life with a Zone VI tripod

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by ken_schroeder, Mar 4, 2003.

  1. This posting is not about comparing tripods. This site has covered
    that very well in other postings. This posting is about maintaining
    a tripod over the years. My Zone VI "Lightweight" has served me well
    as a portable rock for twenty two years, and continues to do so.

    When I first bought the tripod (new) in 1981 the legs were rough. A
    local furniture refinisher soon remedied the situation with steel
    wool and Johnson's Paste Wax. I apply fresh wax every few (or not so
    few) years and the legs have been fine. Also, make sure all the
    locking knobs have washers.

    Being wooden, the legs will swell somewhat in himid weather. The
    only time this has proved to be a problem is when I forgot to loosen
    the knobs one time before storing the tripod for a while. Undoing
    your forgetfulness once will remind you for a long time.

    Reid Tool in Michigan carries an extensive line of replacement knobs
    at reasonable prices. Reid also carries replacement bubble levels.
    The nice looking cases provide very little protection from baggage
    handling when flying. Pack T shirts, etc around the tripod for added

    My leather strap finally broke after almost twenty years of service.
    (No complaints.) I opted to replace it with a dog collar made by
    Coastal Pet Products. I happen to live in Alliance, Ohio, where
    Coastal is located. I found the collar in the local grocery store.
    Any pet supply store whould carry a good selection. Unscrew old
    collar; screw in new collar. The new collar is poly something. It's
    waterproof and I like the snap connection.

    My Zone VI tripod has outlasted several cars and actually performs
    better than when it was new. It still is no lightweight. The
    original Bogen 3047 head works well with the Zone VI/Wista camera. I
    added a Ries J200 head which is more stable with the Wisner TF and
    Kodak 8x10. Leveling the legs is not a problem, and I like the low
    center of gravity of the Ries head.
  2. Good for you Ken. I've had my 'Lightweight' since 1992. The only problem I ever had was once I broke a leg. I used to work as a surveyor, and if you've ever seen a surveyor set up a tripod...they jump up and down on the feet to set the spikes firmly in the ground. It was midwinter in Vermont, and I was so involved with my image that I jumped on my lightwieght on the frozen ground...snap! This was shortly after Fred sold out to Calumet, and it took some talking and complaining but they eventually did give me a new leg for free.

    My tripod's got lots of great battle scars. The new leg has bowed out about an inch but still works fine. I took the Bogen head apart last year and gave it a little too much oil, but it's working good now.

    I think the best part is that it's made of just feels good to me, is comfortable to use without gloves in cold weather. It's like an old pair of sneakers or my old Stratocaster guitar.
  3. I love mine too. Any idea who made them in the first place?
  4. I've had my Zone VI tripod since 1991, and its been great. The
    only problem I have had is with the cord. I crushed the clasp in
    the trunk latch a while back and haven't found a good
    repacement for it. Any suggestions? I could try Calumet, but it's
    such a small thing, I keep thinking that I'll find a place locally. The
    dog collar is a great idea. I ditched the leather strap long ago
    has it had gotten so ratty.
  5. Ken, I bought a Zone VI lightweight tripod about ten years ago. It was hardly used, in mint condition. Recently replaced the old Bogen 3047 head with a newer model 3047. Tried using other types of heads with the legs, but nothing seemed to work better. I refinished the original light colored un-stained wood, with a hard-surface black spray lacquer. Up-graded the screws, washers and fasteners to black carbon steel. Similar to the material that was used for the spikes . The only minor complaint is that the spikes are not replaceable with soft tips. They tend to scratch flooring and tear carpeting. This limits their use to outdoors in soft ground. I have tried using plastic and rubber tips to cover over and pad the spikes, but the tips tend to fall off and are a pain to use. Any suggestions?
  6. Yep, the Zone VI lightweight is a great piece of equipment, especially for road photography. It's got height and stability, and best of all, you can throw it in the back of your pickup and not worry about it, something you wouldn't do with a CF Gitzo or Ries. Mine fell out of the back of my truck onto the payment while on a trip. I noticed it missing when I returned from shopping, and there it was still on the highway, undamaged (but the Bogen head was destroyed). Once I even ran over it while pulling into my garage. Cracked one lower leg, but I was able to fix it with plastic wood.

    I've heard the Zone VI heavyweight is also exceptional for heavy cameras and long lenses.

  7. I originally talked with Calumet about the broken strap. They were mildly helpful in a bureaucratic way. (I remember a student complaining to Fred Picker at a workshop that his spot meter didn't work right. Fred instructed one of the Zone VI personnel to give him a new one on the spot....that's what I call service!) My tripod predates the rope arrangement. I would certainly call Calumet and tell them you needed a new part. If I'm "out and about" and see someone using a wooden tripod, I'll know who to say hello to if one of the legs is bowed or the tripod is hi-tech black!

    I finally purchased one of the folding gizmos Zone VI sold to protect floors. For years I used four square blocks (about 4"x4") with partial holes on one surface and some inner tube on the other. Not glamourous, but it worked. The Zone VI readymade is basically two strips of wood with holes and a hinge. A short chain keeps it from extending too far. Some sort of short length of plastic pipe with crutch tips might work, too.

