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Thread: 8x10 platform head options

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Reykjavík, Iceland
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    8x10 platform head options

    Hello all, I was wondering if you could help me. I currently have two very good tripod/head options that are unfortunately not working perfectly for me. I currently shoot LF with a Chamonix 810V and an Ebony SV45Ti. When I first got the Chamonix I was having issues with vibration and camera movement. My setup at the time was the RRS BH55 and TVC33 legs. They had served me well for fifteen years and continue to do so for my smaller cameras. The problem was that the quick release plate allowed for too much flex in the camera body. The head itself would be solid, but since the contact point between the clamp and the camera was quite small, the camera was not as steady as I would like, particularly in the Icelandic wind.

    At the advice of the members, I switched to a wooden Ries tripod and head, and I cannot argue that they are much more stable. They really are. Still, the leg system and camera mounting is slow to work with and I find I struggle a bit with the knobs being quite rough on the hands (I know this sounds like a minor thing, but struggling with ice cold, somewhat sharp aluminum knobs in the Icelandic weather is not fun, particularly as it is awkward to get under the camera with gloves on). The weight and size of the tripod is also fine for near the car, but a real struggle to walk with. I know that 8x10 is always a trade off, but I was wondering if there was a good platform or geared head that does not use a quick release system that could fit on the TVC 33 that might allow me to have something that is easier and quicker to setup and mount the camera. Something like the Arca Swiss cube looks great in theory, but I know from experience that the quick release attachment point will be the weak point in my system. Does anyone have any ideas? In the meantime I will probably try the Ries head on the TVC 33 again, but I would like to know other options if people have them.

    Thank you!

  2. #2

    Re: 8x10 platform head options

    If you'd like to stay in the RRS "ecosystem" one possibility might be to try a leveling base sans head--I think most people level the tripod before attaching the camera, but then use the leveling base for fine adjustments. If you needed more Z-axis adjustment, a Sinar pan/tilt head might be a bit lighter/more compact than the Ries head, though of course you would have to adjust yaw with your tripod legs. Otherwise, given that you're using pretty light cameras, it might worth seeing if you're picking up shutter vibration if you happen to be using lenses in shutters bigger than Copal 1's.

  3. #3

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    Re: 8x10 platform head options

    On the advice of a member of this forum who is a highly accomplished commercial photographer, I started using a Gitzo levelling base several years ago, stopped using ball heads, etc. and haven't looked back. Gitzo's "Systematic" system has become a de facto standard, and I would think that Gitzo's and RRS's levelling bases, as well as a number of others, are interchangeable. Levelling with tripod legs combined with the 15° that a levelling base gives you is not rocket science, and the result is an extremely solid, stable platform. I do have a Manfrotto geared head for the rare occasions that I want geared precision.

    A levelling base uses a bowl, usually either 75mm or 100mm in diameter. If you're going to use a bowl, a well-made cinema camera fluid head is also an option. I have a Miller CX6, and lately I've been trying it out with my Arca-Swiss 4x5/8x10. I think that it's a great combination, just a pleasure to use.

    Miller fluid heads are made in Australia. I'd suggest also having a look at fluid heads made by Cartoni (Italy) and Sachtler (made in Costa Rica, but highly regarded). There's no question that a fluid head will work. It's just a matter of what size you need in terms of load capacity. Depending on your camera weight, in the Miller line you might be OK with a CX2.

    Like you, I have a Ries tripod and head. It's a great tripod, but I understand the point you're making about them.

    The three photos below show my CX6 with a Blackmagic cinema camera and with my Arca-Swiss set up for 4x5.


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    Last edited by r.e.; 9-Aug-2021 at 10:54.

  4. #4

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    Re: 8x10 platform head options

    I forgot the big attraction of a cinema camera fluid head...

    The point of a fluid head is that when you balance a camera on the head, it will stay put regardless of its horizontal or vertical position. This is partly the result of weight distribution (the camera plate on a fluid head can be moved forward and backwards), and partly the result of the head's counterbalance mechanism. You carry out the balancing for each camera/lens combination. Once you've done it, balance for a given combination is easily repeatable.

    The result is that changing the position of the camera is effortless and accident proof. In the photos below, the camera is not locked down. I just tilted the camera into those positions, and it stayed there all by itself. Didn't move a millimetre. The Fujinon MK ciné lens in the photos is worth several thousand dollars. I had no hesitation in walking away to take these phone snaps.

    This behaviour is what makes it possible to get smooth footage while tilting the camera up or down, and it's also key to getting smooth pans. In addition, it prevents the camera from suddenly tilting over by accident. Basically, it makes control of the camera's position effortless.

    It sure beats wrestling an 8x10 into position


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  5. #5

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    Re: 8x10 platform head options

    If you aren't using an RRS plate on the bottom of your camera, that might be part of the problem. Each manufacturer seems to have slightly different dimensions/shape.

