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Thread: Old Berlebach UNI tripod?

  1. #1
    cyberjunkie's Avatar
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    Old Berlebach UNI tripod?

    I am purchasing the tripod in the attached picture.
    I don't know if it's just vendor lazyness, or language barrier, but i couldn't get any other information but a VERY basic description in german language.
    It looks like a Berlebach tripod (and so it's called by the vendor).
    It looks to have a swiveling column, but I had no positive answer about it, nor about maximum height.
    The Berlebach catalog, available online, is of little help, as it's an older model.
    There is a similar item on sale on Ebay now, item # 150969915569, with nice description, lots of pics, and sold with its original Berlebach head.
    The only difference is the all-aluminium hardware, while mine is painted black (apart from the column).
    I decided to go for the cheaper alternative because i am on a tight budget, and i already have the same head at home (BTW, the Ebay tripod, albeit not advertised as a Berlebach, is already fetching more than what i'm paying for mine... that's the difference between domestic-only and open sales!).

    Can you recognize the tripod version from the picture?
    Is it an old UNI version?
    I see no spreader stops. It could be a nuisance, or even an advantage in some conditions; what's your experience?
    Do you know if the new stops can be fitted to older models?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Berlebach UNI old version.JPG  
    have fun
    CJ

    WTB (and pay good monet for):
    soft back cell for Ilex Photoplastic 5x7
    disks for Imagon 420mm
    5x7 back for Calumet C1
    5x7 conversion for Bi-System

    for sale
    Photographica

  2. #2
    cyberjunkie's Avatar
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    Re: Old Berlebach UNI tripod?

    I am giving the first answer myself.
    I contacted the Berlebach support via email, sending them the picture of the tripod, and got a negative reply.
    The new sliders, which control the angle of spreadng of the legs, can't be mounted on old models.
    I hope that at least the rubber caps for the feet spikes will be available.

    I hope to get the tripod soon - i payed with a money transfer - because it will be a perfect match for the Christmas gift of my wife: a perfectly restored Century Universal 8x10".
    In the meantime i got an answer about the max height: 180cm. I don't know how much the legs were spreaded...

    I would be happy if an owner of the same (old) model will chime in, reporting about his personal experience.
    I am in doubt about the ease of use of a tripod without leg stops.
    I have at home the material to assemble a leg-stopper chain, with clips for fast removal, but i am not sure it would be a positive addition.
    I am also unsure about the choice of the tripod head, so i am curious to know which head you use, and why.
    I have a large Schiansky ball head, and a nice Berlebach pan/tilt head, with a nice streamlined design.
    Both are not heavy, and take small room. Perfect for a very light 8x10", but a little undersized for a much heavier camera like my Calumet C1.
    I have seen low-height Gitzo heads, which have a large platform, but don't look to be super heavy.
    What do you think?
    Any other advice? The choice is restricted to relatively cheap second-hand heads, that can be found on Ebay with a certain ease.
    have fun
    CJ

    WTB (and pay good monet for):
    soft back cell for Ilex Photoplastic 5x7
    disks for Imagon 420mm
    5x7 back for Calumet C1
    5x7 conversion for Bi-System

    for sale
    Photographica

  3. #3
    the Docter is in Arne Croell's Avatar
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    Re: Old Berlebach UNI tripod?

    Yes, that is an old UNI. I have one, bought it a few months after the Berlin wall came down for a ridiculously low price. Its all ash wood, aluminum, and steel, and weighs a ton, but its the sturdiest tripod I have ever seen and owned (if you don't extend the center column much). the center column swivels, yes.
    I never had a problem with the legs spreading - the three aluminum levers (visible in the photo) are easily and finely adjustable to tune the friction of the legs in the joint and can clamp them down well, too. I bought an adjustable wooden floor "spider", also from Berlebach, to go with it which serves as spreader stop and keep the spikes away from the floor indoors. I either use the Berlebach three-way head that came with it or the similar but lighter Linhof 3663 three-way head.

  4. #4
    cyberjunkie's Avatar
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    Re: Old Berlebach UNI tripod?

    Thanks for your input.
    When you say that it's very heavy, you mean that the new UNI tripods are much lighter?
    I have seen the old UNI tripods in two colors, with the same old-style geared column:
    all aluminium, and black with aluminium column (like mine).
    Then, at some time, the metal hardware was substituted with a nice black plastic, which is sturdy and light.
    I guess that the new ones are somewhat lighter, not just a small difference.

