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Thread: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

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    A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    Preamble: Lately I have resorted to using keywords in subject headers so that it becomes easy for chaps to find appropriate information by searching in the titles. (this works great with emails as well). I wish everyone would do this. There is an amazing amount of information in this forum that is actually under threads that you wouldn’t think it would be. But please don’t take this the wrong way.

    So thanks to all the amazing advice on the forum and after ages of thinking and trying this and trying that and sore necks from reading on laptops in bed, it was finally the day to make the decision. I had ALMOST convinced myself to get a WRS 5000 with a IQ260.

    And then I visited a dealer here and had a prowl on his computer and man, the ISO35 with good technique files just blew me away.

    Two small observations that I would like to share from my experience so far (disclaimer: I have only seen a few prints and not made any of my own) :

    1. As mentioned above, ISO 35 with good technique, the IQ280 blows away anything that I have seen until now in my 3 months or so of contemplating MF photogear. Even 8x10.

    2. The ISO 100 and 200 with good technique are quite comparable to ISO140 files of IQ260 for long exposures. I found that over the few hundreds of files that I saw of long-exposures done with the 280, this held true almost every time. Of course the sensor kind of caps out at 95 secs of exposure where it starts to show artefacts regardless of the ISO used, having said that, there is a wide choice available for exposure permutations below this time limit; I found that IQ260 files at ISO140 at a few minutes and a similar scene with ISO 200 at 95secs on the IQ280 were quite comparable with the sliders were tweaked, with little loss in dynamic range and noise levels.

    On the other hand, I did notice a difference between ISO 35 and ISO 50 respectively of the two backs at short exposures. YMMV, but I suppose this would not make a great deal of difference either ways when it comes to printing even largish.

    All in all, this suited me well. I don’t think I will ever need exposures longer than this considering the photography that I do.

    Next, I assumed that I would go with the WRS 5000, BUT, had a chance to play with the STC and fell head, line and sinker to the siren call of Alpa. Its not about shimming, its not about the marketing speak or the way which alpa advertises and cambo doesn’t. It was just the feel of the bloody thing, that’s what it was. Doug / Graham / Guy / Ken and others thanks you for the best advice you gave: handle the bloody stuff before you buy. I wonder whether it would have made any difference had I handled the STC after I paid for the WRS, but it doesn’t matter now.

    So there we are: STC, IQ280, Rody 40 with 17mm TS adapter.
    Will post some camera porn on the show me your’s thread.

    Questions:

    1. IS the arca Cube so indispensable ? The thing weighs almost a kilo (am considering the RRS-2 series tripod for travel overseas – I have the CT 414 induro for inland use ) and the cube seems too complicated in the open positions in that I am worried that if I knock it and something comes apart, I’m done. For one, the arca maintenance here in Australia is virtually non-existent, and secondly, the geared D4 is not available anywhere in the world – suits me more, would happily pay for it if the folks here can ship it in the next week or so, so PM me please !!

    2. Nodal panos: (now that I am committed to the 280, stitching with movements will be limited) could a BH-55 pro (RRS) suffice instead of the D4, if D4 is really not available anywhere ? Any other options ?

    3. Is the manual D4 reasonably closer in function to the geared D4 ?

    4. Alpa STC :which quick release plates ( I need two - portrait and landscape ) with the above options ?

    So apologies for the long winded thread, as you can see, there is a lot on my plate

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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    First, congratulations!

    Secondly my thoughts on the Cube. I was on the fence for some time about buying the Cube. One it weights a lot and secondly was it worth the premium price. I've try more heads than I want to write about here. I bought the Cube early 2007 and it has been my one constant companion since. I keep the WRS on it, I've used it with a Leica, Canon and Phase camera I've even shot video from it. In short I'd get rid of my WRS before I'd ever get rid of my Cube. It's that good.

    I know that I can set the tripod down, place the camera on the Cube and have everything set and level faster than I ever did before. Standing on the cliff of a 1000' drop I know that I can set the camera up at an extreme pitch with out fear of losing it and I know I have a rock solid foundation.

