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Thread: Trying Out An Arca D4 Tripod Head

  1. #1

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    Trying Out An Arca D4 Tripod Head

    Iíve been very satisfied with my Manfrotto 3039, three-way tripod head. This is the Manfrotto upgrade to the Bogan 3047 head thatís so well known. But, Iíve always had a yen for a tripod head thatís gear driven. Perusing EBay, I recently came across an Arca Swiss D4 tripod head that in fact is gear driven. Of course, Iíve seen these Ebay listings before. But, their high price tag ($1K+) has always acted as an effective repellant keeping me from taking a closer look. Until this last week. I mean, it doesnít hurt to take a look. Right? Purchasing from B&H, an item can always be returned. Oh my gosh, they have one model thatís on sale for less than $1K. ($999.) And, B&H offers credit.

    It arrived yesterday. I have to admit, this is one sweet tripod head. It has the characteristic degrees of freedom of a three-way head. (Just like my 3039.) It rotates on itís horizontal base by loosening a small knob. But the front to back tilt and the side to side tilt are both gear driven. Whatís neat, is that each of these gear driven tilts has its own release knob that disengages that particular gear. Release either, and the head can easily and rapidly tilt the full range of motion of the respective degree of freedom. This is what one would expect. But releasing both at the same time effectively converts this three-way head into a ball head! Thatís very cool. I sometimes need a ball head, and this head would give me a three-way head, and a ball head, in the same package. Itís not quite as smooth as an actual ball head; but, itís smooth enough.

    The D4 head is shown in the four photos. The second, third, and fourth photos show close up views of the head; the first photo shows the head with my 4x5 mounted on it. The two light gray, round knobs drive the gears. The two knobs shaped like planetary orbits are the release knobs. Twist the small knob at the base, and the head freely rotates horizontally in either direction. The gears on the D4 head operate very smoothly, making it easy to level a camera in just about any conceivable way. Surprisingly for a gear driven head, the D4 has a maximum load capacity of 75lbs! Unlike my 3039 head, at 1.8 lbs, this head weighs less than my Feisol CF tripod, versus more. Another nice feature, when both gears are adjusted to neutral, the vertical axis of the tripod runs right up through the middle of the head. This is not the case with either of the Manfrotto geared heads.

    The base model that Iím trying out normally stands 4.2 inches tall. But by removing the 3/8Ē thick clamp at the top, one can easily mount other quick release system adapters. The photos show the D4 head mounted with an adapter for Manfrotto hexagonal quick release plates that are used with 3039 heads. Or, one could mount the Linhof quick release system on this head. Etc. Iíve ordered an adapter that will accept and lock onto the bottom of my cameraís rail system without the use of any quick release plate.

    Iíve saved the best feature until last. What really turns my head () with the D4 is that, one can twist the small knob at the top and rotate the adapter separately from the rest of the head. This means that I can horizontally pan the camera regardless of the orientation of the tripod. Very nice! With the 3039, if the tripod plate isnít absolutely horizontal, rotating the base of the head even a little, makes it necessary to completely relevel the camera.

    This one feature may push me over the edge towards keeping this head. Itís expensive. But frankly, Iíd be willing to sell my rearely used 90mm SA XL lens to help make up the difference. And of course, I wouldnít be needing my Manfrotto 3039 head any longer. Hmm. I wonder what else I can sell?

    Itís worth mentioning that there are two other tripod heads currently available on EBay that offer roughly the same features as the D4. One sells for less than $5C. Another has only gear driven knobs with no release feature that sells for quite a bit less than that.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_5764.jpg   A.jpg   C.jpg   B.jpg  

  2. #2

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    Re: Trying Out An Arca D4 Tripod Head

    My wood head is a bit more heavy, adjustable via the 4 feet, and the Arca rail is screwed to the tripod. Same, same, but different

    Sent fra min SM-G975F via Tapatalk

  3. #3

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    Re: Trying Out An Arca D4 Tripod Head

    After the enlarger setup shown for 5x7" I was planning to show my Linhof Kardan on top of my Arca Z1, but remembered wrong. The Linhof rail will only fit my Hejnar 3"1/4 or 83mm arca-clamp, 2. picture.

