View Full Version : Pan-Tilt (no Side to Side Tilt) Heads to Support Heavy Cameras?

neil poulsen
26-Dec-2014, 12:08
I'm wondering about the availability of pan-tilt heads that can support heavy cameras. (Heads without side-to-side tilt capability.) I have a Toyo G 8x10 that weighs just under 20lbs. In addition, I have a Wisner 8x20 conversion for the 8x10 G that probably brings the total camera weight up to about 30 or 35 lbs. Is there a pan-tilt head available (used) that can support these kinds of weights? Note that there's enough side-to-side tilt built into the rail/base of a Toyo 8x10 mechanism, that I don't really need that degree of freedom built into a tripod head as well.

The first pan-tilt head that comes to mind is the Sinar. If it can hold a Sinar 8x10 P series camera, I imagine it can hold an 8x10 G that doesn't weigh any more than an 8x10 P. But, can it support 30 to 35lbs?

I have a Gitzo, low-profile PL5 head on order that's taking for ever to arrive by USPS standard mail. That's an excellent head. But, it's possible that a pan-tilt head (no side-to-side tilt) might be able to better support the weight of these heavy cameras.

There are heavier cameras than even these in use. What would you recommend?

26-Dec-2014, 12:45
A video head might be worth looking into; there are too many listed on B&H's website, but one popped up quickly: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1105599-REG/kessler_crane_th1001_hercules_2_0_head.html

Leonard Robertson
26-Dec-2014, 12:47
The first thing that comes to mind is a Ries head:

Good sized platform and low profile.

But the big Gitzo is a great head too. It may work well enough for your purpose.

For any monorail camera probably the best way to stiffen things up is add a second rail clamp with a length of aluminum flat stock between the clamps, then the flat stock attaches to the tripod head. Sinar makes an adapter like this, but one would be easy to make for any camera. It adds some weight, but I suspect you have quit worrying about weight with your setup.


Bob Salomon
26-Dec-2014, 13:06
Any really good cine or video head easily will. They only have front to back tilt and pan. A Linhof Profi 3 Pan Head will also but it adds a great big handle to level 15 left to right as well.

neil poulsen
26-Dec-2014, 15:35
The Reis looks like a capable choice. A bit spendy, but perhaps available used at some point. If it can handle a 60lbs camera, it should work fine. For the 8x20, I'm planning on using an old Linhof tripod my folks gave me with about a 5" platform, and about a 2", hand cranked, rack & pinion, machined center column. As versatile as it is, and as much as I like using it, I don't think my Monfratto 475 legs are quite up to the task. But, the Linhof will handle the 8x20 with ease.

I'll give the PL5 a try. If that doesn't work, the Reis would work. It's good to know there's a satisfactory option available.

There's enough room on either the PL5 or the Reis head to mount both Toyo rail clamps that I have. I was going to mount them onto a piece of poplar and mount that onto the head platform. But, I may need the Sinar, or get one fashioned by a local metal artist.

The video heads look very capable. Checking them out at BH PhotoVideo, they cost $1000's or more. The less expensive ones appear to be limited on the load that they can handle.

26-Dec-2014, 16:51
Sounds like you have the big Linhof tripod that I have. There is a tilt (no side tilt) and pan head that was made for it that would easily support your set up. I have it holding up my 8x10 Linhof Color Kardan (a beast). here (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=61919&d=1317516799)is a photo of the head. With the right top on the center post it has a very secure clamping arrangement.

William Whitaker
26-Dec-2014, 19:31
I use a Ries Photoplane head (old and a precursor to the A200) for both 12x20 and 14x17 cameras. It works very well for those cameras. My low-profile Gitzo flexes excessively under that same load and is not really usable.

The Linhof Kardan head already mentioned is very substantial but really needs to be on a Linhof tripod to be useful. Nice rig, but it'll get into some money.

Tin Can
26-Dec-2014, 20:54
Sounds like you have the big Linhof tripod that I have. There is a tilt (no side tilt) and pan head that was made for it that would easily support your set up. I have it holding up my 8x10 Linhof Color Kardan (a beast). here (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=61919&d=1317516799)is a photo of the head. With the right top on the center post it has a very secure clamping arrangement.

