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Thread: 4x5 tripod for mountaineering

  1. #21

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    Re: 4x5 tripod for mountaineering

    This time of year I am normally not anywhere near the mountains here in the West, but it is a great time for the amazing Canyon Country of the American Southwest and Northwest Mexico. I've backpacked into Mexico's Barranca country of the Sierra Madre Occidental a few times. The lastest complex, Copper Canyon, is four times larger than the Grand Canyon and 2,000 feet deeper. But I won't go there anymore. The native Tarahumara Indians, who live in caves in the canyon walls, are very timid and not a problem. The only "obstacle" there is that, although I speak Spanish, it is of little use with them because they only speak Tarahumara. I have yet to see an English-to-Tarahumara dictionary -- probably because most native languages are not written languages. The real problem is that outside drug operations have a lot of illegal pot plantations there with armed guards -- and it is difficult to outrun a bullet in a canyon with a 60 pound pack.

    Anyway, I've been to many beautiful canyons over the years, in the US, as well. The King, the Grand Canyon, is basically a mountain upside down. Climbing down it and back up is much more work that any mountain I have climbed. Going down is easy, but getting back up is usually done late in the day, and you have to carry ALL of your water. I just call it hiking or backpacking. Some people call it "Canyoneering" instead of just hiking or backpacking, for some reason. But it, and other canyons, can be too crowded for my taste. In the GC, and other parks, monuments, and wilderness areas of the SW, you need to get a permit to camp. They strictly limit the number of people and you have to camp in designated, marked, spots. In the most popular spots in the Grand Canyon or Canyonland Nationa Park, you have to wait TEN YEARS to get a permit. PLUS, you have to prove to the backcountry rangers -- who assume you are a complete idiot -- that you know what the hell you are doing, because there is no way that they can find you, let alone save your sorry ass if there is a problem. I simply pick the areas where I know no one wants to go -- typically because they are long, hard hikes -- and you have to carry ALL your water. So a 40 pound pack becomes two hikes or an 80 pound pack. My top pick? The Powell plateau and the North Bass (non-maintained) "trail" down to the River. No water and a 45% incline (or more) all the way, on loose gravel. But you will have the place to yourself. FYI, you can't get in during the Fall, Winter, or Spring because they don't plow the roads and it's twenty miles down a jeep trail to the trailhead. Bring a handsaw to cut down the trees that fell down during the Winter. Don't go in the Summer because it is WAY too hot. The only times to go are late Spring/early Summer -- but watch out for the fierce afternoon lightning storms -- or Late Summer/early Fall -- but watch out for the numerous pink rattlesnakes that blend in with the rocks.

    As to my 600mm T Fujinon, here are some details on how I did it:

    http://www.subclub.org/fujinon/mygear.htm
    Last edited by xkaes; 14-May-2017 at 17:32.

  2. #22
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    Re: 4x5 tripod for mountaineering

    A couple of weeks ago I bought a Feisol 3441T tripod for use with hiking/airline travel. It brings the camera up to eye level WITHOUT a center column. (Came with column but I replaced with short column.) It's four section, folds to just under 19 inches, and weighs 1.2kg. I use it with a Photoclam PC-40NS ball head. So far I like it. I'd rather have a BH-30, but don't want to spend the money on something I plan on using occasionally. I bought it to hold my Nikon D800E plus Nikon 80-400mm AFS, which it does well enough. It easily holds my Chamonix 045n. It's not as sturdy as my Gitzo 1325 & AcraTech head, but for what I bought it for it will work.

    Now for some thoughts. I too live on the Northern Plains. I know wind--the kind that blows highway trucks over sideways. In North Dakota the wind (not a tornado) blew a freaking freight train off the tracks. I have experience with wind. There is no tripod that weighs as little as you want that is going to hold steady in "real" wind. You will be doing well to be able to just keep it from blowing away. ALL of these little light backpacking tripods are going to shake in the wind, especially with a large format camera on top (and their blunt cross section.) You're just going to have to work around it. Sometimes I shoot sitting on the ground, tripod legs not extended much or at all. Sometimes I try to get behind something and out of the wind. I've been known to set up my tent and shoot from inside. You need to be realistic here.


    Kent in SD
    Die Gedanken sind Frei

  3. #23
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    Re: 4x5 tripod for mountaineering

    Quote Originally Posted by xkaes View Post

    FYI, if you ever find yourself in the middle of Great Sand Dunes National Park, you better not waste your time looking for a rock or anything to stake down your tripod. It's usually pretty windy there -- that's why the sand dunes are there. .

    Yeah, I've been there. Yeah, it was windy that day. Didn't need to look for rocks. I pulled off my hiking socks, filled them with sand, hung them on my tripod, and fired away.


