Acratech Leveling Base

Discussion in 'Nature' started by ymages, Jan 30, 2008.

  1. anyonne has an experience with Acratech Leveling Base ?

    thank you
  2. first question: Can you explain to me why you need or think you need a leveling base?
  3. Ellis,

    I use mine (Manfrotto model) for panos.
  4. I make stitched pans too.

    Why a leveling base (which I assume you place under your tripod head) instead of a panning base on top of the head?

    My qquestion is sincere and I ask it because to me it makes more sense to use the head to level a plane of rotation directly under the camera rather than have the potential of mechanical play and imprecision by having a leveling device under something which itself is an excellent leveling device.
  5. no Ellis on the field a leveling base is better than only a ballhead
    as Daniel said for pano you need one

    there is also a model from Manfroto, Gitzo has one
    and FLM has a very good one but difficult to find
  6. Erick a rotational plate between the tripod head and the camera makes more sense and you don't a ball head to use one either.

    With a leveling base all you are doing is leveling the base of the tripod head and in between the camera and that level base you have the moving joint or joints of the head itself.
  7. Erick a rotational plate between the tripod head and the camera makes more sense and you don't need a ball head to use one either.

    With a leveling base all you are doing is leveling the base of the tripod head and in between the camera and that level base you still have the moving joint or joints of the head itself.
  8. Ellis thanks but I am looking for a leveling base
  9. The reason to use a leveling base for shooting stitched panos would be if you wanted to create a pano where the camera was not pointed directly at the horizon (level). For example, a pano looking downward into a canyon or pano looking slightly upward at mountains.

    If you use a panning clamp (like RRS's) and tilted the camera upward the arc of the pan would curve downward the farther off center you got. If you tilted downward the inverse is true, edges of the photo curve up.

    However, if you use a leveling base combined with a ballhead with built in panning base (not a panning clamp), then you can level the base of the ballhead with the leveling base and then pan left right on a perfectly horizontal axis using the ballhead's panning base. Then even if you tilt the camera down or up with the ballhead, the axis of rotation remains horizontal.

    Hard to explain, but easy to see once you try it out.
  10. I have owned the Acratech, Gitzo and Bogen leveling bases. The latter two are well made sturdy and very heavy. Use the Gitzo or Bogen if you've got a larger tripod and a heavier camera/lens combo. The Acratech is smaller, lighter, more cheaply made and less durable than the other two. But is weight is an issue and you have a smaller tripod, then buy the Acratech.
  11. the Gitzo works only with Gitzo and I have many tripods, finaly I think I am going to buy the FLM LB 60 ... maybe the best I found and not so heavy than the Manfrotto
  12. Ellis, ball levelers or claw balls or leveling bases are used by cinematographers to make the tripod head's pan axis vertical. If the pan axis is not vertical, the horizon will move vertically during pans. This is more or less Sheldon's answer, but the real application of these devices is in serious film and video. I've never understood why the tripods sold to amateurs as "video tripods" don't have built-in levelers. Real tripods (think Vinten, Sachtler, Cartoni, ... ) all do.

    I got a Manfrotto 138 (I think that's it, I'm at work and its at home) 20+ years ago so that I could use the same tripod for still and cine. Still have it, still use it. It greatly simplifies/speeds setup.

    Erick, the current equivalent of my cheap old leveling base is the Manfrotto 438. The 338 may still be available, haven't checked to see if it is much the same.
  13. "Ellis, ball levelers or claw balls or leveling bases are used by
    cinematographers to make the tripod head's pan axis vertica"

    Yes I know that but the tripod head s they use whether Fluid or Worrell are larger, heavier and more precise devices than the ones photogrpahers use.
  14. Okay, after visualizing the downward (or upward) "Arc" problem and understanding what you all are saying about the need to have the base of the tripod head level, wouldn't just a larger plate between the tripod column and head where you could attach a carpenters level, or better yet, have a set of levels built in and then you level that base by adjusting two of the legs, do the same job or is that just too clumsy to work in the field?
  15. Ellis, adjusting the legs to level the platform is a real pain. It can be done, but life is much better with a leveling platform or a ball leveler. Once you've used one you won't want to leave it home.

