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Thread: Question for headless photographers

  1. #11

    Re: Question for headless photographers

    Quote Originally Posted by jeroldharter View Post
    I've been curious about that, especially for travel.

    How does it operate? Does the "handle" on the bottom rotate to screw the camera tightly to the base, or does it loosen/tighten the leveling mechanism? Is it rock solid for 8x10?

    Also, how do you attach the camera? Must you spin the camera around the screw or does the handle rotate the screw so that the camera remains stationary?

    This is, actually, four separate pieces. The leveling base with a 3/8th tripod screw at the top, which has a rounded bottom that sets into a bowl shaped insert that is bolted into the center of the tripod frame that the tripod legs are attached to. Three hex head bolts securely attach the insert into the center of the tripod frame. You can see the hole for one bolt on the left side of the insert. The next bit is the small locking collar between the bottom of the insert and the handle. The collar slips over a large bolt, about 15mm in diameter that extends from the top of the handle, thru the collar and the insert and threads into the center of the rounded bottom of the base.

    When assembled, everything remains aligned along the centerline of the handle and the 3/8ths diameter bolt threaded into the camera base except for the leveling base, itself. You turn the handle to loosen the assembly and this allows everything to swivel, universally, at an angle of up to about 20 degrees relative to the leveling base. Tightening the handle, which is nice and large, with large, deep grooves making it possible to get a good grip, allows you to clamp everything in position at whatever angle you want within the 20 degree arc that it is capable of.

    In use, it is not practical to thread the camera onto the base. It is much easier to unscrew the handle and remove everything from the tripod insert. You thread the 3/8ths mounting bolt into the camera base and tighten the leveling base to the camera. With the leveling base securely tightened onto the camera base, you set the base into the tripod insert and then, from beneath, thread the handle with the locking collar back up, into the leveling base and tighten to hold everything in position. It sounds more complicated than it is.

    For carrying everything, keep the base attached to the camera with the insert bolted into the tripod. That leaves only the handle and locking collar loose to keep track of. The handle and collar go into your pocket. This allows you, for short distances, to balance the load with the camera in one hand and the tripod and a bag of film holders and stuff in the other.

    Setting up, using the camera levels, is no more difficult than using a ball head, it just does not provide as much leeway in positioning the camera and it does not allow panning the camera with everything else held constant. If you must pan the camera, without allowing any other movement, Feisol makes a panning base that looks like it could be placed between the leveling base and the camera to make that possible.

    The leveling base with the Feisol CT-3371 tripod makes a very rigid, but light-weight means of providing adequate control and support for my 8x10 camera. I wonít say that it is as stable as a Linhof Profi III tripod and head, nor does it provide that kind of control, however, the Feisol set-up weighs less than 7 pounds where the Linhof tripod and head weigh, together, about 22 pounds. Setting the camera up with a 24 inch Artar focused at infinity and attaching a laser alignment tool, I donít see much more deflection using the Feisol than I do with the Linhof. No, the Feisol is not the equal of the Linhof for stability and control, but it is more than adequate for what I am using it for.

  2. #12

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    Re: Question for headless photographers

    Steve, Excellent. Thanks for the detailed explanation. That is just what I was hoping for.

  3. #13

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    Re: Question for headless photographers

    Steve, thanks very much for that.

    It looks like several tripod manufacturers - Feisol, Gitzo, Manfrotto, Really Right Stuff, etc. - are making these. If I understand correctly, it amounts to replacing the flat plate on the top of the tripod with a socket in the shape of a bowl, into which one inserts a half sphere that can be moved around to make a level (or indeed up to 20 degree tilted) surface. It seems inspired by the standard setup for video tripods, which have a bowl at the top of the tripod legs, 75mm, 100mm or 150mm in diameter, into which a video fluid head is inserted and leveled.

    That takes care of leveling. By screwing a Novoflex Panorama Plate to the half sphere's flat top, one could add panning. This would make for a very low profile setup.

    I think that I'll drop by one or two camera shops tomorrow to see how this would work in practice. B&H is closed until next Sunday, but Foto Care, K&M or Abel Cine might have the parts to check this out.
    Cheers!

  4. #14
    jp498's Avatar
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    Re: Question for headless photographers

    Quote Originally Posted by r.e. View Post
    Yes, and it doesn't take much time.



    Could you expand on this? What 5/8-1/4 adaptor are you using? Is it just a bushing or something more complex? Are you essentially using it in lieu of a quick release plate? Sorry, having trouble understanding/visualizing this, but want to understand.
    http://www.amazon.com/Pacific-Laser-.../dp/B00006393Y

    is what I use with a surveying tripod for my 8x10.

  5. #15

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    Re: Question for headless photographers

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kasaian View Post
    When sking, I'll leave the head behind. Snow is generally very forgiving.
    Maybe it's the infamous Cascade Concrete snow here in the Northwest but I find snow generally annoying. One leg will go really deep and another won't go anywhere so it feels like my tripod legs will almost break apart at the base since one leg ends up with all the weight. Are you using snow baskets on your legs or something?

  6. #16
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Question for headless photographers

    I've been doing it "headless" for decades, at least with view cameras, on just about
    every kind of terrain imaginable. Once you get used to it, it isn't going to slow you down. You not only save weight, but the camera is going to be a lot more stable,
    expecially at long extensions. You need a bit of a platform to the top of the tripod,
    however. Not all tripods are ideally designed for this. Ries wooden ones are excellent,
    but I have also modifed carbon fiber ones. This is simply the traditional "European"
    or survey-style of attachment, with a captured 3/8-16 wing stud running through the
    platform. Just look at a Ries to get the idea.

  7. #17

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    Re: Question for headless photographers

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Richards View Post
    There is a cheaper version that will also let you rotate the camera when it is loosened for adjustment: (link to Manfrotto 438)
    I've been using the 138 (a earlier Manfrotto leveller) since some 25 years. For many large format purposes levelling functionality is all that is needed, and dedicated levellers are much less vibration prone than any similarly light three way or ball head.

  8. #18
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Question for headless photographers

    All you need is a flat top. No need for a bowl or anything else. The more surface area
    the better.

  9. #19

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    Re: Question for headless photographers

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    All you need is a flat top. No need for a bowl or anything else. The more surface area
    the better.
    Do you have something between the camera and the crown to make it easier to attach/remove the camera from the tripod or do you screw/unscrew the camera directly on the crown?
    Cheers!

  10. #20
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Question for headless photographers

    With an 8x10 folder, I just use the 3/8-16 stud. The Ries concept is very nice - it's
    spring loaded with a nice turnkob at the bottom. But with my much lighter 4x5 Ebony
    I use a quick-release plate on a Gitzo carbon fiber tripod, that is, for distance
    backpacking where weight reduction is important. Just don't use a small version of plate. Again, the more surface area the better. With the Sinar monorail system I have
    either used their own rail clamp directly on the tripod, or at times have removed even
    this and made something even lower center-of-gravity, and longer, especially for long
    bellows extensions.

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