    Kent in SD
    Die Gedanken sind Frei

  4. #24

    Re: 4x5 tripod for mountaineering

    Quote Originally Posted by Two23 View Post
    You need to be realistic here.

    Kent in SD
    Lets consider a high wind scenario. I'm going to say 30 kph, above that I probably wouldn't even consider setting up to shoot in an alpine environment.

    Photographer A has lower quality tripod (Dolica proline) that has vibration issues with any possible arrangement of leg/centre column extension.

    Photographer B has a higher quality tripod (Feisol 3441T) that has no vibration issue with any possible arrangement of leg/centre column extension (work with me here).

    Both photographers have identical tripod heads (FLM CB38FTR), cameras (Wista DX rosewood), and lenses (Nikkor-M 300mm f/9) set-up on their respective tripods.

    Each photographer sets their tripod up with no leg or centre column extension. Bellows extension is ~300mm.

    Will the higher quality tripod legs make a difference in suppressing wind shake?

  5. #25

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    Re: 4x5 tripod for mountaineering

    In any windy setting, your example being 30 kph (roughly 20 mph), I will always wait for a quick lull to take the exposure. All things equal, a more rigid tripod will shed its vibrations faster than a less stable one and therefore be less likely to affect the focus sharpness during longer (1/2 or 1 second) exposures. I've had little luck taking crisp images while attempting to take a slow exposure in continuously windy conditions. You could have your camera support bolted directly to a rock but the vibrations of the camera bellows from the wind will always introduce blur. In such conditions, small formats, box cameras and cell phones have the advantage.

  6. #26

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    Seoul
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    Re: 4x5 tripod for mountaineering

    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Gauthier View Post
    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?
    I've taken a Gitzo 1542T with a little Markins head trekking (not mountaineering though) in Nepal with a 9x12cm plate camera and a 35mm camera. The highest I got with it was about 5,500m. I think it was stable enough but I was only using it around dawn - when weather conditions tended to be calm. I didn't bother in bad weather! It's great in use, and easy to get around. I forget how heavy the plate camera is, a bit lighter than the camera you mention. The tripod has been around a bit with me now, Mongolia and South America, no problems despite putting a few miles on the clock - I don't regret having bought it, although it was expensive. I have used it in good conditions with an 8x10 2D, just to try out a lens or whatnot (don't extend the thinnest leg section - and forget about windy days).

    The Markins head, I'm not so thrilled about. It's ok, but a tension adjusting screw used to bind up sometimes, until it finally dropped out somewhere - I didn't bother to replace it. I didn't like the feel of the Gitzo head. I took my camera to a shop to try the head before buying, I think that's your best course of action.
    Peter

  7. #27

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    Re: 4x5 tripod for mountaineering

    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Gauthier View Post

    Trying my best to keep my kit <13 kg, which includes camera gear, safety gear, tools, consumables. etc, which is difficult with a tripod >2kg. The Gitzo reporter looks dreamy. I guess they've discontinued that product line.
    It's impossible for me to image a large format photographic backpacking trip -- even a short one -- through canyon or mountain country with a pack under 30 pounds (13.6kg). That alone is what all my camping gear (tent, sleeping bag, food, backpack, clothes, stove, fuel, pots, etc) weighs. My photographic gear (camera, tripod, lenses, film, filters, etc) weights about as much. If I were to add in mountaineering gear (ropes, pitons, carabiners, crampons, ice-axe, etc.) I'd need a sherpa or llama. I've hauled all my stuff down the Grand Canyon and up 14,000 foot peaks, but I'm no Galen Rowell -- but then some purists don't consider him a "real" photographer. I'm sure some alpinist has used a large format camera somehow, but I've never tried to track them down.

  8. #28

    Re: 4x5 tripod for mountaineering

    Quote Originally Posted by xkaes View Post
    It's impossible for me to image a large format photographic backpacking trip -- even a short one --
    Impossible indeed. There are so many single peak objectives in the banff, jasper, kananaskis area that don't require multiday trips though. When backpacking approaches are necessary, camping gear is left at camp.

  9. #29

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    Re: 4x5 tripod for mountaineering

    " I'm sure some alpinist has used a large format camera somehow, but I've never tried to track them down." Vittorio Sella is your man...his accomplishments humble any modern photographer/alpinist.

  10. #30

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    Re: 4x5 tripod for mountaineering

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Y View Post
    " I'm sure some alpinist has used a large format camera somehow, but I've never tried to track them down." Vittorio Sella is your man...his accomplishments humble any modern photographer/alpinist.
    Thanks for the note. Sella is reminiscent of William Henry Jackson, large format photographer of the early American West. For some reason, neither of them were mentioned in the 16-week class on the "History of Photography that I took. Still, I got my money's worth.

    One of the last photos OF Jackson is of him holding a -- what he must have thought -- a TINY Kodak camera. He lived to be 99.

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