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Thread: Biting the bullet - the Cube

  1. #1
    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Sigh, this is SO your fault (by which I mean everyone on here)...

    I just ordered the Cube for delivery tomorrow. From Robert White in the UK who had a great deal, being the anniversary edition priced bagless Cube plus a spare and very cheap bag they had in stock. Total price is 1,403 including all taxes versus 1,673 if I had bought the regular package.

    So you see, I am really just doing this to save money. Really.

    ;-)

    Tim

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Well one item I can't certainly be blamed for. LOL
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Tim,
    A great tool, you will not regret it.
    -bob

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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    Tim,
    A great tool, you will not regret it.
    -bob
    times 2. Congratulations Tim
    Don Libby
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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Congratulations, Tim!

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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Tim,

    If the one you get works perfectly, you are welcome. If OTOH you happen to get a dog, then blame Don!

    (Sorry, couldn't resist -- and I seriously hope you don't get a dog! )
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Tim,

    If the one you get works perfectly, you are welcome. If OTOH you happen to get a dog, then blame Don!

    (Sorry, couldn't resist -- and I seriously hope you don't get a dog! )
    C'mon Jack, you know me! I run the local dog pound!


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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Tim,

    If the one you get works perfectly, you are welcome. If OTOH you happen to get a dog, then blame Don!

    (Sorry, couldn't resist -- and I seriously hope you don't get a dog! )
    If it doesn't work I'll give you Jack's private unlisted phone number

    Don
    Don Libby
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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Don, Crap, I forgot you had that!

    Tim, I remain confident you will get a good copy!
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Congrats, Tim. I hope it works out perfectly for you.

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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Where can I get one in North America? Everywhere seems to be sold out.
    Bill

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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Just a gentle reminder here..

    RESISTANCE IS FUTAL YOU WILL BE ASSUMLATED

    Don Libby
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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Quote Originally Posted by Iron Creek View Post
    Just a gentle reminder here..

    RESISTANCE IS FUTAL YOU WILL BE ASSUMLATED

    I have been already. The Dark Cubic Lord is now my master. All I need now is a camera plate so I can use the damned thing! And I am so glad I got the cheap bag too - it is a wondrous thing!

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    Subscriber Member Georg Baumann's Avatar
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    1850 euro ex VAT.... this is as much as I payed for my Alpha 900....

    Triple Wow, serious congratulations Tim!

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    Administrator Bob's Avatar
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Tim,
    Now that you are a cubist, one of your tasks, no your sacred duty, is to assimilate the un-assimilated.
    Georg, are you next?
    -bob

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Quote Originally Posted by Georg Baumann View Post
    1850 euro ex VAT.... this is as much as I payed for my Alpha 900....

    Triple Wow, serious congratulations Tim!
    Nope! 1,651 including tax and bag. This stuff is sooooo cheap....

  17. #17
    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    Tim,
    Now that you are a cubist, one of your tasks, no your sacred duty, is to assimilate the un-assimilated.
    Georg, are you next?
    -bob
    I.....will.... though actually at first shot the cube, though a thing of wonder, is no more useful to me than my 'frotto geared head. I expect this opinion to change when I get a plate that actually lets me mount a camera on it!

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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Shot with the Multiflex(PhotoClam) yesterday.
    At $925 USD I couldn't fault it and I don't think the Cube at 1651 Euros would have done a better job.
    Because it's a copy of the Cube,it doesn't have to be bad.
    Would I have bought the real thing?
    Of course,but only if the price was $925,even that is a lot of money.

  19. #19
    Subscriber Member Georg Baumann's Avatar
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    <spinning prayer wheels at 2800 rpm, mumbling> I WILL NOT BUY THE CUBE.... I WILL NOT BUY THE CUBE....<beating back with a thorn bush stick> I WILL NOT BUY THE CUBE.... I WILL NOT....

    <evil voices whispering in head ....> you wantssssssss it.... preciousssssss, you wantsssss it....

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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Georg,
    do yourself a favor!
    Get the bloody Multiflex.

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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Georg,

    I have a Multiflex Cube Head (copy of the Arca) and I am very happy with the facilities it offers for framing. I do not have try the original one, I can only imagine it is equal or better than the copy !

