Adorama Macro Focusing rail: any opinions?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by srileo, Feb 20, 2006.

  1. Hi all,
    I have been wanting a decent focusing rail in the $100-125 range and
    though the Kirk and RRS products come highly recommended here, i
    cannot afford them.

    Have people here been using the Adorama rail at all? It is in my
    $ballpark and is new, and seems to have 2 axis motion, which could be
    useful for me. Any reviews or recommendations?

    I am shooting iwth a D70, Bogen 3021 with 486RC2 ballhead and a 75-300
    with nikon diopters. I hope i wont need to buy a new tripod head to
    suit the adorama rail?

    Thanks in advance,
    Sridhar
     
  2. If you mean this one http://www.adorama.com/catalog.tpl?addtocart=MCFRS&src=itemlist , the current price is $159.95, a little out of your range.

    I have its slightly more elaborate cousin, badged Panagor, and am ambivalent about the thing. On the one hand, its very useful although when I guess distances wrong I have to adjust magnification or move the tripod. There's not as much fore and aft travel as I sometimes need, but I could do a better job of deciding where to put the tripod. On the other hand, its all corners and angles and edges so it a bit of a pain to transport.

    Mine supports a 2x3 Speed Graphic, a pair of Vivitar 283s, some bracketry, and, yes, a lens. I can't imagine putting anything on a ballhead, I use a 3047 on top of a 3115 (= Manfrotto 196). This last is a ball leveler intended for cinematographers, is really useful. Used to have a 3021, found it too wobbly in its old age for use with long lenses, now have a Berlebach 8023.

    I have no idea if your ballhead can support the weight you put on it now, let alone the additional weight of the focusing rail.
     
  3. Those rails have gone for $70-$110 in the past on ebay.
     
  4. Dan,
    yes, that is the one I was thinking of. I would be using it mostly in a botanical garden type of situation, therefore i could live with the bulk and inconvenience if i coudl get good photos. (so i think)
    How heavy is this thing? My 486RC2 is capable of 13lbs or so. The flash unit will be off camera. The 75-300 + d70 should be within limits.

    Sridhar
     
  5. Have you looked at the Velbon? Here's a link: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=193311&is=REG&addedTroughType=categoryNavigation
     
  6. Sridhar, if you are going to use a 35 mm SLR (well, that's about the size, shape, and weight of a D70) with flash and have enough hands (brackets?) to hold the flash, a focusing rail isn't really needed for magnifications up to 1.1:1. Above that, yes, a focusing rail is indispensable.

    I do a lot of flowers and such with an FM2n, 105/2.8 AIS MicroNikkor, and a couple of little flashes on a Spiratone Macrodapter. With that rig, I never shoot from tripod, always hand-held. But when I put, say, a Luminar on a Minolta Compact Bellows on the FM2n, then I have to shoot from tripod and my Panagor rail that looks much like the Adorama is very useful.

    If I ever got smart and figured out how to set up a Graphic for use with a focusing frame, I'd probably be able to shoot it closeup hand-held with flash too. But as long as I focus and compose on the ground glass, I have to shoot from tripod and, again, the rail is a great help.

    The Velbon rail someone suggested is also nice, but -- correct me if I'm mistaken -- as shown it is a single-axis rail. Two of 'em can be stacked to get two axes. The Adorama and my Panagor have two axes, two axes are more useful than one. I keep thinking that I should get a cheap little lab jack to put under my rail to gain a third axis.
     
  7. Louis,
    Yes, i have considered the Velbon unit and the Pentax III as well, both appear to be fine for what i need and cost less, but the only advantage that the adorama unit seems to have is the two axis movement. For $60 more i'd rather have the flexibility of composition given the tight spaces inside a botanical garden.

    Dan,
    Given that i shoot in a botanical garden where the spaces are tight and i cannot "arrange" my subject, the d70 + 75-300 + 6T gets pretty heavy very quickly. Tripod is absolutely essential there and therefore a macro rail.
    Would you have a photo of your rig spiratone + small flash rig? I dont have a second flash unit, but i am considering an SB800 to add to the sb600 i have. It was quite an eye opener for me when i could suddenly have light and dof on demand for my macro work!

    Sridhar
     
  8. Sridhar, sorry, I'm non-, not anti-, digital so can't supply a picture of my macrodapter rig. But you can build one easily enough.

    The macrodapter is essentially a screw-in lens hood with a pair of flash shoes attached at opposite ends of a diameter. Each shoe holds a tilting flash foot. With a pair of Minolta Electroflash 20s and KM I end up stopped down perhaps a little too at most magnifications. When I run out of KM and move to an ISO 100 E6 emulsion, I'll have to put ND gels in from of my flashes or replace them with the Minolta Auto 14s I've hidden in a drawer.

    IMO, y'r zoom + diopters is a little suboptimal. But I understand the importance of using what one has too.
     
  9. Sridhar,

    According to the link above to B&H I provided, the Velbon provides 2-axis motion - forward, backward, left and right.
     
  10. Louis,
    Ohhh you are right about the Velbon. I hadn't checked the fine print. I also see a lite review here for it: http://www.angelfire.com/ca/erker/page5.html

    It seems like this unit will fit the bill. It looks more compact and light (and black heeheheh) and cheaper than the adorama unit. Given that i will be using it fairly lightly, it might do well for my purpose. I'll be sure to write a review after i get it.

    Sridhar
     
  11. I had hoped someone would suggest you have a look at the Manfrotto rail. It has been suggested as a "best buy" item and may work well for you and save you some loot. This is a photo of same from the stereo slide bar page I was just checking out:

    http://home.att.net/~drt-3d/catalog/supplies/Bogen.htm
     
  12. Another possibility is to use the Kirk long rail plate, instead of the focusing rail. You would slide the camera along the rail into an approximate best position, then fine focus with your lens. Take a look at Rod Barbee's nice post in the Equipment Reviews Forum on the Nature Photographers Network.
     
  13. Bill,
    I did consider the Kirk Long plate. It has the advantage of a goodly 6" of travel up and down, but does not seem to do so left-right. The Velbon, in comparision seems to do both movement with a smaller degree of travel though. And is a little cheaper to boot. Also, the kirk plate seems to require a different head? clamp?

    do let me know if you think otherwise. The velbon should be here tomorrow. time enough to send it back if need be :)

    sridhar
     
  14. Shridar, I would welcome your evaluation on the operation of the Velbon rail. I saw and handled it briefly some 4-5 years ago and it may well have evolved since then. I thought it was just adequate, lacking the last bit of quality machine work-but usable for the money,meaning just fair. It is actually a challenge to make these darn things for the price nowadays... So,let us know if it does the job. They could have upgraded it a lot in last five years. OK?
     
  15. What I use,forgot to mention, for my flower closeups, is an old,almost vintage old, Novoflex Castel rail that I discovered for twenty dollars at an auction here. It is at least thirty years old,but beautifully made with geared rack and pinion rails inside bronze sleeve..one axis, but it does the job well enough with a top and bottom arca swiss clamp on top and A-S plate on bottom ( Now THERE is where the money goes after the purchase..'aint no end to this quick release business as you know:)) I am now working out a way to use it as part of a copy stand boom/tripod arrangement that I am putting together,since no room for a dedicated copy stand and no need for same. A slide sorter provides the illumination for the slide copying experiment.
     

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