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Thread: Lightweight Tripod for Sinar Norma Inspired by Julius Shulman

  1. #1

    Lightweight Tripod for Sinar Norma Inspired by Julius Shulman

    Lightweight Solid Norma Tripod Julius Shulman 1 by Nokton48, on Flickr

    I am a huge fan of Julius Shulman and the volume of work he produced in the Los Angeles area and elsewhere during the 30s to the 80s. Among his many published books is "Photographing Architecture and Interiors", which I intensely studied 30 years ago. One snippet of information regarding equipment, Shulman used primarily the Sinar Norma 4x5 and 8x10. What I always thought was super cool was his tripod for all this work, it was the classic original Leitz Tiltall which was very sturdy and solid, he used a modified version for 8x10 and 4x5 Norma shooting. The original mounting plate was removed, and replaced with a solid 1/2" thick metal block which is super sturdy and solid. I used the pictures in his book to guide me. Notice how it just fits the Norma Tripod Clamp, the original rectangular plate was too small for Norma.

    I just bought a machinists Band Saw from Lil Machine Shops, so bought a block of aluminum and cut it down with the new saw. Then drilled out mounting holes and countersunk them with drill press. Stainless steel bolts hold it all together super tightly, it's not coming apart.

    Using this tripod with the 4x5 Norma in WA configuration is a joy and I could carry this around all day if I had to. Eventually I will try this with the 8x10 Norma and I have no doubt it will do the job. It worked for Shulman.

    I have an old friend , whose Dad who knew Shulman and lived in the area at the time. He was also a photographer and Man he reveled when I told of my longtime interest in Shulman and his work. What a small world.

    BTW the Norma, the tripod and the lens are all brand new to me. The lens is an original 90mm F5.6 chrome barrel Sinar Norma Super Angulon, with direct acting iris "mickey mouse" for behind the camera aperture control. The lens came from Germany and looks brand new. Super Nice and much brighter than my F8 90mm Super Angulons to look through. This vintage would be towards the end of Norma production. Much fun ahead.

    This is -exactly- the same matched setup that Shulman shows in the above book.
    Last edited by Daniel Unkefer; 8-Sep-2021 at 05:47.
    Flikr Photos Here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/18134483@N04/

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  2. #2

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    Re: Lightweight Tripod for Sinar Norma Inspired by Julius Shulman

    When I was a student at RIT in the 1970s, the Leitz Tiltall tripods were the most popular tripod to be signed out from the Cage (equipment sign out room) for 35mm to 4x5 formats. If I remember correctly some of them had their mounting plates replaced but probably because of misuse and not for more stability. Actually they may have been very, very similar STAR-D Professional tripods. Very cold tripods to use during cold winter spells in Rochester, but they always seemed to work.

  3. #3

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    Re: Lightweight Tripod for Sinar Norma Inspired by Julius Shulman

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg View Post
    When I was a student at RIT in the 1970s, the Leitz Tiltall tripods were the most popular tripod to be signed out from the Cage (equipment sign out room) for 35mm to 4x5 formats. If I remember correctly some of them had their mounting plates replaced but probably because of misuse and not for more stability. Actually they may have been very, very similar STAR-D Professional tripods. Very cold tripods to use during cold winter spells in Rochester, but they always seemed to work.
    And, if you loosened the wrong knob by mistake it became a knuckle buster when that column came down on your hand!

  4. #4

    Re: Lightweight Tripod for Sinar Norma Inspired by Julius Shulman

    I have pinched my knuckles a couple of times with the Star-D side locks, with my kinda heavy Plaubel Makiflexes. Now I use that tripod for my Minoltas and Hasselblads. Nothing too heavy. First time around I made the aluminum block I used my Star-D top plate as a pattern. I found that I couldn't tighten the plate on so that I was confident with it. I think the Star-D metal alloy is softer, the old old old Tiltall is really way better aluminum for this project. This old Tiltall does have a beautiful patina, I'll be giving it a good clean next. With a 4x5 I wouldn't use the center column. I'm surprised how solid it is now. No wonder Shulman carried it around for quite a while. I'll shoot another picture when I get my 8x10 Norma on it.
    Last edited by Daniel Unkefer; 7-Sep-2021 at 04:04.
    Flikr Photos Here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/18134483@N04/

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    Re: Lightweight Tripod for Sinar Norma Inspired by Julius Shulman

    Far be it from me to disagree with a master like Julius Shulman. But I think that a 4x5 Norma is too much for a Tiltall, and I have both. In fact I think my 4x5 Zone VI, a bit lighter, is still too heavy.
    Perhaps it's because my Tiltall is a Marchioni (original) model, and thus over 50 years old, and who knows what abuse it had suffered before I rescued it from a dumpster? it seems to me that the clamping effect of the tilt knobs is inadequate for cameras that heavy. The camera's weight up above seems to overpower them. The legs are strong enough, though.
    It seems that the Tiltall was designed for 8mm movie cameras... mine has worked fine with Leicas, Rollei TLRs, Hassies, film and digital Nikons, my long-gone Tachihara 4x5, and the Z-VI (often enough).

