life with a Tiltall tripod

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by ken_schroeder, Mar 5, 2003.

  1. This is "the sequel" to my posting about the Zone VI tripod. Once
    again, this posting is not to compare the Tiltall to any other
    tripod, merely to share some thoughts on keeping it functional. I
    bought my Tiltall in 1980 and use it primarily for 35mm. I do use it
    with my 4x5 field camera when traveling light.

    I have heard horror stories about aluminum tripods galling and
    dying. I photographed at Point Lobos about sixteen years ago. I was
    concerned about the effect of the salt water and spray on the
    Tiltall. I stopped at the nearest store and bought a can of WD40 and
    a roll of paper towels. Next order of business was a thorough WD40
    bath for the tiltall. Was this overkill?...don't know, but the
    Tiltall still works... and now I would not travel near salt water
    without WD40 and paper towels.

    The salesman told me the anodized finish would never come
    off.....which is about 96% accurate. No complaints on that.

    Initially I had trouble remembering which knob controlled elevation
    and which controlled rotation. A couple pieces of tape with arrows
    and experience took care of that problem.

    I wish the round top was a little larger. That would probably be a
    constraint for 35mm, but it would be nice for 4x5. I have thought
    about trying a Bogen flat adaptor for the 3047 hex plates. Has
    anyone tried that?
  2. The Tiltall was meant for a Leica. I did put my 4x5 Tachihara on one long ago... that was about the limit... better to get a tool meant for the job.
  3. Actually, the Tiltall was originally designed for a Cine-Kodak, or a Speed Graphic. It had already been in production since before WW2 when Leica took over its manufacture.
  4. I find the Tiltall ideal for 4x5" when I'm travelling light (which I tend to be, if I'm shooting 4x5" rather than 8x10"). I made the platform smaller though, not larger, because it interfered with the rotating back and the bed drop on my field camera. A slice off the back and slice off the front, and now it works perfectly.
  5. The Tiltall correctly precedes the Leica distribution by many years. It was
    originally manufactured by Marchioni in Rutherford, NJ. I thought they started
    around 1954 but it could have been before WWII. They went out of business
    sometime in the late 60s or 70s and then the Tiltall was manufactured by Star
    and they did a lousy job. leitz then picked up the brand and did a much better
    job but still not up to the original.

    You will find that the originals just keep going like a 1957 Chevy. As for what
    they can do ..... no, they are not made to handle a heavy studio camera at full
    extension but they can do it if you are careful. I have one of the original
    marchioni Tiltalls that I was given in the late 1950's and it was the only tripod I
    owned through the early 1970's. For a time I hauled a Linhof Kardan Color S
    out to the field on that tripod and it worked ok. These days the old guy is sorta
    retired but it is a wonderful design that remains very solid.

    If you can find one of the originals, one that says Marchioni on the nameplate,
    you will have a workhorse that will outlive all of us.

  6. The bright finished Tiltall Model #4602 here is from the late 1960's; and made by C.M.Marchioni in Rutherford New Jersey.<BR><BR> One of my 1960's rangefinders had a shallow 1/4-20 socket on its base; so I always needed a shim between the tripod and the camera. Also my Exakta VX500 had a nickel sized post; and needed to be tightened real tight. So I removed the blue/grey thin leather from the tripod clamp area; and replaced it with a piece of thick rough leather; for added grip and spacing. The leather was 5 minute epoxied in place 30 years ago; and still works well.<BR><BR>The tiltall history is documented in "The Photography Catalog" copyright 1976 by Normal Snyder. The tiltall of aluminum was brought out around WW2; and made out of aircraft aluminum. Tiltall sould out to Leitz in 1973. A cheaper knock off copy was made by Star-D in 1973.....
  7. In the mid 1970's the Star-D and Tiltall were built by differnt companies. The Star-D cost alot less; and had lower quality slip/leg twist clamps...<BR><BR>The Tiltall story implies that Charles Marchioni made a Tiltall tripod before WW2; and changed the design to aircraft aluminum during WW2. He sold ice cream during the 1930's.<BR><BR>The local camera store here had black Lietz tiltalls for about 130 bucks; and the cheaper Star-D knock off tripod for about 85 bucks; in the mid 1970's. My friend got the cheaper one; and it died a decade or two later.
  8. Opps; correction "A cheaper knock off copy was made by Star-D in 1971..... Re "the Photography Catalog" c1976
  9. I have a Tiltall, 4602, made by Marchioni. I got it about 1970. I've used it with a Horseman Technical Camera since that time and since July of 2002 with a Toho FC-45X. The Toho is basically a monorail, but it is very light, even lighter than the Horseman, although of course it extends further, so potentially torque could be higher. I've used it with up to a 300 mm lens. It seems more than adequate for my use. I suppose I might need a heavier tripod in heavy winds, but I wouldn't normally be taking pictures in such circumstances. The Tiltall is also quite light, weighing about 6 pounds.

