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Author Topic: newbie: leveling bases - do they lock in place? still v. video?  (Read 3529 times)

NancyP

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Leveling bases sound like the best thing since sliced bread, as the old saying goes. It took me just one 360 cylindrical panorama (Manfrotto 410 geared 3-axis head)to figure that out. I have read a number of the threads about leveling bases,  and looked at the items mentioned in the threads (Manfrotto 338 and 438, Acratech, Novatech, RRS replacement column, Gitzo replacement column). The type where levelling is accomplished by rotating screws would seem to stay where you adjusted it. Leveling the bowl type is obvious, but can you LOCK the base securely, or does it "float"? Some of these bowl-type leveling bases seem to be for video use or video-capable, and I imagine that there are some situations where a little floating, with counterweight, might be useful for stabilization of shots on an unstable platform (eg. tripod on a boat). If lockable, the bowl-type base clamps might be very similar to ball-head clamps, and perhaps subject to "droop". Secure locking is an issue because I might like to make the base do double duty as a gimbal support for a long lens (birding, in which rotation may be more abrupt than in pano). Obviously I want the kind of leveling base that locks securely, and would like to have some reasonable adjustment range (10 to 15 degrees?) and ease of use. I have no plans for video.

Recommendations? I use an "enthusiast size" Canon 60D DSLR and lighter lenses (to 400mm f5.6 at 2.8 #). Current legs are Manfrotto 055 PROB.  I am looking into getting a slightly more portable carbon set of legs, as the aluminum legs are heavy on a hike, though otherwise decent. Obviously I am trying to plan a budget for kit.
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JeanMichel

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Re: newbie: leveling bases - do they lock in place? still v. video?
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2012, 02:07:12 pm »

Hi,
The Acratech levelling base, which I own and use, is light, quite easy to adjust and locks. It is vey well constructed and is fairly inexpensive. A levelling base that did not lock would not be of any use.
Jean-Michel
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Ellis Vener

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Re: newbie: leveling bases - do they lock in place? still v. video?
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2012, 03:08:06 pm »

For panoramic work any solid tripod head is a leveling base as long as the horizontal rotator (like the Really Right Stuff PCL-1 but there are others) is on top of the tripod head.  They are more necessary in cinema work as most heavy weight cine heads only have pitch (fore/aft elevation) movement. Even if you put a leveling base under a regular tripod head (rational separate pitch  + lateral  tilt movements )  or a ball design) you still need to ensure that the top of that head is level in all directions.

Now if you choose to forego a standard tripod head and put your panoramic support rig directly on the tripod a leveling base is a necessity.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2012, 03:11:26 pm by Ellis Vener »
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Colorado David

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Re: newbie: leveling bases - do they lock in place? still v. video?
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2012, 03:12:28 pm »

I do a lot of video production and have used tripods with leveling bases for years.  The most common used with video tripods are either 75mm or 100mm bowel type.  I have used both.  They lock securely enough for me to trust a $35,000 camera on one.  I worry more about a leg giving away.  I have used the Gitzo 75mm leveling bowel with still equipment and trust it.  They are secure and easy to use.

NancyP

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Re: newbie: leveling bases - do they lock in place? still v. video?
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2012, 03:44:13 pm »

Thanks! I think I understand now. I was using my third axis on the 410 head to pan (410 directly atop tripod base), not a pano rig atop a head, and found that I had to fiddle a lot with legs to get it right.

The Gitzo setup looks really nice. (D'oh!) The Acratech setup is affordable now. My support gear is pretty limited (said aluminum Manfrotto 055 tripod legs, used but good 410 3-axis geared head with A-S adapter(9# right there for legs/head!), plus an Induro CM25 monopod with Custom Brackets A-S tilt head, plus an L bracket and lens plates, plus a 2-D double bullseye hotshoe level). The monopod is for hiking and for scrambles to difficult shooting perches.
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muntanela

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Re: newbie: leveling bases - do they lock in place? still v. video?
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2012, 03:51:28 pm »

For panoramic work any solid tripod head is a leveling base as long as the horizontal rotator (like the Really Right Stuff PCL-1 but there are others) is on top of the tripod head.  

Arca Swiss P0 (280 g...)
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marcmccalmont

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Re: newbie: leveling bases - do they lock in place? still v. video?
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2012, 05:15:40 pm »

I would recommend a Gitzo 3 series tripod with a RRS leveling Base w/hook
The Gitzo's go on sale every so often and the RRS leveling base is reasonably priced.
just drill and tap a hole for a set screw so you have added security holding the base to the tripod
I also attach a "boogie board" lanyard to strap around my wrist in high wind conditions. I've had them topple over.
Marc
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Marc McCalmont

ErikKaffehr

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Re: newbie: leveling bases - do they lock in place? still v. video?
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2012, 11:57:31 pm »

Hi,

I got a RRS (Really Right Stuff) TA-3-LC leveliing bowl for my Gitzo GT3541LS and it is definitively locking. It has a 75mm bowl said to accept any equipment with 75 mm bowl. I don't know about locking with other equipment.



http://reallyrightstuff.com/ProductDesc.aspx?code=TA-3-LC&type=0

Best regards
Erik
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NancyP

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Re: newbie: leveling bases - do they lock in place? still v. video?
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2012, 01:17:06 pm »

Thanks! I will keep an eye out for new Gitzo sales. The center column replacement bowl-type leveling base looks very easy to use, has plenty of range, and I don't use center column much anyway. I can't imagine that people sell used Gitzos very often, but it is worth a look.

