Yet another tripod (head) question : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Here's my current situation- I'm using a Bogen 3036 legset and 3039 head for all my 4x5 work. The setup is absolutely rock solid, but there are certain things I dislike about the head. One- I'm still not wild about the hex QR system. Two- I'm kind of tired of getting poked in the chest with those long handles. Three- I'm tired of catching every imaginable thing on those handles when working in tight quarters. And so the search begins again for a more workable solution. In the running this time around are the Arca B2, Bogen 3263 Gear Head, and perhaps the NPC Prohead. Of those three, I like the idea of the Arca the best, though it costs the most and may be hard to get ahold of. The Arca and NPC heads have the added advantage of being able to mate directly with the rail of the Arca Swiss 4x5 I'm about to switch to. The Bogen has a unique QR system but the gearing might be nice. I've done research but have not been able to find much feedback on any of these three heads. Nowadays the vast majority of the work I do in 4x5 is architecture, so most of the time I'm using the tripod head to level the camera and not a whole lot else. Occasionally, I'll do a shot at some funky angle and exercise the head's range of movement a bit more, but not very often. Any thoughts on these heads would be greatly appreciated.

-- Dave Munson (, November 16, 2001


i think there is a B2 on the classifieds and Badgers graphics had a used one yesterday or the day before for $400.00

-- Ellis Vener Photography (, November 16, 2001.

For a cheap fix, try the 3297 plate with your current head, and replace the handles with shorter ones. If plate stability is your biggest problem, this will probably cure it. If the long handles are the bigger problem, see the Bogen 3057 & Ries heads, below.

This plate (3297)provides more surface area where the camera sits, and is better with most view cameras.

You could try the 3057 Bogen head. Its design is more compact than the 3039, and might solve your problem. The 3297 fits this, too, as well as the 3039 and 3047 heads.

The Ries J250 Head ( the extremely compact, and if the handles are seriously in your way on the Bogen, this is a solution. It's expensive, nearly $300, and light weight (2.5 pounds). My only complaint is the camera tends to loosen too easily, but going with a 3/8 mounting screw would probably fix that. (By the way, if your using a 1/4 screw with the 3039 plates, simply going to 3/8 adds a lot of stability.)

I haven't used the other heads you mention, but I know the Bogen 3262 is heavy (5.75 pounds) and is big, moreso than the catalog pictures make it seem. Also, the gear mechanism is exposed & you'll get grease on yourself, perhaps on your camera & lenses, too, if you're not very careful.

For the record, I have a 3047, 3057, and the Ries head. I like the 3057 best. The 3057 handles a 20 pound 8x10 easily.

Good luck with your decision.

-- Charlie Strack (, November 16, 2001.

Charlie- I actually have a J250 head atop my getiatric A-series tripod and I absolutely love it. I hat thought about just using it on my Bogen for 4x5 stuff, but never could work out the logistics of adding a panning base, which would be a necessity since the column on the 3236 is geared and could not be rotated. My main gripe with the Bogen QR system is just the lack of anti-twist plates without having to shell out ridiculous sums for third party QR plates that never really seem to fit the bill. True, all the RRS QR plates and such aren't the cheapest pieces of metal to be had, but at least they can be had for specific camera models and are relatively easy to come by. I like the idea of being able to get QR plates made specifically for my two Nikons, my Mamiya, and not even needing one for Arca 4x5's.

-- David Munson (, November 16, 2001.

My geriatric Ries tripod, that is.

-- David Munson (, November 16, 2001.

Hi Dave,

I use the Arca system (B1 ballhead and RRS plates) for all of my cameras (LF, MF and 35mm) and would never use anything else. I tried a Bogen several years ago and couldn't stand it; I switched to Arca after that and love it. I have no problem at all using a ballhead with LF; it's very stable and easy to adjust IMO. True, I haven't done much architecture and you may prefer to keep using a non- ballhead for greater precision when you want to keep things absolutely level, but at the very least you'd do well to move to Arca QR plates. It's a pain to deal with RRS but his stuff is top-notch.

Regards, Danny

-- Danny Burk (, November 17, 2001.


The plates for the 3057 have enough extra room you can bore some extra holes & add some bolts, pins, or whatever, for anti-twist. I was going to do this for my Calumet/Cambo 8x10, but I found the added surface area and just using the 3/8 tripod screw is enough for me.

Good luck in you quest.


-- Charlie Strack (, November 17, 2001.

I don't think you need the weight and expense of the Arca B2. The Arca B1 will support up to 90 lbs as I recall. I have the B1 which I used to use with my Linhof Technika (about 6.5 lbs) until I decided I preferred a pan/tilt head for my large format work. I still use the B1 with my Pentax 67 outfit, which weighs about as much or more than many 4x5 outfits. The B1 seemed perfectly fine for both applications. Just curious - what don't you like about the hex system? I now use the Bogen 3047 head for 4x5 and haven't encountered any problems with the hex system. I'll add just one observation - there are a lot of very expensive ball heads out there - Arca, Linhof, et al. There are a lot of relatively inexpensive ones too. With ball heads, I've found the expense of the Arca to be worth it. I used a Bogen ball head for a while and it wasn't nearly as smooth as the Arca, which made it very difficult and aggravating to make fine adjustments. I'm not a fan of ball heads with large format for the kind of photographs I make but many people are and if that's the route you choose I would definitely go with the Arca despite the expense. Just view it as a purchase that will last you a lifetime.

-- Brian Ellis (, November 19, 2001.


While I cannot directly answer your inquiry regarding the use of the 3263 geared head, I can offer a little food for thought. If you like the features of a geared head, consider the Bogen 3275 compact gear head. I have used one for years with my Wista 45SP without any complaints. At 2.75 pounds, it is three pounds lighter that the 3263. It has a feature that allows you to disengage the gearing for rapid, coarse adjustment while the gearing allows you to fine tune your composition. However, if you need the load capacity of the larger 3263 head, I would go with the Arca B1 -- it's a fine piece of equipment and weighs a fraction of the big Bogen head. Good luck!

-- Matt Long (, November 19, 2001.

Look at Gitzo heads and tripods.For me they are probably the best,most reliable,stable,light in weight with many customisable features.I use a Studex G1320 MK 2 (rapid column) with G1572 Rationelle 3 way pan head (quick release),which supports 17.5 lbs.The legs support 22 lbs.On this I mount an Ebony SV45...granted this is a light and rigid camera,but it managed to produce sharp images at 30cm extensions on a very windy day.I use an extended plate for added rigidity and to allow easy locking of the plate without interference from the focusing knobs.The handles are not obtrusive at all,and I use a hook from the centre column to hold a weight for extra stability (eg my camera bag).This works for my camera.In your case you may need a larger head surface for the size and weight of your gear,or a geared head and column.Mine is optimised for travel,but will work well in a studio or up a mountain.You might look at some of their larger heads,but know that you will not have to buy another tripod again once you find something that works for you.....they are robust,simple,easy to maintain with well designed in the event of having to replace any parts without compromising the whole.If you are not short of cash consider carbon fibre legs,as I will when the funds are better.But as far as heads go,test some out with a dealer,check their website which gives animated movements and all the specs and dimensions.Worth a look.Good luck.

-- Andrey Belopopsky (, November 20, 2001.

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