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Thread: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    After reading the LL article about the “best tripod” , I realized I know basically nothing about tripod and heads . I will be using an S2 so my requirements arent as complete as the tech cameras . This seemed to be the place to ask with so many great landscape photographers and of course gear aficionado s .

    I even found Jack s article on the Cube and a nice video on Robert White s site .

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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    I use the Manfrotto (Bogen) 055 CXPro and 410 Junior Gear head for all my MF systems and it works great.

    Love the ability to fine-tune the composition with minor adjustments.

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    Senior Member mathomas's Avatar
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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    I'd love to have the 410, but it's so big ("senior" must be the size of a basketball ). I'm kind of holding out for an Arca-Swiss D4. Problem is expense, and whether they actually exist anywhere outside of marketing lit.

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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    I use a Arca Swiss P0 with my Pentax 645D. It is small, light, ridged, and quick to operate. I do a look of hiking and so those criteria are important for me. I have a Manfrotto macro rail which I use with it for a nodal slide--that second tripod socket on the 645D makes vertical orientation stitching easy. The longest lens I use with this head is 120mm and use it for multi-minute exposures.

    I have the Manfrotto 410 gear head. Never use it because of its size, weight, and speed. I have it for mounting and aligning an Astrotrac, which I use for wide-field astrophotography.
    Last edited by Shashin; 18th September 2011 at 08:16.

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    Roger with the S2 you may want to look at the Arca Swiss Z1 Double pan. Extremely strong and would be a good fit for you and the S2. This thing does not creep at all even in vertical position. Been using mine for awhile now and been a solid performer. Even with very long exposures. Tripod legs depending on need but most stable would be Girzo 3 series and RRS 3 series. But maybe not the best travel pods. I just bought a RRS TV 23 for travel and so far seems very strong and stable. A lot of folks use like a 2541L Gitzo as well. I'm personally switching to RRS pods. Really like them so far but they are pricey and right now out of stock. Depends on what your needs maybe but I do like the Z1 a lot and it's a rock of a head. Highly recommend the Z1
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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    Until reading the LL article, I'd more or less not given a thought to my tripod/head combination for a number of years, in spite of seeing my camera set up grow progressively heavier and higher in resolution. So now I wonder, am I missing out on sharpness because of an inadequate tripod? Any thoughts are welcome.
    My setup:
    gitzo GT2450 / acratech ballhead
    Cambo WDS and Mamiya 645afd3, w/ mostly wide lenses for landscape
    P45+
    As noted by Shashin, being able to actually carry the gear is key. For me, if I can't hike, I can't photograph!

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    It's been years now and I still like my Gitzo 3 series CF and Cube head for all my MF needs. However, for an S2 you could probably make do with a 2 series Gitzo or RRS CF pod. Heads are sort of personal, and the precision framing from the geared movements of the Cube suit me. For you as predominately a street shooter, you may prefer the operational speed of a one-knob ballhead. On my smaller pods I use a Gitzo speed ballhead -- cheap, light, strong, fast to set and creep-free -- for the S2 probably the 2 size would be best. Also excellent are the A/S P and Z series.
    Jack
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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    Quote Originally Posted by 2jbourret View Post
    Until reading the LL article, I'd more or less not given a thought to my tripod/head combination for a number of years, in spite of seeing my camera set up grow progressively heavier and higher in resolution. So now I wonder, am I missing out on sharpness because of an inadequate tripod? Any thoughts are welcome.
    My setup:
    gitzo GT2450 / acratech ballhead
    Cambo WDS and Mamiya 645afd3, w/ mostly wide lenses for landscape
    P45+
    As noted by Shashin, being able to actually carry the gear is key. For me, if I can't hike, I can't photograph!
    I would suspect your ball head is fine. The contact point of the camera to the head is always something I am careful about and so how has that changed with the camera model?

    The tripod is maybe more of an issue. Are you seeing anything in your images that suggest the legs aren't working? Can you test against a bigger tripod?

    But this is always my biggest issue when you actually need to carry the darn tripod. If you can carry it, it will never be perfect in every situation, unless someone can teach me how to stop the wind from blowing. My images are always better if I am not exhausted from carry gear regardless of how steady the tripod is. At one point I decided unless I can see a reason to switch, I was keeping what I feel is the best compromise for me.

    (I could probably could afford two MFD systems with all the time and money I used for tripods and bags. I just reached a point where I said enough was enough and I have been a content photographer ever since.)

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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
    For you as predominately a street shooter, you may prefer the operational speed of a one-knob ballhead.
    +1

    This is what attracted me to the Arca Swiss P0; finally I did not have to figure out what side of the head the darn knob was on as it has one collar that tightens the ball around the head body.

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    Excellent input thanks to all that provided advice.

