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The great tripod & head thread!

MGrayson

Subscriber and Workshop Member
Real world test. Leica S(007) - yeah, only 37.5 MP. Hasselblad HC 300mm/4.5. Two tripods and three heads. RRS TFC-14 and Gitzo GT5533LS for legs. RRS BH30, FLM CB-58, and Acratech Pan/tilt/leveler for heads. Our first test was to see if the 1-series RRS would be obviously shakier than the 5-series Gitzo. Assuming *that* was true, would there be a difference between the stiffest and least stiff combinations from my living room experiments.

It was overcast with no wind. But it *was* on a running track.

Conclusions, subject to the disappointingly mild test conditions. Yes, you don't want to use a 1-series RRS tripod with an 8 oz. head for long exposure telephoto shots, but it was a LOT better than I thought it would be. You need 200% to be sure that the heavier support did better. Did I mention no wind? I got slightly sharper results with the Acratech combo than with the FLM. It's possible that I didn't tighten everything down properly on the FLM. There are a lot of knobs to tighten. It's also possible that this was small sample error. But the Acratech combo was very sharp out past 12 seconds at f/22, as seen below. (At f/45, everything was soft, though sharpening in post makes a usable picture if you need the DoF.)

And for ease of use, the Acratech wins by a large margin.




More images when I get more challenging conditions.
 
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MGrayson

Subscriber and Workshop Member
Yes, it's me again. I made one of those pleasant discoveries that, well I didn't know about it, so maybe other people don't know about it. As I mentioned in one of the posts above, there is the perennial problem of attaching the head so tightly that its own panning lock is too weak to unscrew it. FLM has one solution. But as someone said, "there is another".

Meanwhile, there is the leveling problem. For heads with a panning clamp, that isn't necessarily an issue, but everything is easier when the head itself starts level.

Gitzo has a solution to both of those problems, and I never realized it. Sure, they have a leveling base, but it's design is the old Gitzo style of their other metal tripod parts, and not the brushed aluminum and fancy carbon look of the RRS stuff. To make it even uglier, it has a lever sticking out of its side. I always assumed that that was part of the leveling mechanism, and so it was thus a clunky mechanical design in addition to being ugly.

But NO!

The Gitzo leveler works the way the RRS ones do. There's a handle sticking down from the bottom, and you loosen, level, and tighten all from the same grip. So what's the ugly side lever for? It turns the central screw! To attach a head, you very loosely tighten it, since the base has a rubber top, engaging the lever pulls the head down instead of simply rotating it along with the lever. The result is a tighter connection than you could make by hand. Want to remove the head? Disengage the lever and it's now back to loosely screwed on. It then comes off without drama.

Genius.
 
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MGrayson

Subscriber and Workshop Member
I *think* this is still in the Tripod and Head subject heading.

With the HC 300mm/4.5I am finding a blur in the dreaded 1/4 to 1/30 second range, even with Gitzo 5 and RRS BH55. Now the Leica S has a focal plane shutter and, despite mirror lockup and a 2 second delay, the shutter causes noticeable - well - shutter shock.

Is this consistent with general experience? I wouldn't expect this with a leaf shutter, but perhaps I just have to work around that shutter speed range.

Thanks,

Matt

Edit: An inexpensive long lens support bracket cut the vibration by a factor of 3. Extra mass? Actual support? I dunno, but it definitely helped!
 
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SylB

Well-known member
On the Leica S, you should be able to activate the leaf shutter of your HC lens by switching from "FPS" position to "CS" position. Have you tried, and if yes haven't you noticed an improvement ?
I should add that I haven't had too many problems with the HC300 on H camera so far, whatever speed I use (on D4 Arca Swiss head + 3 series or 5 series Gitzo tripod most often).
 

MGrayson

Subscriber and Workshop Member
On the Leica S, you should be able to activate the leaf shutter of your HC lens by switching from "FPS" position to "CS" position. Have you tried, and if yes haven't you noticed an improvement ?
I should add that I haven't had too many problems with the HC300 on H camera so far, whatever speed I use (on D4 Arca Swiss head + 3 series or 5 series Gitzo tripod most often).
I *thought* I tried the leaf shutter when I first got the HC 300, and thought it didn't work with the S. Now, of course, it works just fine and the improvement is large. Thank you!
Matt
 
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jng

Well-known member
Dear Matt,

Bwahahahahahahaha...

