Manfrotto ? Bogen 410 head : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I've been looking for a lightweight head capable of LF work. I've toyed with the idea of a ball head but have been put off by the price and possible problems with precision when setting the camera up for architectural shots. I see a number of you appear to be using the 410 mini geared head. Is it any good ? I have read the Manfrotto brochure which recommends this head for 35mm/light medium format. I use an Ebony field camera with 110xl lens. Would this head be suitable? What about with a 6x12 back attached to the camera- would it support this combination. Many thanks (again) in advance. Paul

-- Paul Owen (, April 30, 2000


Paul, I wouldn't use a 3 way head unless the controls where autoblocking and would certainly prefer a ball head anyway. I have not used the Bogen head you mention (I think it is a geared and autoblocking design, and therefore the following might not apply), but my experience with 3 ways heads is that comes always an occasion when one of the controls is left loose and the camera falls on one side. This is a traumatic experience for any camera, especially a view camera. I have used ball heads only for a long time and find them superior for both stabillity and ease of use. I use the Linhof 3 with Bogen quick release on a heavy Gitzo 410 and a light Bogen Manfrotto 168 on a Gitzo 3 serie for backpacking. This Bogen is stable enough to fit any 4x5 view camera with lenses up to 300 mm and it's price is a real bargain. The new make has a safety quick release lever, at last! (I had a couple of accidents...)

If you are a person able to work slowly and methodologically, and are not afraid to juggle with the 3+3 knobs of the 410 in addition to the 4-5 controls of the view camera, this might just be the head for you. But if you work sometimes under pressure and like me, tend to mix up the knobs, I would encourage you to pursue your first idea, which is the choice of many photographers.

-- Paul Schilliger (, April 30, 2000.

I regularly use the 410 with my Wisner 4x5 Traditional. Lenses I use are as heavy as a 210 Super Symmar f5.6. I've had no problems thus far (about two years). Seems to me I also had a Calumet C2N roll film back stuffed in that camera as well. Hope this helps.

-- Robert A. Zeichner (, April 30, 2000.

The Bogen mini ball head is ideal for 4X5 field work. Each axis can be adjusted either very quickly using the inner grip of each knob, or very slowly by using the geared outer grip of each knob. Each axis automatically locks as soon as you let go of the knob; you will NOT slam your camera because one of the knobs was not tight. I have used this head with a Toyo AX (not exactly the lightest field camera) and a 300/f5.6 lens with very sharp results. In windy conditions, I get better stability with long lenses by rotating each outer grip backward to lock the axis extra tight. The control of each axis individually that you get with a pan-tilt head is very useful for fine tuning your composition and I much prefer this for LF landscape work.

-- Les Moore (, April 30, 2000.

Paul-wow what a coincidence I've been using the Manfrotto 410 for some months now with an Ebony SW45 and recentley with the 110XL and with a Horseman 6x12 back.I've had no problems with stability.It realy is a breeze to level the camera with its coarse and fine adjustments. The ease with which you can make these adjustments while viewing the ground glass screen is a god send.Another plus is the well designed quick release plate,positive and quite compact allowing easy storage in the camera bag with it attached. Go for it,Trevor.

-- Trevor Crone (, April 30, 2000.

I've been using the Manfrotto #410 for when taking architectural shots for about two years now. That includes 35mm, 6x7cm and 5x4" (Cambo SC-NII lightweight monorail and Horseman LX-C studio monorail). I have to nail my colours to the mast and say that for precision alignment, I hate ballheads. I use spirit levels and grid focusing screens on all my cameras, and to get things lined up precisely I have to say that this head is the business.

The head is rated for 6kg but seems quite capable of supporting light to medium 5x4" kit, and would be more than adequate for an Ebony field, IMO.

There are three problems with the head which I have found.

The first is that the geared controls can be back-driven if enough torque is applied to the camera. I find this is generally only a problem with the azimuth adjustment, and then only when using 5x4". The problem tends to arise when putting in the film holder, especially if the ground glass is some way along the monorail from the centre of the camera, due to the long moment arm. The problem can be dealt with by taking care when removing and inserting the film holder.