    In the 6-years I've been using the Cube I used it in mind numbing cold, blowing snow, sleet, rain, at least one dust storm and in the surf off the coast of CA, OR and WA. I've used it to shoot landscape and wildlife alike.

    In short there might be better cameras, digital backs, or lenses however I doubt there's anything better than an Arca Swiss Cube. See it for yourself and I think you might agree.

    Don

    Another way to see the value of something is to see how often it comes up in the used market. Finding a used Cube is very rare. I do however still have the coach leather bag that I'm trying to find a use for.....
    Don Libby
    Iron Creek Photography
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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    Thought I'd answer this separately regarding the difference in the D4 as I was fortunately to have both for awhile having tested them to see if they would be an alternative to the Cube for travel.

    I found very little difference between the geared and no geared D4. Neither was as accurate or simple to set up as the Cube and if I tightened the knobs I was able to set both up in the same about of time although the geared was slightly better. For the money I'd say the non-gear would win out, however that's just my opinion and you know what they say.....
    Don Libby
    Iron Creek Photography
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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    Love my Cube....
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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    Congrats Saty. Good choices all around. On the cube its great but I have done very well with a Arca Swiss Z1 Double Pan as well. Personally I would not buy anything for heads outside of Arca.

    Arca-Swiss Monoball Z1 dp with Quick Release 801113 B&H Photo
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    A dissent: I don't think that the Cube's ease of adjustment makes up for its weight. If you're doing landscape photography, and simply want a setup that will allow you to pan a leveled camera, you can avoid a ballhead entirely. I use an RRS tripod with their leveling base and panning clamp. Leveling the camera is simple -- though not geared -- and once it is level, the panning clamp allows it to be rotated. You not only eliminate the Cube's weight, but you lower the weight at the top of the tripod/camera combination.

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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    Congratulations mate.

    It's so much of a relief when you finally make up your mind isn't it.

    Arca cube all the way. It's idiot proof, simple to set up and solid as a rock. Yes it's heavier but sometimes you need to just carry the extra weight. Plus as a bonus if you are attacked by a wild animal whilst shooting you can use it as a self defence weapon, and it will still work flawlessly after you wipe all the blood and fur out of it

    I have used a lot of different ball heads and they all worked really well. But for micro adjusting the position of your camera there is nothing that beats the cube.
    Stop chasing gear, start chasing photos instead.

    Jeff, but my friends call me Dogs
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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    Congratulations on your Alpa!

    The AS Cube is the perfect compliment for your technical camera. Aside from the initial sticker price shock, it really is an exceptional piece of equipment. It makes leveling your camera easy in even the worst of conditions---think mind numbing shivering cold and trying to level a camera with a mere mortal ball head. With the Cube leveling is child's play.

    Arca Swiss doesn't have the best reputation for service or a web presence imo, and lucky for them their equipment is built so well that it really isn't an issue. Rod Klukas here does such a wonderful job that he is Arca Swiss as far as I'm concerned.

    If you really want to save weight, yes, Steve's trick using the RRS PCL-1 panning clamp with a leveling base does work great. But it's nowhere near what the Cube can do. I just can't believe that any self-respecting Alpa user worth their salt would stoop so low as to use this RRS PCL-1 trick to avoid getting the Cube... It's okay for me to do since I have a mere Cambo....

    I use a RRS TVC-24 with the Cube as my travel tripod. A D4 might be a nice combination since it is slightly less weight and similar in function to the Cube. I think a RRS TVC 3 series might be a better balanced combination with the Cube.

    One nice trick is to put RRS quick lever release clamps on your tripod legs and RRS dovetail plates on your tripod heads. This makes swapping out heads a cinch! The Cube uses RRS Dovetail 40 TH-DVTL-40: Round Dovetail Plate - TH-DVTL-40
    You can get both the Cube and Steve's Not Good Enough for an Alpa Owner RRS PCL-1 panning clamp leveling solution and swap them out on the fly.

    ken

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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    Good advice, Ken. That way you can take the Cube out when you want to impress your friends.
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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    welcome to the Alpa and Phase family! I tried the cube and it was too big, too expensive, too heavy for my needs. Highly recommend the Linhof 3d Micro leveling head. It's a bit less than the cube, just as well built if not better (you know the linhof quality), and it's lighter/smaller. Does not have the degree of freedom of the Cube, I believe it's 30 tilt angle each way but when I shoot with my XY all I want is to keep level.