John

350 Tele-SA:APO1.4XE Long Lens Rail.jpg

P.S. Seriously, though, I think that the long lens rail does help add stability and vibration dampening, especially if using a mechanical shutter of any type. Note that for this little demonstration I just happened to use my mostly retired 3-series Al Gitzo as a base.
 

MGrayson

Subscriber and Workshop Member
Dear Matt,

Bwahahahahahahaha...

John

View attachment 188553

P.S. Seriously, though, I think that the long lens rail does help add stability and vibration dampening, especially if using a mechanical shutter of any type. Note that for this little demonstration I just happened to use my mostly retired 3-series Al Gitzo as a base.
:love:

While GAS knows no limits, I've been pretty happy with the HC 300 and its mysteriously now functional leaf shutter. I've seen your spectacular photos with the setup above. Fortunately, I've not encountered a direct comparison between the HC and Superachromat. No doubt I will do it myself and end up owning both systems. It's the Dante way. :eek:

Matt
 
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Reactions: jng

jng

Well-known member
:love:

While GAS knows no limits, I've been pretty happy with the HC 300 and its mysteriously now functional leaf shutter. I've seen your spectacular photos with the setup above. Fortunately, I've not encountered a direct comparison between the HC and Superachromat. No doubt I will do it myself and end up owning both systems. It's the Dante way. :eek:

Matt
Actually my post was aimed more at encouraging the use of a long lens rail, not acting (so much) as Dante's little helper...
 

MGrayson

Subscriber and Workshop Member
Actually my post was aimed more at encouraging the use of a long lens rail, not acting (so much) as Dante's little helper...
You are correct! I tested with and without a support bar, and with FP shutter and Leaf Shutter. The combination of support bar and leaf shutter makes for astonishingly annoying Moiré :) . I'm afraid that the focal plane shutter is just too harsh for the 1/15 second range. This is just one of those things to avoid. As Will would say, "learn your equipment." Now while the HC 300 without teleconverter can use the leaf shutter, I don't think any other combination does, including the Superachromats:(. Well, where there's a Dante, there's an unnecessary purchase...:cool:



And my low-rent stabilizing bar. Kind of off balance, now that I look at it...



I'll try this configuration when it's light again.. Tests at 1.5 seconds show great clarity.



Ok. I'm REALLY sorry about this, but we mathematicians are all frustrated experimental physicists. so...



This is the first 1/2 second after the shutter fires from four configurations. The bottom two are as seen in the picture immediately above - support rail with no head. The other two are some sample heads, and I forget which shutter was used, but the difference, especially decay, is stark. The x-axis is 1/100 seconds, but the y-values are already averaged over 1/10 second windows. I have an idea how to better show the initial disturbance, but it will have to wait.

Matt
 
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MGrayson

Subscriber and Workshop Member
Have you put me on ignore yet? No? Well, here's a "better" analysis of the support bar and no head....



That's proportional to the displacement of the system measured, alas, only 100 times/second. Primitive phones! But with no windowing! This is an advertisement for mirror lockup and keeping your hands off the camera. The first huge spike at 1.5 seconds is me firing the 2-second delay and the mirror slapping up. At 3.5 seconds, the focal plane shutter opens. This was a 1 second exposure, so the shutter closing and the mirror coming down starts at about 4.4 seconds.

Now the blur of the image is the average displacement over the exposure (I'm making that definition up - if the displacements were uncorrelated, it would be the square root of the average of the variances - or something, but this thing is ringing like a damped bell). This only counts once we reach the flash synch time, as the sensor is only fully exposed then, but since we can only measure intervals greater than 1/100 second, that doesn't arise. If only I knew what was *really* going on in that blip at 3.4 seconds. But we'll take our data as given and proceed.

