Leveling a tripod

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I got frustrated to level my G345 tripod. So I ordered a Gitzo leveling base G321 from B&H but it was backordered. I've been waiting for 3 weeks patiently but wondering if I should wait more. I would like to hear some experience from a Gitzo leveling base user. I found the panning of a tripod head above the leveled tripod is essential when I shoot architectural objects. I'm also curious how other architectural/landscape LF shooters level a tripod quickly. Here are some ideas that I came up with before I made a decision to G321
Any comment is appreciated. Masayoshi

-- Masayoshi Hayashi (mhayashi@phys.ufl.edu), February 10, 1999


Here is how I do it: Arca Swiss B2 on top of Gitzo 410. Tripod has level built into the crown, it is reasonable accurate for leveling the tripod. One leg is extended along the lens axis, pointing in the direction of the subject. one of the other two legs is manipulated to center the bublle left to right. the forward facing leg is adjusted so that the bubble is now centered in the bullseye. Camera is then attached to the B2 head and it is checked and adjusted for being level in both directions, Since the B2 is actually a a double tilt head with seperate controls for pitch (front to back attitude) and horizontal level this is accomplished much more swiftly and easily than with a true monoball head design like the Arca Swiss B1 or the Foba. The A/S B-2 is superior ( in my experience) to standard pan + double-tilt heads because there is no creeping unlevelness as I had with virtually all other pan+tilt designs. The only head I found close to the performance of the A/S B-2 was the pan/single tilt Sinar head, which is designed to work with the Sinar cameras. this head however is unsuited to non Sinar cameras because You cannot level other cameras horizontally.

-- Ellis Vener (evphoto@insync.net), February 10, 1999.

Well if its any help the Linhof 3/8" thread levelling head is in stock so we can ship it to any dealer today.

-- bob salomon (bob@hpmarketingcorp.com), February 10, 1999.

[Hi Masayochi, I realize I broke the rule in sending you an answer directly on your E-Mail. So I post it again in the right place]

As far as I can guess, Gitzo sells very few G321 leveling heads and, depending on their stock, it may be difficult to get one in shorts delays. Anyway, I think the stuff is worth waiting. I recently bought one I use mainly with my Hasselblad cameras on a Gitzo Mountaineer G1349 tripod. It is a well designed and sturdy object (despite the finish, a bit rough) and it perfectly fits to the tripod plate. IMHO, as long as you shoot architecture, landscape, portrait or so, it's a better choice than a ballhead since it provides at the same time an accurate mean of leveling the camera and a larger, vibrations- free basis. Before making my mind, I compared the G321 with the Linhof leveling head. The Linhof has a better finish but doesn't fit the Gitzo tripod head (you have to find an adaptation trick by yourself), is harsher to move and has no built-in level. As an alternative, I would recommend the new Hasselblad quick release system equipped with a level, together with its own Arca-Swiss type plate you can screw in the 3/8" or 1/4" socket of your camera. Mounted on a good ballhead (or leveling head), it works fine.

Hope this helps. Girard.

-- Girard Perrolier (gerard.perrolier@wanadoo.fr), February 14, 1999.

Giotto sells a cheap ballhead with the number 2000 that has two balls and a panoramic function as well. So, by first leveling the bottom ball, the top part is used as a traditional ball head (what I wonder is how one is supposed to know wether the head is leveled in the first place). I think the head is mainly thought to be used in tricky close up situations, but it could work for your purpose.

I haven't seen it in real life, but I have seen pictures of it on the net (for instance on www.becamphoto.se, click on "stativ" on the left). User reports of the Giotto heads seem to indicate that they are quite good heads for the price, with a sacrifice in smoothness.

-- Peter Olsson (Peter.Olsson@sb.luth.se), February 16, 1999.

Finally, I got the leveling base yesterday. The base turns quite smooth. It is enough smoothness for leveling indeed. However, the handle to lock the base is too long to set the tripod at the lowest degree. How important is this? This makes me to think return or exchange to another product. Otherwise, it is nice. So what I'm after is now to buy a ballhead for leveling purpose. The price for G321 or G1321 (the same product) is about $160 so I think I can get a decent ballhead for this purpose.

-- Masayoshi Hayashi (mhayashi@phys.ufl.edu), February 16, 1999.

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