    In the 70s, I used the tripod with my Horseman on Martha's Vineyard where it was exposed to relatively salty air, but I never actually put it in the surf. I never had any problems with binding. I found that it was sufficient to wipe it clean after an outing. The center post can sometimes get a bit slippery if it is not clean.

    The only major problem I had with this tripod was basically my own fault. The legs screw into the top and one leg came loose without my noticing it. As a result, the thread stripped. I thought that in order to get something as rigid and light I would have to lay out $500 or more. Fortunately some epoxy worked wonders, and it is now as sturdy as ever, if not more so.
  10. ken, I know of two models of the Tilt-all. I've got one of each. The "Junior" is well, a junior version of the big one and IMHO not suitable for anything larger than MF. The larger version(mine is a cheesy gold anodized color) handles my Crown nicely. They are now made in China and while I haven't seen one of the chinese examples, I'm suspicious of the quality of the imports, since Tilt-all 4x5 film holders(I assume products of the same overseas company) have had condemning reviews by others on this forum. As for the american built tilt-alls, I think they are well made(perhaps overbuilt like a DC-3?)and I like mine---for an aluminium tripod with twist leg locks its a good choice. Mine came back from hawaii in the baggage compartment of a 757 without a scratch(it wasn't packed in a case!) I don't know if a lighter wieght Berlebach would have survived that kind of abuse. The major criticism I've heard regarding the tilt-all is it's fixed head, so if you must have a ball head on your tripod, the Tilt-all would be a no-go. I think the Tilt-all(the big one) is a fine choice for a 4x5----------Cheers!
  11. The Leitz Tiltall weighs 6#2oz, and is rated for cameras to 13#. That's only about 1/2 pound more than a similarly rated carbon fiber Gitzo and a large ball head.
  12. Mine's still going strong since 1965. Nothing wrong with your cleaning method. Since they don't make them like this anymore, take good care of it. They just keep going like that little bunny - but better - no batteries to replace.
  13. Hi Guys:

    I hate to be the only decenting voice here but. . . . .

    I bought a use Tilt-All 'bout twenty years ago (used) at a camera show in Pasadena, CA. Can't complain 'bout the weight or sturdiness, but the knurled (sp?) twist locks on the legs made me get rid of it in a few years of constant use. By the end of a long shooting day my hands would be raw. Now I'm useing a big honking Bogen with a 3047 head. A bit heavier to be sure but much easier on the hands.
  14. Steve, didn't you read the section in the owner's manual about soaking your hands in saltwater for three hours every day for a week before using your Tilt-all?
  15. Back in 1984 I almost lost my black Tiltall when I walked away from it in a wheat field at 10pm on a moonless night. I was doing a story on wheat harvest teams working at night - time exposures, etc. I had to ask the combine crews to walk the fields with me to find it so they wouldn't run it through their expensive threshers. Today, my old 3-legged helper has glow-in-the-dark tape around each leg (which are also epoxied on) so I can always find him in the dark!
  16. Wow!
    I would have never thought to find so many Tiltall lovers! I bought my Leitz version about 1975 and use it frequently. The paint is chipped a bit (it ought to be) and I've replaced the fiber shim in the center post once. Its still going strong and probably will outlast me. I cut the handles down to make them more compact which is about all I can think of that can make a Tiltall better. Its great with a Crown Graphic and anything smaller in my opinion. Pretty good with larger stuff too. Not the largest or smallest or the heaviest or the lightest just a really useful tripod.

    I use the Hasselblad quick release plate on my Tiltall (when I'm using a Hassleblad) and it works quite well. I use the Bogen 5 sided plates and QR on my big tripod and I think they would be fine on the Tiltall too.
  17. Oddly enough I was working on converting my tiltall to a large Boegn 3055 today. Not really sure how old mine is, made in Rutherford, but the conversion was quite simple.First take the original centerstalk out now go to your dealer and buy a replacement Bogen top plate. Unfortunately this is to small for the tube which needs to be inserted in the center hole but do not give up yet. Next go to home depot and pick up a 3/8 x 3" bolt of your choice, a copper pipe 1" coupler(about 2" long). Now you are ready to assemble.Oops forgot one more peice you will need large flat washer approximately sme size in diameter as the coupler. The Bogen plate is already threaeded for standard 3/8" bolote so assembly is quite simple,bolt goes through washer then through coupler then threads into Bogen plate and into the bottom of your choice of head . Tighten it up firmly and set the three set screws so it will not rotate and presto you are done. Insert into the center hole and tighten normally. You will not be able to move the center up and down but it is still tall anyway and best of all if you want to switch back for any reason just loosen and replace with the origianl head. I bought mine because it was so tall but my preference is for the ball head and it works great this way. Cheers George
  18. Thanks for the good responses....Quite a lot of veteran Tiltallers out there......Just in case the manufacturers are reading this...Larger collar locks and control knobs would be much more user friendly for the longtime users!
  19. I bought my Tiltall in 1965, and it's been in continuous service ever since (in my son's care, at present).

