tripod for MF: center column or not

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ymc226

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I am thinking about getting a tripod with the large RRS ball head for my Hasselblad (205 FCC with the heavy lenses: 50/2.8 Distagon and 60-120 zoom).

Since this is my first tripod, what types of photography would call for not having a center column versus having one. Currently, I take pictures of my family but subject matter may change in the future as the kids leave for college.
 

David A. Goldfarb

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The tripod will be more solid and lighter without the column, but a short column is handy for slight adjustments, particularly for portraits and other situations where it would be cumbersome to adjust three legs while the subject is waiting, and a long column can be useful when you just need as much height as you can get, even if the tripod is less stable that way. On a Gitzo, you can swap different columns or take the column out and use a flat plate.
 
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I used a cc tripod for my M645j's. Didn't work to well with the RB67 due to weight.
 

Slixtiesix

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I highly recommend Gitzo to you! A friend of mine tried to convince me to buy Gitzo for a long time, but I always responded to him that it would be too expensive and wouldn´t spend my money on something just because of the brand name. Then he allowed me to use his Gitzo for a few occasions and I immediately wanted my own Gitzo ;-) I finally bought a GT4330LS with G1570m head which arrived last week and it is wonderful! The head is a little stiff but okay. My friend had the G2270m which is really smooth and a joy to use, but I liked the G1570m better for my SL66.

Regards, Benjamin
 

David A. Goldfarb

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I finally bought a GT4330LS with G1570m head which arrived last week and it is wonderful! The head is a little stiff but okay.

That particular head isn't conveniently adjustable for smaller cameras, so the stiffness can be awkward, if you're not using it with an 8x10" or larger camera or with a smaller camera and a long fast tele. It doesn't seem to break in either. I had one for several years, and others report the same thing.
 

jeffreyg

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I have a Bogen 3051, a Gitzo carbon fiber Mountaineer 2541 and an old Leitz Tiltall that all have center posts and all easily support my Hasselblads even with a 250mm lens. I would get the center post because it can come in handy and if not necessary it does not need to be extended. If you need it and don't have it ---. Check the charts of specs they will tell you what weight the tripod will support. It's best to get one that exceeds your needs.
 

Venchka

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I have the RRS BH-55 and 3 tripods-Gitzo 3530, Bogen 3021S & Zone VI Junior. Two with center columns. One of the center columns comes out. That gives me one with and two without. I remove the column to get the camera close to the ground. I put the column in to raise the camera higher than my eye level. The BH-55 is more than enough head for 35mm & big long zooms, Hasselblad 501, Pentax 6x7, 4x5 press & field cameras. It's also a pain in the neck to level. I'm saving my pennies for a nice Gitzo 1370M or 1570M or Bogen 410 3-way head.

ps: My Bogen 3021S (Short) and an old 2-way video head is plenty for the Hasselblad or Pentax 6x7. I have even put the 4x5 on without complaints. I'm beginning to wonder if we don't over think the whole tripod head thing. Obviously, the head is more important than the legs. The legs are just there. They don't even move.
 

Andrew Horodysky

I, too, was researching tripods (for environmental portraiture and landscape/architecture) for purchase, a few months back. I solicited comments and suggestions from others (extremely helpful). Finally, I went to a few stores to try out various models. It's a matter of personal choice and preference. My choices came down to Bogen/Manfrotti and Gitzo. I felt Gitzo was just too expensive for me, but guess? That's the brand I went for; and, I purchased an aluminum model (GT3330), rather than a carbon fiber one. It has a center column, but rarely gets raised; if it does, it's minimal. For a head, a have a pan/tilt. Again, all personal preferences. I rarely venture far with it, anyway, so weight is not much of an issue, for me. It's solid and stable, and I'm very happy with it. Since you're in New Jersey, going to B&H, FotoCare, or other pro shops in NYC (coupled with attending some exhibitions, book shops, etc., while you'll there) should be a worthy trip to try out some tripods in-person. Do some research on a few different models, first, before going; you'll end up knowing more about the tripods, and what you really need, than the sales staff(s). If you're closer to Philadelphia, I'm sure there are some equally reputable equipment shops.
 

Q.G.

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My experience with Gitzos is that the center column of tripods of Series 3 and below tends to vibrate quite a bit. They can be used, but with great care. And they should not be extended any more than is absolutely necessary.
The ones of Series 4 and 5 are rock steady.

CF tripods are light, but not better than aluminium tripods. A lot more expensive though.
So if you want a really good tripod, get an aluminium Gitzo Series 4 or 5.
Indestructable. And really rock solid. But they weigh a bit.
 
