raising center column of tripod - ok?

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by sanjay_chaudary, Jun 19, 2017.

  1. Hi, I use a manfrotto tripod - model 055 xprob with center column. I had a manfrotto 490 ballhead and switched to arca swiss monoball z1 sp. The manfrotto ballhead , is much taller , though having lower load capacity.

    While shooting photos, I sometimes find the manfrotto tripod to be little short , with the arca swiss ballhead.
    I am raising the center column of the tripod. Is this a good idea?
  2. If you don't raise the center column more than a few inches, it shouldn't be a problem. But, the higher you raise it, the more possibility for instability. You should also be sure that the tripod itself is firmly planted on the ground. Where you would find the most problems with extending the center column is when shooting with slower shutter speeds and/or longer lenses (like 300mm or higher). Take your gear out and do some test shots to see what the limits are.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017
    Charles_Webster likes this.
  3. The raised center is usually prone to vibrations.. Better than hand-held i guess.

    this is why a taller main tripod is advisable.
  4. Its also an non-braced center column. That will be less stable than one attached by struts to the tripod lower down by the legs.
  5. AJG


    I have an older version of your tripod, and have successfully used it with the center column raised 6" or so with a heavy 80-200 f/2.8 Tokina zoom. Try it with your heaviest camera/lens combination and see if it works for you.
  6. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Ancient trick that works -- hang a weight from the bottom of the center column. Loaded camera bag, an empty cloth bag that can be filled with "whatever" in the wild, even a "sling" that you can press down with your foot. Expanding plug and a hook for the end of the bottom tube, simple hardware, and a stitched up leg from a pair of jeans -- even secured with a zip tie.
    johne37179 and William Kahn like this.
  7. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Additional to all the good suggestions above, it somewhat depends on the balance (weight distribution) of the camera / lens on the top of the head: so for example when using (physically) longer lenses a tripod lens mount is worthwhile

    Another point to note is: some of the wobble (hence camera shake blur) is likely to come from your hand on the camera, so a remote release would assist - as would using "Mirror Up" technique if your camera supports that function.

    Having state all of that: I have one of those Tripods and a variety of Heads. I have found that there are not many (if any?) instances when I have had to raise the centre column to make any shot - preferring to bend my back, instead. But I have never been keen on raising a Tripod centre column, preferring to find a suitable workaround instead.

    William Kahn likes this.
  8. thanks a lot. I am having the problem when I try to take photos of the moon. The manfrotto has more height and I do not have the problem with it. The arca swiss being smaller in size, requires me to increase the height of the center column. I am thinking of maybe disposing of the manfrotto ballhead, but wanted to be sure before doing it.

    I thought raising the center column of the tripod is not a good practice and maybe meant to be avoided
  9. The weight/sling pulling down is a good technique. It makes a big difference.
  10. I don't think raising the tripod's center column 6 inches will have a substantial impact on the angle of view. :)
    William Michael likes this.
  11. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    May not change the angle of view, but may make it easier for the OP to see through the viewfinder or use Live View if only fixed screen model.
  12. 2 words, "angle finder" ;)
  13. Or with a view camera a small mirror!
  14. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I concur - that's what I read as the key issue: but I would seek another solution other than around extending the centre column - that like bending my back or sitting on a milk crate; or shortening the tripod to no extensions and mounting the tripod on a solid (higher than me) ledge etc. Angle finder maybe a solution. etc.

  15. + 1 to Chazfenn's suggestion of an angle finder. Cheaper by far than a new tripod, and less neck-wrenching than staring up at an over-raised camera.

    You don't have to have the angle-finder pointing straight up BTW. It can be positioned in any direction that's comfortable.
  16. I compare this to backyard sighting with binoculars. A sitting position is often the answer. One needs to be comfortable whilst waiting for clouds to pass. Now I have several tripods with center columns. I figure that a center column that raises is there to be raised. Moderately. But for astro work, one needs the sturdiest double leg models somethimes just to give some stability to the image. But then it does indeed depend on what gear you are placing on top. Test it out yourself and take exposures at the customary speed. I think the moon is not a big problem. It is bright enough. Incidentally, for stability of viewing I bought a binocular parallel mount which could be easily adapted to a camera....sort of what they call a small crane in the movie business.
  17. If I understand you correctly, you are not experiencing instability with the Manfrotto head with no raising of the center column but you are with the A-S head with column raised to offset the height difference. I am surprised at this. First, the difference in height between the two ball heads is only about one-and-a-half inches (about 4 cm.) So you would only have to raise the center column by 4 cm. with the A-S head. Raising the column by such a small amount should not make a difference. Second, raising the camera by means of a taller ball head or the center column should have the same effect.

    Since the moon is an object in sunlight, your shutter speed should be sufficient with a good tripod, the Xprob, and an excellent ball head in the A-S Z1. Unless I do something wrong, I get satisfactory moon shots with the same exact tripod and ball head.

    My advice is to check that everything is tightened down and, as Chazfenn and Rodeo Joe have suggested, use a right angle viewer.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2017
  18. Hi,
    thanks for the replies. The problem is not with the photos taken. The problem is with viewing the image through the viewfinder. I have to manually focus the image. With the manfrotto ballhead (its taller), the view finder is at a more comfortable angle. In case of the arca swiss ballhead, I have to raise the lens (400 mm) further up. As a result, I need to bend my knees or bend my neck. It feels very uncomfortable, doing it for a long time. My body hurts after 5 to 10 minutes.
  19. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Find a folding camp chair or stool with a height that works -- lower the tripod and work sitting?
    GerrySiegel likes this.
  20. I do not understand. Why do you have to focus on the moon? Infinity is the proper focus setting. You omitted which camera you were using. Aligning the moon's image is all you need to do in the viewfinder if you are working with film.

Share This Page