leveling a large format camera

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by howard b. schwartz, Sep 14, 2004.

  1. i just found a terrific piece of equipement for leveling large format
    cameras. please check out the url: thelevelhead.com. the item is
    expensive, but works great. just to save all the email, this is an
    unsolicited announcement for a piece of equipement that i have always
    needed. leveling my camera accurately was very difficult for me. hope
    this may useful to some of you.
     
  2. $500.00 is a bit much for something that's going to sit on top of a tripod head. I've been using a $6.00 Stanley torpedo level for years - not a problem.
     
  3. Second the torpedo level.
     
  4. You all obviously did not check the url. This is not a level, but a presision device to fine tune the leveling of a camera. This might be a real help to a well healed architectural photographer.

    Must frustrate MD who gives advice and people won`t listen, yet they come back with the same problem. Take all the medicine even if you feel better!
     
  5. <<This is not a level,>>

    That's the joy of it. After you spend $500 on a hinge, you still have to go buy a level!
     
  6. How about the Gitzo Leveling Base for 3, 4 and 5 series Tripods. 150 bucks. Takes about five seconds with one hand.
     
  7. Be patient. The kind but overworked Doc will be selling his soon enough.
     
  8. I dont know, it seems rather cumbersome to me. Nothing my 3 way pan head cannot do, and it seems you need to take the same amount of time fiddling with this gizmo as you would need with a 3 way head.
     
  9. Obviously a precise way to vernier adjust this ADAPTOR to be level but that still depends on having sensors in one's camera one is adjusting to level. In the case of my wooden field camera, I have an integrated spirit level on the rear stage horizontal, vertical, and rear to forward axis. For whatever reason when the bubles are all centered, I found framing not quite balanced to gravity vertical. I seem to have over long years of tripod work developed an ability to usually adjust by eye well so just do so. Regardless sometimes weird terrain like slightly tilting horizons tends to want to trick one's eye. Two other problems with adaptors like the above is for field use it adds more weight to carry and two the more complicated one's tripod head, the more likely it decreases stability and the effects of vibration.

    For years I've been squeeking out from our vast ignored mass of peon users that camera manufacturers ought to design into cameras in general an integrated micro sensor chip that provide on the viewing screen or with LF below ones groundglass an indication of perfect levelness. If the camera manufacturers simply mentioned that they would like to have such a device, IC designers would quickly jump on the task and make some cheap comodity device to implement such. Some day the rest of us will be squeeking "why couldn't one of the manufacturers have the creativity to have innovated this years ago?"
     
  10. With all those extra parts that move on it, you are SURE to have less stability with your camera. Also, That "Level Head" is not needed if you know how to properly possition your camera and use your camera movements in relationship with your current tripod movements. Getting the EXACT measurement in degrees of how your camera in place is not needed also. All you need to do is be able to compose your images properly on the ground glass, if you have mastered that...there is no need for this nonsense equiptment.

    Ryan McIntosh
     
  11. I should get one for fine-adjusting my top level monopod. Cheers. Uli
     
  12. Overpriced overkill for the overly rich and neurotic. A Bogen 3416 or 3502 will do the job for a fraction of the price.

    FWIW, I've used a Bogen 3115 (roughly equivalent to the 3502, replaced by it in the catalog) under the pan/tilt head since the late '80s. Solves the problem, if the problem is making the pan axis vertical = making the base of the pan/tilt head level.

    Putting a pan/tilt head with built-in levels on top of the 3115 makes it easy to level the camera AFTER the pan axis has been made vertical. So does putting a cheap little 2-axis level as bought in a hardware store on top of the camera on top of a pan/tilt head on top of a leveling ball.

    Cheers,

    Dan
     
  13. I had an opportunity to play with one of these last year and it is a fantastic device. Is it needed? No. It's a luxury device that makes fine adjustments a pleasure. I placed an order for one but after more than six months of waiting, I just canceled it - too bad.
     
  14. "You all obviously did not check the url. This is not a level, but a presision device to fine tune the leveling of a camera. This might be a real help to a well healed architectural photographer."
    Yes, I did look at the url. I should have said "I'm quite happy with a Bogen 3047 3-way head and a torpedo level."
    While it looks like a nicely machined part, I just don't see the need to spend $500 for something that is going between my tripod head and camera. I shoot architectural subjects just fine with a 3-way.
     
  15. pvp

    pvp

    P.T. Barnum was right...
     
  16. I gave up leveling the cameras some time ago after hearing of Fred Picker chainsawing trees that were in the way of his view. I have a buddy bring along his D9 Caterpillar & level the view & horizon. Costs a bit more sure, but it works well...
     
  17. what's with the MD tag anyway? I could see some relevance if you posted a message about fiber optic camera for endoscopy, etc...

    I guess HOward doesn't have CDS (cheap doctor syndrome)


    there are a lots of us here that are licensed professionals, but the title is not needed...

    I'm here to chat about photography, not genital warts
     
  18. Doc, you did expend a lot of money on this contraption. What I use is the Bogen 3047 head+ a little torpedo level that a friend gave me. It came with a grandfather clock.
     
  19. Tito, all kidding aside, when you can get around to it and find one at a low enough price, get a 3115 (my second one cost only $10) or a 3502 and put it under your 3047. I use a 3115 under my 3047 and 3063 and wouldn't do without.

