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Thread: Tripod for Modified 8x10 Horseman?

  1. #1

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    Tripod for Modified 8x10 Horseman?

    I am modifying an 8x10 Horseman. The big one with the heavy L arms. I'm re-working it to get rid of the rear L arm, which made the thing practically useless out in the field. All I have is my trusty Leitz Tiltall. I need to do something about a tripod without spending a fortune. I've read about the surveyors tripods. As they are though, they just have a top plate with a big hole in them. There's no way to mount a camera to them. There is no tripod head. I was wondering if anybody has any ideas about how to mount a view camera on them via the ordinary 3/8 inch tripod thread. If it turns out something that can't be done, then what can I do about a tripod tat won't cost a bleeding fortune? Thank you.

  2. #2
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Tripod for Modified 8x10 Horseman?

    Why do you need a tripod head? I haven't used one for LF work for the last 40 years. The whole point of a large platform head is that it provides the most stable support when the instrument is bolted directly to it, whether that be a flatbed 8x10 camera or a surveyor instrument. At one time I ordered a lot of US mfg fiberglass-clad wooden survey tripods from CST Bergger, with our own store private label on them. It's super easy to replace the 5/8-11 turnbolt with a 3/8-16 one. Most went to serious construction lasers and auto-level survey optics; but I sold a number to LF photographers too. No, not as deluxe as a maple Ries tripod, which I personally use, but at one fourth the price, plenty adequate. One word of caution ... don't get suckered into the Chinese knockoffs - they might look exactly the same, but sure don't perform the same. You might not like the idea of one of those suddenly collapsing and turning your camera, groundglass, and lens into splinters.

    But if ya just gotta have a tripod head and all that redundant extra weight, as long as it's sturdy enough and has a 3/8-16 tap, there you go. What I'd do with a long heavy monorail like you have in mind is fabricate an adequately long wooden bar out of hardwood 1x3 stock, with a 3/8-16 brass or stainless threaded insert in the middle, and two Horseman rail supports an appropriate distance apart. Then in use, bolt this directly atop the tripod platform using its own turnbolt. That's what I've done for especially heavy or long Sinar setups, as well as for especially bulky heavy MF telephoto lenses. Way more stable and vibration-resistant than any kind of tripod head.

    Aiming a "headless" system is easy with a little practice. Early surveyors had to routinely orient and level everything legs-only method for decades, even atop the most precarious summits. I learned it from an old brass transit and maple tripod my father kept from his own survey career on Federal dam site projects. You could become the authentic "Headless Horsesman"!

  3. #3

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    Re: Tripod for Modified 8x10 Horseman?

    The ones I’ve used have a big hole in the top and a smaller device of some kind lower down. The surveying instrument mounts with a larger bolt, but there’s no reason you can’t put a 3/8 bolt through the holes and use nuts or wing nuts to attach. The large hole in the top can be covered and a 3/8 hole drilled. I’ve found fender washers that work. Cutting a piece of brass or aluminum large enough to cover the hole will also work. A head goes on top. While this may sound unstable, when you get it put together and toghtened down, I’ve found it very stable. Go to a hardware store with lots of fasteners (not big box stores - Ace hardware if there’s one around- and look around.

  4. #4

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    Re: Tripod for Modified 8x10 Horseman?

    Quote Originally Posted by j.e.simmons View Post
    The ones I’ve used have a big hole in the top and a smaller device of some kind lower down. The surveying instrument mounts with a larger bolt, but there’s no reason you can’t put a 3/8 bolt through the holes and use nuts or wing nuts to attach. The large hole in the top can be covered and a 3/8 hole drilled. I’ve found fender washers that work. Cutting a piece of brass or aluminum large enough to cover the hole will also work. A head goes on top. While this may sound unstable, when you get it put together and toghtened down, I’ve found it very stable. Go to a hardware store with lots of fasteners (not big box stores - Ace hardware if there’s one around- and look around.
    I'm very handy. what kind of head are you talking about?

  5. #5

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    Re: Tripod for Modified 8x10 Horseman?