    But we have all already discuss of the problem in an other hot thread ! LOL
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    I honestly don't get the hype about the Cube.
    It's certainly a great tool. An outstanding tool probably. But do you guys all shoot architecture or repro work?
    I am shooting a lot of architectural subjects and I'm fine even with a good ball head. In rare cases I use a heavy 3way head with extra big (long) levels. Both works very fine... so I have no problem to resist the Cube by now.
    Don't want to spoil the party for you though... :-)

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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    I have a good ballhead, the RRS BH-55, but still find it frustrating to have to tweak it slightly when I am leaning in one direction. I would love a cube, but the price prohibits it.
    Carsten - Website

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Quote Originally Posted by thomas View Post
    I honestly don't get the hype about the Cube.
    It's certainly a great tool. An outstanding tool probably. But do you guys all shoot architecture or repro work?
    I am shooting a lot of architectural subjects and I'm fine even with a good ball head. In rare cases I use a heavy 3way head with extra big (long) levels. Both works very fine... so I have no problem to resist the Cube by now.
    Don't want to spoil the party for you though... :-)
    Thomas:

    No offense, but it's because you have never used one. (And I shoot mostly landscape, though also some product.) Use a Cube for an hour, and all becomes clear...


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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    One good example comes from the recent workshop with Guy.

    I was shooting my usual landscapes but now with the cube. As a result I finally found a great use for the virtual horizon indicator on the D3X (or D3 or D700). I assigned the virtual landscape mode to the AEL button on the rear of the camera. I could then depress the button and do one handed adjustments with the cube to assure the horizon was level. Try that one with a ball head! It would require at least three hands and probably four.

    Perhaps many do not obsess over straight horizons but I do and now I can get them without frustration. I suspect that as I get even more experience with the cube even more applications will reveal themselves to me.

    JMHO

    Woody

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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Thomas:

    No offense, but it's because you have never used one. (And I shoot mostly landscape, though also some product.) Use a Cube for an hour, and all becomes clear...


    ,
    I've watched both you and Woody effortlessly make very subtle precise moves with the cube....It really should be on my wish list.

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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Thomas:

    No offense, but it's because you have never used one. (And I shoot mostly landscape, though also some product.) Use a Cube for an hour, and all becomes clear...


    ,
    I respectfully disagree with Jack's assertion that it would take you an hour of use for it all to become clear.

    It took me far less than an hour and I was completely hooked on the Cube.

    I've had the Cube now for about 6 months now and I've found I just can't photograph without it near by, my eyes are clearer, by teeth brighter, and my hair is fuller. People flock to me whenever I go out in public with the Cube by my side and are now asking for autographs.

    All kidding aside - I shoot landscape and this is simply the easiest and fastest to setup and the sturdiest platform to work off of.

    Don
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    I'm beginning to wonder if we might need to show people some of the challenging out of the way unusual places where working with the Cube helped get the image.

    What do you think Jack - Bob and others of the Cube?


    Don
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Hmmm. I should point this out - my Internet Explorer tab displays the name of this thread as 'Biting the Bull'.



    Just thought you would like to know...

    John

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Quote Originally Posted by Iron Creek View Post
    I'm beginning to wonder if we might need to show people some of the challenging out of the way unusual places where working with the Cube helped get the image.

    What do you think Jack - Bob and others of the Cube?


    Don
    Okay, admittedly I was being conservative with the one hour --- reality is probably more like a mean of 12 minutes

    Well, one thing is it has eliminated the need for me to carry a complex, nodal panning attachment in addition to a regular tripod head -- the Cube has that built in if you add a sliding rail, which most of us have.
    Jack
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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    I got my plate adaptor today and then had to spend the whole day out on business so I've not yet had the chance to use the setup, love it in principle and feel as I do. But I do wonder what it offers me (other than being gorgeous) that's more useful than my Manfrotto geared 410 head. The latter may be a tad heavier and a bit larger and the pan is decentred from the camera but on the plus side it is very accurate and sure, much much cheaper, looks far less likely to get screwed up by a grain of sand and best of all it has a gear override so you can make large adjustments really quickly like a ballhead then very fine geared adjustments thereafter.

    Anyone else tried both and have an opinion? I will test the cube for camera shake on my Gitzo GT 3541LS and Phamiya setup tomorrow.

    Tim

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    Administrator Bob's Avatar
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Tim,
    I have used both and I settled on the cube because:
    1)The 410's geared motions are on two cantilevered arms so that any slop creates complex motions and shake.
    I could actually see the shake whenever I didn't use mirror lockup.
    2) the cube sports two panning devices, one at the base and one at its top.
    It works very well when stitching a pano panning with the top device on the level platform created by the cube.
    3) any slop that might exist in the gears (and I have none detected in mine)
    may be taken up with the friction adjustment
    4) The gearing advantage inherent in the worm gear drive almost guarantees no creep.
    5) The motion of the platform as it is moved through its motions are almost nodal and do not interact with one another.
    -bob

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Everything Bob said.

    I had the 410 for less than an hour and returned it due to being both sloppy from slack in the gears and wobbly due to that combined with having too long of arm moments. The larger 405 might be better, but I doubt it...