    I was wondering though about the advice provided by Mark Dubovoy on Luminous Landscape. His point of view as I understand it is that most photographers would benefit from a larger/heavier/more stable tripod . With the advances in MP and IQ should we be rethinking conventional standards .

    Always used to be that in the GITZO line series 2 was great for DSLR ,series 3 for MF or longer lenses and series 5 for the big gear and long lenses . Just using them as a standard point of reference . But with 40 MP and up are you finding you need more .

    Agree completely that finding what works for your style and intended application is an individual evaluation....but was wondering about the need to supersize the base .

    Great point on the Arca Swiss PO is that the right size for an S2 ? or is it the P1 .

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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    Roger, I use the Really Right Stuff (RRS) BH-55 on a Gitzo 3 series tripod and it has been great for the S2. Heck it even works great with a the Canon 500mm and a Wimberly sidekick. RRS is making some very nice tripods now so I will definitely consider them next time I buy a tripod. The RRS guys are great to deal with and located in California.

    The Arca Swiss looks like a great ball head as well. Here is a review I found of Z1 and it also mentions the BH-55.

    Arca Swiss Z1 Review

    I meant to mention that I have been using the BH-55 almost 6 years now with no issues.
    Last edited by Mark Gowin; 18th September 2011 at 15:19. Reason: added text

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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    ....Always used to be that in the GITZO line series 2 was great for DSLR ,series 3 for MF or longer lenses and series 5 for the big gear and long lenses . Just using them as a standard point of reference . .....
    Just food for thought. I have a Gitzo 5541LS. Great tripod, especially after adding the Naturescapes safety plate. See, http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...for_Gitzo.html There is a different model for the Gitzo 3 series, http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...for_Gitzo.html

    The RRS tripods are engineered better and addressed this weakness in the Gitzo CF. The RRS TVC-33/34 offers similar specs to the 5 Series Gitzo, but weighs about two pounds less. Definitely worth looking at. It's like 3 series weight and getting 5 series performance.

    I have the TVC-24 as my lighter weight tripod (handles 645DF and IQ180 easily)---but now wouldn't mind selling my Gitzo 5541LS if I could without taking a large loss, and opting for the TVC-33.

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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    Great point on the Arca Swiss PO is that the right size for an S2 ? or is it the P1 .
    I have no problem holding a Pentax 645D with a 120mm macro lens on a P0.

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gowin View Post
    Roger, I use the Really Right Stuff (RRS) BH-55 on a Gitzo 3 series tripod and it has been great for the S2. Heck it even works great with a the Canon 500mm and a Wimberly sidekick. RRS is making some very nice tripods now so I will definitely consider them next time I buy a tripod. The RRS guys are great to deal with and located in California.

    The Arca Swiss looks like a great ball head as well. Here is a review I found of Z1 and it also mentions the BH-55.

    Arca Swiss Z1 Review

    I meant to mention that I have been using the BH-55 almost 6 years now with no issues.
    Thanks Mark ....I had a Bh55 on a series 2 (I think ) but daughter number 2 borrowed it and it now appears to be gone ..so I am smoked for my trip to Colorado . But I will have a new 3 series Gitzo 3541L in time and she has an arca swiss B1 until I can figure out the head .

    I would have gone with the RRS tripods but they are back ordered . I put the 34L on order and I will sort this out when I have them together.

    Nothings easy these days ..even when you start to get close to an answer ..then you can t source the equipment.

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    I do see a need for 2 sizes in my tripods . A heavier serious business unit (series 5 or similar) and a more mobile lighter unit (series 2/3). I like the RRS units the best so I will eventually get to them.

    The heads will take some sorting out as well.

    Good discussion thanks to all.

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    I do see a need for 2 sizes in my tripods . A heavier serious business unit (series 5 or similar) and a more mobile lighter unit (series 2/3). I like the RRS units the best so I will eventually get to them.

    The heads will take some sorting out as well.

    Good discussion thanks to all.
    I too believe in the multiple tripod strategy.

    I wouldn't give up my GT-5561SGT for anything as it simply allows me to shoot pretty much anywhere including standing on walls, rocks, at the edge of the road with a ditch, plunging rock ledge or lake shore etc etc. It's a huge benefit IMHO at the expense of weight certainly.

    I also use a 3 series and a traveler for super lightweight travel when I need something that needs to fit in my carry-on or checked luggage. I look forward to seeing some of the RRS tripods at the upcoming CI workshop to see if there's any benefit in changing there.