    I will admit to breaking a Star-D (that cheap imitation) by putting an Ansco 8x10 on top of it... but that was 40 years ago and there was no money for proper gear in those days.

  6. #6

    Re: Lightweight Tripod for Sinar Norma Inspired by Julius Shulman

    Mine is a Marchioni original also which I wanted specifically. Finding decent specimens is getting to be more difficult. I remember when these were like thirty dollar tripods but not any more. I do think the alloys making up the aluminum appear to be quite strong. If I chicken out I'll use this with my Plaubel Makiflexes and Hasselblads. The bigger tripod mount footprint helps a lot. Since Shulman time tested this I want to give it a good go.

    I used the Zone VI lightweight back in the day with 4x5 and some 8x10 Norma without incident and outdoors I enjoyed using it actually. Works way better with the Sinar Pan Tilt Norma Head.
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    Re: Lightweight Tripod for Sinar Norma Inspired by Julius Shulman

    Original Tiltall's are by far the best metal tripods I ever owned. Every time I see one at a show I test it, and usually buy it. My wooden tripods are all Otto's, the smallest and lightest of which is ample for my 8x10 Wisner, and 7x17 and 5x12 Koronas. I often wonder why I even buy the larger ones.

  8. #8
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Lightweight Tripod for Sinar Norma Inspired by Julius Shulman

    I wonder what happened to my brother's old Tiltall. He bought it used and set up his 4x5 Technika on it, as well as SLR cameras. I eventually inherited it, but vaguely remember that it was just too corroded from decades of exposure to salt air to still be reliable. Maybe it's still on my loft somewhere, maybe not. Yeah, they'll support a Sinar monorail. Probably the best bang for the buck tripod ever made. At the Brooks photo academy my brother attended, it's what nearly all the students owned back then.

    I personally used a Gitzo aluminum Reporter for my Sinar early on; have the CF equivalent now. But I certainly prefer a taller Ries wooden tripod. Had a Zone VI one once - a disappointing piece of junk - gave it away to an office companion for his amateur telescope use.

  9. #9

    Re: Lightweight Tripod for Sinar Norma Inspired by Julius Shulman

    I have plenty of tripods that are -heavy- and I have wanted this for going lighter. Recently I did something to my back and that has gotten me thinking about weight and solidity with Norma out in the field. I can throw this over my shoulder and carry a small soft bag full of stuff. And be pretty portable.

    I own this program on Shulman and watched it again last night. It is beautiful and moving

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6v6JeCEZ19M

    And see here if not familiar

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTcJBgRSISg

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcKx6laYlLM

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eto9mHoXLYg
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  10. #10

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    Re: Lightweight Tripod for Sinar Norma Inspired by Julius Shulman

    Another regular user of the Marchioni type Tiltall for all formats up to medium weight 4X5 here... (My Tek III loves being on it, even in a breeze...) A little bulky, but finding the right bag with shoulder strap makes it ok to schlepp around...

    The weak point on all models is the connection between the head and column... The head slides onto the column tube, but is only secured by a bolt hole through the tube, travels a gap, and threads inside... After heavy use & time, the tube hole enlarges and allows the head to slightly rock a little bit... I had a machinist make an aluminum plug that goes into the tube, drilled/tapped around the head 4 holes on the base of head, and threaded into the plug... This really secured the head to the tube on my tripods... A significant upgrade that was needed!!!

    And on one of my tripods, some of the leg tension screws broke over time, but found aerospace grade replacement bolts that worked very well...

    Another addition for 'pod was that after leaving it in a hot car for awhile, the leg locks could be hard to loosen, but I rolled up a neoprene mouse pad and put inside the bottom center column, so if it got stuck, I could use it to get a better grip on the locking ring...

    I posted some repair tips here some years ago on Tiltalls you can search for...

    Steve K

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