    FWIW, these days my Manfrotto 138 sits between an 029 and a Berlebach 8023.

    And yes, add-ons are more weight and more height. Best of all is a leg set with a socket for a ball. If I hadn't already had the 138 I'd have bought a Berlebach tripod with an integral leveler instead of the 8023. But since I had the 138 and the 8023 was offered for only $125 ...
  16. I have ordered the FLM LB 60
  17. If you need easy and full "head" flexible positioning functionality, putting the leveling device between the legs and the head is a good idea. It can be left there until a leveling is needed and the head used as usual.

    Using the head to create a level platform to support another panning circle works also, but may reduce the usability of the head quickly or may require another layer of gear to accomodate fixed elevations for stacked stitches.

    I'd guess the Acratech fits the gear weight and capacity scheme of the Acratech heads, perhaps not as inexpensive as some of the heavier ones, perhaps not as capacious as some of the more expensive. I think when you looking at some of the really big/heavy pano/360 degree kits, the Acratech isn't the first choice, if trudging long distances with a lighter kit, it may be a great choice.
  18. I have to simply disagree with Dave Weber's assessment of the Acratech Leveling Base. It's
    NOT cheaply made. I own two of them. It's a high quality product (just like Acratech's
    Ultimate Ballhead) and both of my leveling bases have performed flawlessly in the field.

    The Acratech Leveling Base is lightweight and durable, easy to use and easy to adjust. It
    works great. Highly recommended.

    Note: I haven't tested its weight limit with extremely heavy lenses. But it has supported
    about 12 pounds of gear on top of it in a rock solid manner with no problems whatsoever.
  19. This has been a really fine discussion. I've learned one or two things about stitched panoramic work that is different than the stitched panoramic work that I do, which is architectural and documentary in nature.
  20. I bought a Gitzo leveling base, attached a Kaiser focusing directly to it and added an RRS
    clamp to the other end of the rail. The trick was to put a polycarbonate plate between the
    base and the rail and to lock the bolt and nut in such a tight position that the rail can just be
    rotated. This system contains minimal number of parts but offers all that I need for
    panoramas, including pivoting lenses of variable focal length around their nodal points. And
    it's far more stable than any other solution I've seen - at a fraction of the price of RRS or Kirk
  21. "...a Kaiser focusing RAIL directly..."
  22. good tip, thanks
  23. I'm late into this conversation, but would like to say that I use a leveling base for stitched panoramas rather than one in the clamp in order to adjust the horizon up or down for better composition. This causes convergence, but stitching software like Panorama Factory or PTgui makes the necessary corrections. The camera must be leveled horizontally in the ball head with a bubble level.

    If you were shooting an interior of an house or airplane cockpit, convergence would be a disaster, and a perfectly level camera is required (as well as a nodal slide).

    The Acratech leveling head goes between an existing column or plate and the head. I have a comparable device made by Bogen/Manfrotto. Had I known of the Acratech device, I would have gone that way - it is machined (not cast), compact and light. The Bogen device is a real lump by comparison.

    My preference with Gitzo "Systematic" tripods (I have three) is to use the G-1321 leveling base. It is incidentally compatible with 75mm ball mount video heads, which I also use. Most video heads only pan and tilt, so it is necessary to achieve vertical leveling externally.

    It is very easy to adjust the tripod legs to be level within the range of the leveling head by eye (+/- 7.5 deg), then finish the leveling to a fraction of a degree with the leveling head. The whole process takes about 10 seconds. The same would require multiple iterations by adjusting the legs alone. I shoot a lot of panoramas, so the time saved adds up (especially at 28F with a 20mph wind at the Grand Canyon this weekend).
  24. Thank you Edward, i'll try the FLM LB 60 and see if i must get another one
  25. Here's the real problem with thorough discussions like this one:

    Edward's explanatioh has me pretty convinced to pull the trigger on ordering one, either the Gizo or the Acra-tech.

    But I'll wait a day or so and see if it's just itch to make an impulse buy.
  26. if you are using a head with a wide base like the Arca-Swiss B2 Monoball , a friend tells me to skip over the Acra-Tech leveling base as the diameter of the B2 Base exceeds the diameter of the Acra-Tech's platform including the bubble level.

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