Lightweight pan/tilt head : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I've decided to get a pan/tilt head, to replace my ball head. I find that with large format (actually a 6 x 9 field camera), it's too difficult to be able to level the camera AND finely adjust the composition with a free rotating ball head. I've read various posts on this web site, and most people recommend either the Arca Swiss B2 (dual control ball head) or the Bogen 3275. Both weigh at least 3 lbs. however. Also the Arca Swiss is very expensive and the Bogen comes with a Bogen, but not Arca Swiss, quick release.

Before I take the plunge, I'm wondering about three other possibilities: (1) a Ries j250 two way head (about $235 and 2 1/2 lbs, without quick relase), (2) a Velbon Magnesium Panhead (PH460) at 1.5 lbs and about $100, (3) a Linhoff UniQuick Pan Tilt 2.5 lbs, about $342.95, including Linhoff quick relase, and (4) a Linhoff 3 way levling head (03663), $617.50 about 2 lbs, without a quick release. I can add an Arca Swiss quick release system to any of these tripods, although it would increase the weight by approximateliy 6-8 ounces.

In particular, what do I give up if I go with say, the Ries as opposed to the Arca Swiss B2? Any experience with any of these? Which is most suitable for backpacking/hiking? My camera, with lens, weighs approximately 6-7 lbs. The longest lens I'm using is a Nikkor 300M. My tripod is a Gitzo 1228 carbon fiber.

Thanks for the help. Howard.

-- Howard Slavitt (, March 05, 1999


The Linhof UniQuick head is no longer available and was not designed for 45.

You might bear in mind that John Sexton is the one who uses the Linhof 3-Way levelling head which is made for view cameras.

Sexton also uses the Linhof Quickfix on his cameras

-- bob salomon (, March 05, 1999.

Bob, how does the Linhoff 3-Way leveling head work? What is the difference between a levelling head and just a plain, ordinary, pan/ tilt head? How is the 3-Way leveling head different from Linhoff's Levelling Pan/Tilt Head 77, other than the increased weight and holding capacity of the latter model? With the 3-Way levelling head the information on the B&H web site states that tilt motions and pan rotation lock separately. But what about the ability separately to lock the levelling function and the vertical tilt? In other words, once I've leveled the camera, would I be able separately to adjust vertical tilt without affecting the level? Howard.

-- Howard Slavitt (, March 05, 1999.

There are at least two Arca Swiss B2 heads, one listed at about $525, currently listed in the classifieds in the tripod section.

I have been using a B2 as my primary tripod head with a range of cameras and formats since October (98). I think it is just great for large format. I haven't really worked with either the Ries or the three way Linhof heads, but i am sure they are fine too.

What I like about the way the B2 works over other pan/tilt heads that I have used is that you can balance the camera directly over the pivot points for both axis'. This makes it extremely fast to find level in both directions and lock it down. You first level the camera on the pitch (front to back) axis (I call this being "plumb") and finger tighten the control. you then adjust the horizontal to level and tighten it's knob. And you are locked down. the head is very smooth in operation. I also like that there are no protruding control arms or levers.

-- Ellis (, March 05, 1999.

i should have read your complete letter. The Arca B2 head is way too big for a Gitzo 1228. My Arca B1 is almost too big for mine. Sorry to waste your time Howard.

-- Ellis (, March 05, 1999.


Linhof has several types of levelling heads:

The 003663 3-way Levelling head has 3 seperate locks. Each controls the rotation of the head over 3600 in each of 3 planes. Each movement is locked prior to making adjustments in another plane.

The Linhof Levelling heads are available in 1/4 or 3/8" camera thread only. These have a single control that permits the head to move 150 in any direction. As it only has one levelling plane there is only one lock.

Then there are 2 large levelling heads dedicated to specific Linhof monorails. One for the GT type rail or the JBL type rail and one for the heavier GTL, TL, TE rails. These have a 150 levelling control left to right, 900 forward tilt control and a 3600 pan control. Each with seperate locks.

The Profi III Head has 150 of levelling left to right and 3600 of pan and 900+ of front to back tilt. The tilt has a tension control. This is a very large head.

Then there are 2 speciality pan heads, one with geared pan and tilt to move to a minute 0 of arc by micro drives and one without the drives. These are usually used for positioning radar or other antennas rather than cameras but they will also work for people needing control of cameras

-- bob salomon (, March 05, 1999.

Thanks Bob and Ellis for your responses.... Ellis, why is the B2 way too big for the 1228? According to Gitzo the 1228 will hold 13 lbs (I think). So if I use 3 and 1/2 lbs on the head, and 6 lbs on the camera, I should be ok?

Bob, is there any reason I couldn't thread an Arca Swiss quick release adapter (either the 60 mm or 84 mm size, both sold by B&H Photo) into the Linhoff 3 way levelling head? Would it limit the movement of the head? How stable should the Linhoff 3 way levelling head be with a Horseman VH (about 4 lbs) and Nikkor 300M (adding about 1 1/2 lbs when used with a special extension lensboard)? Will the Linhoff 3 way levelling head fit nicely on the G1228?

-- Howard Slavitt (, March 05, 1999.

Bob, I also forgot to ask whether the Linhoff 3 way levelling head has built in bubble levels?

-- Howard Slavitt (, March 06, 1999.

Any Quick Release System, Linhof, Kaiser, Schactler, Saunders, etc. and any Fast Mounting System, Arca and copys, Rollei, Hasselblad, etc. can be mounted on any head from any manufacturer. Only special dedicated releases like the Giottos ones are dedicated to certain types of heads.

All pro releases have either 1/4 or 3/8 threads or both so mounting them is sim,ple. Just screw them in like you would screw the camera onto the head.

It can easily handle your camera as it is appx the same weight as a technika 45 for which it is commonly used.

It should fit the Gitzo but we have never tried to. On the other hand there have been no reports from users or the factory that it won't. Its diameter is 77mm at the top and

-- bob salomon (, March 06, 1999.

I use the Bogen 3275 compact gear head with a Toyo AX 4X5 and love it. It is light, compact, and stable. I like having both fine tune and quick adjustment capability on the same knobs. The quick release plate is very thin which is nice for fitting the camera into a backpack. The rigidity of the head can be maximized by twisting the quick addjust knobs tight in the reverse direction after getting everything framed up.

-- Lester Moore (, March 10, 1999.

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