    Heads - personal choice there I'm afraid. For landscape use the Cube is ideal although pretty much any geared head with the same degrees of movement and rigidity would work too. I'm interested also in seeing the D4 geared head too. As regards ball heads there's almost brand religion. I use an Acratech GVL on my traveler and Arca-Swiss heads on my 3 series and home studio steel behemoth.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    FWIW, the 5 is HUGE (but I do have one*) and probably overkill for the S2 with the longest lens Leica will ever make for it. A long, 4-sction 3 for every day (so you can get a good perch on a downhill) and a 2 for travel might be a great pair.

    *My 5 series is the 6-section extra tall CF -- I forget the model number, but it extends to about 10 feet tall. I have a Gitzo 3870 ballhead on it. I carry it and a ladder when I want to get above the landscape, my quick version of Ansel's roof platform
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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
    FWIW, the 5 is HUGE (but I do have one*) and probably overkill for the S2 with the longest lens Leica will ever make for it. A long, 4-sction 3 for every day (so you can get a good perch on a downhill) and a 2 for travel might be a great pair.

    *My 5 series is the 6-section extra tall CF -- I forget the model number, but it extends to about 10 feet tall. I have a Gitzo 3870 ballhead on it. I carry it and a ladder when I want to get above the landscape, my quick version of Ansel's roof platform
    I wouldn't disagree about the 5 series size - my SGT is the 8ft behemoth and I use it for exactly the situations you describe. People joke about the size but the reality is that I almost always end up with one long leg and two normal extensions when shooting on irregular ground - for that it is unrivaled. After having messed with 'normal' tripods for too long I realized that there was only one that was going to allow me to shoot anywhere, any time and be rock solid - and I don't mind the exercise anyway

    I'm certainly not recommending it as a walkabout pod if you don't need the versatility.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
    FWIW, the 5 is HUGE (but I do have one*) and probably overkill for the S2 with the longest lens Leica will ever make for it. A long, 4-sction 3 for every day (so you can get a good perch on a downhill) and a 2 for travel might be a great pair.

    *My 5 series is the 6-section extra tall CF -- I forget the model number, but it extends to about 10 feet tall. I have a Gitzo 3870 ballhead on it. I carry it and a ladder when I want to get above the landscape, my quick version of Ansel's roof platform
    I have the largest Gitzo and call it the Giant since it reaches 10'+. I've been using an Arca-Swiss B2 and B1 for many years, but hope to upgrade to the D4 and a P2. For hiking, I have a Gitzo Carbon Fiber that I carry. For commercial shoots I almost always favor the big heavy Gitzo (over 20lbs), especially for tall reaches or windy conditions. Invest in good gear and it will serve you well for many years.

    Pictured is my setup with the giant Gitzo with 4' extension legs that my assistant engineered. I'm working off a 12' ladder. The legs are ratchet strapped for extra stability and a 35 LB sandbag hung from the center column to stabilize it further. I've always had a good outcome with this setup. This is a photo taken after the shoot was wrapped and my assistant had moved the gobo so light would illuminate the camera and my face for the pics.

    Last edited by LonnaTucker; 18th September 2011 at 21:10. Reason: Added further explanation.

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    Lonna,

    I used to own that same 5-series aluminum pod, but got an opportunity to replace it with a Carbon Fiber version, which is about a foot shorter net. Not sure why I bothered since I never use my 5-series beyond the car anyway. I do like your leg extensions and I may copy that idea for my setup
    Jack
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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    Most times for me with commercial work a lift is usually available . I'm on them a lot
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    After reading the LL article about the “best tripod” , I realized I know basically nothing about tripod and heads . I will be using an S2 so my requirements arent as complete as the tech cameras . This seemed to be the place to ask with so many great landscape photographers and of course gear aficionado s .

    I even found Jack s article on the Cube and a nice video on Robert White s site .
    I shoot the S2 as well.

    I had a 2 series Manfrottto and then bought a second hand Gitzo 3 series. It's noticably heavier and I only use it if I can shoot cose to the car. (I will also return it because something with the lock mechanism is not working properly).

    As regards ball head, I went for the new Arca d4m (i.e., the non geared version) and have been very happy with that. I like that you can fix the 2 axies seperately, and I find that it operates as fast and easy as a normal ballhead. I also decided I don't need the geared version (and have not regretted that choise).

    I also got the RRS L-plate which I think is great. I only put it on if I know I need the tripod--my normal set up is an Arca style plate with a handstrap.

    Finally, I use my monopod much more than my tripod. It suits the street shootung style of the S2 and adds significant stability.

    Georg

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    FYI On Arca swiss ratings for there heads

    Z1 130 lbs
    P1S 66lbs
    PO at 44lbs

    For comparison a CUBE is rated for a 8x10 view camera.

    Most stress on a ball head, flipping it over for a vertical unless you are using a L bracket than anything off center will have more stress on the ball.

