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Author Topic: Tripod and Head Combo  (Read 5776 times)
dwdallam
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« on: December 25, 2007, 12:53:51 AM »
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A few weeks ago I posted needing help selecting a heavy duty lightweight tripod and head combo.

The consensus was for the Gitzo 3530LSV tripod and the BH55 Really Right Stuff ball head. After researching these items, and others, I've decided to go with this combo, with one small change.

I was thinking about the Gitzo 3530 Mountaineer instead of the LSV. The Mountaineer has the "Ground Level" option, which allows the tripod to be setup nearly flat on the ground.

Both tripods, according to the Gitzo website, carry the same weight and are specifically designed for the same length lenses. The LSV also does not come with a center column, but a video cup. So I'd have to buy a center column. The below mountaineer at B&H offers the center column with the legs for less money. I don't understand that.

GT3550 Mountaneer: (The LSV will be next to it.)

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/find/cart.jsp


As far as the ball head goes, I'm sold on the BH55, and thinking about the lever quick clamps and plates, the L-Plate for my 5D and the plate for a Canon 70-200L. I'm also wanting to go with the longer clamp rather than the shorter one.

Does anyone see anything wrong with this combination regarding such things as knob clamp vs lever clamp and the tripod I've selected, or anything else I am overlooking?

I do have one more question. These heads incorporate a circular spirit level on the top of the head, so you have to look down on top of it. How can you use this type of level to get your camera level horizontally, but not vertically?

Of course one solution is to use a flash mount level, which I have. It just seems like a a ball head of that caliber should have a level on the back of a head and have a horizontal level seen from the back, not the top. What are you suppose to do, climb on a ladder to see down on it, or am I missing something?
« Last Edit: December 25, 2007, 01:15:00 AM by dwdallam » Logged

aaykay
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« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2007, 02:34:38 PM »
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May not be that big a deal but the "Systematic" range of tripods have the broadest tripod tops within the series, due to the way they are cast.  For instance, a "systematic" 3530 (3530S) will have a broader top (where the head mounts) than a mountaineer 3530.  

Due to the above reason, the "systematics" are supposed to have the highest "torsional rigidity" among all tripods within the same series. "Torsional Rigidity" is what determines how stable a lens focal length would be, on the tripod.  Note that I am not referring at all to the weight that a tripod can take, but to the stabilizing effect on the **Focal Length** of the lens that is mounted on the tripod.....since all series-3 Gitzos can take almost 40lbs. Of course when it comes to the series-5 tripods, we don't even have a non-systematic option.

Having said that, the mountaineers come right out of the box with a lot more bells and whistles, when compared to the "systematics", including the ability to raise the center column, which is unavailable in the systematics (I never raise the center column for reasons of stability, so it is not a big deal to me).  The systematics also come with a built-in bubble-level (not present in the mountaineer) but that may not be a big factor for you.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2007, 02:41:41 PM by aaykay » Logged
Sheldon N
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« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2007, 04:48:44 PM »
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I prefer not to use a center column to add additional height, since you lose all the stability benefits of a three point tripod when you raise the center column. It essentially becomes a braced monopod. For this reason, the primary specification I would look at is the maximum height of the tripod without the center column raised.

The GT3530 Mountaineer only reaches to 133cm without the center column raised. The GT3530LSV reaches to 148cm tall with a flat plate and no center column. I'm roughly 6' tall, and 148cm equates to an eye level camera after the ballhead and camera are stacked on top of the tripod (5D and Markins M20).

The Systematic tripods do effectively have the ground level option, since the legs can spread out to almost 90 degress and there's no column underneath to interfere with how low it can sit to the ground. The only thing they can't do is hang the camera upside down from the center column underneath the tripod (which often makes it hard to shoot with the legs of the tripod in the way).

To me, the 3530LSV is the clear choice. It's more stable, taller without a center colum (perfectly eye level at max extension if you're 6' tall), allows you to shoot very low to the ground (without having to remove a column or hang a camera upside down), and is almost a pound lighter (4.7 lbs vs 4.0 lbs).

To me, that's worth the $20 price difference.
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k bennett
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« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2007, 05:01:31 PM »
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I just purchased this exact combination -- the 3530LSV and the RRS B55 head. The 3530LSV does on fact come with the video half-ball thing installed, but it also comes with a flat plate with a 3/8-inch screw for mounting a traditional ball head. This plate is easily switched out in place of the video ball.

The 3530LSV does go all the way to ground level, so your camera is as low as possible -- just the ball head above ground. (Some tripods use a reversible center column which puts the camera upside-down at ground level. Difficult to use in my experience.)

I've been a working professional for over twenty years, and this is the best tripod and head combo I've ever used. The RRS ball head, in particular, is smooth as silk and doesn't move AT ALL when tightening. (My previous tripods have been various Bogen/Manfrotto legs with a succession of mediocre heads.)

The 3530LSV does not come with a center column. You can add one later if you decide that you need it, though then you'd probably be better off with the 3540XLS, which is 20 inches taller, again with no center column. (And it's cheaper than the 3530LSV + center column option.)

--Ken
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Equipment: a camera and some lenses.
sojournerphoto
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« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2007, 06:32:59 PM »
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Quote
A few weeks ago I posted needing help selecting a heavy duty lightweight tripod and head combo.

