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Monday, 03 August 2015

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I would buy a wooden tripod, except none of them have a 75mm top plate to match the most common heads!

I'm still in the carbon fibre camp, sorry. They are unmatched for the critical "stiffness to weight" ratio. This is particularly important when you are shooting on a monopod with (very) large telephoto lenses.

As you may well know, you can still buy very fine wooden tripods at a fair price from Berlebach Germany -- still camera type as well as movie.
regards
Danny, Sheffield UK

Just found a Berlebach tripod at a bargain markdown place for cheeep, and gotta say I love it. One, my Linhofs look better on there(what? 4x5. Inherently silly and wonderful. Might as well have fun.) Two, it's lighter than my massive Gitzo, which I love but golly is a beast. Didn't think about the refinshing issue, but another plus. Three, there's only one length adjustment per leg, which is a major reduction in annoyance. We'll see if will hold up as well as the Gitzo, but quite pleased with it so far.

I've used my lovely Berlebach only a few times in the 9-10 years I've owned it. Each time with a big medium format camera and usually with a geared head. Yes, it was a bit more cumbersome to schlep than cf legs. But the thing is solid, and did I mention "lovely"? Is it as rigid as cf? No, probably not. But here's a fun-fact to know and tell: it's more effective a dampening vibrations than cf or aluminum! I recall a magazine actually testing this some years back. And if worst comes to worse a Berlebach won't shatter into razor-sharp pieces like cf legs will.

Do I plan to use my Berlebach more often? No. Do I plan to sell it? Certainly not!

(You can re-finish it before selling it...Ha! You could probably also burn it to stay warm if you find yourself stranded in the cold wilderness.)

I had a Zone VI wooden tripod. It brought new meaning to the adage that anything farther than 50 yards from the road is not photogenic.

I highly recommend the RIES brand. Made in USA side 1936. They aren't at all cheap to buy new, but in fact worth every penny. Try following them on EBay. Ones that are in like new condition sometimes go for unrealistically low prices... Also look into Miller wooden tripods. I don't think Millers been made for years. A lot lighter that Zone VI or Ries, but still just as sturdy. I believe they were made for movie cameras. I've found carbon fiber tripods great but not so good in the mud or at the beach. Personal experience here... ruined an expensive Gitzo years ago after extensive use in mud and at the beach. Replace it with a wooden RIES. Also lot of use in mud and at the beach but it still serves me today.

I still have my Zone VI tripod. Heavy, not very compact, but great out of the car if you don't have to walk too far. The spikes on the feet are the best solution on dirt/grass and the unlimited spread on the legs makes them pretty easy to set up. I've never refinished mine, but it wouldn't be too hard to do. Mine has an old Bogen pan/tilt head that still works well. The whole thing weighs several times what my OMD EM5 weighs. A real mix of old and new technologies that gets some odd looks from people.

Kirk Tuck has recently been extolling the virtues of a wooden monopod by Berlebach:
http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/remember-me-waxing-on-about-how-great.html
though he didn't mention the refinishing for sale despite the 'waxing' in the title ☺️.

Here is the link to the Berlebach website…

Nico, Amsterdam.

Of course the problem is woodworm... ;-)

Like most, I bookmark 'stuff' for later reading, only it's usually MUCH later. Coincidentally, a week or 2 ago I was cleaning out that folder of some of those bookmarks and rediscovered Woodworking for Engineers, and an updated article on making his own wooden tripod.

http://woodgears.ca/tripod/index.html

I bought a Berlebach wooden monopod (from Adorama or Amazon, forget which) after seeing Kirk Tuck's comments on the same. It is one of my better purchases this year.

It only has one adjustment on the leg and is very quick to set up or adjust, and includes the correct type of head for a monopod (i.e. pitch only). The base plate is 70mm (2.75 inches) and is just right for my Novoflex Quick release Q which is also round, and a slightly smaller diameter – looks like they were made for each other. So I can mount/unmount my camera/zoom lens (with collar) in no time flat.

As Kirk points out, it can still be touched when out in the Texas sun all day, (or the Canadian cold)! Wood is probably the best material for damping vibrations as well. I suspect it would be at least as good as my RRS tripod, so I don't really need it but a Berlbach tripod may be in the works soon.

A wood tripod/monopod would get my recommendation over carbon fibre for anyone looking for a good tool at a reasonable cost. The only down side is these don't generally collapse very small. Better for car-trunks than suitcases.

I would like to use a wooden tripod with my old Rolleiflex, maybe one day...
robert

The reason I like wooden tripods (and NOT carbon fiber) is that wood still outperforms in the vibration damping department (as any archer will tell you). I know it's debatable but also the whole light versus heavy thing is counter intuitive.
My opinion (and that's like all opinions) is that a tripod is best when it's heavy (ish).
Only my two centavos.

Well I guess I will add to the pile of Berlebach lovers. The reduced vibration qualities are not imagined. I have recently gone back to my good old trusty woodies after having a several year fling with both metal and CF tripods. The only time I use a lighter tripod now is when I am traveling by air.

That's as much a feature of the owner (seller) as it is of the tripod. If I would "refinish" the thing, I doubt to sell it for top-dollar then...

Two wooden, Berlebach tripods (one for video and one for still cameras) as well as a Berlebach monopod here at my place. No more screaming in anguish when grabbing the tripod legs after they've been hours in the Texas sun. Wood is so much higher performance than aluminum or even carbon fiber, at least where safety and comfort are concerned. Final note, art directors love the contrast of cutting edge cameras on handmade, wooden tripods. Just love it.

a very cool tip i learned long ago that makes setting up a tripod on a hilllside or uneven elevation is to position one leg straight uphill and level the uphill leg to make the tripod level....this often simplifies leveling so that only one leg needs to is adjusted in height.

raizans

"I would buy a wooden tripod, except none of them have a 75mm top plate to match the most common heads!"

That's pretty easy to fix with a trip to a hardware store unless I'm misunderstanding your problem, care to elaborate with specifics?

The most used tripods in my collection are a mishmash of Gitso centerposts, Chicago Builders legs and gearheads, Tiltall legs for when the
Chicago Builders legs are too big, and some home made stuff.

Sometimes when I'm out and about with the Tiltall legs, Gitzo centerpost, and Chicago Builders Majestic head combo I get into some "what the hell is that" conversations, but that's not a big problem.

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