    Note that when I say Cube, it doesn't have to be the Arca Swiss version -- it is the overall design I like, and if the Chinese knock-off is as well made, it will be a winner too.
    Jack
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    my word was "knockoff" as well, but re-thinking it, it may very well be that Arca had been outsourcing it's production to China all along...

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Thanks guys, that makes sense in many ways. My Frotto is not sloppily geared and compared to my ballhead it is very un-shaky but I do feel the Cube to be more solid. However I will test the two against each other because I have previously learned that the way things look as if they are performing can be belied by their results. The Phamy 645 III creates a lot of vibration, even with MUP, and I'll be delighted to find that the cube can handle it!

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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    The Multiflex is made in Korea.
    It's a joy to work with.
    Also the way the unit is machined is second to none.

    http://www.photoclam.com/

    My Rolex is real BTW.

  37. #37
    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Preliminary results from quite a few samples, which are too boring and too numerous to post:

    Phamiya 645D with 150 F3.5 MF lens shot tethered and focussed using Live View.

    NO MUP (the reason for this is that I want to see how this works for portraits at the moment, rather than my mainstream landscape stuff so I will test with MUP later). This also explains why all the tests were done with vertical orientation, which is more challenging because of cantilever effects.

    Shutter speeds of 1/200th through 1/12th second at a fixed ISO of 50.

    Target was a lens test chart on a wall about three metres away.

    Tripod was a Gitzo GT 3541LS and a cable release was used. A hard laid tiled floor was used. There was no breeze.

    Head combo 1: Cube with Arca L plate (kindly supplied by Martin Vogt of Arca) in VERTICAL position on a flat cube.

    1/200th Good
    1/100th Good
    1/50th Not great
    1/25th No way
    1/12th Not great but the best of the three tested at this shutter speed and I might risk it at a pinch.


    Head combo 2: Cube with Arca L plate in HORIZONTAL position but with the Cube tilted 90 degrees

    1/200th Good
    1/100th Good
    1/50th Good
    1/25th 90% good
    1/12th Wouldn't use it

    Head combo 3: Manfrotto 410 with standard plate and oriented at 90 degree tilt so as to give vertical FOV

    1/200th Good
    1/100th Good
    1/50th Good
    1/25th 80% good
    1/12th Wouldn't use it.

    'Wouldn't use it' means IMHO that there's a two pixel blur or worse and that the shot is clearly less sharp at 50% on screen than the reference shots taken at 1/200th.

    As for the possibility of focus shift being the cause of apparent blur (rather than shake): I haven't tested this lens for it because I've never suspected it, nor was there any pattern in these tests to suggest it.

    I will test this rig further especially in the horizontal orientation and also with MUP and various delays between MUP and shutter release. In the meantime the Cube bests the 410, just, when used with the L plate in horizontal position but the cube itself providing the 90 degree tilt. If the vertical position option of the Arca plate is used, there seems to be less stability even at 1/50th second but surprisingly at 1/12th second this is the best permutation - but still not good enough really.

    So the cube wins, just and by a tiny margin, but I don't trust the L plate in vertical position: I prfer it horizontally deployed with the cube itself providing 90 degrees of tilt.

    All the usual health warnings apply but I did try all this a few times and am certainly confident enough with the results to act on them myself!

    Hope that helps, or even mildly interests, someone! I think that the Arca L plate has some issues in vertical orientation, because used in that way the camera is quite heavily cantilevered way from the point of attachment to the plate. Admittedly the cube itself, when tilted to 90 degrees, has a lot of cantilever stress but it seems to handle it well. The fact that the best results at 1/12th are form the Cube with L plate in vertical position is most likely due to some aspect of harmonic vibrations or sympathetic frequencies in the rig. The Manfrotto does extremely well when the price comparison is made, falling only very slightly behind the Cube's best showing and even then only at the 1/25th shutter speed BUT it is less elegant, annoying and clunky to use (though actually it can be faster when you get used to it) and it is both heavier and more angular to pack.

    Best

    Tim
    Last edited by tashley; 3rd July 2009 at 14:36.

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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Very interesting, and mildly disappointing. I wonder if the tripod is too light? Now I am curious if anyone has done similarly rigorous tests of the 410 vs. the 405?
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Tim:

    Curious about the Arca L plate.

    1) Is is a generic fit, or designed specifically for the Mamiya -- meaning does it have the two registration pins in the base that fit into the corresponding pair of holes in the base of the Mamiya?

    2) Is the mounting screw a 1/4" thread or a 3/8" thread bolt?
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Interesting - I had a Kirk L-plate on my Phase and it was rock solidi n any direction. Then again it was made specifically for the body.

    I'd be very leery of generic one size fits all...
    Don Libby
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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Tim:

    Curious about the Arca L plate.

