Whats the best tripod head

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by troyammons, Oct 18, 2004.

  1. I have a bogen ball head that is decent, but a real PIA for large
    format so I went out and bought myself a 410 geared head. Great
    action but way to sloppy. I can move the top of my sinar about 1/2"
    if I tug on it. Too bad because I really like the action.

    So the question is whats the best head, besides the $600 jobs.
    Geared would be great, but I want precision geared. I guess a swiss
    arca would do , but they are mega bucks ??

    I want something very stable and precise.

    Acually the camera mounted straight to the tripod base is perfect as
    far as stiffness.
  2. Check out w.fineartsphotosupply.com Anthony carries some good heads for something like a Sinar
  3. The manfrotto 405 may suit you better. Its more expensive but i think it's built for larger
    cameras. I've got my 4x5 field on the 410 and it's excellent, no play at all. Maybe you got
    a bad one, it isn't recommended for LF gear though.
  4. I think the 410 gears are spring pressure assist, rather than being precision machined. Probably the extra height of the camera equates to more leverage force against the springs, so it might be fine for a folder. Actually this camera is a lot heavier than my Burke + James .
  5. For those that might be interested, I got to the root of the problem. Never being afraid to rip into a new part, I found that the 410 has 6 sets of gears. When it comes to gears, especially stacked one after the other like these, it can leave you with a lot of slop. There are 2 sets for each axis, one for quick adjust where a lot of the slop there, and the fine adjust that is a helical gearset held in mesh with spring pressure. Actually the way they have it set up both gear sets are held in mesh with the helical gearset spring. Not exactly the best setup for precision. A stonger spring would yeild a tighter mesh.

    So this is what I did to stiffen it up a good bit.

    Removed all the teflon spacing washers between the quick adjust gears flange faces. This seemed to help get the gears to mesh more tightly, but made the action more stiff.

    Removed the rubber pad on the quick release shoe.

    Since it is modular I removed the middle section completely. That probably helped more than anything.

    So now I have front/rear and rotation only movement, which works since the F1 can rotate around the rail from side to side.

    It would be nice if they had some way to lock all the sections down. That would do away with all the gear slop completly.
  6. I'm surprised that your 410 is sloppy, mine is very stable and very precise. My only complaint is that when I tilt the camera upwards (e.g. to get the top of a building in the photograph) the knob that is turned to allow the tilt bumps into the top of my Gitzo 1325 tripod and limits the backward tilt to about an inch. There's a way around the problem but it's kind of a pain. Otherwise the head is great.
  7. Actually now that i look at it again, it must be lacking the spring pressure to hold all the gears in super tight mesh. It would really be better if it had some adjustment screws for that. Helical gear sets are a real pain.

    I did figure out a way to lock it though, if i can find the right part.
  8. IMHO the Ries photoplane "A." Built like a tank. Mine arrived bent on an old tripod. I took the head off, put it on my anvil and beat the freakin' (r@p out of it with a 2-1/2# rounding hammer until it looked right. That was over five years ago and I've have no plans for replacing it.
  9. Have you heard about the "Levelhead"? This is a precision leveling device with self-locking X&Y axis adjustments, it mounts on top of any sold pantilt or ball head, with a 25 pounds weight capacity, it is strong enough for an 8x10, and small and light enough for a Hasselblad. It was reviewed by Norman McGrath when it was introduced last year, and it is available now. If iterested, Photo Gizzmo in New York is the only sorce fot this item at this time.
  10. IMHO, the Manfrotto 3263 solves all of the problems metioned above.

    It's geared. The gears can be adjusted with grub screws to take up slop.

    It's movements on each of the three axis are precise.

    It comes with its own quick release. That release can also be adjusted.

    It comes with three different risers, so that the distance from the camera to the
    quick release can be set at a height complementary to the rise and fall
    movements of a monorail camera.

    It's bombproof.

    Of course, it's heavy. And expensive. But it does solve a number of the
    problems listed on this thread.

    Best regards,
  11. Troy,<p> I keep it light and simple by using mostly a small old Linhof levelling head that gives me +/- 15 degree for fine-adjusting my 4x5 or a Rolleiflex. It weighs less than 200g and is holding a heavy camera (of let's say 5 kilo or a bit more) at least as firm as all the other tripod heads I have owned and sold (Linhof, Riess, Gitzo).<p> Any magic involved? - No, mechanics. This levelling head, like others by Linhof and Manfrotto ( Bogen ), simply relies on enlarged friction surfaces ( big sphere cut-offs) , and by keeping leverage to a minimum. The limited movement it provides is sufficient for many cases, especially outdoors; for the remainder I have a Schiansky head in the shelf.<p> Uli
  12. For a Sinar P, C, F, or X camera the best head is the Sinar Pan Tilt head. You don't need
    lateral tilt as the tube rotates in the Sinar teipod mount bracket. The next after this would
    be the Arca-Swiss B2 Monoball, then the MA=geared Majestic head (very big) and after
    that the Gitzo #5 head.
  13. I also have a 410 and I can't begin to imagine where 1/2" of slop could possibly come from; mine is rock solid. I mount an 11lb (exceeding the Mfg rating) large format camera on mine and tilt it any direction with no issues... aside from the knobs hitting the tripod at extreme vertical tilt as mentioned in this thread. But no slop, wobble or drift.

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