    Years ago, I was told to put a little vasoline on the legs, particularly after getting them wet or using them in snow. That worked well, but I'd bet that WD-40 would work even better. I replaced the original blue plastic pad with cork/rubber gasket material from an auto shop. Once, I put some white (Lithium) grease on the clamp screws, and I've never had to re-lube since.

    You have an early warning about galling when you feel a roughness in some action. Take care of it right away.
  20. Edward, I believe you have the senior tripod. You must be doing something right. I did not know it at the time of "the bath", but the WD in WD40 stands for water displacing. I like your cork idea. I cut a piece of plastic milk jug to do the same. Believe it or not, that simple piece of plastic is still going strong after twenty years. I think the cork would be an improvement. I seem to remember putting some grease on the handle screws about ten years ago. A second application wouldn't hurt. Thanks for the response.
  21. " It had already been in production since before WW2 when Leica took over its manufacture."

    Not really.

    Leica's U.S. subsidiary purchased Tiltall well after WW2. StarD bought it when Leica USA gave it up. Star D manufactured both the Tiltall and the Star D copy until they went bankrupt. The trustee then sold the name and whatever was left to the current Chinese manufacturer.
  22. A sad fate for a fine product.
  23. It may be too late to add this to the mix but I just bought a Gitzo center column to replace my Leitz Tiltall column (by Marchione)with the unremovable pan and tilt head that it came with. The new column fits perfectly (1.25" dia.) and provides an excellent support for my Kaiser Ballhead. The entire assembly is now rock solid and comparable to any of the Series 3 Gitzos in my opinion. The unit I have is model 1317C,rapid column at $89.00 at B&H, but the 1335C, which is the low column is much cheaper but will also work well. If you own an old Tiltall and want to convert it to a world class tripod, I highly recommend adding the Gitzo column. It beats having to make your own or buying a new comparable tripod for $400.
  24. Good idea, Michael.
  25. I have the basic Leitz Tiltall appox 25+ years old.

    If I get this right, you cannot remove the head and replace with somthing else?

    There is a set screw in base of current head, perpendicular to column. I had hoped this would lead to head removal and, best of all, some form of 3/8" fitting.

    Guess not?

    Leaves replacing the whole column assembly. The Gizo column has a 3/8" connection? Will have to reresearch that.

    Ultimately wanted to attach a Bogen BG-3265 one hand head.

    Thanks for any help.

  26. My cheesey gold anodized anniversary model tiltall has a phillips screw, but I've never tried to remove the head, 'cause I like 'er swell.-------------Cheers!
  27. elf


    I just got an Arca-Swiss B1 and would really like to mount it on my Tiltall center column. I inherited this Tiltall from my father in 1987. He was a leica shooter, strictly basics for him. And I really don't see why, at 6 lbs with pan/tilt head, I need to replace this tripod. With the Arca-Swiss it'll weigh about the same as with the original pan/tilt.

