G2 Tripod legs and head

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I have read recently in many discussion forums and have learned that to get sharp photographs, according to many commentators (in the following order) it is first necessary to have a great tripod and head, second a great lens, then third and fourth either film and body or body and film. This surprised me; but the commentators have much more experience than I do. I am confused about the range of alternatives available. I have and use an old Rollei TLR (occasional use), my G2 (frequent use), of course, and an old SLR with nothing longer than a 100-200 zoom (infrequent use). I am 5'8" tall. I use the G2 primarily for people shots and landscapes. Is there a relatively reasonable priced head and tripod with quality, stability, ease of use, and that is relatively light that will meet my needs? As for heads would you recommend a pan and tilt head vs a ball head and why? If I use the G2 at higher speeds (i.e. at least twice the speed of the focal length (45mm at minimum of 1/90th, 90mm at minimum of 1/200th), do I need a tripod or will quality of my photos improve with the use of the tripod? Does a tripod defeat the whole purpose of having a small, mobile camera like the G2? As you can see from basic questions that I need guidance and direction. - Thank you
 
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I use Manfrotto tripod and heads. My favorite head for quick use and for my monopod is the 3265 ball head. Fast and sure. One handed use. My favorite for tripod use is the 3275 geared head. This one is perfection for landscape or studio use. The Manfrotto (Bogen) gear isn't the lightest but it is hell for strong and very reasonably priced. Jack Casner
 
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> Fast shutter speeds and a tripod will reduce image motion. But don't forget depth of field in your question. Maximum sharpness of any lens is generally in the middle of the aperture range like f/8 but maximum depth of field is at f/22, etc. A lot depends on your subject. For landscapes where I intend to make enlargements, I always use a tripod and small apertures.. For general travel or people photography I don't use the Contax. I so love the sharp images I get with the Contax I almost always use a tripod with it. I sort of treat it as it were a 4 x 5 .

Dave
 
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Jack - I am looking into the 3275 geared head. That sure is not a head that I researched. I thought my choices were narrower. I will research it before I make a decision.

David - Your point about depth must be considered. Do you use your Contax primarily for landscapes? The G2 is so light and portable, I am surpised that you do not use it for street, people or candid photos. What is your primarly subject matter that you always use a tripod?
 
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> Howard, I recently went to both sides of the country, Yosemite and Maine coast and I used my Contax on a tripod everywhere. I'm using B&W film and a red filter usually. Looking for that cloud/sky contrast. So I use it mainly for landscapes. I have never used color film in it.

In the past, (before I bought the Contax) I used my Nikon for travel photography. Using two Nikon bodies, one with 1600 speed and the other with 100 speed Kodak Ektachrome films, with two zoom lenses hanging from each camera. This gave me the flexibility of shooting w/o flash in churches and the ability to get all the other daylight areas. The zooms were 28 to 80 and 80 to 210 mm. Then in my back pocket I had a folding Minox with B&W film in it. I like the longer zooms for people photography. BUT I got tired of carrying all that stuff so, in my last few trips to Europe, I used strickly an Olympus APS zoom camera with Kodak 200 speed print film and, of course, my Minox w B&W film in it. Outstanding results.

Today, with the Contax, I love the image quality and I would leave the Minox and Nikons home. Let my wife take the APS Olympus and I'll take the Contax and a tripod and shoot just B&W! The street scenes in Italy, for ex&le, are great and I want everything to be in sharp focus so I can enlarge them to 11x14. I would do some hand held photography in those situations where using a tripod would be impractical. But I'm getting older and it's hard to hold the camera steady.

Tell you the truth about Contax. I have a 30 print B&W exhibit currently in the lobby at Kodak and people think they were all shot with medium format camera. Only two were. The rest were with my Contax 35mm and Tmax 100 film.

Dave
 
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Dave,
I am impressed 30 prints B& W in the Kodak lobby. What tripod and head do you use? And would you recommend them.

Howard
 
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Howard, I'm using Manfrotto 3221G tripod which looks great in the field 'cause it is green. But it really looks like overkill with the tiny Contax on top of it. (But then I also use it with my Nikon when I want really long shots using my 600mm lens.) Tripod is very solid but you have to be a little careful when you first but one. Legs have fallen off the tripod because they didn't tighten the screws holding them into the junction at the factory. Glad I didn't have the camera on it because I usually fold it up, upside down. Fixed it now. I put pads on the legs (plumbing insulation) because first time out my shoulder was killing me from carrying it. With the pads, it's not so bad. But still heavy and a pain. A little sacrifice for solidness.

I have the 3410 head (329) mainly because it has a lot of levels on it. (Having flat horizons seems to correlate with having a level camera.) But one axis seems to be a little stiffer than the other. Something I need to look into.

Dave
 
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Here is a very viable alternative to the heavier tripods that is fantastic for the Contax G. I recently got a velbon Max 343 pod to use for travel. I used it in June in Zion and Bryce Canyon parks. This is the tripod that the editors of Pop Photo raved about for travel. I was looking at a carbon fiber gitzo until I read aout the velbon MAX.

