kg, and while I don't own one yet, the FLM-CB38FTR ballheads adds about another .5 kg, bringing the total just under your 1.8 kg target. The FTR heads, while nominally ballheads, work like 3-ways, making them better for view cameras. Anyway, Ari is incredibly helpful, so send him a PM.

  9. #9

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    Re: 4x5 tripod for mountaineering

    Ari is the North American distributer for FLM products. That includes Canada and the United States. I've had the pleasure of meeting Ari and playing with one of the FLM tripods. I was very impressed with both Ari and the tripod. You won't find a nicer, more knowledgeable fellow to talk to. Here is his FLM website.

    http://www.flmcanada.com/contact.html

  10. #10
    Roger Thoms's Avatar
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    Re: 4x5 tripod for mountaineering

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Lewin View Post
    +1. Look up "Ari" in the forum member list. He is the importer of FLM tripods and heads for Canada (and I think the U.S. also). I have the FLM-Traveler tripod which is around 1.2 kg, and while I don't own one yet, the FLM-CB38FTR ballheads adds about another .5 kg, bringing the total just under your 1.8 kg target. The FTR heads, while nominally ballheads, work like 3-ways, making them better for view cameras. Anyway, Ari is incredibly helpful, so send him a PM.
    Definitely check out the FLM Traveler, I own one with the CB38FTR ballhead. I use it with my Chamonix 45 and everything smaller, works great and very high quality.

    Roger

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