Ad
Ad
Ad
Pages: [1]   Bottom of Page
Print
Author Topic: Advice sought: Leveling a camera on a tripod  (Read 2028 times)
Bob_B
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 94



« on: September 24, 2013, 05:18:13 PM »
ReplyReply

My gear: Gitzo Series 3 6x systematic tripod (no center post), RRS BH55 ballhead with L plate for Canon 7D. All three items have some way of determining if they're level. Spirit levels on the tripod and ballhead, and the 7D has an electronic level. What I've been doing is (1) level the tripod via its spirit level; (2) level the ballhead with its spirit level, and (3) check the level on the 7D. First, the camera is rarely if ever is level after doing 1 and 2. Second, if I rotate the ballhead around the tripod's axis, it too does not remain level, i.e, the ballhead's spirit level moves around and outside of the center circle.

So, it seems I'm doing something fundamentally wrong, as I would have expected that once I level the tripod and ballhead, the camera should be level, and that level should be retained around the axis of the tripod.

I'd greatly appreciate some sage advice on the 'correct' way of leveling the camera, ballhead, and tripod. Obviously, this in no way is harming my photography. It simply bugs me, as I thought this was a no-brainer.

Thank you in advance for your advice.

Bob
Logged
HSakols
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 347


« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2013, 06:07:27 PM »
ReplyReply

I've been told that the Canon electronic level can be off by a significant amount. I use the electronic level in my d800 which isn't perfect, but I guess good enough.  Always good to step back and look at your camera body in relation to the subject.
Logged
JeanMichel
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 219


« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2013, 07:27:38 PM »
ReplyReply

Hi,
There are quite a few threads on this topic. In my case, I use an Acratech levelling head, with an Acratech ballhead, on a Gitzo. The levelling head is very light, easy to set, inexpensive  and simply wonderful. Your RSS head should fit on the levelling base but you may want to ask the Acrateck folks if it does. Their website is: http://acratech.net/

Jean-Michel
Logged
Slobodan Blagojevic
Sr. Member
****
Online Online

Posts: 4998



WWW
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2013, 07:39:38 PM »
ReplyReply

As the poster above noted, you need a leveling head.
Logged

Slobodan

Flickr
500px
bjanes
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2714



« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2013, 08:45:47 PM »
ReplyReply

As the poster above noted, you need a leveling head.

A leveling head is one approach. For single row panos one can level the ballhead and then attach the RSS PCL-1 panning clamp or something similar to allow rotation of the camera. The use of this device is shown here in the illustrations.

Bill
Logged
BartvanderWolf
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 3007


« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2013, 06:43:12 AM »
ReplyReply

Hi Bob,

All leveling tools that you mentioned have a certain amount of inaccuracy. Combined, their inaccuracy may be even greater if they are off in the same direction. There is only 1 solution, and that is to restrict the leveling to the single plane of rotation at the top of the construction, the camera base. That's why RRS offers a PCL rotating clamp on top of the ballhead.

Even when you achieve almost perfect leveling of the vertical (Yaw) axis of rotation, there is still some rotation of the image possible, due to a rotated sensor. It's impossible to mount the sensor with a tolerance of zero pixels over a distance of several thousand pixels.

Therefore, it is also important to understand why you want the leveling in the first place. There can be several valid reasons, but it is often attempted in combination with rotational pano-stitching, which is exactly when it is less important to do the leveling perfect, because each image will be totally resampled anyway.

Cheers,
Bart
Logged
Bob_B
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 94



« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2013, 07:14:11 AM »
ReplyReply

Thanks everyone. I had not heard of leveling heads prior to posting this question. I'll read up on them, and correct the problem.

Bob
Logged
bjanes
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2714



« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2013, 07:36:19 AM »
ReplyReply

Thanks everyone. I had not heard of leveling heads prior to posting this question. I'll read up on them, and correct the problem.

Bob,

By all means, check out leveling heads. However, this extra component adds another potential source of instability, just like that of an elevating center post on the tripod. The elevating center post is convenient for adjusting the elevation of the camera, but is shunned by purists seeking ultimate image quality. For occasional panos, the PCL may be the better solution as Bart suggests. If you use Arca style rails and clamps, the PCL can be attached to the ball head via a dovetail adapter, and the setup can be easily removed when leveling is not needed.

Regards,

Bill
Logged
fike
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1372


Hiker Photographer


WWW
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2013, 11:39:57 AM »
ReplyReply

The behavior you describe is typical of my experience, but I don't think a leveling head is that critical. It is just ANOTHER place to adjust level and to introduce instability.  You never said whether your images appeared off kilter.  Is the level you have achieved close enough?