I'm now printing negatives (B&W and digtial color) from the trip and I can report that the pod is very sturdy, small and light. I also use it with a hasselblad/80 and 150 lenses. The 6x6 negatives are printing at 16x20 with excellent sharpness. I own a number of tripods from a tiny Slick 500 to a monstor Bogen for my pentax 6x7 outfit. This is the best so far. It took me a bit of time to get use to the ball head after only using 3 way pan heads, but fortunately I make a practice of keeping the neck strap on while setting up tripod shots


Hand-held shooting is a breeze with the contax G. My primary lens is the 35mm for general shooting and the speed of the lens allows high shutter speeds with Kodak Supra 100 film for digital color. The higher shutter speeds (1/125 to 1/1000+)yield sharp negatives.

Gene Crumpler
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David - Legs fall off the 3221 - not too good for Quality Control, but thanks for the warning and advice. I have read in other forums that other photographers have to make modifications on their tripods -- some to correct sloppy assembly or design. I read one guy cut the center post to reduce weight--it seems like tripod designs and manufacturers would read these forums and get ideas to improve their products.

I have not yet researched the 3221G, but it sounds heavy. Getting a G2 I was looking for something light and now I realize after all the years of photograghy, I could have improved the overall quality of my work (which is amatuer (but good to excellent IMHO-- rather than even better) by using a tripod. I wonder where I was. I guess when I started photography 30 years ago, there wasn't such good information easily available on the internet - those were cave men days - the internet did not exist; where can someone get so much information without leaving their desk, and have opportunity to get recommendations and observations from experts and people with a great deal of real live experience.) I will also look into the 3410 head. Although I am seriously considering Bogen 3275 geared head as the type of work it excels at is the kind of work I perceive I will and continue to do in the future). I do not think I will be doing sports or quick action --all though the ads for a top quality ball heads entice me all except price.

Gene - I am curious, that you suggested keeping your neck strap while setting tripod shots. It probably is an excellent practice since I have read about others experience in having their tripods and and equipment spilling over. Is this recommendation because you ere on the side of caution? Is it based on first hand experience? Warnings of other photographers? Have you always done it or do you only do it with only the Max 343? I am looking into the Max 343 pod. Thanks for the suggestion.

Howard
 
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Revised & completed: IMHO after 40 years in photography, there is nothing better than Tiltall.

Mike Gregory
 
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A personal favorite of mine is the Kirk Photo Ball Head and Arca-style quick release brackets.

They do not list a bracket for the G2. I called them today, and they are willing to add one to their list, if I lend them my body. I will do so in a few weeks.

So, for anybody interested, check their website in a month or so. It should be available then.
 
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I certainly have to agree with Michael Gregory. I have owned and used the Leitz Tiltall tripod since 1977. It is a fine piece of equipment. It has held very proudly my Contax 1, various Leica
reflexes, M4/M6; Contax RTS111 & RX, and now does service for my Contax 645
I have tried Gitzos, Manfrottos, Paillard Bolex and Linhofs. There is nothing as sturdy or reliable..it's like a tank!
Colin
 
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Steve,

In my search for the right tripod and head, I came across the following site -- Really Right Stuff :
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If you go to plates for camera bodies, they have a plate that they indicate is designed to fit Acra-style quick release brackets for the Contax G2 - the "B9". You may want to check the site out before you send your G2 camera body to Kirk.

Howard
 
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Michael and Colin,

I did quick research on the Leitz Tiltall tripod. Apparently the Tiltall tripods have not been associated with Leitz for many years. A new company bought the Tiltall name and according to web sources, they are not manufactured to the same quality standards as when Leitz was associated with Tiltall.

Howard
 
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Howard,

First check the RRS web site for great tips on choosing the tripod setup for your needs. I currently use the RRS cl& and plates along with a panning ball head for all my cameras.

Second decide what are your needs and how much are you willing to carry on any given photo trip. If it's only occasional landscaping and mainly studio/indoor photography, the 6 plus pounds of the tiltall can't be beat. It's tough like a tank because it's built like one. But if you frequent the outdoors and carry 2 systems, SLR and G2, then weight is going to be a concern. If you can put up with the cost, a carbon fiber tripod is super (rigid and light). If you carry only the G2, then any tripod and head combo with a capacity to hold up to 6-9lbs should be sufficient. The ball head style is also easier to make changes than a pan bead/video style one. Just a matter of preference.
 
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I second the recommendation of the Velbon Maxi 343. It is small and light, very cheap, and beautifully designed. It won't be satisfactory in a hurricane (too light), but I got it because I just never am inclined to lug a heavy duty tripod.
 
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After much research I did what some (but) not all recommended. On ebay, someone was selling a Bogen 3001 Tripod and Manfrotto 3275 geared head and I got it for a great price. The geared head is heavy, slow, but precise. It has a level which I think will be useful for the G2 21mm. For travel, again on eBay, I bought a Velbon Maxi 343 - again for a great price. I have not received it and hope to have it soon.

I will report back how well both of the tripods and the head work.

Thanks for the help and input.

Howard
 
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I have a G2 and would like to know when using a tripod, could you use the timer feature in lieu of a cable release.
Thank you,
Geo
 
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George,

Answer to your questions is Yes, BUT. It all depends what you shoot. If you are photographing stationary subjects, i.e. landscaping a 5 to 10 second delay will generally make no difference. If you are shooting anything that moves - like people, you may miss the magic of the instance of a blooming smile, or a surprised expression, etc.

I suggest that a cable release is a wise investment.

Howard
 
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