The longer the exposure, the less effect the initial vibration has on the final image. Here is a plot of that average vs. exposure time. Again, this plot depends critically on what goes on in that first 1/100 second, and the units are meaningless, so take it as motivational. The same computation mounting the support bar on the Acratech Pan head shows only a small degradation. Compare that to using the Acratech with NO support bar. It shows that the bar gives a 2-3 stop improvement in vibration blur at these intermediate exposures. I don't know what horizontal line represents the resolution floor, so I can't say exactly when this effect matters. But you can see why telephoto exposures less than 1/3 second might be affected without superior support. I still notice some effect around 1/15 second, which is consistent. That 1/25 second exposures look great I just cannot explain. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯



I'll try to stop now, but I'm not optimistic.

Matt
 
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Shashin

Well-known member
Not to encourage you (and so far you have been doing this without any encouragement from anyone here ;) ), but how does mounting the camera based on its center of gravity effect vibration? Would having the mass off center act as a dampener or a tuning fork?
 

MGrayson

Subscriber and Workshop Member
Not to encourage you (and so far you have been doing this without any encouragement from anyone here ;) ), but how does mounting the camera based on its center of gravity effect vibration? Would having the mass off center act as a dampener or a tuning fork?
Will,

I don't know, although I suspect balanced is best.

And speaking of unsolicited experiments ... everything in the last post was focal plane shutter (the leaf will only work with THIS lens and no teleconverter) BUT, I had to see how much it improved things. First, the raw data:



As before, huge shock when the human presses the shutter button. Two seconds later, an interesting set of clicks. I suspect that it starts with the aperture blades and is then followed by the leaf shutter. I'm going to stick with my (unjustified?) rule that the exposure starts at the last vibration peak. In that event, the vibration induced blur from a leaf shutter exposure is FAR below any of the focal plane examples:



I removed the bit of raw displacement data as it only applied to one curve, and the plot was getting too busy.

The top gray line is the head with no support and a focal plane shutter. Adding the bar *with or without the head* makes a large improvement. Adding a leaf shutter makes *another* and much larger improvement. Look at the 0.005 vibration level. The leaf curve passes that at about 1/45 second. The bar supported focal plane curves cross it at around 1/5 second, and the Acratech by itself at 1/2 second. The leaf shutter added 3 stops. The bar added 1.5 stops.

The moral? With long lenses, use a support bar and leaf shutter when you can. This is a rare (but no doubt temporary) setback for Dante.

Matt
 
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Shashin

Well-known member
Matt, this is all very interesting. (Just a flow of random thoughts.)

I am sure, in terms of tripod stability, a balanced load is important. This is particularly important if you are adjusting the position of a camera on a ball head--it is a pain when the load is off center.

What always bothers me is when I have some kind of rail, it also acts as a lever. If my Pentax 645D, similar in many ways as the Leica S, is just mounted directly on a head with the lens out in space, it seems more stable, both in terms of the shutter release, but also exposure. When the camera is on a rail, it is easier to position, but the rail acts like a lever, making the whole thing easier to flex on the tripod. In terms of mass, having a rail or not does not really change much. But having the shutter/mirror displaced from the point of attachment on the head does seem to change the stability when the force is at one side of the system--in this case the mirror box and shutter. If the vibration is in the camera, it would seem mounting it directly on the head would be the most rigid with the least leverage and the inertia of the lens hanging out in space would act like a stabilizer rod on a compound (you just knew I was going to get archery into this discussion ;) ).

I know the balanced load idea seem intuitively right, but the forces in the camera system are not at the center of gravity/balance point of the system. Where are the forces and where is the inertia?

Of course, that image blur might help with the moire...
 

jng

Well-known member
The moral? With long lenses, use a support bar and leaf shutter when you can. This is a rare (but no doubt temporary) setback for Dante.

Matt
Matt,

You’re hardly off the hook. Dante would like to see the data using electronic shutter… :love:

John
 

MGrayson

Subscriber and Workshop Member
Will,

The rail is for vibration absorption. It doesn't change the weight distribution of the camera/lens. You can still mount the whole mess wherever you want fore/aft.


Matt,

You’re hardly off the hook. Dante would like to see the data using electronic shutter… :love:

John
John,

To explain Dante's difficulty, the Leica S doesn't have an electronic shutter. It has live view, but then shifts back to focal plane or leaf when the shot is taken. I tried and lost interest in the Hasselblad X1D and Fuji GFX 100, so that leaves the larger Hasselblad H and Phase One. The costs of *that* shift dwarfs the Superachromats, so it's something of a double wall for our intrepid GAS enabler.