I have the same thing Bruce has, and B&H sells the part you need to convert one of those tripods for use with 'normal' mountings. Here at B&H. (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/31658-REG/Linhof_031482_90mm_Top_Plate_with.html)

The Linhof is rated at 45 lbs.

Jim Andrada
26-Dec-2014, 22:17
Re using a video head - they're great, but what you pay for is very smooth fluid damped pan and tilt - since you pan/tilt while "taping" they have to be smoooooth. And the heads also have counterbalance springs so when you tilt a heavy video camera up or (mostly) down it doesn't take off on its own. All (except maybe the counterbalance) totally unnecessary for a still camera. The way the video heads are leveled is that most tripods have a 100mm (or 75mm) half bowl and there is a corresponding half ball with a clamp that fits into it and can be leveled and clamped in place. I have a relatively inexpensive set of video legs that I use for my bigger still camera and they're really solid because they're also designed not to twist when panning.

$1k or more for a head is pretty inexpensive by pro video standards. An O'Connor or Vinten head for a heavy (up to 120 pounds) camera goes for something on the order of $20k. And $40k or more for a lens isn't unheard of.

Makes LF seem downright economical!

Richard Johnson
26-Dec-2014, 22:18
No head but maybe a Gitzo leveling base.... and twin rail clamps onto a longer Sinar plate (or home-brew Aluminum plate).

The Gitzo and Sinar heads are going to be too wimpy. Try this: http://www.johnbirchphotography.com/gear-archive/gitzo-gs512lvl-levelling-base/

neil poulsen
8-Jan-2015, 03:06
Just an update. After several weeks, I finally received a good example of a Gitzo PL5 head. (The first one was completely shot. Not as described.)

Configured as shown in the photo, it seemed to hold the 19 lbs 8x10 G camera fairly well. I think that this will work OK. (Not shown in this photo, I placed front and rear standards of the the 8x10 on either end of the rail and supplemented each end with a 250mm extension.)

It looks a little strange, but I positioned the left clamp well forward on the platform to take advantage of a hole near the front. While this was done as a temporary convenience, it provided better balance by placing the two clamps on either side of the pivot for back and forth tilt. I think this reduced stress and made it easier for the head to support the camera. If I stick with this, I may add a plate between the clamps and the head's platform that extends from the rear of the platform to the front of the left clamp. I could anchor the plate at the rear, and at the center and front to correspond with the two clamps.

The lower profile of this PL5 is an advantage, as one might expect. Knocking the back 8X10 standard a bit with a knuckle, the camera shook some. But that damped out after a few moments. The shaking was quite a bit worse with the higher profile, 3039 Manfrotto head. The 3039 is really not usable with this camera.

There remains the question of whether or not this head will work with the 8x20 conversion. I didn't take the time to take the rear standard apart to add the conversion. But, I suspect that it will work. The camera weighs about 25 lbs with the 8X20 conversion installed, and this is the specified maximum for the head. I'll check this out more thoroughly at another time.

I think that the A200 Ries head would work better. But, the head itself has no pan, unless mounted on a Ries tripod. (A Ries tripod enables one to obtain pan by temporarily loosening the head. This won't work on either my Manfrotto tripod, nor on the heavy-duty Linhof. I want to use one of these two tripods; I can't afford both a Ries tripod and an A200.)

Initially, I wondered if a PL5 would be acceptable? But, I don't think that 25 lbs is all that heavy for an 8x20 camera. Anyway, I appreciate everyone's comments. We'll give the PL5 a try in the field. (After I get film!) Hopefully, it will work. If not, on to other options.

neil poulsen
9-Jan-2015, 15:24
Here's the head with the camera. As I indicated above, the camera is pretty close to the maximum specified weight for this Gitzo head. I think that it will work OK. Knocking the back a little, most of the vibration is rotational that can be attributed to the tripod. Mount this setup on a heavy duty Linhof tripod, and it should work just fine.

In assembling this conversion, what strikes me is the suitability of an 8x10 Toyo G for this purpose. It's relatively easy to construct and mount the conversion onto the 8xI0 base, and it's quite solid. While this setup can easily handle any lens that I have, using two 500mm extensions, a Toyo 4x5 bellows, and an intermediate standard, one could photograph with a 40" lens.

I look forward to getting some film and using this camera next summer.

William Whitaker
9-Jan-2015, 18:09

Sent you a PM.