I joined this forum specifically to get in touch with you. I've made several attempts to get in touch with Novoflex, but so far no dice.
In Googling, this is basically the only feedback-oriented English-language reference online. I'm sure many people find this hoping for the same answers...So much that I would copy-paste this into a new posting so that it is not lost in the ranting pages prior (not your fault of course).
Here is an example email I sent, with all my relevant questions:
Dear To Whom It May Concern,
I do not speak German, but:
(A) Will begin classes in one month
(B) May visit you at Photokina
(C) Either way will be in your great country within this year
Until then, my apologies for this English letter, which I have tried to make plain.
I am a new photographer building my first studio. I want to purchase almost everything you make. I have many questions about your quadropod:
1. The QB_V has both silver metal buttons adjescant the two angle-shifting legs, and a blue rotary dial encapsulated within the base. The description states that by pressing a button the angle may be changed--so I assume these metal knobs accomplish that--then what is the dial for? I assume releasing it again?
2. The QB_V seems to have the two shifting legs (under the 'bicycle saddle's seat') and optional fourth leg spaced apart from the single remaining leg (positioned under the 'bicycle saddle's horn')... basically they are off-centered from each-other. How does this affect the performance and balance? Also: In tripod-mode: They look to be possibly centered--are they? I can see them being 120 degrees apart, but maybe they're 110+125+125?
3. The pictures seem to show a ball-and-joint socket-style support structure shouldering each leg in the QB_C and QB_B, but the QB_V looks as though its legs are joined without this enforcement. Please explain any differences.
4. What material are the silver leg-joints fashioned out of? I assume Stainless-steel?
5. What are the individual weights of the quadropod components, particularly the legs?
6. What are the individual dimensional measurements?
7. What are the folded dimensions of the quadropod when assembled?
8. What is the folded length of the individual legs when separated from the base?
9. Are the legs anti-twist? Anything like G-lock?
10. How are the leg joints ratcheted, or held in-place? They look possibly to be the weak point in the structure.
11. How is vibration affected by the modular structure built of varied-material joints?
12. What are the vibration characteristics in general?
13. Is the foam-padding removable?
14. What is the construction of the CFibre?
15. I've never seen a tripod wherein the base sits completely atop (and even hangs over) the legs as opposed to centered between them with only mild overlap... how does this affect the apex, balance, rigidity, etc.?
16. How does the 'bicycle saddle' shape of the QB_V affect the same?
17. Is there anyway at all to mount a weight hook under any of your bases?
18. What force can the suction-cups withstand... individually? tripod-style? quadropod-style? This is perhaps my single greatest cause for concern as all professional s-cups that I've seen use a lever-plunger rather than a lip-seal, and these s-cups are either numerous (clusters of cups per leg) or generously proportioned (5-6 inches wide each). This very feature may be a deal-breaker for me if the tripod cannot really be used confidently on a moving vehicle.
19. Are any photos, or is any video footage, available of the quadropod beyond the handful of shots on your website?
20. Can we expect to see any more accessories (Gitzo-Explorer-type column especially)?
21. Most importantly of all: Your photos show the QB_V with fourth leg detached and the joint fitted with a short column with ballhead, used then as an inverted 'center-column'. This is, to me, the single most interesting aspect of the concept, and invites several questions:
22. Where is the short-column for sale? Nowhere can I find it.
23. Can any ballhead be used--or is this a Magic-Ball only accessory?
24. When using this 'center-column': can this leg-joint be positioned into any of it's three angles and support the weight of camera and lens without slippage? What weight can it maintain? In other words: Can it maintain an angle when being pulled downward (placing pressure on the backside of the joint) as opposed to being pushed downward (placing pressure on the topside of the joint)? Most tripod legs simply can't resist this type of force--aren't designed to--and this would mean the fourth-leg would operate as an inverted center-column, but not as a Gitzo-EX-type angular column.
Here are several more questions regarding your other equipment:
25. Does the Castel XQ have a 1/4" socket on the side for accessories as it appears in the picture, or is this an insert for a control knob, etc.?