    I read that you purchased the nice wooden "spider", to protect delicate floor from the spikes.
    Do you know if the old models came with rubber feet?

    I have a few VERY old Linhof heads, and a battered one, still perfectly functional, is my only head with a decent (read: large) platform.
    BTW, the Schiansky ball head is identical to one of those old, giant ball heads, which were sold with the Linhof brand.
    Unfortunately i am not aware of all the recent models, and i am NOT at ease with all the Linhof model numbers, so i made a search: wow, the 3663 is the 3-way leveling head!
    Definitely a very nice choice.
    I'd be content with the simple flat one (3659), to be used in place of a traditional head (or in addition to it).

    P.S.
    If you are still interested in ex-DDR LF lenses, contact me via PM.
    I think i have seen a couple of lenses which are not in your list.
    have fun
    CJ

    WTB (and pay good monet for):
    soft back cell for Ilex Photoplastic 5x7
    disks for Imagon 420mm
    5x7 back for Calumet C1
    5x7 conversion for Bi-System

    for sale
    Photographica

  5. #5
    the Docter is in Arne Croell's Avatar
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    Re: Old Berlebach UNI tripod?

    No, I think the weight of the old and new UNI tripods are about the same, except for the small hardware differences you mentioned. I have the all-aluminum one. The "floor spider" had rubber feet, yes. The new version of it on their web site looks pretty much the same as my old one.

    Arne

  6. #6
    cyberjunkie's Avatar
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    Re: Old Berlebach UNI tripod?

    Arne,
    i sent you two messages re: "eastern block lenses"
    Your mailbox is full.
    Please make space and i'll resend them

    BTW, i just got the old UNI tripod.
    The only problem i found is that some of the "hammered-style" paint on the feet got away because the extremities were rounded in an very adhesive tape!
    Lesson learned. Next time i will soak the tape in alcohol, before attempting the removal.
    The double spike on the feet is very good for field use, but i think that i will look for rubber caps of the right size. With the caps fitted, it would be easier to avoid damage to the upholstery of the car, and they would also prevent slipping on smooth surfaces.
    If the tripod is used on tarmac roads, going back and forth from the side of the road to the nearby field, it is best to leave it as-is. The double-spiked feet look to be as good for a soft ground, as for an asphalt surface.
    At first i was overwhelmed by the weight. It is almost as heavy as my Fatif geared studio tripod.
    I didn't think a wooden tripod could be so heavy!
    In fact, the modern Report series don't use so much wood, and the hardware is heavy plastic, for the most part.
    The modern UNI tripods are advertised for 20Kg (with column) or 30Kg (without), so i guess that my tripod could support 30Kg with the column set home, and 20Kg with the column (partly) extended.
    The construction is incredibly solid, i think that there are NO cameras which would stress such a tripod!
    The ball/column system is very well made, and does the job of a good leveling head. I was going to buy a Linhof or Manfrotto accessory leveling head, to level the camera in one easy step. Now i see such head as redundant, if i need that function i can choose to use the Berlebach. BTW, a second-hand leveling head (big size) would cost about 1/2 of what i paid for my tripod
    Two notes about the swiveling column:
    it is very robust as long as you don't extend the column too much
    the air bubble is small, and not easy to see in dim light; i think i will glue another one on the opposite side of the collar (i have to find a round one, with colored liquid)
    The overall design is simple, but well engineered.
    The geared column is self-dampening, because of the design of the gear/track (though the crank sometimes gets in the way).
    The clamping of the "ball" is solid, but not as smooth as some first-class mechanical constructions.
    The locking of the legs is incredibly smooth, and a pleasure to use (probably because of ultra-thin threads).

    I'm done with first-sight impressions.
    I will test the tripod in the field as soon as the weather gets better (actually my car is trapped, the snowplow pushed a giant wall of snow against my poor vehicle )
    I have the feeling that for at least 90% of the shots a tripod head is NOT necessary.

    cheers
    Last edited by cyberjunkie; 18-Jan-2013 at 23:22.
    have fun
    CJ

    WTB (and pay good monet for):
    soft back cell for Ilex Photoplastic 5x7
    disks for Imagon 420mm
    5x7 back for Calumet C1
    5x7 conversion for Bi-System

    for sale
    Photographica

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