The second problem is that the quick-release button I've found to be a little vulnerable and fragile, being made only of aluminium rather than cast iron like the rest of the head. A drop from a short distance directly onto the button (Sod's law dictating that the weakest part took the greatest impact) broke it off, meaning that for a while I had to actuate the lock by pushing on the remaining piece with a screwdriver. The repair wasn't particularly dear, but its taught me to be careful.

The third problem is the restricted elevation range (+30,-90 degrees). If you need to elevate the camera by greater than 30 degrees up you could mount it backwards on the plate, but then the controls become difficult to operate.

Another minor niggle is that the baseplate doesn't prevent the camera twisting about the tripod screw axis, so if you carry a monorail view camera on the tripod over your shoulder make sure that the screw is really secure. It chews up the cork of the plate otherwise. That problem is not just specific to this head, however, as I'm sure you realise.

On the positive note - I love this head and use it for about 80% of my photography. The rest of the time I use a Gitzo ballhead which I loathe but which is lightweight and compact, or a Manfrotto 3D pro head which is built like the proverbial brick outhouse but which weighs a ton, not to mention having handles that sick everywhere. For precision shots I'm sure that once used to this head, you'll be frustrated by all non-geared heads.

-- Mark Brown (, April 30, 2000.

I agree that the Bogen 410 is excellent in its ability to perform and its ease of use. I shoot 4X5 with a Linhof TK 45S and use lenses up to 400mm. No problems. I leave the quick release on my camera and it is very easy to attach to the 410 and quickly separate from the 410. It is very secure. I often carry my camera, attached to tripod, over my shoulder. No fear of the camera falling.

-- Harvey Berman (, April 30, 2000.

Before switching to an Arca Swiss B2 head, I regularly used a 410 head for large format work with a short focal length lens. It isn't just the weight of a camera (up to certain degree) so much as it is how the head handles the amount of torque resulting from having weight or force being applied at an extended distance from a head that determines whether or not that head is a good choice for LF work. For a lightweight camera (which I define as being in the Canham DLC class -- i.e., less than 5lbs.) and using lenses of short focal lengths you shouldn't have a problem. I ran into head creep problems with the #410 with lenses that were longer than 150mm or with my Arca Swiss F-Line camera. I often found I had to check the levels on my camera to maintain both horizontal and vertical leveling for architectural work and this got worse the longer I owned the head so i sold it and relaced it with a Gitzo 1570 head which was then almost immediately replaced by the Arca Swiss B2.

-- Ellis Vener (, May 01, 2000.

as I mentioned in another thread, the Bogen 410 is one of the best purchases I have made. right up there with my Linhof Technikardan and Troy Bilt rototiller. it just works great! however, there are a few caveats to be understood to maximize success.

1. balance. 2. use an Arca Swiss quick-release

against every internal notion I had, I decided to mount the Arca Swiss QR on the Bogen QR. shudder from the thought, and I would not have done so if not for the Bogen safety latch. I felt there was enough integrity there, that it could effectively serve as a permanent, non-operational base for the Arca Swiss QR. worked out well, and as they say down-under 'no worries mate'.

using a RRS plate for the TK45s, I slide the adapter plate till the center of gravity of the system is over the Bogen 410. this is quite beneficial, in loading the gearing, and makes the gearhead a pleasure to use. for $139, it is a close to perfect solution. sure, there are times when I desire the speed of my B1, but they are rare, and I have not forgotten the comedy of trying align each axis independently with a ball head.

-- daniel taylor (, May 01, 2000.

Thanks to everyone who responded!! The good thing about these postings is that you get info "straight from the horses' mouth" so to speak!! I will try the 410 now without any worries. Thanks again Paul

-- Paul Owen (, May 01, 2000.

Jusy a quick one!! Trevor (assuming you are in U.K.) any ideas as to the best source for a 410 here!! The best price I've seen them is #135. Any alternatives would be appreciated !! Regards Paul

-- Paul Owen (, May 01, 2000.

Paul-I've e-mailed you the info. Regards, Trevor.

-- Trevor Crone (, May 02, 2000.

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