Tripod for Arca M-line 10x8 : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread


I'm trying to make up my mind about what tripod to buy for my new Arca M-line 10x8". I've been using an Arca 5x4" up til now, and find that I sometimes use additional bellows for close-up work, and sometimes angle the camera down. I also often slide the entire monorail forwards in my B2 ball head so that I can get closer to a subject than the tripod legs would normally allow (hope that makes sense) - basically I need something that's going to up to the job of holding a 10x8" (and possibly larger) at 'funny' angles.

The only tripod I've seen that might be suitable is the Manfrotto 161 Mk2 (Bogen 3058) - weighs about 16 pounds, and will support 40 pounds. It's very tall, with three sections, but I doubt I would ever need more than two sections. I like the variable centre braces, and quite like the Manfrotto leg clamps, and the fact that each leg can be individually locked at any angle, allowing low level shots, and shots on awkward terrain.

I've seen Gitzo tripods a few years ago, and thought that the collet clamps were very difficult to use - it seemed to be a two-hand job, and not one I would like to do with a 10x8 wedged onto my shoulder. Incidently, how do you alter leg height on a tripod - I tend to do one leg at a time, keeping the centre of the tripod on my shoulder, although I'm not sure how you would do it once the height gets to be more than shoulder-height.

I think one of the Gitzo 1500 series would probably work, but I'm not sure about the lack of the centre brace, the fixed leg angles, and those collets. The carbon fibre 1548/1549 appeals, but height is limited, there are a lot of leg sections, and I still find it hard to believe that the light weight makes it as secure as a heavy 'normal' tripod. I know it might suppress vibrations better, but surely it is more likely to topple if the camera is used at a great extension.

Now to the A100-2 Ries Ė Iíve never seen one, but Iíve seen them mentioned on this forum before. Are they really that good? I would be using it in the field and in the studio (until I can afford a Foba studio stand). Does the lack of a centre brace make it less stable than a Manfrotto, and how do the leg extensions work? Is it easy to adjust with one hand, or does the freed leg have a tendency to spin in the two channels?

Finally, any thoughts on other makes such as Foba, Davis & Sandford, and Linhof, Majestic. Oh, and Gandolfi wooden tripods?

Iíll probably be unable to see any of these tripods (with the exception of Manfrotto, and possibly Gitzo) before I buy, so Iím just trying to gather all the information I can.

Thanks in advance.

David Nash

-- David Nash (, March 27, 2001


Response to Tripod Dilema

Now to the A100-2 Ries – I've never seen one, but I've seen them mentioned on this forum before. Are they really that good? I would be using it in the field and in the studio (until I can afford a Foba studio stand). Does the lack of a centre brace make it less stable than a Manfrotto, and how do the leg extensions work? Is it easy to adjust with one hand, or does the freed leg have a tendency to spin in the two channels?

It's just like the A100 but with thicker legs. It was designed for the 60-pound Wisner 20 x 24, so it should have no problem with an 8 x 10 even at 'funny' angles. The angle of each leg is controlled with a lever, allowing more torque than any knob could, and making the set-up extremely stable. Extension legs could be operated with one hand: untwist a clamp, slide out the extension, and retwist the clamp. There is no possibility for the freed leg to spin due to the design of the clamp. Maybe I should mention the compatible head, the A250-2. Similar to the A250, but with many more leaves, making the platform more stable when it is being tilted forward. The A100-2 and A250-2 would certainly do the job but might be overkill for a 'mere' 16-pound camer

-- Stewart Ethier (, March 27, 2001.

Response to Tripod Dilema

I've got the smaller Ries (don't remember the model number). Though my intended use is for 4x5, I've got an 18 pound Calumet/Cambo sitting on it using the Bogen/Manfrotto 3057 head. The tripod shows no signs of being under stress. A center brace would not add any stability to this tripod.

These are really exceptional tripods. I cannot recommend them highly enough for field work if you can afford them. Their workmanship is exceptional.