    1) Is is a generic fit, or designed specifically for the Mamiya -- meaning does it have the two registration pins in the base that fit into the corresponding pair of holes in the base of the Mamiya?

    2) Is the mounting screw a 1/4" thread or a 3/8" thread bolt?
    Hi Jack,

    Yup it has the registration pins and the 3/8th inch thread. Arca themselves kindly sent it to me as a test sample. It looks very similar to the RRS one you suggested. My feeling is that neither of them can be very stable when used vertically because they are cantilevered in that orientation, and IMHO the cantilevering is less stable than that on the Manfrotto when used vertically. However when used horizontally it seems very stable.

    Best
    Tim

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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    is the test meanigful at all regarding the camera plate and the heads if the comparsion is done without MUP?

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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    Very interesting, and mildly disappointing. I wonder if the tripod is too light? Now I am curious if anyone has done similarly rigorous tests of the 410 vs. the 405?
    In the end, every tripod is too light. It's just a matter of degree. I got this tripod on the recommendation of many here after my previous rig proved too light. Ultimately my feeling is that the Phase 645III is just very very slappy and that even with MUP, the shutter is very kinetic. I can't see any rig short of a one tonne concrete block with a 3/8th screw directly into the camera body that will totally nix shake at every shutter speed so I'm really just trying to work out what's the best practical compromise. In the studio it doesn't matter because the flash duration loses the shake for you so my interest is in finding stuff I can take on in planes and trains and automobiles for available light photography. I am slowly concluding that unless you are using wide to normal focal lengths on the Phamiya, and have enough light to give at a minimum F 5.6 at ISO 200 or better and 1/100th or better, you are taking a risk with most commonly used rigs.

    Best

    T

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Quote Originally Posted by thomas View Post
    is the test meanigful at all regarding the camera plate and the heads if the comparsion is done without MUP?
    Yes. There are plenty of times I want to use the camera without MUP because I want to do what photographers everywhere like to do: choose my moment! But as I have stated above I will do further MUP tests (I have done some already) because for my landscape work I generally can and do use MUP.

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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    There are plenty of times I want to use the camera without MUP because I want to do what photographers everywhere like to do: choose my moment!
    that's self-evident. It's maybe just not the right configuration to judge about the camera plate or the head...

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    I have the RRS L plate and I can tell you it is as rock solid in either orientation with my Cube/Mamiya. The way the angle is structured may be relevant, and the RRS's turn is radiused, not a hard 90, and fairly thick at the bend.
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Quote Originally Posted by thomas View Post
    that's self-evident. It's maybe just not the right configuration to judge about the camera plate or the head...
    I guess that's almost philosophical: my aim here is not to give any gear a chance to show what it can do in fair weather but to start with what I want to achieve then see if there's equipment that lets me do it. But I do have to say that when I got into digital MF towards the end of last year, I had no idea how much I would need to learn and how many assumptions I'd have to challenge. For example, if someone had said to me, will this kit, mounted with a very very good head on a pretty darned good tripod be able to take a shake free shot at 1/12th of a second without MUP, I would have said 'yes'.

    Now from what I am hearing from others, the answer is in fact yes. But I haven't got there myself!

    Tim

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    I have the RRS L plate and I can tell you it is as rock solid in either orientation with my Cube/Mamiya. The way the angle is structured may be relevant, and the RRS's turn is radiused, not a hard 90, and fairly thick at the bend.
    They look almost identical to me Jack: as soon as I get a chance I'll post a shot of the Arca version but it is indeed radiused.

    If you (or anyone else!) has the chance to run a similar test I'd be really interested to hear their results. There's obviously sample variation amongst a lot of variables (camera, lens, focus, floor, tripod, head, plate) but I think my methodology here has been pretty ok...
    Last edited by tashley; 3rd July 2009 at 16:52.

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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    Now from what I am hearing from others, the answer is in fact yes. But I haven't got there myself!
    I'd like to see (and not just hear about) those shots at 1/12'' without MUP and tack sharp of a highres back. With MUP, sure, but without? Maybe if you can set an offset for mirror up and exposure but even then I'd be curious to see those shots.

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Biting the bullet - the Cube

    Quote Originally Posted by thomas View Post
    I'd like to see (and not just hear about) those shots at 1/12'' without MUP and tack sharp of a highres back. With MUP, sure, but without? Maybe if you can set an offset for mirror up and exposure but even then I'd be curious to see those shots.
    Yup, me too: maybe I'm chasing a will o' the wisp here! If it's not possible then fine, I'll get me a Nikon for those situations where the MF stuff can't give me choice of moment with enough DOF to get a head in focus at three metres and good enough high ISO performance to let me use a shutter speed that doesn't cause blur on a good tripod/head rig.

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