    Thank you Drew Wiley. I am trying to picture in my mind the arrangement you are talking about. Can you recommend a link to the kind of surveyors tripod you might recommend? Here's what I know about surveyors tripods from seeing one for 5 seconds last year: It had a flat top with about a 2 inch hole in it, and they were kind of short. (I'm, 6'4). But it looked like it was likely to be plenty sturdy for something like this Horseman. And I'm used to adjusting leg length to level. I've done it on my Tiltall many times. Sometimes it's the only way to level a camera without the center of balance shifting and risk the whole thing tipping over Thank you.

  6. #6

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    Re: Tripod for Modified 8x10 Horseman?

    Here is a link to a CST Tripod. Perfectly affordable, but would it work, is the question. I wonder what could be done about the pointy feet I see on surveyors' tripods. Not very indoor-friendly, if I had a mind to use it inside. I looked at this Horseman again. It has a 1/4 inch socket in the center of the tripod block, and a 3/8 hole behind it, close to the back edge of the block. THAT doesn't look conducive to mounting stability, having the hole you would want to use, so far from center. But it is what it is. I suppose the reason i posted in the first place was to get ideas on how to adapt a perfectly affordable surveyors tripod to use, without racking my brain figuring out how to get the camera on top of it with stability AND a certain amount of manipulation of where the camera gets pointed. I'll await more posts with anticipation.

  7. #7
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Tripod for Modified 8x10 Horseman?

    Just use non-slip caster cups for the spike feet indoors, or modify the feet. Those spikes are both removable and replaceable. CST also sells a fold-out device for use on indoor floors but I can't quite remember its description. I never sold many of those.

    There are various models, including tall. The best choices are WEDF20HV-ONL and WDF20MXHD-ONL, which extend to 72 inches tall. Don't waste your money on any of the aluminum ones. It's a piece of cake to modify the top platform. Either laminate a new surface atop that, or simply jigsaw a piece on ABS etc, put a 3/8 hole in it, and then rough sand a non-slip texture on it. Just a couple of the numerous ways I've modified these. Of course need something oversize below the platform too, to keep your new turnbolt captured. What I particularly like to use rather than a conventional turnknob is a stainless 3/8-16 hook bolt, allowed things like a light meter or loupe to be easily suspended below.

    As far as more manipulation than just a platform top if necessary, look into those half-bowl socket systems now available from several sources. There's a scooped out lower portion which accepts a half-ball with partial angle adjustment. These have none of the wobble risk or heavy weight of ball heads with stems, and are a lot cheaper too. Of course you could also use something like a Sinar tilt head or a Ries low-platform head; but those don't come cheap.

  8. #8

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    Re: Tripod for Modified 8x10 Horseman?

    Thank you Drew. This short thread had produced a spring board of ideas. This is not a 35mm camera. You're not liable to be pointing the camera up or down or tilting it side to side to extreme angles, so a head become less important. Seems to me all I would need is to put one leg of the tripod between my legs to lenghthen that leg to cock the camera up or down. Then use the leg to my right to level it. As for the top surface, Why not use my trusty new Ender 3 printer to make a top platform for the 3/8 screw to mount the camera on? I might be able to get out of this problem with a hundred bucks. Could it be so easy? I've come up with problem solving fabriacations or repairs in my day. More often than not, they turned into a real quagmire. But I don't recall the last time I gave up without seeing it through. Seems to me this should work. I've mounted this beast atop my Tiltall a few times and it worked. You can mount a train engine on top of a broom handle, if you have a mind to. It was about the same thing.

  9. #9

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    Re: Tripod for Modified 8x10 Horseman?

    I’ve used several Gitzo, a Majestic, and a Sinar head with surveyors tripods. Any should work. I agree with Drew- don’t bother with aluminum tripods.

  10. #10
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Tripod for Modified 8x10 Horseman?

    Yes, it can be so easy. And you might only need to put another twenty bucks into it, not a hundred. If 3D printing is to your liking, why not? I'm more the traditional shop and drill press type with a phD in jerry-rigging. I'm also a long-term addict of the inventory of McMaser Carr with all their little goodies.

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