    The big advantage of leveling the head rather than just the camera is that when the pan axis is vertical panning won't make the horizon move. This is essential in cinematography, useful in still photography, because it reduces the need to adjust again.

    Cheers,

    Dan
     
  20. It would have been so easy to machine a bubble level at the top of that device. At least the buyers would save the expense to get that $5 torpedo level as well.

    Does it have any way to lock the adjustment rings? When I get the camera level, I like to tighten all the tripod/camera screws so that they don't crawl when changing film holders and fumbling with the dark cloth.

    For such a 'perfect' device it seems to have quite obvious shortcomings, even apart from the price.
     
  21. I use mostly wooden field cameras and I doubt that many of this type of camera has a back or lens board that is exactly 90 degrees to the base. It always seems better to me to use a small torpedo level to check the back, and lens when necessary. If you only level the base how do you know the back is plumb and level?
     
  22. "If you only level the base how do you know the back is plumb and level?"
    You don't.
    I have a couple of leveling devices I keep in my equipment cases - a torpedo level, a small combination square, and a couple small circular bubble levels. My 3036 sticks has a small bubble level on it which gets me in the ball park, but I make final adjustments at the camera itself - if I'm being anal about being level that is. Truth be told, for most of my work these days (portraiture), I'm tilting the camera here and there anyway!
     
  23. "after hearing of Fred Picker chainsawing trees that were in the way of his view" Daniel Smith.

    You heard wrong! Since it is the second time I've read you stating this, clarification is needed. What he did was to cut some grass bushes that were on his foreground. Maybe wrong, but those were not trees, and there is no Zone VI Chainsaw. Please, get your facts straight!
     
  24. I never could figure out why you need to level a view camera. A quick look at the ground glass is all you need. Does the view and aspect change that much once you pull the trigger? Does the ground glass lie? Can you not see the horizon on the glass? Even $6 at Home Cheapo seems a bit high compared to the free look you get from the glass.
     
  25. James, I find it easier to use a leveling ball, especially when the horizon really is aslant.

    Cheers,

    Dan
     
  26. You heard wrong! Since it is the second time I've read you stating this, clarification is needed. What he did was to cut some grass bushes that were on his foreground. Maybe wrong, but those were not trees, and there is no Zone VI Chainsaw. Please, get your facts straight!
    Nope, it was tree saplings, and as a matter of fact Picker had the gall to suggest the trees should be cut at a slant away from the camera lens so the white spots did not show in the print and did not have to be retouched. I still have the Photo Technique issue where he wrote this. I saved it specially for this reason.
     
  27. "I still have the Photo Technique issue...I saved it specially for this reason"

    Jorge: Since I have all Photo Techniques' issues and the formely Camera & Darkroom, and since you saved the issue, I would appreciate if you give me the year + month that he wrote it. I remember reading it years ago and perhaps my memory is failing concerning the "incident".
    I'm a pack rat!
     
  28. I found it! After looking at all my Camera & Darkroom, subsequently Darkroom & Creative Camera Techniques and later Photo Techniques which I've collected since 1991 this is what I read:

    There were puckerbrushes blocking his 8x10 view of a pond in Vermont (Beaver Pond, Wethersfield, Vermont). Not trees!

    Camera & Darkroom, June 1995, P34.
     
  29. Oh brother....puckerbrush is defined as a small tree. Just because it is not an oak it does not make it any less important in an ecosystem. Besides, it is the principle of the thing. I dont care how much you want to excuse it, it was the wrong thing to do.
     
  30. "Oh brother... puckerbrush is defined as a small tree"

    By whom? I could not find it in my book Field Guide to North American Trees (Audubon Society). Please tell me your reference.

    "I don't care how much you want to excuse it, it was the wrong thing to do"

    I would agree wholeheartedly, that was the wrong thing to do, even though he cut only branches.

    If you want to protect the ecosystem, please go and fight the developers that buldoze acres and acres of forest land for a new shopping center or for new homes in "suburbia". I do, as I show up at the City Commissioners' everytime I see the absurdity.
     
  31. By whom? I could not find it in my book Field Guide to North American Trees (Audubon Society). Please tell me your reference.>p> "I don't care how much you want to excuse it, it was the wrong thing to do"
    I would agree wholeheartedly, that was the wrong thing to do, even though he cut only branches.

    Hmmm, so which is it, if it is not a tree how come it has branches?
    As to protecting the environment, now you are putting words in my mouth, I never said that. All I said is that it was the wrong thing to do, and I implied it does not behoove us as photographers to make it worse, please dont get all emotional about this. As to the source, the almighty Google.....
     
  32. You wrote: "Just because it is not an oak it does not make it any less important in an ecosystem".

    For the above, I gave you an example of buldozing acres of forest trees by developers.

    You wrote: "As to protecting the environment, now you are putting words in my mouth. I never said that".

    Yes you did. Read well what you said about protecting the echosystem. If the environment goes away in one area, the echosystem goes with it. When the developers are done, it will be a "sea" of concrete. Flora & Fauna are destroyed.

    You wrote: "Please, dont get all emotional about this".

    I'm not at all. I like to debate and please if you still think of it as a small tree, change the name from Puckerbrush to Puckertree.

    If you still think that a brush is a tree well, goodbye! Nothing more to debate.
     

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