I'm not quite as enthusiastic about Ries heads as of their tripods, only because I have trouble torquing down on the camera clamping screw enough--I have arthritis in my finger joints--but other than that I have absolutely no complaints about their heads.

-- Charlie Strack (, March 27, 2001.

Response to Tripod Dilema

i use the big metal gitzo (1504 i think), the one that has 5 leg extensions, with a sinar p 8x10. no problem at any angle or height. weighs about 10 - 12 lbs. without column. the foba is made by gitzo and costs nearly twice as much. i've used a 1548 once and it was completely solid - it felt like it would hold anything and everything. i didn't get it because it's max extension wasn't enough for me. i personally don't like manfrotto tripods (they feel cheap) but i'm sure the big one is good.

-- adam friedberg (, March 27, 2001.

Response to Tripod Dilema


The Gitzo 500 series is an old fashioned Gitzo, being metal instead of carbon fiber. I have the 510, which has 3 section legs and can be set up so as to be too high for me to see to focus when it's on flat ground (I'm 6'1"). This tripod has proven itself to be very solid, and the height is sometimes useful in irregular terrain. Its legs will open to a nearly horizontal position. I don't use the center column.

I also use a Gitzo 500 series 3 way pan tilt head. I prefer a pan-tilt over ball heads when using a view camera. I have used a Foba ball head, which is also very stable when locked.

How stable is this platform? The 500 series and the Foba ball head were the "industry standard" for wildlife photographers who were working with a 600 mm f4 lens and a 35 mm camera with a motor drive. These combinations, especially with a 1.4X multiplier, could weigh 15 -20 lbs.

My tripod weighs about 9 lbs, the pan tilt head is 2-3 lbs, and I think the ball head is 1-2 lbs. Not a light-weight system, regardless of the head, but still better than most others of comparable capability.

Hope that you can find one to test.


-- Bruce M. Herman (, March 27, 2001.

Response to Tripod Dilema

I've owned Majestic, Bogen and Ries and used all under 8 X 10 cameras. I have used Gitzo sticks under Betacams and was impressed, but I emphatically DO NOT like the screw on leg clamps! They seem to freeze up at the slightest provocation. Maybe that's becuase the ones I used were rental sticks and weren't properly cared for - cleaned and lubed and so on.

The Majestic is one helluva pair of sticks. After the apocalypse, the giant cockroaches will be using Majestic tripods under Calumet C- 1s. A used set is a good investment. However, I was never happy about carrying those things anywhere. They really belong in an environment where you don't plan to move around a whole lot, or where there are nice smooth floors so you can put them on a dolly.

The Bogens I have owned - 3046 & 3036 have carried my 13 lb. Kodak with no difficulty - but I would prefer to attach a Majestic geared head to them than any Manfrotto product I have seen in the flesh. But I have not used the Bogen geared heads. My last set was the 3036 and I did have the Majestic head on it and was very pleased. The leg angles adjust independently and it was plenty tall enough for anything I was ever going to do.

While they are a good bargain and will last with care, they are not in the same league as the Majestic or Ries. The castings are kinda cheap and I have broken them in my hands. And I'm no long shoreman or mill worker - I'm a librarian.

Ries is startlingly expensive new. I would not have a set if I weren't very lucky. When I got them, I knew I would never switch. The hardware is quality and some parts can be replaced by a trip to the hardware store. When I got mine they were coated in dust and yeck - but it was no problem to dissassemble them completely, clean and lubricate them, and put everything back together in an evening. Mine weigh less with the single tilt head than the quoted 15lbs, without head, on the website. Some think mine are made of ash, others oak. I have never been able to identify wood once it's been processed. Currently they use rock maple - the same stuff used in bowling alley lanes and piano pin blocks.

Here's my sticks Schtick. I put the head on my foot and extend the legs until they touch my chin. Maybe a little less. One leg, the front, or leading leg, the one parallel to the lens axis, is left 2 inches or so longer than the other two.