    The manfrotto hexagonal clamp in between Arca camera and Arca head is quite funny! The Linhof rail can actually be used with 1/4" or 3/8" and slide, so my plans for making it smaller is put on ice.

    The only drawback with these heads: there is no way back.
    I tried the Sinar two-way, Burzynski ball head and a couple of Grafs, but now there is no head or an Arca.
    I just bought a Majestic gear head in need of CLA, thinking I would use it in house, but at moment have no need for it.

    Sent fra min SM-G975F via Tapatalk

  4. #4

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    Mar 2014
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    Re: Trying Out An Arca D4 Tripod Head

    Quote Originally Posted by neil poulsen View Post
    The base model that I’m trying out normally stands 4.2 inches tall. But by removing the 3/8” thick clamp at the top, one can easily mount other quick release system adapters. The photos show the D4 head mounted with an adapter for Manfrotto hexagonal quick release plates that are used with 3039 heads. Or, one could mount the Linhof quick release system on this head. Etc. I’ve ordered an adapter that will accept and lock onto the bottom of my camera’s rail system without the use of any quick release plate.
    Why bother with all that Manfrotto hex nonsense, or even consider adding a Linhof quick release? The rail of your Arca Swiss camera fits perfectly into the default clamp of your, wait for it... Arca Swiss head.
    Last edited by alan_b; 21-Nov-2021 at 13:02.

  5. #5

    Re: Trying Out An Arca D4 Tripod Head

    What? you've sold out your principle for 1 penny? :P But kidding aside, life is short so if it's within one's mean, why the hell not! Ever since gotten into the geared head game at the introduction of 410, I can never go back to anything that is not geared. I mean I still have heads that are not geared but it's alway my first option when I have the choice.

  6. #6

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    Re: Trying Out An Arca D4 Tripod Head

    Quote Originally Posted by alan_b View Post
    Why bother with all that Manfrotto hex nonsense, or even consider adding a Linhof quick release? The rail of your Arca Swiss camera fits perfectly into the default clamp of your, wait for it... Arca Swiss head.
    I agree, except that the default clamp I received is much too narrow. (Not really sure what quick release plate fits into that clamp?) So, the Manfrotto hex adapter that I had on hand is just temporary until the one I ordered arrives.

    That aside, I thought it would be worth mentioning how easy it is to change quick release adapters. Put another way, this tripod head isn't restricted only to Arca Swiss cameras or quick release plates.

  7. #7

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    Re: Trying Out An Arca D4 Tripod Head

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslolens View Post
    My wood head is a bit more heavy, adjustable via the 4 feet, and the Arca rail is screwed to the tripod. Same, same, but different

    Sent fra min SM-G975F via Tapatalk
    Far less expensive, and probably just as sturdy. Home made, even.

  8. #8

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    Re: Trying Out An Arca D4 Tripod Head

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslolens View Post
    . . . The only drawback with these heads: there is no way back.
    This occurred to me. If ever I wanted to sell this head, it's doubtful I could even come close to what I'll need to pay to keep it. But likely, keep it I will. It's really a nice head. (Better than the one I have.)

  9. #9

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    May 2006
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    Re: Trying Out An Arca D4 Tripod Head

    For people who use Arca heads, how do you put on a RRS level clamp on it?

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Re: Trying Out An Arca D4 Tripod Head

    Quote Originally Posted by neil poulsen View Post
    I agree, except that the default clamp I received is much too narrow. (Not really sure what quick release plate fits into that clamp?)
    Sounds like an Arca "Monoball Fix" clamp. Check if it fits the upper extension rails of your camera.

    I think it's an option to buy their heads with the Monoball Fix clamp or the standard Arca 2-step clamp that contains both.

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