    There is no formula here and who knows how they rate the weight as well but I know my Z1 even on a vertical with the heaviest I can get on my DF setup does not have any effect on the Z1. Its a mean machine. I admit I just bought a PO from Bob but it is for my tech cam and my travel pod. As much as you want maybe two sets of legs be careful when you get to the heads you don't short yourself trying to get to small a head. Frankly I won't touch anything but a Arca Swiss head but that is me. In the case of the PO my tech cam will never go vertical anyway so it will always be on the center of the ball. Need to think how you are going to use these things , you may also get some relief if your using a L bracket since even on a vertical you are still on the center of the ball mostly. Something to think about.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    I'm not sure that there's much value in comparing say a geared head to ball head really.

    If you want speed & versatility and don't need precise settings then a ball head is probably your choice. The weight issue is more important here because of creep off center.

    If you want to be able to accurately and controllably set the level and position of your camera on a head without swinging around back & forth then a geared head is probably your best choice. Something like a CUBE or 402 will shoot in vertical mode but it's kind of an unnatural act and not a great design in any case due to the weight offset from center.

    Two different needs IMHO with two different solutions. Trying to find a universal solution seems like an exercise in frustration. Use the right tool for the right job and you'll be much happier.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    I am fortunate to be able to shoot a lot ...99% personal work ...so matching the equipment to the application is high on my list . I have series 1 and 2 that I use with my M9s ..the old Leica table top head on the travel pod and the bh40 on the series 2.

    The S2 i have been using the series 2 with the BH55 which has a nice feel (and we found it!). But I feel the set could use a size or two larger and more stable.

    I know the options now and its helpful to see what others are using.

    But it doesn t seem like the any one feels they need a more stable tripod/head to support the higher MP of the newer MF backs . That seemed to be Mark Dubovoy s point in his article.

    Generally MF requires a series 3 or larger tripod and head that matches your application and handling requirements . Still good advice .

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    I'm not sure that there's much value in comparing say a geared head to ball head really.

    If you want speed & versatility and don't need precise settings then a ball head is probably your choice. The weight issue is more important here because of creep off center.

    If you want to be able to accurately and controllably set the level and position of your camera on a head without swinging around back & forth then a geared head is probably your best choice. Something like a CUBE or 402 will shoot in vertical mode but it's kind of an unnatural act and not a great design in any case due to the weight offset from center.

    Two different needs IMHO with two different solutions. Trying to find a universal solution seems like an exercise in frustration. Use the right tool for the right job and you'll be much happier.
    I agree Graham totally I was just using the Cube as a point of reference. I still don't have one and probably never will. Just does not fit me with all that I shoot and the ball head for me is the most versatile tool. For others this is a totally different scenario. I know what Roger shoots and really the ball head is his only game in town.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    Roger I like RRS stuff but I dumped there BH 55 for one really good solid reason. If you loosen the knob and it falls to the side it can go all the way to the side by a whole truckload and actually tip over. I had that almost happen to me when it broke loose letting the knob go and not holding it. On the Z1 if it don't hit the vertical slot than if it lets loosest on tips maybe 20 degrees and less likely to tip over. A almost big accident made me sell it. Try this at home with the BH 55 with care of course and you can see what i mean it gets awful close to going completely vertical on you and with a good chunk of weight a very dangerous situation. They are nice head though and very strong just don't like there setup.

    This is a little hard to explain without a video handy to show.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    it would be a boring world if everyone's needs and solutions were the same. I would envisage you as being horribly constrained and frustrated with a CUBE type of head ... Ditto the big scaffolding too.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    With all these posts about gear heads and balled heads, I can't tell if we are talking about equipment or photographers...

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    Heck we are all ball heads trying to get stable. LOL

    I think more cocktails are in order. ROTFLMAO
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    I'm with Guy on the Z1. It weighs under a pound and I have used it with a Pentax 67 and 500mm lens with no creep and yet I can adjust it to allow me, and not gravity, to reposition the camera.

  32. #32
    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    ....But it doesn t seem like the any one feels they need a more stable tripod/head to support the higher MP of the newer MF backs . That seemed to be Mark Dubovoy s point in his article.

    .... .
    *true joke*

    No one here (in Dante's Inferno) "feels they need a more stable tripod"---because they already have it, long before Mark Dubovoy lamented on it. When I transitioned from the P45+ to the P65+, I knew I needed/wanted a more stable platform, and bought the Gitzo 5541LS (with Cube).


    Hell, half the posts here are talking about having multiple platforms for their MFDB systems, which I do find to be a necessary as no one tripod can do it all.

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Heck we are all ball heads trying to get stable. LOL
    Hmm, does this mean I'm a cube user?

    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: Favorite Tripod and Head for MF

    I've got different tripods to fit the situation but the one I use the most is the Gitzo with a Cube. And I don't mean this Cube...

    Don Libby
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