Then I turn it over, set it up as if to take a shot, and attach the camera. I leave the camera closed - lens attached. I put my shoulder to the head/crown/camera and lift, standing upright and closing the legs as I go, so the camera/head is balanced on my right shoulder and the legs stick out in front of me. My right arm curves over the legs and holds them in place, my left hand carries the camera case and a bag of six holders hangs from the left shoulder to my right hip.

When I find something I want to shoot, I put the case down and bend at the knees and sort of dump the tripod off my shoulder so the leading leg touches down first. Then I can adjust the height and angle of the legs with my hands on the two shorter legs - kind of like stearing a wheel barrow. Once I get things how I want, I lock the tri-locks.

If I have to adjust the leg height, I usually adjust it with the angle of the leg, rather than extending the leg. If I do have to extend it, I either release the clamp and rock the tripod on the other two legs until the third leg drops to where I want (and then tighten the clamp) or I get down on my haunches and release the clamp and S - l - o - w - l - y raise one leg at a time.

I am on the short side and prefer to keep the center of the ground glass a little below eye level. Any higher than that and I have to use a case or something which I'd just as soon avoid.

The legs don't need a center brace because the tri-lock is attached to the crown. Have you been to their web-site?

Before I lucked into the Ries, I had planned to get an old wooden set of movie sticks - O'Connor or Mitchell, Birns & Sawyer, etc. They might be worth a look.

-- Sean yates (, March 28, 2001.

Response to Tripod Dilema

I also second the recommendation of the Majestic tripods. I used one once to support the collapsing ceiling of an apartment after a really bad storm. You want the big version. And obviously the B2 is the way to go for a tripod head to support a big heavy camera. If others are not familiar with this head they should be. It is not a ball head at all, it just looks like one.

If you are working exclusively or primarily in a studio, a better alternative to any tripod is the Foba line of studio stands. Absolutely the best currently made camera support you can use in a studio, nothing else is even close.

-- Ellis Vener (, March 28, 2001.

Response to Tripod Dilema

I always liked Manfrotto, I use a Manfrotto 058 with Arca Swiss B something ball head with an Inka 4x5 camera, it is very stable, rock solid and confidence inspiring--allowing me to feel secure about tilting the camera down to quite absurd angles.

-- Haim Toeg (, March 28, 2001.

Response to Tripod Dilema

I have a Manfrotto which I use for 'outside' jobs. Fitted with a 229 head and used up to about 5-6', it is very stable indeed with my Arca or Sinar 5x4s, at any angle. I haven't tried it with anything larger but I would be surprised if you experienced any problems with stability at this kind of height, with the legs well spread. You will however need to support the camera as you tip it over - the handles on the head simply aren't long enough to have enough leverage. At full height, about 9 1/2 feet, it is barely stable enough to hold even a RZ, unless flash is being used.

-- Garry Edwards (, March 28, 2001.

Response to Tripod Dilema

I meant to add that if your work is in the studio, a studio stand will beat any tripod.

-- Garry Edwards (, March 28, 2001.

Response to Tripod Dilema

As someone else said, a proper studio stand beats any tripod in the studio, but in the field my choice is the A-100 Ries for everything from my 8x10 to my 12x20 F&S. The lighter Ries J-100 is actually quite sufficient for 8x10 and 7x17 most of the time.

For adjusting the legs with any tripod: set all three legs together, and drop *one* of them to approximately the desired height. Then, with it supporting the weight of the rig, drop the other two to match. If, as with the Ries tripods, you can lock the leg angle at any position you want rather than a single stop point, the actual length the legs are set is quite uncritical: you get the exact height you want by adjusting the spread, not the length, of the legs. It's not uncommon for me to shoot all day without ever changing the height of the legs, though the camera position may vary considera

-- Carl Weese (, March 28, 2001.

Response to Tripod Dilema

I have a Ries J-100 (I think that's the correct model number; I bought it used) and would recommend Ries to anyone looking for a tripod for large format. In stores I've looked at Bogen, Gitzo, etc., and I'm sure they're good tripods; but I'll stick with the Ries. (The J- series is for lighter cameras as you know, since you specifically state the A- series for 8X10 (10X8) cameras.)

-- Erec Grim (, March 29, 2001.

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