    A much cheaper option is the Manfrotto 405. Also geared movement, lighter than the cube but larger. It might be too big for your STC, but if you use a medium format body like Phase 645D it's ideal.

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    Quote Originally Posted by satybhat View Post
    4. Alpa STC :which quick release plates ( I need two - portrait and landscape ) with the above options ?
    I use the Really Right Stuff BP-CS on the bottom and grip side of my Alpa STC. They work extremely well and don't add too much to the bulk of the outfit and you can still comfortably use the hand grip to carry the camera.

    The alternative plate is the MPR-73 which is oriented perpendicular to the Alpa body. Some my prefer that orientation because it will give you the sense of more security fore/aft when mounted on a head. However, because the edge of the BP-CS is longer than the tall lip of the MPR-73 I don't find this to be the case.

    I spent some time with the folks on site at RRS trying all of their recommended plates from the entire catalogue and that's how we ended up with the BP-CS for the STC (and TC actually).

    Oh, and when it comes to a tripod head I'd unashamedly recommend the Cube. The D4 is also a wonderful piece of equipment.

    Hope this helps.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"
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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    Congratulations! It sure sounds like you and I had nearly identical experiences when investigating this type of equipment.

    Another vote for the BP-CS, although that is not what I use.

    I have the Kirk Enterprises pz-130, which fits the camera like a glove. But there are two things I don't like that the BP-CS solves: First, the Kirk dovetail runs perpendicular to the camera, which puts the release lever on the Cube on the left, under the STC. Kinda fumbly to get at even without gloves. Second, Kirk dovetails are a different size than RRS dovetails. So if you use the Cube on any other cameras that have RRS plates you have to adjust that crazy dial to make it grip correctly. I hate adjusting that crazy dial!

    Big vote for the Cube. I had the same concerns you did, but my experiences are exactly like Don's.

    Dave
    How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains! - John Muir

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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    If all you want is level, then you can accomplish the same thing as the cube in much less time with any standard ball head (RRS BH-55 or BH-40) and the RRS PCL-1.

    In my field work, I am often looking for a level setup to do a nodal pan, tech camera or 35mm. The Ball head will easily allow you to get the PCL-1 totally level, (it comes with a bubble center level built in) then you can rotate the PCL-1 360 degrees while you are level. If you want to add something, it would be a nodal slider (Also from RRS).

    I can assure you that I can get to level with this setup pretty fast and with much less effort than a Arca Cube.

    One of the assets of a tech camera is you can shift without the camera being level, which I tend to do more than nodal pans anyway. You can do this strictly from a standard ball head, since you are only shifting the back with the Alpa (Arca in my case). For this type of work, I can see no advantage to a cube besides the fact that it is a beautiful piece of gear, however I would hate to drop it.

    As far as security, the screw clamps that come with the BH-55 have never failed me, as I regularly carry my entire rm3di/IQ back over rough terrain on the BH-55 when moving for a new shot. Leaning over overlooks, standing in fast moving water, do it all the time. I would not use the level clamps on the BH-55 since they don't quite make enough tension on the (Acra) foot to securely hold the rig. The screw clamp works fine.

    I have long considered a cube, just can't see any reason or advantage to it besides the fact that it's a very well made piece of gear.

    Not a cube hater, just offering a different opinion.