Oh, and something I hadn't realized until last night. Vibration depends on your f-stop as well. The timing between the aperture blades closing and the shutter (focal plane or leaf) firing is different depending on how far the aperture blades have to travel. This appears (and I may ACTUALLY stop investigating it) to affect the peak system displacement. Which may, again, just mean that one should avoid the dangerous shutter speed regime. Mind you, the blur isn't visible as blur - it just leads to a lack of Moiré. We used to call this an AA filter and do a bit of sharpening to fix it.

Matt
 

SylB

Well-known member
Matt, my experience in use with HC300 + H6 to get satisfyingly sharp pictures :
- tripod (3 series or 5 series Gitzo + Arca D4 head) always. Handheld is unreliable for me.
- using the lens foot on the tripod, as it balances quite well with the body's weight
- 3s timer, ridiculously easy to activate on Hasselblad H cameras
- of course, always leaf shutter on H system !

Interesting to read your experimentations and measurements...
 

P. Chong

Well-known member
thanks Matt for the detailed tests…yes, I read most, ok scanned through most is perhaps more honest. I know it’s not something you can attempt with your Leica 007, but with a less than solid tripod/head, might the IBIS (realise its GFX 100, 100S and 50 S II only) be of use?
 
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MGrayson

Subscriber and Workshop Member
thanks Matt for the detailed tests…yes, I read most, ok scanned through most is perhaps more honest. I know it’s not something you can attempt with your Leica 007, but with A less than solid tripod/head, might the IBIS (realise its GFX 100, 100S and 50 S II only) be of use?
The IBIS on the GFX100 is superb. The 100-200 zoom and the 250 prime can be hand-held in astonishingly low light. I think they are intelligent enough to work on a tripod without making the image worse, but I never tried it. Only after moving back to the comparatively primitive Leica S did I start thinking seriously about tripods again.
Best,
Matt
 

baudolino

Member
I *thought* I tried the leaf shutter when I first got the HC 300, and thought it didn't work with the S. Now, of course, it works just fine and the improvement is large. Thank you!
Matt
Interesting. I never believed this would help, as the focal plane shutter has to open anyway, just prior to the leaf shutter being released. Which I thought would result in comparable amount of vibration. But if it helped you achieve a sharper result, then that's good news and something to keep in mind.
 

MGrayson

Subscriber and Workshop Member
Interesting. I never believed this would help, as the focal plane shutter has to open anyway, just prior to the leaf shutter being released. Which I thought would result in comparable amount of vibration. But if it helped you achieve a sharper result, then that's good news and something to keep in mind.
I thought about that. Putting a microphone on the assembly (I'll spare you all. No I won't.) showed the order and timing of the focal plane shutter, the aperture blades, and the leaf shutter. Now this is sound, not camera vibration, but it helps us with timing. Here is a 1/24 second leaf shutter exposure:



The sample begins after the 2 seconds of silence following my shutter press. The large time division are 1/20 second. The small ones are the same 1/100 second resolution as my accelerometer, so we *are* seeing further into the atom. I chose this example so there would be no ambiguity about where the exposure was. The 1/15 second one is confusing. The first three shocks are the leaf shutter closing, the aperture blades closing, and the focal plane shutter opening in some order - I can't tell which, but that all has to happen before the actual exposure. As you can see, the system has time to settle down (almost 1/10 second) before the exposure starts with the leaf shutter opening. The exposure is marked by the vertical black lines. Then the system resets in a series of further clunks. Afterwards, not shown in this sample, the mirror resets.

Of course, I could be wrong about the aperture blades. They could be closing in that disturbance marking the leaf shutter opening. But the focal plane shutter is definitely given time to calm down before the leaf goes into action and, of course, the leaf shutter has to close before the focal plane shutter opens!

Matt

Amusing side note: I shot a Siemens star using my laptop as a distant target (so that pixels wouldn't matter). After comparing the results, I noticed that the text from Lightroom, open in the background and visible off to the side, was a much better and easier to read indicator of sharpness. Results, the same as every other analysis. At 1/4 to 1/30 second, the leaf is slightly better than the focal plane, with the exception of the 1/15 focal plane, which is a good bit worse than any of the others. Not terrible, mind you, just worse.
 
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