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Old Feb 2, 2004, 10:12 AM   #1
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Default Heavy duty tripod heads ?

I currently use a Manfrotto 441 carbon fibre tripod with their 128RC video head for Digiscoping, and occasional camera / lens attchment via the 128RC release plate.

However I'm considering buying a Nikon 500mm f4 lens that weighs in at about 4.2KG, and I don't think that the 128RC "single thread" quick release plate will be quite robust enough to take this lens plus a D100 camera body.

One suggestion that I've received is the Manfrotto 501 video head which (apparently) provides a "two thread" quick release plate, but can anyone offer any alternative suggestions ?

Bear in mind that I don't want to replace the Manfrotto 441 tripod itself...

Regards and thanks,
Graham.
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Old Feb 6, 2004, 9:16 AM   #2
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You are right, I wouldn't put a 500mm on that head... it won't give it the support it needs and you'll get worse pictures because of it.

Your just in luck. I own both the 501 and the 441. The 441 is a lovely thing, isn't it? I hated to give it up (more later.)

I found the 501 to be stiff and a bit hard to use. It worked well enough with my scope, but not with my camera. It turned left/right at an ok speed, but up/down was stiff... and it never got better with use. It drove me nuts to the point that I replaced it for camera use (with a Gitzo 1358 & Arca Swiss B1G.) And only take it when I want both camera and scope for simultanious use (two people.)

Unfortunately, the best way I know of to mount the 500mm f4 is with a Wimberley Sidekick. Check out:
http://www.tripodhead.com/

I haven't used one (I don't own that big a lens) but everyone I've talked to loves it. When I get a big lens, I will get either the sidekick or the full Wimberley (the Full Money? ). That requires an Arca-Swiss compatable tripod mount, which the 501 doesn't have. And I see no way you can retrofit one on it. So you are at an impass.

I'm not sure what you mean by "two thread" quick release plate. Do you mean that it has a lock on the side (that really locks the system down) and a catch on the bottom so it can't fall off by mistake? I liked that extra securify and miss it on the B1G (instead I put stop screws so it can't slide out, but the 501's design better.

Now to the Carbon One. I hate to say this, but it isn't really going to do a great job supporting that much weight either. Will it do it? Yes, it won't break under the load. But I don't believe it will do a great job supporting it. Since you don't want to upgrade that right now, my suggestion would be to only get a new head and then remember that in 4-6 months, a new set of legs might be in your future.

The only reason I replaced my Carbon One is because everything I read said that if you're going to get a 500/600/bigger lens, you'll want a serious set of legs. And then I bumped into the Gitzo 1348 & B1G head used for a good price. So I got it. I don't have the big lens yet, but I expect I will by spring.

Eric
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Old Feb 6, 2004, 10:31 AM   #3
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Eric, Many thanks for the suggestions. The "two thread" long release plate for the 501 is supposed to have 2 1/4" screws that connect the quick release plate to the foot plate of the lens. The quick release plate then attaches to the 501. The 128RC has a quick release handle and a safety catch, I thought that the 501 had the same.........?

Regards,
Graham.
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Old Feb 6, 2004, 1:50 PM   #4
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Maybe I don't have the "long release plate"? The plate I have has one screw and one nub. The screw goes into the device (my scope't foot) and the anti-twist nub fits into another hold on the foot of my tripod.

Why don't I take a few pictures of what I have... I tried to keep these down in size, but in the end felt I should use links instead of including it directly (the post is almost 300K if I included them.)

The red lever on the left side is the safty catch. Works ok, but a hard falling big lens could probably break the plastic stop. The black lever on the right is the actual clamp to lock the head in.
http://www.marx7.org/~esmith/web_posts/501-head1.jpg

You can see the clamp lever more clearly from the other side.
http://www.marx7.org/~esmith/web_posts/501-head2.jpg

Here is the quick release plate that I have, next to my 100-400L lens cap (for size) I believe its a 77mm lens cap. Note the screw that is adjustable and the ant-twist nub. You an replace the screw with different size one as necessary (I believe mine came with both screws.)
http://www.marx7.org/~esmith/web_posts/501-head3.jpg

Here is the back side.
http://www.marx7.org/~esmith/web_posts/501-head4.jpg

Does that help?