26. Also, do you have a converter to alter the orientation of the QR clamp from perpendicular to in-line with the Castel?
27. What is the movement-per-rotation of the drive-knob for the Castel L and/or Castel XL?
28. What exactly is all this beautiful blue on your products? Is it always metal, or some plastic? Is it painted?
29. Is the MagicStudio Art Light a parallel-ray light like the FlashArt light?
30. Why do you no longer make the FlashART 400 Studio Light?
31. What weights are your various panoramic plates able to hold without slippage, if mounted in a vertical position?
32. In particular, is the Pro plate better for heavy-gear, or simply advantageous for its varied degree settings? It does look like the clamp is a good deal longer...but perhaps the internals do not aid, may even weaken, the braking system...?
33. I have heard the ClassicBall 5 is fantastic except for one thing: the panoramic plate slips when the support is not completely level. Has this been fixed? Why is the panning knob on the Classic 3 ribbed but left smooth on the Classic 5?
34. The claim of 'no shifting' when locking-down has been made by many ballhead manufacturers. Though slight, all have so far been shown to shift. What is the performance of the Classic Ball 5 (or 3) in measured terms?
35. The BalPro T/S is advertised with several contradictory statements:
36. Your site says the BalPro T/S will accommodate any 35mm lens, but then says 35mm requires the 80mm lens head. Does this mean any 35mm lens will work as a bellows but to use the T/S functions (requiring a larger circle) the 80mm head must be used?
37. Also, the 80mm head is said to be permanently mounted: does this mean two bellows would need to be purchased in order to use other lenses (that is, the "any 35mm lens" mentioned?).
Also various shops further complicate the lenshead choice, example: BHPhoto:
38. From the BalPro T/S "Features" we have"
Choice of lens heads
Novoflex offers three special lens heads (Componon S) by Schneider in Bad Kreuznach for the BALPRO 1 and BALPRO T/S bellows. These lens heads are flush-mounted permanently on the bellows:
* Componon S 80mm f/4.0 for 35mm format
* Componon S 100mm f/4.0 for 645 format
* Componon S 150mm f/4.0 for 6x6 format
But then we have this under the 80mm lenshead:
This 80mm f/4 APO-Digitar Lens offered by Novoflex is made by Schneider in Bad Kreuznach for the BALPRO 1 and BALPRO T/S bellows system. It comes supplied with the required adapter for the bellows system. With an image-circle diameter as large as 90mm, this lens is even compatible with medium format cameras.
As well as this under the 100mm lenshead:
This 100mm f/5.6 APO-Digitar Lens offered by Novoflex is made by Schneider in Bad Kreuznach for the BALPRO 1 and BALPRO T/S bellows system. It comes supplied with the required adapter for the bellows system. With an image-circle diameter as large as 100mm, this lens is compatible with medium format cameras, as well as with 35mm SLR cameras.
...So what does this all mean?
39. Can a Neiger 19 be converted to a Ball 19, or is the flash-mount permanent? Is a washer needed shouls it be possible?
40. Does a Ball 30 or Ball 40 have as much resistance to panning-slippage as a Ball 19P, or for that matter, a Classic Ball 3 or 5?
41. Can the 19 pan at all? If so: How great is the difference, if any, between the 19 and the 19P, regarding its ability to lock onto a panned angle without slippage?
42. Is a Ball 30 (or even 40) practical as a substitute for a Ball 19 in any or all of the various quadropod combinations you show on your site, and on publicity-shots elsewhere? Examples would include leg-joints, accessory-holders, etc.
43. Can the flash-holder mount of the Neiger be equipped onto other ballheads (example Ball 30 or 40)?
In closing let me say that I plan to do a thorough review (for your English-speaking customers) to post on YouTube and my eventual photo-blog. Unfortunately there is little-to-no information available in English, currently, about the products you produce. I have grown greatly enamored, appreciative and impressed with what you build, and so I want to change things and spread the word about your great product!