    The problem also might be due to the quick release plate to the camera interface. There have been several postings about larger quick release plates for cameras. I believe Kessler was said to be compatible: https://kesslercrane.com/pages/kwik-release

    Good luck,
    Jeff

  6. #6
    Foamer
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    Re: 8x10 platform head options

    I use the heavier Kodak 2D 8x10. When I need to lighten the weight I remove the tripod head and screw the camera directly to the tripod. A leveling base would probably make this a little easier.
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  7. #7
    William Whitaker's Avatar
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    Re: 8x10 platform head options

    FLM CP-38. I still have my Rieses (2 Ries, A & J...) But the CP-38 works fabulously well from 5x7 through 8x10 to 12x20. For the last I use a half-ball strictly for levelling as that's all a pano camera needs, 99 44/100% of the time.
    For 5x7 and 8x10 (Ansco) I use a Gitzo G 1370M low-profile head and it's a winning combination, IMHO. The 1370 is slightly smaller than the later 1570, but quite capable for the 8x10. I found it used at a very favorable price. New equipment can be so expensive!

    Ari Tapiero on this forum is N.A. distributor for FLM. I don't know who handles Iceland. But I'm sure Ari could advise.
    If you want more info on using it, feel free to PM.
    Cheers!
    Last edited by William Whitaker; 10-Aug-2021 at 12:29.

  8. #8
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: 8x10 platform head options

    Just dig up any of my numerous past comments on this subject. The basic top to itself of a Ries tripod or certain similar designs with a wide crown IS a platform top. I just bolt the 8x10 right to it. No head needed. It's by far the most stable way of doing things; and once you're accustomed to adjusting via legs only, setup becomes very quick and intuitive. It also saves you the weight of a head. That's how early surveyors did it even atop dicey mountain summits for decades. My father was initially a surveyor for the Grand Coulee dam project, and did it that way. Growing up, that's how he taught me with an old brass transit and wooden tripod. And surveyors were expected to routinely set up their equipment far more accurately than we photographers need to do. I no longer use heads for 4x5 work either.

    If I did opt for a head, it would itself need to provide as much platform effect as possible. Ries' own version is nice. The larger Gitzo low-profle head is nice, though not ideal for my own stability expectations with an 8x10. My bigger CF Feisol tripod accepts one of those dedicated "half-bowl" leveling devices,which makes sense, though I don't personally use one. With my Sinar monorails (versus flatbed view cameras), I prefer the older low-profile Norma-style rail clamp to the later taller ones.
    Last edited by Drew Wiley; 9-Aug-2021 at 13:38.

  9. #9

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    Jan 2019
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    8x10 platform head options

    I don’t know why the arca plate would be the issue, but if it is I recommend this plate which I use successfully with a Chamonix 8x10 and a BH55 without issues:

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1315979-REG

    It provides a wide support so maybe it’ll take care of your problem.

    I also use an RSS leveling head but sometime I know I need to point to the foreground so in those cases 15deg is not enough and I default to the BH55.

    I also have a Feisol CB-70D which has an even larger ball of 70mm… that thing handles my heavy non folding 8x10 without issues, but it’s a bit heavier than the BH-55.

    I know many here will advocate for no balls etc… but sometimes there’s no option, and if you hike and stuff carrying a video fluid head is just…. too much weight. I personally I’ve done fine with them. If it’s too windy the problem is not the ball head….

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Reykjavík, Iceland
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    Re: 8x10 platform head options

    Thank you all for the help. I will explore these solutions. I have already tried using the tripod without a head, or with just the leveling base. Neither were ideal for me. I have a first generation leveling platform with the RRS and I find it quite awkward to use as it is quite short and with a heavy camera it is easy to get your hands trapped between the legs and the handle. Again, I know this sounds ridiculous, but it happens to me frequently. I probably experience this more than most as I do a lot of close up photography and images of things on the ground etc. So using legs alone does not really cut it for me. Also, the screw that is included with the legs is really long, so when I screw it into the ebony, it goes so far into the camera that it pops up through the screwhole and blocks the focusing track, so you have to be careful not to do it in the wrong position, or you will break the camera. Again, not ideal. I think the Ries head probably is the most practical for me, but I will keep looking based on all your suggestions and see if I can find some of the suggested heads to look at and hopefully try.

    Regarding the RRS plate, I was using an RRS plate that I bought based upon their advice. I cannot remember the number, but it was fairly long and had two screws. At least in trying to flex the camera, the problem is not so much the plate itself, but the area where the clamp meets the dovetail on the plate. It is hard to explain, but easy to demonstrate if you are standing next to it. By contrast, with the big flat platform of the Ries, there is no flex. So in that aspect, it is great.
    In any case, a photo of the current setup and a typical orientation (and the photo, just to liven things up).

    Just curious about whether anyone has tried the Linhof 3D micro quickfix head? Is the Linhof system any sturdier than RRS? It looks like it might have a sturdier dovetail coupling than RRS/Arca

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    (Apologies for the tiny and terrible looking pictures...they shrank considerably and were crushed by compression after I uploaded them...)

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