    Paul Caldwell
    Paul Caldwell
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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    Quick note to suggest looking at the small point and shoot plates RRS does - perfect to fit 2 to the STC (base and RH grip side, you cannot put a plate where it would block the stitching mechanism) These seem to be the right thickness for Alpa's thin bodies, & very affordable too:

    BPnS-S: Narrow Plate for Slim Cameras - BPnS-S

    OR... if you prefer something meatier, you can use the RRS generic L-plate, which is a wrap around L plate, and partially doubles as a sort-of-handgrip. It does leave a small gap on the vertical side, but is quite acceptable imho, and in fact makes the gripping easier:

    http://reallyrightstuff.com/ProductD...-Plate&key=ait
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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    I initially used the BPnS-S on the grip side of the STC but swapped it out for the bigger BP-CS. I was never happy with the narrow surface of the smaller plate on the tripod head. It just wasn't as secure as I wanted with $50k+ sitting on top of it.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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

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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul2660 View Post
    If all you want is level, then you can accomplish the same thing as the cube in much less time with any standard ball head (RRS BH-55 or BH-40) and the RRS PCL-1.

    In my field work, I am often looking for a level setup to do a nodal pan, tech camera or 35mm. The Ball head will easily allow you to get the PCL-1 totally level, (it comes with a bubble center level built in) then you can rotate the PCL-1 360 degrees while you are level. If you want to add something, it would be a nodal slider (Also from RRS).

    I can assure you that I can get to level with this setup pretty fast and with much less effort than a Arca Cube.

    One of the assets of a tech camera is you can shift without the camera being level, which I tend to do more than nodal pans anyway. You can do this strictly from a standard ball head, since you are only shifting the back with the Alpa (Arca in my case). For this type of work, I can see no advantage to a cube besides the fact that it is a beautiful piece of gear, however I would hate to drop it.

    As far as security, the screw clamps that come with the BH-55 have never failed me, as I regularly carry my entire rm3di/IQ back over rough terrain on the BH-55 when moving for a new shot. Leaning over overlooks, standing in fast moving water, do it all the time. I would not use the level clamps on the BH-55 since they don't quite make enough tension on the (Acra) foot to securely hold the rig. The screw clamp works fine.

    I have long considered a cube, just can't see any reason or advantage to it besides the fact that it's a very well made piece of gear.

    Not a cube hater, just offering a different opinion.

    Paul Caldwell

    Same way I feel about the Z1 DP. I can get level within seconds and since the pan is built in it is very easy. Also another nice head is the Arca Swiss P1s it is restricted to tilting down past 35 degrees but it is a one hand lock down. Hold tech in one on tripod get where you want and lock with other , could not be easier.

    Arca-Swiss Monoball P1 S with Quick Set Device Flip-Lock 801204

    Also Im a fan of the flip lock and some are not but I almost lost 50 k worth of gear more than once with that stupid *** RRS pan clamp screw down and it was on tight. If not for shear freaking luck and my extremely fast reflexes I would have lost it all. There is a reason for the flip lock and i know a PITA to work with but my experiences with screw down clamps is not very good.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com
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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    Well, I thought the whole point of going to medium-format was to make dropping a couple of grand on something appear cheap. Now, in the spirit of this group, the question is not whether you will buy the Cube or D4, but which one will you buy first…

    You can never have too much gear. That is kind of like having too much money, although those can be mutually exclusive.
    Will

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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    Universal L Plate from Arca swiss ref: 802306... you don't need to buy a new L plate, when you are buying a new camera !
    While, when i was using canon gear, i was happy with the dedicated L Plate... with the D800, you have to slide the plate to be able to shoot tethered...
    Then, the Arca seems better in that respect :





    http://www.arca-swiss-magasin.com/co...et-bracket.pdf

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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    Quote Originally Posted by satybhat View Post
    (...) WRS 5000 (...)

    (...) Arca Cube (...)

    (...) geared D4 (...)
    The Cube is great (personally I don't like it; I prefer the geared D4 over the Cube... but the Cube is without doubt a great piece of equipment).

    Since you go for a Cambo I'd suggest to look at Cambo's leveling base before you buy a Cube or the D4 head. I am finding the combination of a small Cambo camera with the leveling base directly screwed to the camera body (see here: http://www.cambo.com/Html/Images/WRS-333bs.jpg ) an absolutely perfect fit (small, light, rigid, very fast and extremely precise).
    I use both... the D4 (geared) and the Cambo leveling base. If I'd only use the Cambo camera I'd only use Cambo's leveling base.