I am impressed that you get any quality images under high wind conditions. Lanyard is a good idea. Even under mild crosswind conditions, I end up using my trusty windshield fold-up cardboard blind as a wind break for telephoto shots.
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NancyP

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Re: newbie: leveling bases - do they lock in place? still v. video?
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2012, 01:42:48 pm »

Very interesting. Thanks for the suggestion. This looks like a splendid hiker's ball head, as well. Can you attach an ordinary screw-type A-S clamp to it, without interfering with access to the p0 ball clamp?
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Ellis Vener

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Re: newbie: leveling bases - do they lock in place? still v. video?
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2012, 06:59:23 pm »

Very interesting. Thanks for the suggestion. This looks like a splendid hiker's ball head, as well. Can you attach an ordinary screw-type A-S clamp to it, without interfering with access to the p0 ball clamp?
Yes. Arca-Swiss makes a standard Arca-Swiss QR clamp that can replace the Slide-Fix QR clamp. The Manfrotto QR system is, my opinion but many share it, lousy and clunky.

Arca-Swiss also makes the similar but heavier duty p1 head as well as the Z1 Monoball and high precision geared tilts (and not inexpensive C1 head.

If you want to replace the Slide-Fix yourself with say an RRS, Kirk, etc. QR clamp you need a Craftsman 11mm socket head (about $5.00) which fits the bolt and the slight recess around it perfectly. Depending on the clamp you replace it with you may need a longer bolt. Any decent hardware store will have one that fits.
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: newbie: leveling bases - do they lock in place? still v. video?
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2012, 12:15:18 am »

Hi,

I agree regarding the Manfrotto QR designs. The ones I had were bad designs. Manfrotto also has several designs of QRs and plates which is inherently bad.

The Arca designs are basically sound. Once the mount is compressed it acts a single piece of metal.

I did replace the Arca "Flip Lock" on my Arca Swiss 4D had against an RRS lever type QR. The replacement was easy without the need of excessive force.

Best regards
Erik



Yes. Arca-Swiss makes a standard Arca-Swiss QR clamp that can replace the Slide-Fix QR clamp. The Manfrotto QR system is, my opinion but many share it, lousy and clunky.

Arca-Swiss also makes the similar but heavier duty p1 head as well as the Z1 Monoball and high precision geared tilts (and not inexpensive C1 head.

If you want to replace the Slide-Fix yourself with say an RRS, Kirk, etc. QR clamp you need a Craftsman 11mm socket head (about $5.00) which fits the bolt and the slight recess around it perfectly. Depending on the clamp you replace it with you may need a longer bolt. Any decent hardware store will have one that fits.
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Erik Kaffehr
 

LarsHansen

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Re: newbie: leveling bases - do they lock in place? still v. video?
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2012, 05:30:18 pm »

Take a look at Feisol CF tripods and their leveling base. I have one of their Classic tripods - light and great quality.

I've been thinking of making a levelling base using a ball head upside down, but never got it done.. still thinking  ;)

Lars
« Last Edit: May 09, 2012, 05:34:44 pm by LarsHansen »
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AJSJones

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Re: newbie: leveling bases - do they lock in place? still v. video?
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2012, 10:02:39 pm »

Very interesting. Thanks for the suggestion. This looks like a splendid hiker's ball head, as well. Can you attach an ordinary screw-type A-S clamp to it, without interfering with access to the p0 ball clamp?
Indeed!  I have a P0 but put on a RRS lever clamp.  The ball IS the leveling base. That will take quite a load.

I also found, after purchase of the P0, I can turn my RRS BH25 upside down for even more space/weight reduction, if your camera is not too heavy and you don't use heavy lenses.  Remove the clamp from the stem and attach the clamp to the "base".  The stem can then be attached to the tripod legs (that attachment is the weak point for loads)  and the (erstwhile) panning base becomes a panning "top"!  No need for a leveling base, just use a double bubble in the hot shoe.  Reverse the procedure when done!  Panning fluidity is not as good as with a real video head, but one develop a  new skill!
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muntanela

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Re: newbie: leveling bases - do they lock in place? still v. video?
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2012, 10:39:51 am »

Very interesting. Thanks for the suggestion. This looks like a splendid hiker's ball head, as well.

Yesss....


« Last Edit: May 10, 2012, 10:41:22 am by murmeltier »
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