Tripod Recommendations

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by magic|1, Sep 12, 2003.

  1. My old Tiltall is starting to give up the ghost and I'm looking to replace it. I'm looking for recommendations. My particulars:
    • I shoot 4x5 (Toyo View Camera - hope to buy a field camera soon).
    • I also shoot 35mm and I'm looking a possibly picking up a Mamiya 7II one of these days.
    • I would prefer as light as possible with a head that accomedates quick releases (looking for recommendations on quick releases also)
    • The two things I dislike on the Tiltall is the twist releases on the legs (they tend to bind up) and the vertical adjustment control is long and is a pain for 35mm work.
    • I would like a tripod that can get low to the ground. I don't need a really tall one. I'm 5'8".
    • I mainly shoot landscapes.
    • And of course it needs to be reasonable priced (the lower the better).
      Thanks in advance.
  2. I'm rather fond of the Ries J-series. I have two or three and use them for 6x6 up to lightweight 8x10. May be a bit much for 35mm and none of the models have a center column, so that may not suit your needs. But they're solid tripods that work reliably in the field.

    My $.02,

  3. 1).Manfrotto 3221, good for 35 up to medimum format. One could use it with a 4 x 5 , I did for a while but sold mine (older version) and bought
    2).Gitzo Studex, wide vareity. I have one that only goes to 5' 10" and one that goes to 6' 6".
    They show up on auction ocassionally.
    Bogen site
  4. An ideal tripod for 5x4 is the Gitzo 1325 with a low profile head (like the G1370M) It keeps the centre of gravity low and hence the whole plot stable, it is light and yet rigid as a girder. It has twist lock legs though and would be a pain for 35mm work.

    A Manfrotto 055 with an 029 head would fit the bill and, although a little heavier and less rigid that the Gitzo, it is considerably cheaper. It'll be called a Bogen something or other if you're in our former colony across the pond! ;-)
  5. Let me recommend a feature that is very useful for landscape. I like a tripod whose legs can be individually adjusted at any angle. It's so handy when you are standing on uneven ground to be able to kick a particular leg out just a little bit more or less. Some of the wood tripods have this feature. I have an older model of a Bogen 475, but it fails to meet two of your criteria. It weighs 9.5lbs, and it has a minimum length of 17 inches. I don't know why Bogen doesn't have a lighter weight model with the same feature.
  6. Steve - The need for tripod stability varies a lot with focal length used. With my 6x9 cm field camera and lenses up to 180 mm I can get away with using a tiny tripod, whereas if my longest lens was 450 mm I would have to step up to a tripod with much higher torsional rigidity. This is something to keep in mind, regardless of what film format you shoot. The Mamiya 7 is mostly used with short focal lengths, and doesn't need a heavy tripod at all. But you probably know all this.
  7. If you're going to the trouble of setting up a tripod, just use the 4x5. The hard part is done. Get a good solid one for the 4x5; I think that you may regret it if you try and compromise.

    I use an older Zone VI 'lightweight' (not!) tripod, and it's truly a wonderful piece of equipment. It's seen some serious abuse and it keeps on ticking. I don't know if they're still making them. I do know that they no longer have the 'lifetime guarantee'...that was for the lifetime of Zone VI. I broke a leg once by being unbelievably stupid, and had to haggle with Calumet for a new leg.

    This thing has taken all that New England has to offer, and weathered it better than I have. The legs are individually adjustable, which is absolutely crucial if you ever venture beyond the driveway. The spikes work great. It's on the heavy side but the exercise builds character according to my dad.

    About the height...I've wished that I had got the bigger one. In doing landscapes I quite often want more height. I carry a plastic milk crate in the car to stand on.
  8. Check out Fine Art Photo Supply ( I haven't seen their tripods in person, but I understand they're very similar to the old Zone VI ones (they're made by the same woodshop, I know). I, too use and love the Zone VI Lightweight with 35, 4x5 and a big 8x10 Sinar Norma. It's wonderful.
  9. I never heard of a Tiltall wearing out, but I'm certainly in agreement with you about it's shortcomings. The Slik Pro 700DX meets all the requirements you have specified, it is just as sturdy as the Tiltall, and the cost isn't too great.
  10. The Uni-Loc tripods share the same unique design as the Benbo tripods, namely one lever loosens all the legs and the centre column. The advantage of this is that once you get the hang of it you can set the tripod up very quickly in almost any contorted position. The other feature, which is invaluable, is that the leg extension locks are at the top of the extension, so you don't need to reach to the bottom of the leg to extend it. I feel a lot more comfortable extending legs when there's a heavy camera attached. This also allows the bottom of the leg to be sealed more effectively. They're made in England (Frank: what would you call the English ?) and are very good quality. I use mine with a 4x5 field camera, RB67, Mamiya 6 all on a FOBA mini-Superball.

    Having said all that, I have a Ries tripod and head on order, thought my Uni-Loc, Gitzo and Manfrotto's were getting lonely :).
  11. Save your money, buy a Ries. It will be the best, and last tripod
    you'll ever buy.
  12. I just bought the bogen 475 new from KEH @ $199. I looked and looked and was not able to find a better mix of price, flexability, weight, and load carrying. At 9.5 pounds, it really dosen't add much to the wt. of your kit. Get a light ball head for MF and smaller (i've got the 3055 with the quick release) and a larger head for 4x5 and up.

