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Thread: Finding tripods for Large Format is kinda hard (daunting)? Favorite LF tripod?

  1. #1

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    Finding tripods for Large Format is kinda hard (daunting)? Favorite LF tripod?

    I feel like I failed with having to ask yet another tripod question here. But it's a bit of information overload and hard to find large format recommendations from the manufacturers directly. So I apologize if this is a bit of a re-hash but thought I'd ask since some of the previous threads are now several years old that I was able to dig up.

    So I have a MeFoto RoadTrip and an Sirui T-025X that I use for all my cameras. The 025X I've used for backpacking with the Intrepid 4x5 even and it works rather well (bring a bag for rocks!). The RoadTrip also does a good job with all my cameras (including my Chamonix 45F2). But it isn't always the most stable, is a bit short, and might be precarious for 8x10. I'm sure it could support the weight of an 8x10, at least the Intrepid, but that might be asking a lot, especially at the taller heights.

    Trying to find a more stout tripod that can handle 8x10 and is a bit taller. Being able to turn the center post 90 degrees would be a nice, but not need, to have as well. I don't have real opinions on ball vs pan/tilt heads much either. I currently use ball heads and I haven't had any major issues.

    Given what I've read so far (here and elsewhere), that kinda points Manfrotto MT055XPRO3 tripod and something like the 502AH head (it's a video pan/tilt but I think that'd work for large format?). The Aluminum one in my case because the carbon one has skyrocketed in price. But I also saw a Benro A2573F and K&F Concept S210 (the latter being the least expensive of the lot).

    Anyone have experience with these? Pretty sure I've seen the Manfrotto X-Pro 3 recommended and I'm leaning that way given it's well known and has some use-cases, but I'm less sure about pan/tilt heads and things of that sort.

  2. #2
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Finding tripods for Large Format is kinda hard (daunting)? Favorite LF tripod?

    When it comes to supporting view cameras, you really can't expect cheap lightweight ordinary tripods to perform adequately. Ignore published weight ratings. What counts is vibration and flex resistance. One very affordable option is to convert a wooden fiberglass-clad survey tripod to camera use by simply changing out its 5/8-11 inch turnbolt with a standard camera thread 3/8-16 turnbolt. Avoid cheap Chinese versions. A decent US brand like CST will run you 150 bucks or so, or be an even better bargain used. Of course, a real deal Ries maple wood tripod like many of use is a wonderful thing to work with, but far more expensive. When it comes to carbon fiber, you really need to test them for stability with reference to the specific LF camera you have in mind. There are numerous brand options, but anything appropriate for LF work is going to run at least three or four hundred dollars. Used big aluminum tripods will cost less, but be a bit heavier. But this is not an equipment arena where you want to compromise. LF film itself is somewhat getting expensive, and any situation there is vibration or wobble during an exposure is a wasted piece of film, and worse, wasted effort. Get the most solid tripod you can realistically afford, and the best head (an associated topic, but I don't use any tripod head at all, for sake of optimal stability).

  3. #3
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Finding tripods for Large Format is kinda hard (daunting)? Favorite LF tripod?

    To make it easier for us, please make links to the products you consider

    The general rule here is big wood https://www.riestripod.com/
    image

  4. #4
    Eric Woodbury
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    Re: Finding tripods for Large Format is kinda hard (daunting)? Favorite LF tripod?

    I have 3 8x10 capable tripods: a wooden Miller, an aluminum Paillard, and a carbon fiber Gitzo. The Gitzo was terribly expensive. The Miller is for cinema cameras and is the strongest, most solid and comfortable tripod of the lot. I got this one from Morley Baer. Miller has since given up on wood and has moved to Australia. Paillard is similar in design to Miller with trombone legs. These are available used and are very cheap.

    I carry tripod and camera on my shoulder. The Miller style is the most comfortable for this; the Gitzo the least. I use a Gitzo head on all of these and make no use of the ball and socket style used for cinema.

  5. #5
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Finding tripods for Large Format is kinda hard (daunting)? Favorite LF tripod?

    The truth is we all have at least 3 mistake tripods

    and only you can decide
    image

  6. #6

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    Re: Finding tripods for Large Format is kinda hard (daunting)? Favorite LF tripod?

    Thanks folks! I hadn't though about a surveyor's tripod hah that's clever! And wow Ries looks beautiful! Also hadn't though to look at cinema tripods, hmm interesting!

    Fair point on the links Tin. The ones I was looking at in my original post are:

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...ead.html/specs
    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...ipod_with.html
    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...ra_tripod.html

    I'd expect K&F to be likely worse than the tripods I already have, I just noticed it was taller but clearly is built to an extremely low price and I'd expect that's a no-go. Benro I also just saw by browsing B&H but didn't find info on it.

    Of those, I was originally most interested in the Manfrotto. This site was shared in one of the threads a few years old - it doesn't have nearly every tripod, but seems to have the common ones I hear about (just not in the context of large format):

    https://thecentercolumn.com/tripod-reviews/

  7. #7
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Finding tripods for Large Format is kinda hard (daunting)? Favorite LF tripod?

    NONE of the above. Avoid anything with a center column, or else remove that portion of it; it will be counterproductive for typical LF applications. Mt own lightweight relatively affordable CF tripod for 8x10 use is a Feisol CT3472 with the optional spike feet; and I've tweaked the top somewhat for direct platform attachment using a turnbolt (analogous to the Ries method), since that is easy to do on this model. I regard it as a wise old-age investment if my preferred large Ries eventually gets too heavy for me. I have an equivalent pair of triods for 4X5 and MF applications instead, namely, a lighter wt Gitzo CF and a medium weight Ries wooden tripod. If you can possibly afford a Ries, do it. It's the one brand which probably everyone on this forum agrees about. It often helps to have the sheer bully mass of a somewhat heavy wooden tripod, especially in the wind.

  8. #8
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Finding tripods for Large Format is kinda hard (daunting)? Favorite LF tripod?

    My first and last tripos were new, the other 8 all used

    The used ones get more use

    And studio stands are my favorite

    I bought 2 of these used for $200 with Majestic heads 9 years ago

    and nobody still wants them

    none for sale
    image

  9. #9
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Finding tripods for Large Format is kinda hard (daunting)? Favorite LF tripod?

    Combining two active threads : mountain lion attacks photographer with a big shiny studio stand and a pile of flash gear strapped to his bicycle. Tripods per se generally factor in portability in these discussions, at least in a sense studio stands do not. Depends on which kind of work you plan to do.

  10. #10
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: Finding tripods for Large Format is kinda hard (daunting)? Favorite LF tripod?

    One of those $100 tripods will only hold a DSLR with a small lens.. Not even great for a DSLR and big lens, much less large format.

    For a smaller 4x5 a $100 real Leitz or Marchioni Tiltall will get you by as well as a $200-250 tripod. These were used by the icons of mid-century photography for medium format, etc...

    For more than that, look for a used Ries tripod and head. I have a J series for 4x5 (I put a 3025 head on it) and an A series (with Ries head) for bigger cameras. Both bought used on the forum here. They are good outdoor all weather tripods. Fine for indoor too, but there are many aluminum choices and traditional camera stands for indoor heavy duty as well.

    The survey tripods are good too if you don't mind not having a tripod head or don't mind needing to adapt a tripod head.

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