Are you stitching panos or is this for single frames?  Are you using the ballhead's separate panning movement?  The only reason for a leveling head beneath a ballhead is if you intend to pan with the separate ballhead panning adjustment (for panos or videos).  Otherwise, for most stills, you should be able to level in the ballhead and be fine.
Logged

Fike, Trailpixie, or Marc Shaffer
marcshaffer.net
TrailPixie.net

I carry an M43 ILC, a couple of good lenses, and a tripod.
Bob_B
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 94



« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2013, 12:38:46 PM »
ReplyReply

The behavior you describe is typical of my experience, but I don't think a leveling head is that critical. It is just ANOTHER place to adjust level and to introduce instability.  You never said whether your images appeared off kilter.  Is the level you have achieved close enough?

Are you stitching panos or is this for single frames?  Are you using the ballhead's separate panning movement?  The only reason for a leveling head beneath a ballhead is if you intend to pan with the separate ballhead panning adjustment (for panos or videos).  Otherwise, for most stills, you should be able to level in the ballhead and be fine.

Thanks for the advice. Yes, the level is well within my tolerances. Yes, I've been toyed with panos, but most of the time I shoot single frames. I just got back from shooting some panos and didn't see any problems. As I said in the OP, this issue simply bugs me, but doesn't cause any real problems.

Best regards,

Bob
Logged
JeanMichel
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 219


« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2013, 07:21:39 PM »
ReplyReply

There is a short item on the levelling base here: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/accessories/acratech-leveling.shtml

Jean-Michel
Logged
NancyP
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 706


« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2013, 07:30:29 PM »
ReplyReply

I would like to have a Big Fat Bullseye Level or Big Fat Three-way Level. The dinky bullseyes on top of the typical clamp or ball head are hard to use and likely not that accurate. The levels that attach to the camera hot shoe are also rather tiny. Acratech has a bigger bullseye level attached to an Arca-Swiss-type plate. I have thought about just gluing a hardware store standard plastic two way level to an extra plate or to a hot shoe insert, just to have a decent-sized bubble level.
Logged
fike
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1372


Hiker Photographer


WWW
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2013, 07:34:15 PM »
ReplyReply

I think the cheapest and easiest option is the hotshoe mounted bubble level.
Logged

Fike, Trailpixie, or Marc Shaffer
marcshaffer.net
TrailPixie.net

I carry an M43 ILC, a couple of good lenses, and a tripod.
BartvanderWolf
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 3007


« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2013, 03:52:58 AM »
ReplyReply

Lots of suggestions here.

Cheers,
Bart
Logged
robdickinson
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 119


« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2013, 07:55:21 PM »
ReplyReply

The 7d spirit level can be off my over 0.5 degree, doesnt sound much but its instantly noticeable. I have a 5d2 now which doesnt have it built in and I miss it, OK not that accurate but it helps a lot when its dark!

I've just bought a Sunwayphoto indexing rotator (DDP-64MZ) with an arca clamp on the top and an arca clamp on the bottom (along with a nodal slider), I'll put this onto my markins q3T ball head and get that level. Hopefully this makes a good combo.
Logged
walter.sk
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1322


« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2013, 03:43:09 PM »
ReplyReply

I think the cheapest and easiest option is the hotshoe mounted bubble level.
I just got a 3-way bubble level to use in the hotshoe of my 5DMkIII.  I can get the electronic level set right but it disagrees with the bubble level: tilt is OK but pitch is wrong.  The electronic level does agree with the levels on my tripod and Gitzo leveler, and my presumption is that the hotshoe is not level.
Logged
Ellis Vener
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1628



WWW
« Reply #16 on: September 28, 2013, 09:35:12 PM »
ReplyReply

I currently use two panoramic setups:

One is an Arca-Swiss B1 Monoball with a Really Right Stuff PCL-1 clamp replacing the stock clamp.

The larger one is a Foba ASMIA head (very large and very heavy but very precise) with a Manfrotto 338 leveling base on top of the head and a RRS PCL-1 on top of that.

I also have an Arca-Swiss D4m which has panning capabilities at the base of the head and at the camera platform level.

Having shot with a real heavy duty duty video tripod rig and set up for the first time a couple of weeks ago I am looking into a 75mm cup-and-half-ball type base that I will put a RRS PCL-1 or their new version of the PCL-1  on top of.

Logged

Ellis Vener
http://www.ellisvener.com
Creating photographs for advertising, corporate and industrial clients since 1984.
Geoffreyg
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 406


WWW
« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2013, 10:02:20 PM »
ReplyReply

The hotshoe levels can be off by 1-2, easily. They aren't so precise.
Logged

Geoff
ErikKaffehr
Sr. Member
****
Online Online

Posts: 6906


WWW
« Reply #18 on: September 28, 2013, 10:42:07 PM »
ReplyReply

Hi,

I use this one: http://reallyrightstuff.com/ProductDesc.aspx?code=TA-3-LC&type=4&eq=&desc=TA-3-LC%3a-Versa-3-LB-with-Clamp&key=it

It would also fit a Gitzo 3 series tripod, I now have RRS but before that I used the Versa 3LB on my GT3541LS.

Best regards
Erik
Logged

Pages: [1]   Top of Page
Print
Jump to:  

Ad
Ad
Ad