    Good luck,
  13. I'll add another vote for some flavor of Ries. The build quality is unbeatable, they're
    an incredible joy to work with, and they last forever. Their customer service is also
    top notch. I got an older A-series set of legs on eBay about three years ago for my
    8x10 and when I got it I found that two of the leg rider clamps were cracked and one
    had been fixed with a hose clamp. I contacted Ries about replacement parts, and
    quickly got new rider clamps for a very reasonable cost. Barring some international
    ban on wooden tripods, I'll be using that Ries until the day I die. Give 'em a look.
    They're a little pricy, yeah, but use it once and you won't regret it.
  14. I use two the Gtzo 1325 and the 1548...I think you would love the 1325..The 1548 I use for 8x10 and all studio work,,, I shoot35, 645 and 4x5 using the 1325 and 1576 ball head...The head is a bit of overkill but I like it...The tripod is easy to master (some complain about the gitzos twist locks) and VERY rigid..You wont regret it...
  15. I've used the Bogen 3221 (black version of the 3021) for 35mm, Pentax 67, and Linhof Technika 4x5. It's worked well with all of them. It's light, doesn't have the twist releases you dislike, doesn't cost much, and can go low to the ground. I no longer use it for 4x5 since I became concerned that perhaps I needed something more sturdy for that and I now use a Gitzo 1325 for 4x5. But if I were going to take the 35mm, 6x7, and 4x5 somewhere and could bring only one tripod I wouldn't hesitate to again use the 3221 for 4x5. I'm surprised at the Ries recommendations. They're great tripods but I think they're heavier than you need, especially for 35mm, plus they are expensive. So my suggestions would be the 3021/3221 if you want a tripod that has the things you mention (light weight, low price, etc.) is very good for 35mm and medium format and is adequate I think for 4x5, or if you wanted to spend quite a lot more then I'd suggest the Gitzo 1325. I use an Arca Swiss B1 ball head on the 3221 for 6x7 and until recently used a Bogen 3247 pan/tilt head on the 1325 for 4x5. I just recently switched to a Bogen 3275 geared head on the 1325. If money is real important then you probably can forget the Arca Swiss head but Bogen makes many excellent heads at moderate prices. The 3047 is a nice pant/tilt head that sells for about $60 as I recall. However, if you do only landscape you might prefer a ball head.
  16. Steve: I hike with my camera equipment and the tripod, with only one leg extended becomes my walking stick when hiking in rough terrain. The Gizto 1320 -an older model does the job wonderfully. The Manfrotto/Bogen stuff locks do not lock the legs firmly enough and the tripod collapse under even light weight. I think a good tripod must do more than holding the camera, for me at least. I have a Unilok and had a Bembo, yes, their adjustability and quick set up are better than anything on three legs, but no, for hiking they are hopeless. The collapsed tripods are too wide for comfortable shoulder carrying and they are much too heavy for long hikes. In non-field situations they are superb because of their tremendous adjustability and quick set up even in strange positions. One tripod for everything? does not exist.
  17. I'll throw in my own 21 cents and vote for the Manfrotto 055 in the new PRO version (3021/3221PRO by Bogen). While it may be a close call for your Toyo View (it's rated at 13.3 lbs max) it'll certainly sufice for Toyo Field which is what I use.

    In addition it has some extra features (especially for 35/MF use) that make it stand out, namely the ability to mount center column horizontally. It also goes all the way down to ground level for low angle shooting. Leg angle adjustment is independent and the whole set up is I think the best there is, especially for the price. Check out and see the extensive line Manfrotto has to offer, including all the heads AND accessories which are well thought out and VERY well made. Also remember that Manfrotto has its own line of Carbon pods in case you decide to spend the bucks on such a Gitzo.

    Ries??? No doubt a high quality product but for the money you get at least as good a Manfrotto plus you can upgrade to a First Class with an airline of your choice...
  18. As for the Manfrotto locks not being firm enough? In 14 years I've used only Manfrotto in 4 different versions/sizes. NEVER have I had such a problem (nor heard such a suggestion). My newest 055PRO has flip locks, works perfect, and as firm as I can think of.
  19. and we all know how great it is to fly FIRST class...Love...Especially on Alaska Airlines...$50 firs class upgrades!!! Love IT!!
  20. I would second the recommendation for the Gitzo 1325 and 1370 low profile head. It is light and gets low to the ground. I use it with an RW45 Ebony and find that I really like this combination. Its probably not that cheap but you'll never buy another. As for the twist locks I have not had any problems - don't try to cinch them that tight - just a moderate amount and they will not move or loosen up - then they will not bind. Buying something that only addresses some of your requirements will lead to frustration. If your equipment needs are solved you'll have lots of time to devote to the creativity side which is where you want to be - right?
  21. It isn't exactly light weight, but my favorite is a set of Bogen 3036 legs with a 3047 head. I use it for all formats from 35mm to 5X7. Whe I want something a tad lighter, I use Bogen 3021 legs with the 3047 head.
  22. I may as well throw this out... I have a Manfrotto 3221 tripod. I like it, however, either due to weight (say max of 15lbs), extreme temps (-40 before wind chill), or me just being rough on it... I have metal cracking on it. The crack is on the top portion where one of the legs meets the leg joint. Again, don't know what caused it, but it is what it is. The tripod still functions for lighter stuff, and I am trying to keep it alive until I find a replacement.

Share This Page