    So what experience have you all got with that, aside from replacing the center column with the Gitso? One person mentioned on another of my lists that one could unscrew the pan/tilt head from the column and install the new head. Anybody have any experience with that?
  28. Emily: I managed to make my own center column from some hardware store parts about 20 years ago for my Tiltall. On the new center column I mounted a Gitzo ball head, and I could switch back and forth betweent he two heads very easily. The Tiltall now holds my telescope (on the new center column) because I have moved on to other tripods for photo use. I wrote up instructions and submitted the idea to a magazine, but it was rejected as an article. Because I still have the text on file, I'll post it below. I put a photo of the mod on the web and a link is contained inside the article text. Let's hope it all gets pasted below successfully. ---- Fit Another Head To The Tiltall Tripod A photo of the modified tripod can be found at This article details the construction of a separate center column for the Tiltall to hold an auxiliary tripod head. After construction, the user can select which column/head assembly is desirable for the task at hand and insert it within seconds. The cost of constructing the new center column is under $10, and the parts should be available from well stocked hardware stores. The standard Tiltall head is a high quality pan-tilt head that has an ingenious spring loaded screw to facilitate camera mounting. However the unique features of a ball head make it an attractive option to have in addition to the standard head. Most ball heads have just one control to loosen and tighten the camera mount platform, making operation rapid. This can be an advantage when photographing subjects that move, i.e., wildlife or sports. I mounted a Gitzo 275 ball head for this article. A Reynolds Wall and Floor Flange is used to provide a new platform on which to mount the new tripod head. They are generally found in the home improvement section and are intended to mount decorative aluminum tubing to flat surfaces. The end of the flange that fits into the tube is tapered, and light filing enables it to fit into stronger, thicker wall tubing instead of the decorative tubing it was designed for. The tubing used was a 20 inch length of 1-1/4 inch O.D. by .065 inch wall seamless aluminum tubing made by Alcoa. A length of all-thread rod having 3/8-16 threads and secured with a jam nut was used to hold the new tripod head to the flange. Most auxiliary tripod heads have 3/8-16 attachment threads. Some stores carry 3/8-16 carriage bolts that are threaded along their entire length. These can be substituted for the all-thread rod if desired. To hold the flange securely to the tubing, four #4-40 x1/4 flat head screws are used around the tubing periphery. They fit into countersunk holes to allow the column to bottom in the tripod. Assembly Construction of the substitute center column for holding the accessory tripod head consists of inserting a 3/8-16 stud into a flange, and attaching the flange to a length of aluminum tubing. Step 1. Use a hacksaw to cut the aluminum tubing to the desired length (about 19-20 inches). The saw produces a ragged cut. Use a file to smooth and square the hacksaw cut, as well as remove burrs from the inside edge of the tube. A little care here will pay dividends when mounting the flange later. Step 2. Prepare the flange for tapping by first enlarging the hole in the bottom of the flange with a 5/16 inch drill bit. The flats cast into the flange sides provide a convenient way to hold the flange in a vise for drilling. Step 3. After drilling, use the 3/8-16 tap to cut the desired threads in the flange. Use a few drops of oil to lubricate the tap during thread cutting, and keep the tap aligned squarely for best results. After tapping, remove debris from the flange. Step 4. Start a 3/8-16 nut onto the threaded rod, and thread the rod into the flange until it protrudes from the top about 1/2 inch. Tighten the nut securely against the bottom of the flange to lock the threaded rod in place. The excess rod below the nut can be removed with a hacksaw. Step 5. File the tapered end of the flange a small amount to enable it to fit the tubing. Work slowly and evenly around the flange, and don't remove too much. Frequent checks on fit should be made as you file. Step 7. With the flange seated in the tube, drill a hole through the tube and flange with a #43 drill bit. Note the position of the flats on the flange in relation with other features so they can be avoided when drilling and tapping. Reduce drill bit wandering by first using a center punch to start the hole. Step 8. After drilling, use the #4-40 tap to cut threads into the hole. Once again, use oil to aid the tapping operation. Be sure the tap doesn't contact the 3/8 stud in the center or it will break. Remember to reverse tap direction frequently to dislodge metal chips and prevent tap breakage. Step 9. Place the countersink bit in the drill and countersink the tapped hole until the #4-40 screw fits flush. Don't countersink too deeply or the flange will not be adequately secured to the tubing. Step 10. With one screw in place, proceed to drill and tap the holes for the remaining three screws. After firmly tightening the screws, lightly file the screw heads to remove protruding burrs that may nick the tripod clamp collar. As a final touch, gently round the bottom edge of the 1/8 inch of the aluminum tube so that it can be inserted easily into the tripod. The column is now ready to accept the alternative tripod head. The low cost and ease of constructing a new center column for the Tiltall expand the versatility of this popular tripod. You will appreciate having quick-change tripod heads for various needs. ------ Bill Schneider
  29. I read Michael Ginex's response and suggestion that a Gitzo 1317C column
    could be used on a Tiltall to facilitate head interchangeability. I took a chance
    and ordered the new version which is grooved- G1317. I don't think you can
    get it "un-grooved. Ureka! It works perfectly. It's a little shorter by about five
    inches than the original Tiltall column but that's fine. My camera has no
    business dangling up in the air like a lightning rod for vibration anyway. By
    the way, I've owned my Tiltall since the early seventies and can recommend
    it's solid support and reliability. Get an old one if you can. Thanks Mr. Ginex!
    And all who responded.--Mike.
  30. I have a Marchioni 4602 Tiltall that came with a Panogear head that has small handcranks for pan and tilt. The Pano is very smooth compared to a ball-head. The tripod is mainly used for shooting documents of varying sizes, and a handy feature would be a handcrank for varying the distance to the subject - instead of the bumpy telephoto. Any thoughts?
  31. Photographer Gary Regester has parts for Tiltall tripods and helpful information about keeping them going.
    In particular, he offers a new center column with 1/4-20 and 3/8-16 threaded platforms for attaching standard tripod heads.

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