OP
OP

ymc226

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Thanks all. I have looked at the RRS Versa 33 tripod online but they don't have any in stock and no dealer network. I will take QGs opinion to heart and will consider the Gitzo 4 series aluminum tripod with center column for stability:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/611071-REG/Gitzo_GT4330LS_GT4330LS_3_Section_Aluminum_Tripod.html#specifications

http://www.bhphotovideo.com
/bnh/controller/home?O=cart_accessories&A=details&Q=&sku=548636&is=REG


Does anyone have any experience comparing the RRS large ballhead to the Arca Swiss equivalent?

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/469923-REG/Arca_Swiss_801104_Monoball_Z1_sp_with.html
 

FM2N

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I have gone with the Giottos tri-pod. While at B&H I looked at many and could not justify the 3-400$ price difference when there was no height or wieght savings.
 

Chazzy

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There are center columns, and then there are center columns. I have a heavy Majestic tripod with a center column that is absolutely solid. But it's too heavy to take anywhere with me and I use it just at home.
 

MattKing

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I appreciate having a centre column.

One thing not mentioned here is that if, like me, you carry the tripod with camera attached when you are on site, you can have the tripod set to an intermediate height, and use the centre column to make quick adjustments in order to canvass the alternatives. Once you decide on the proper height, you lower the column, and then adjust the legs to raise the camera to its final height.

Matt
 

Slixtiesix

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Go for the GT4330LS, it will not disappoint you ;-)
 

arigram

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On my Manfrotto tripod, the center column can also be positioned horizontally which coupled with the legs being able to be angled up to 90 degrees, it means it gives more options for shooting such as really low on the ground.
 

Sirius Glass

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Get a center column, you never know when you have to raise or lower your camera when you set up the next photograph.

Steve
 

Q.G.

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The selected Series 4 Gitzo with matching sliding column will do fine.
 

benjiboy

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If you have a centre column you don't have to use it, I wouldn't buy a tripod without one without one for 35mm or M/F, if the tripod is good enough quality It's no problem , make sure if you buy a ball head it has a friction control and a separate rotating control, the ones with a single lever that release the ball in all directions at once require you to support the camera before you do so to prevent it crashing down, which is a real pain.
 

dpurdy

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I have an extra large heavy Gitzo, and extra heavy large Bogen, a medium size Gitzo, a small size Rollei tripod, a star D and a medium size zone 6 tripod. All have a center column except that zone 6.

I hate Gitzo tripods and probably have permanent damage to the tendons in my hands from unsticking the tighteners on the legs and double column. There is no piece of equipment that I have ever cursed more than my Gitzos. I love my Bogen and Rollei.

One thing about the center column is if you are in a position where you can't easily adjust the tripod legs like on a hillside or in rocks, the column gives necessary extra control.
Dennis
 

David A. Goldfarb

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I hate Gitzo tripods and probably have permanent damage to the tendons in my hands from unsticking the tighteners on the legs and double column. There is no piece of equipment that I have ever cursed more than my Gitzos.

I didn't like the older Gitzos for the same reason, but the new locks, at least on the 6x CF tripods, are completely different and are much improved over the old ones. The legs can't turn, and the locks just take a quarter twist to lock solidly with no need for extra pressure to tighten them down, so you can open and close them in any order and set up and shut down quickly.
 

John Koehrer

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Many are the center columns I've shortened. The flat plate doesn't give me the versatility I want & most columns are way too long. A tubing cutter or hacksaw lets me shorten them a bit. I leave about 6" tofiddle with.
 

keithwms

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I find the center column quite useful as well, though sometimes I leave it at home. But at least with the rb and crown graphic, I find the absolute most stable configuration to be with the camera underneath the apex of the tripod... i.e. upside down... hanging from the center column. It's quite a funky looking setup but hey, whatever works :wink: And when you have a stiff breeze to contend with and you're using a bellows-focusing camera, having the camera shielded inside the 'tent' of the tripod can be very helpful. As I mentioned elsewhere, sometimes I also take the head off altogether and mount the camera directly to the tripod, which is also very useful for some situations. At least with the rb, I can often get by with no a head at all if needed.
 

Sirius Glass

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I find the center column quite useful as well, though sometimes I leave it at home. But at least with the rb and crown graphic, I find the absolute most stable configuration to be with the camera underneath the apex of the tripod... i.e. upside down... hanging from the center column. It's quite a funky looking setup but hey, whatever works :wink:

That way the image on the Crown Graphic ground glass will be right side up! :wink:

Steve
 
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