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Thread: Light Tripods: The Weak Link?

  1. #1
    Serious Amateur Photographer pepeguitarra's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Los Angeles Area

    Light Tripods: The Weak Link?

    I have a very light 4x5 (2 pounds), therefore, I got a very light tripod. As a result, I have a system that shakes terrible when inserting and removing the film holder, which causes lost of focus and annoys me like crazy. But, that is not directly related to my question. My question is: with a regular field camera (around 5 pounds) plus the lens, plus the bellows extension and a not-so light tripod, I feel sometimes that the 1/4-inch screwed to the bottom of my camera is not enough to hold a torque created by a momentum of the heavy weight of the lens. Now that I am waiting for my 8x10, I would like to make sure I have enough support. I noticed that the camera comes with two holes to connect the tripod quick release plate: 1/4" and 3/8". Can I get a plate with two screws to at least have the camera supported by two screws? Will one 3/8" be enough for 8x10?, where and how you get those? I saw one "fluid" tripod head for video camera with a 3/8" screw, can I use that? I appreciate your advice. Pepe
    "I have never in my life made music for money or fame. God walks out of the room when you are thinking about money." -- Quincy Jones

  2. #2
    jp's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Re: Light Tripods: The Weak Link?

    Either size screw can hold the bigger camera fine. What becomes important is the flat real estate size atop the tripod. A tiny little cheap tripod has no more space atop it than the qr plate. A big tripod has a helipad for the camera to balance on. Some sort of non-slick surface I think helps too. The cheap tripods adjustments don't hold weight very steady either.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    South Dakota

    Re: Light Tripods: The Weak Link?

    My experience is the same as above.

    Kent in SD
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    miserere nobis.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    May 2010
    St. Louis, Mo.

    Re: Light Tripods: The Weak Link?

    I agree with jp. I favor the Ries double tilt heads for my 8x10. They are more like platforms than tripod heads. You can buy either screw size or both from Ries. They swap out really quick if you have multiple cameras like I do. They are not cheap and are on the heavy side. Of course everything is a trade off with large format.

    If you know our Drew Wiley, he doesn't even use a head on his Ries tripod. Ultimate rigidity!

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Del City, OK

    Re: Light Tripods: The Weak Link?

    Some heads can be fitted with larger QR plates to give you more stability. I've seen several Arca Swiss style plates for sale that are both wider and longer than the ones most tripod heads are supplied with, if your head uses Arca style plates.

    But that only helps if the tripod and head are sturdy, but you're experiencing wobble from the plate. Sometimes with large format, I'll remove the head and mount my camera directly to the tripod. It's easier to get away with on cameras like my Sinar F1 where it has a 3/8" hole to begin with and plenty of movements to compensate for the lack of a head.

  6. #6's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Winona, Minnesota

    Re: Light Tripods: The Weak Link?

    1/4" is okay if you have a broad platform. That said I use mostly 3/8" because I acquired them when I disbelieved 1/4" could be stable, and before having a Ries head.

    In my modest experience a center column is the weak point. I never use one.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Oct 2015

    Re: Light Tripods: The Weak Link?

    What jp said...

    I use a Ries A100 with the original single-tilt head for my 8x10 when working near the car and a surveyor's style carbon fiber tripod with Gitzo G1570m head when hiking any decent distance. If you go with an Arca style head (the Arca Cube is quite solid), you might want to consider this:

  8. #8
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    SF Bay area, CA

    Re: Light Tripods: The Weak Link?

    Wow. I like that description, jp, a "helipad". But like Alan pointed out, I not only omit any tripod head with view cameras, but any kind of QR plate too, so that the maximum surface area of the camera base will be directly bolted to the entire "helipad" tripod platform. It really doesn't take any longer to set up, once you're accustomed to it. Tripod legs themselves should not have any apparent torsion or wobble. I use two sizes of Ries wooden tripods, as well as two sizes of rigid carbon fiber tripods, depending on the format as well as duration of travel. I prefer the "real deal" Ries for most day work, but not for backpacking a hundred miles!

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Guelph, Ontario, Canada

    Re: Light Tripods: The Weak Link?

    I do not love the old style quick release PL plates used on the Manfrotto 410 head. The whole arrangement is painful in comparison to the smaller Arca plates I have. However... the one thing those PL plates have going for them is a lot of surface area, and a very strong mechanism to lock into. (Of course you can get all kinds of bigger Arca plates too.)

  10. #10

    Re: Light Tripods: The Weak Link?

    Julius Shulman used a Tiltall adapted with a very large heavy rectangular mounting plate. Anybody with a home workshop could build this. Worked with his 8x10" Norma
    Flikr Photos Here:

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