    I have never used the "standard" model. It looks like a very serious tripod to me! The lightweight seems sufficient for the very little bit of 8x10 work I have done, especially with the Ries head.
  8. I got mine in 1984, and it's worked like a charm ever since. Strong enough for my 8x10 Sinar Norma. I found a Quickset Husky (Ansel reportedly loved them) for my 4x5, but decided to just change heads between the Bogen 3047 and the Sinar head because I like the wooden tripod so much, and it's less to fit in the car. Enough testimonial.

    I keep 3 six-inch-square carpet remnants in the Norma camera case, which work extremely well under the tripod feet on wood floors. Cost: free. Yeah, I have to bend down and move them if I pick up the tripod, but that hasn't proved to be abything other than good exercise.
  9. I wish I had a Zone VI tripod. My Manfrotto/Bogen 3221 has been a 'trusty' tripod, albeit heavy. However, lately, the legs don't stay clamped. It seems no matter how I adjust the nylock nut on the clamp brackets, when you tighten the lock lever, they slowly unlock themselves. That is, the locking levers will slowly move back, as if by magic, to the unlocked position.

    I've tried regreasing the special bolt that goes through the lock mechanism. I've tried putting more friction between the base of the lever and the bracket. Finally, I cleaned the tripod legs and clamp bracket surfaces with 90% IPA (to degrease it). After adjusting the Nylock nuts on the brackets, it seems they hold better now. However, if you try turning the lock levers to "fully tight", they will still move back to the "half-locked" position, but the leg extensions don't slip now, because they are grease-free.

    I have built a homemade wooden tripod, but it has no leg extensions...its fully extended all the way. Uses Brazilian hardwood dowels, available at Lowes Hardware. Much lighter than the Bogen.
  10. I have had a lightwieght Zone VI tripod for over 20 years. I love it. My only problem is when I travel overseas, it is unwieldy. I recently bought a Bogen 3221 for traveling and it has been a fine tripod. The 3221 does not seem to be as heavy as the Zone VI, but the Zone VI is a rock-steady tripod that is hard to beat when you are using a very slow shutter and there is any wind blowing on the camera. The Zone VI fits in my Jeep just fine, but when I have to rent a car, it never seems to fit in the trunk. Especially if I have my wife’s traveling cosmetic bazaar to store. The 10 suitcase [slight exaggeration] that we seem to be unable to travel without leaves little room for the Zone VI tripod. The Bogen 3221 traveled very well last summer and I did not have any problems of apparent camera movement with my 4X5. As I am getting older and seem to be less in shape, the Zone VI tripod seems to be heavier and heavier as I trek at altitudes that did not seem to be a problem 20 years ago. I expect I will take the 3221 next time I decide to climb to the top of the Upper Yosemite falls trail.
    I have been thinking of replacing my Zone VI/Bogen tripod head with one of Bogen’s geared tripod heads. Has anybody used the lightweight geared head with a 4X5 camera?

  11. In response to all of your praises, I went out and bought a Zone IV "Lightweight" the other day. I had been wavering about the tripod for some time, but your positive comments and its very reasonable price convinced me to do it.

    It is however head-less. Can anyone suggest a good LOW PROFILE head. I don't particularly like the Bogen 3047s for the same reason I don't like most Gitzo heads, they are too high... I was thinking about a Ries head, can anyone comment on how they work with the Zone IV?

    I normally use a 5x7 Canham (~7 lbs with lens), but also occasionally use heavier cameras, including a 20 lb 8x10 Calumet.
  12. Sorry, that was supposed to be Zone VI, not Zone IV, I guess that shows my own ambivalence towards Mr. Picker's choice of names...
  13. I'm going to be starting life with a Zone VI quite soon as I just got one on eBay with the Bogen 3047 head. I wanted something in wood that was rock steady for my Hassy E/LM with 2x converter, 250mm sonnar and 45 degree prism. The whole rig weighs 7-8 pounds so I figured a view camera tripod would do the trick. I'm a retired engineer and look forward to working with this gear and also renewing my love of medium format photography. I'll try to figure out a good solution to using the VI on indoor flooring.
  14. David,
    I trust your Zone VI tripod will serve you as faithfully as mine has served me. The folding wooden triangle Zone VI made works moderately well on wooden floors. I made three drilled wooden blocks (about 4 inches square) with inner tube material on the bottom which worked fine. Carpet would be a good substitute.

    Remember the Johnson Paste Wax to keep the legs working smoothly. Also remember that wood swells, so don't overtighten the knobs when putting the tripod away.


  15. Just received my Zone VI "Lightweight". The darn thing looks like it had never been used. Came with the Bogen 3047 and dark red bag. I attached the one supplied quick-release plate to the bottom of my Hassy E/LM and boy is it ever solid like a rock.

    As for a replacement for the line stopper, I found something called a "Micro cam cleat" at West Marine part number 276140 that sells for $4 and change that should work quite well. You would tie off one end of the line and the free end would lock wherever necessary into the cam cleat mounted on the side of the leg next to the last line keeper. I've use similar cleats on my sailboat and they grip like crazy but are very easy to release. I think I'm also onto something in regards to what to do with the metal feet when the tripod is used indoors. Stay tuned!

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