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Which spirit level do you rely on, tripod head, camera or digital back?

I'm somewhat frustrated with this and what do you guys use?

I'm on my second cube after D4, the spirit level on the first one was way off compared to my camera's levels, even after I sent it back to arca swiss for re-calibration, nothing changed.

So when the head is level, camera isn't level, digital back level is off too.

What's your experience like? Am I too picky or unlucky?
 

doccdiamond

Member
Level on the head, (4!) level on my Alpa Plus, Level of the back…- finally I always have to fine level it in C1 :)

Using the internal level of a Leica Disto on top of the camera might be the most precise… but even then the back can move a little bit around on the adapter Adapter of the camera and you are off. The last fixing of has to be done in post…
 

Shashin

Well-known member
For my Pentax, I tapped a plexiglass level to mount on a straight bracket which can screw into the second tripod socket on the body. For my monorail, I have a 60mm bullseye level I place on the rail. My bullseye level is mounted in an aluminum case, but you can also just by the plastic level to mount/glue on anything you like. Unmounted, they are about $4-$7, mounted $15. Naturally, I always confirm the level in the camera with an image.
 

dchew

Well-known member
My old cube has always been good. The Alpa STC's level is off but all four on the Alpa 12+ are good; go figure. On Victor's urging, I use the Starrett level to check everything. Wonderful tool. I used to struggle with the built in level on the IQ3100. I gave up and have never used the one in the 4150.

Dave
 

FloatingLens

Well-known member
So when the head is level, camera isn't level, digital back level is off too.
Same with my Core Leveler 75. The built in levels are still within the tolerance of the markings when the head is level, just not perfectly at 0. Learned to live with it - but to be brutally honest, initially, I expected 'perfect' levelling accuracy with Arca geared heads. Of course, the mechanism of the head itself is beyond doubt.
 

FloatingLens

Well-known member
I used to struggle with the built in level on the IQ3100. I gave up and have never used the one in the 4150.
How good are those digital levels? I've no clue how to verify the factory calibration of my CFV II 50c.

OTOH, the CFV allows to set a user calibration, but then - as noted above - the head's levels are not such a good reference after all.
 

dchew

Well-known member
How good are those digital levels? I've no clue how to verify the factory calibration of my CFV II 50c.

OTOH, the CFV allows to set a user calibration, but then - as noted above - the head's levels are not such a good reference after all.
I don’t know. My old back used to frequently need recalibration. It was not difficult to calibrate but there was just little point. What I used to do was rotate it around and adjust the head until the back read the exact opposite rotated 180 degrees. Then I knew it was level and would tell it to zero.

The Sterrett level made that easy as long as you find a level place on the camera to place it.
Dave
 

vjbelle

Well-known member
I always use the levels on my Actus to initially set up my camera. For really critical work I use the Grid lines on my DB or Fuji 100s which have never failed me. Agree with Dave that the spirit levels incorporated into the 4150 are really just ballpark at best and should not be trusted for critical work.

Victor B.
 
So it seems my expectation of the accuracy for such highly engineered (valued) equipment is somewhat unrealistic ... time for individual test of head and camera, see which one is relatively more reliable.

Given how much they cost and how rubbish they are to get the basics right ...
 

vjbelle

Well-known member
FWIW.... I have never experienced an internal level from anyone (Phase, Sony, Fuji) to be accurate. Just gets me into the ballpark. As I said grid lines really help and are very accurate.

Victor B.
 

MGrayson

Subscriber and Workshop Member
The bubble level in the Acratech Panorama head is dead on, and the head can only tilt up and down, so it works extremely well. My camera's digital level agrees with it, which is convenient. Any other errors must be the world's fault. :rolleyes:
 
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AndereObjektiv

Active member
I'm happy to see my experience is similar to all of the above, as none of the levels on the tripod, leveling base, Arca 75 head and internal camera will ever seem to agree. The Arca is fantastic for fine tuning though.

Grid lines on live view is the answer for me too. Some on-camera HDMI monitors have them as well, and the larger screen helps for critical focusing as well as composition and leveling.
 

dj may

Well-known member
My leveling ball, camera clamp, and camera level sensor all agree in horizontal mode. I use an RRS l-bracket; in vertical position the camera level sensor does not agree. Perhaps the l-bracket is not true. The images seem to confirm this.
 

Godfrey

Well-known member
I level based on what Live View on my cameras and back displays. The level in my tripod head is a first approximation, I use a grid display and a weight hanging on a string to calibrate the CFVII 50c back's level (and my other cameras that have a leveling display).

... and, in the end, it doesn't matter because I fine-tune the level in post processing. Some photos feel 'off' just because of the way the masses of the subject affect the eye, so technically level doesn't feel level... ;)

G
 

JeRuFo

Active member
Draw a few parallel horizontal and vertical lines on a wall with a normal spirit level or laser. Shoot them with the camera levelled to all of your different levels, see in which shot the horizontal lines are the most level and the vertical lines all plumb.
 

Bill Caulfeild-Browne

Well-known member
I rely on the bubbles in the Arca Swiss Cube for initial set up and then the IQ4-150 for more precision - but as others have said, I often need to tweak in C1 if there is a visible horizon like the Great Lake I live on!

Another way of checking, once you have taken the shot, is view it with the Grid turned on in the digital back.
 

vjbelle

Well-known member
When I used to use a Cube the levels never matched the levels on my Actus. It turned out that the levels on my Actus were the most accurate and were closest to the camera body. It's all kind of a crap shoot and a little experimentation should get you where you want to be.

Victor B.
 
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