Eric
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Old Feb 6, 2004, 3:57 PM   #5
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Default Kirk King Cobra

Befor you make a choice look at the Kirk king Cobra. It is less money than the Wimberly full size, It is more than the Wimberley Side Kick but remember that must be used in conjunction with a ball head so that cost must be factored in. I have a set of Manffroto 3021 legs that I purchased an extra center column for and keep the Kirk King Cobra attached to that and a Kirk BH-3 ball head on the other. This set up is easily changeable and I've found no faults thus far. Kirk makes plates for most lenses and cameras, even L brackets if you shoot a lot of portrait. The clamps accept other manufactures plates so you can use existing equipment. I pondered over this issue for months and settled on this combination of equipment and I have yet to regret it.
www.kirkphoto.com
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Old Feb 9, 2004, 4:32 AM   #6
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Eric, Tomsch, thanks for your time on this. Much food for thought.

Regards,
Graham.
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Old Feb 9, 2004, 8:01 AM   #7
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Glad to help.

Another head to consider is one by Bogen/Manfrotto. I don't remember the name, but its a gimbal like head for large lenses that gives you similar freedome of movement that the King Cobra or Wimberley does. In fact, a quick look at B&H shows this link:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=126663&is=REG

Oh, and here is a link comparing the King Cobra to the Wimberley:
http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-...?msg_id=000gbf

photo.net seems to be down now, but it's expected back later this morning.

Eric
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Old Feb 10, 2004, 7:00 AM   #8
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Interesting options.

The 501 would seem ok in terms of load bearing, and the lens plus camera plus 501 would give a total tripod loading of 6.4KG. A bit heavy but not quite as much as the full Wimberley. The issue here is tracking the subject smoothly.

The Cobra looks like a nice option and seems to be more suited for a 500mm (Wimberly seem to recommend the full gimbal for 600mm and the Sidekick for smaller lenses). However, I find the side mount idea a bit scary, all of the fastenings are under strain, all of the time.

I think what I'll do is test the balance of the lens and camera on my existing video head, very very carefully, and then try and make my mind up from there.

Regards,
Graham.
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Old Feb 10, 2004, 10:30 AM   #9
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Default How steady side mounts?

Graham, I know not what I can do to put your fears to rest but to assure you that I had the same doubt and nearly did not place the order for my own equipment. I had been shooting flying geese freehand and ventured to the zoo freehand also. At my advanced age it doesn't take very long before seven pounds of camera burden proved to be too much. My arms became numb and I could no longer hold the camera to shoot. The desire to get the most from long lenses forces the use of tripods. The gymbal mount gave me freedom that was unlike anything else I had tried. Make sure you get a tall set of legs or your back will suffer and you won't have the freedom to maneuver the camera. The strain on that side mount is mo worse than top loading all that equipment on a standard tripod head, now to me that is frightening. You have come to the same conclusion that I did in that the full Wimberley was designed for the largest of glass, the swinging platform just seemed like extra moving parts. I ruled out the sidekick for much the same reason, that ends up beeing a double side mount with extra connections! The short extra center colunm for my Bogen 3021 was only twenty five dollars thus changing to the Kirk is ver fast and no tools required. It works well and I've put my fears to rest since using it awhile. Good luck in what ever you choose.
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Old Feb 19, 2004, 7:40 PM   #10
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Think BOGEN. I was a pro and used a Nikon F3 and FA with a 300mm 2.8 EDIF lens and sometimes a doubler with it. They make ball heads as well as pan heads -not to mention ROCK solid heavy gauge aluminum tripods at a very reasonable cost 150-200 dollars. The connecting joints are cast of something heavier- seems like iron but probably steel.
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