Arca Swiss plates...

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by hjoseph7, May 4, 2022.

  1. Are all Arca-Swiss plates the same or do they come with different sizes ? I want to replace my quick Arca-Swiss plate with one I saw on eBay that has vertical and Horizontal bubble levels. Is this possible ?
  2. The problem I'm having is that I can't find any Ball Heads with the traditional bubble levels such as this one:

    Notice the LARGE Vertical and Horizontal bubble heads. This is critical for Real Estate and Architectural photography. Unfortunately, manufacturers these days have opted for the gimmicky tiny round Bubble Levels that do 'nothing', or are very hard to see in dim lighting.

    The Slik 280 Ball-Head is the one I use and is almost perfect for my use, except that it has only one lock that disengages both the Ball Head and the Panoramic base at the bottom at the same time ! The problem with this, is that you not only have to adjust the Vertical and Horizontal levels, but you also have to make sure the panoramic base does not move while you are doing this. Or Vise versa, if you want to adjust the Panoramic base the Ball Head adjustments get out of wack.This can be extremely frustrating !!

    There are plenty of Ball Heads out there that have two locks that work independently. One lock, locks the Ball Head and the other locks the Panoramic base. Unfortunately like I said, it's hard to find one of these Ball Heads with Large, accurate Bubble levels.

    As a solution I was looking into purchasing one of these (Arka Swiss clamp with Bubble Levels):

    However, that would mean I would have to buy a Ball Head that would allow the original Arka Swiss clamp to be replaced with the new clamp. Most Ball Heads use a special glue that keeps the clamp permanently attached to the Ball Head, or the clamp is actually built into the Ball Head. I have yet to find a Ball Head that allows you to change the clamp. I went ahead and purchased a clamp with bubble levels on eBay to see how it works for $12 recently, but it was a total waste of money since I can't use it except to place it directly on a tripod !.

    A better solution I think is (and I hope its a solution), is to use a totally separate Panoramic Base plate such as this one:

    I can screw the panoramic base to the tripod, then attach the Ball Head to the Panoramic base. Hopefully this way, I can keep Panoramic movements independent from Ball Head movements ? Unless someone has other ideas.
    Last edited: May 13, 2022
  3. A 3 way pan-tilt head?
    Never seen the attraction of one locking knob allowing the camera to wobble and flop about in all directions. Even if the rotation remains locked.
    But that uses one of those "gimmicky tiny round Bubble levels that do nothing". And the more things you stack on top of the tripod legs, the less tight coupling you have, and the more chance of something working loose and allowing the camera to swivel round. Especially when in portrait orientation.
    Here's my 'useless' round bubble accurately cemented to the top of my tripod legs. Necessary to level the legs if you want a pano head to stay level through 360 degrees.
    Last edited: May 13, 2022
  4. My guess is that I might have to jam something into the Panoramic base of the Slik 280 Ball-Head to keep it from moving at all(making it unsellable). Then I can use the independent base with lock, for any Panoramic movements. Oh well, beats buying another expensive Ball-head...
  5. AJG


    Have you thought about using a 2 axis level in the camera's hot shoe? I have used one of those for years for shooting large paintings hung on a wall that I need to make sure stay parallel to the camera.
  6. I thought about that , but unfortunately I'm using a Pocket Wizard in the Hot Shoe to trigger an off camera strobe.
  7. How about putting the level in the hot shoe, level the camera, and then switch the level for the pocket wizard. Real estate will wait for you.
  8. Unfortunately, Real-Estate gives me about 1/2 hour to complete an entire property. That may include 3 bedrooms, bath, kitchen, pool, front face, back-yard etc. It would be easy if the floor on each of those rooms was level, so you only had to adjust your equipment once, but that is not the case. I have to adjust my tripod and/or Ball Head about 85% of the time going from room to room ! If the camera is not level, then you get slanting, walls, un-parallel lines and bizarre distorted door-openings which are not easy to fix in PP.
  9. In that case, there's no other option than use those perfectly fine bubble levels that do nothing. For you, that is. They work fine for surveyors and their likes.
  10. AJG


    My White Lightning triggers have both a hot shoe connection and an optional PC cord. If your camera has a PC terminal you could have the level in the hot shoe and connect your flash trigger via the PC cord. If it doesn't, there are adapters that go into a hot shoe and provide a PC terminal that connects to the hot shoe and still has a hot shoe on top. I know that could then leave you with a dangling flash trigger, but gaffer tape could fix that.
  11. That's a great idea ! I happen to have one of those adapters that go on the hot-shoe with PC terminal lying around somewhere ? My Canon camera does not have a PC terminal, that's why I had to get one of these. I also have the Pocket Wizard Cable for PC Sync terminals lying around somewhere ? That should work, but I'm not sure about 'my' hot-shoe Level working the same way that the bubble levels on my Slik Ball Head work. I will have to check, and maybe get another hot-shoe Level..

    Lately, I have been using The Gary Fong LightSphere as an alternative to my bulky and heavy strobe light. When I combine the Gary Fong with one of these: Vello Bounce Dome (Diffuser) for Canon 580EX II Flash , I get almost 'shadow less, studio-style lighting', which is what the clients want. I lose about 1 1/2 f stops when doing this however. Another problem, is that I still have to use a Canon ST-E2 transmitter that goes on the camera hot-shoe to trigger the off-camera flash.

    For large areas that require more power than my speed light can handle, your idea is a good option though, thanks.

    Last edited: May 14, 2022
  12. Is a hot shoe really level?
    Ed_Ingold likes this.
  13. Doesn't new surveying equipment have built-in digital levels today just like some digital cameras?
  14. There are apps available for your cellphone that provide an accurate level reading in fractions of degrees. Separately, I would use a three way pan and tilt head as Rodeo Joe suggests.
  15. AJG


    My various Pentax SLRs and DSLRs have been accurate--I shot thousands of paintings over the years in my studio on a wall that I made sure was vertical and the level in the hot shoe always was correct, even on Pentax LX bodies that have interchangeable pentaprism and waist level finders.
  16. There's another option: use a camera that has an electronic level built-in
  17. Usually those built-in camera levels are for horizontal leveling only(as far as I know ?). My camera has one and it comes in handy in certain situations such as taking pictures of a Horizon(or whatever needing straight lines).

    The Canon built-in level works best on a tripod(at least on my 6D), that's because when you put the camera to your eye while hand-holding the camera, you block out the back LCD displaying the level. Some Pentax DSLRs like my K5 have the Level inside the Viewfinder which makes it easier to get a straight horizon while hand-holding the camera. But again it's for Horizontal leveling only.
  18. No. The ones in my cameras (Nikon DSLRs & Sony MILCs) act like the artificial horizon in a plane. X-axis leveling is shown by the angle of the line through its centre, and any up/down tilt is shown by a rise or fall of the line centre. To be honest the artificial horizon is probably not as accurate or sensitive as a good bubble level - there's some hysteresis. But accurate enough that any tilt is visually almost imperceptible.

    However a one-shot levelling doesn't work for a pano sequence. The pano rotation base has to be perfectly flat-levelled for that - as well as placing the axis of rotation under the lens node.

    Manfrotto make a device specific for the purpose. It used to be simply article #303, but it's now MH057A5... and its levelling is still shown by a small, yellow, circular bubble level.
  19. AJG


    With live view my Pentax K 3s will show both left/right and front/back levels simultaneously. I don't remember if my K 5s did this in live view.

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