The consensus was for the Gitzo 3530LSV tripod and the BH55 Really Right Stuff ball head. After researching these items, and others, I've decided to go with this combo, with one small change.

I was thinking about the Gitzo 3530 Mountaineer instead of the LSV. The Mountaineer has the "Ground Level" option, which allows the tripod to be setup nearly flat on the ground.

Both tripods, according to the Gitzo website, carry the same weight and are specifically designed for the same length lenses. The LSV also does not come with a center column, but a video cup. So I'd have to buy a center column. The below mountaineer at B&H offers the center column with the legs for less money. I don't understand that.

GT3550 Mountaneer: (The LSV will be next to it.)

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/find/cart.jsp
As far as the ball head goes, I'm sold on the BH55, and thinking about the lever quick clamps and plates, the L-Plate for my 5D and the plate for a Canon 70-200L. I'm also wanting to go with the longer clamp rather than the shorter one.

Does anyone see anything wrong with this combination regarding such things as knob clamp vs lever clamp and the tripod I've selected, or anything else I am overlooking?

I do have one more question. These heads incorporate a circular spirit level on the top of the head, so you have to look down on top of it. How can you use this type of level to get your camera level horizontally, but not vertically?

Of course one solution is to use a flash mount level, which I have. It just seems like a a ball head of that caliber should have a level on the back of a head and have a horizontal level seen from the back, not the top. What are you suppose to do, climb on a ladder to see down on it, or am I missing something?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=162980\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I've got a 3530 Mountaineer and a Markins M20 head and, though I've not had it long, I'm so far very pleased. I use a Kirk L-plate on my 5D and have used lenses up to 200mm so far.

Mike
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TMcCulley
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« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2007, 06:59:34 PM »
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As far as the ball head goes, I'm sold on the BH55, and thinking about the lever quick clamps and plates, the L-Plate for my 5D and the plate for a Canon 70-200L. I'm also wanting to go with the longer clamp rather than the shorter one.

Does anyone see anything wrong with this combination regarding such things as knob clamp vs lever clamp and the tripod I've selected, or anything else I am overlooking?

I do have one more question. These heads incorporate a circular spirit level on the top of the head, so you have to look down on top of it. How can you use this type of level to get your camera level horizontally, but not vertically?

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=162980\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

1. I love the lever clamp.  It makes changes really easy and fast.  I am not sure why you think you need the longer clamp.  Once clamped nothing is moving and the RRS plates have stops to prevent drop through.

2. I agree with the other comments about the Systematic vrs Mountaineer

3. I set the level before I mount the lens and camera and then check again to see it still level.  I am 6'2" and do not have to much trouble seeing the spirit level.  If that is a problem the Double Bubble Level mounted in place of flash is probably the best solution

Tom
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dwdallam
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« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2007, 08:35:46 PM »
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Well this was the information I was looking for. I knew there was a difference, but had no idea. However, I did look hard at the images and the Systematic series looked beefier on the top plate as you state here. I really do want a center column, since I'll be using this for other things than landscape. I also do people and fine art types of photography.

So ok, I guess I WILL go with the LSV model, but I need to know which center column will work with it. As I look around at B&H and Adorama, I see I'll need not only the center column, but also the locking color assembly. Is this right?  As far as Landscape goes, I never raise the center column either, so I may not even need a center column. I can always use my Bogen head and tripod for those times when I need more adjustments.

So are you saying that even though the LSV comes with the bowl mount, it also comes with a flat plate?

In any event, let me know which column and assembly will work with the LSV model.

Thanks much.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2007, 08:58:05 PM by dwdallam » Logged

Sheldon N
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« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2007, 10:22:22 PM »
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Yes, the 3530LSV comes with a flat plate. You can just leave the video bowl at home in the closet (or sell it on Ebay).

I believe that any center column for the Systematic 3 series tripod will work. Look at the GS3510S, if you decide you need a center column down the road.
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aaykay
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« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2007, 09:37:01 PM »
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I really do want a center column, since I'll be using this for other things than landscape. I also do people and fine art types of photography.

I need to point out that you can get a RANGE of center columns with the "systematic" series, just that it does not come standard with the tripod.  You have to buy the center column separately, that's all.

The "systematic" range is essentially a modular series.  You can mix and match options as needed, with the out-of-the-box version containing just the basic tripod with a bubble-level and a flat top plate.
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dwdallam
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« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2007, 01:40:32 AM »
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I bought the RSS BH55 head and the LSV tripod today, both from the RRS store on the phone. Since I live only 400 miles north of them, they said UPS ground would make it in one day, which makes up for the tax I would have saved by shipping it from B&H. I'm ordering a center column from B&H now.

Thanks for all who responded. I'm glad I decided to talk this over before buying.

I'll write back and let you know what I think.
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dwdallam
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« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2008, 03:31:41 AM »
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Thanks for all who replied.

I took the LSV and B55 head on my recent Death Valley trip, and had it down quickly. It's a very nice combo and I'm extremely excited and happy with it. I did install the center column, but since I rarely use it, like most of you, and it raises the camera another 3" or so, I think I'll use the flat plate. Even at 6' 3", it's a little too tall at full extension with the column. On the other hand, I may just use a permanent marker and mark off a few increments on the lower legs using a tape measure. That way I can adjust it down easily and keep the column installed.
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