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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    I use the Really Right Stuff BP-CS on the bottom and grip side of my Alpa STC. They work extremely well and don't add too much to the bulk of the outfit and you can still comfortably use the hand grip to carry the camera.

    The alternative plate is the MPR-73 which is oriented perpendicular to the Alpa body. Some my prefer that orientation because it will give you the sense of more security fore/aft when mounted on a head. However, because the edge of the BP-CS is longer than the tall lip of the MPR-73 I don't find this to be the case.

    I spent some time with the folks on site at RRS trying all of their recommended plates from the entire catalogue and that's how we ended up with the BP-CS for the STC (and TC actually).

    Oh, and when it comes to a tripod head I'd unashamedly recommend the Cube. The D4 is also a wonderful piece of equipment.

    Hope this helps.
    Graham,
    how do you manage to fit the BP-CS on the STC ? I have two of these, both have a 1/4" screw head, while the STC comes with 3/8th slots, except for one 1/4 slot where, if I were to fit the BP-CS, I would not be able to shift !!!

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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    Use a reducer bushing when you have a 1/4 inch screw and a 3/8 inch hole.

    There's a description here: reducer bushing - bushing
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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    Also, your Alpa should have come with brass reducers that countersink in to the body. You fit the BP-CS to the grip and bottom side of the STC.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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

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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    Hmm, mine didn't - but had a couple of s/s ones from RRS lying around that did the trick.

    BTW: The Hejnar D010 fits the bottom of the STC perfectly - i.e. the front of the plate fits flush with the front of the STC, no underhang/overhang. Almost made for each other. Works fine in my RRS clamp.

    I use a BPnS-S on the grip side.

    Jim

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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    Also, your Alpa should have come with brass reducers that countersink in to the body. You fit the BP-CS to the grip and bottom side of the STC.

    I've bought 4 Alpa's and never been given brass reducers at time of purchase!

    Maybe Alpa should put a pair of them in there themselves if they consider it part of the kit?

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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    "I've bought 4 Alpa's and never been given brass reducers at time of purchase!"

    Did you need them?

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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    Interesting. Each of my Alpa's came with at least one brass countersunk reducer. I don't know if that's unusual or not but that's how I got them.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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

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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Congrats Saty. Good choices all around. On the cube its great but I have done very well with a Arca Swiss Z1 Double Pan as well. Personally I would not buy anything for heads outside of Arca.

    Arca-Swiss Monoball Z1 dp with Quick Release 801113 B&H Photo

    I love my Cube. It replaced my Burzsinsky monoball. If going for a mono I there is nothing that beats the Burzsinsky. The thing is heavier than a cube, it falls into the bowl of a 75mm tripod making it very low on top of the legs of the tripod. Even so, I now prefer using the Cube.

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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    Interesting. Each of my Alpa's came with at least one brass countersunk reducer. I don't know if that's unusual or not but that's how I got them.
    I never got any either, so I'm heading to town before the trip to get some. interestingly, the 645DF+ has one. If I don;t find any, I'll use that.
    thanks Graham

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    Re: A few accessory (tripod head ) questions and a confession ( IQ280 )…

    Cameras & backs come and go, the CUBE is a permanent fixture.

    The Arca L brackets are are great, while not custom made for any specific body, they have a lot more flexibility. You can use either side as a single base plate as well. The arm also sides in an out with just the lever so you can get at ports etc. very easily.

    As for the CUBE, it is big, heavy and expensive. If you drop it in the sand (I did when my 2 year old decided to take a dive in the Atlantic last year), it is a pain to clean....BUT, when you need minute adjustments without loosening anything in any direction, I doubt there are too many that match it. It ask has swivelling bases at the bottom and top addicting to the flexibility. If you go with AS plates, the clamp on it is fine, otherwise, I would suggest replacing the QR plate that comes stock with a screw based plate.

    Best of luck, and welcome to the craziness!

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