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Old October 2nd, 2004, 07:35 PM   #1
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Levelling Question

HI All
I've turned my attention lately to the question of levelling. I have a tripod/head set (Bogen 3221WN legs and 3130 head) that doesn't have a spirit level. I'd like one.

Would I be better off attaching a stick-on bulls-eye level myself, or getting one of those ball levellers?

If I were to go with the stick-on level, how would I go about setting it up? I'm a little hazy on how to go about that--I assume I'd set up the tripod on a perfectly level floor, then attach the bulls-eye so that is shows level...sounds a little tricky.

And if the ball leveller is the way to go, which is the one to use? Anyone else have the 3221 legs and use one of Bogen's ball levellers?

Thanks all--
Chris
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Old October 2nd, 2004, 07:45 PM   #2
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Chris,

I have a 3221WN with the 501 head which has a bubble level on it. Have not used a Bogen ball leveler with it, but I know they make a replacement center column which has one. I don't use this tripod for video much anymore and have a Miller tripod with a ball leveler. It makes a huge difference in setup time! You can have your camera level in a couple seconds without messing with the legs.

Maybe I don't understand what you want to do with the stick-on level? I don't use the video head on my 3221 now, but use a Bogen "3d" head for still photography. It didn't have a level so I got one of those round stick-on bubble levels and put it directly in the middle of the head, right above the mounting screw. But without a ball leveler you need to adjust each of the tripod legs until the bubble is centered in the middle of the circle. Obviously you won't always be shooting on a "perfectly level floor," so you need to go through this ritual every time you setup the tripod.

If you get the ball leveler I believe the mounting plate will have a built-in bubble level. The significant difference is that you can usually get your camera level by merely adjusting the ball and not messing with the tripod legs.
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Old October 2nd, 2004, 08:28 PM   #3
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Hi Boyd--
Yeah, my thoughts about the level floor were about how to afix the level for the first time--get it calibrated. If I were to put the bubble on when the legs weren't on a level surface, mightn't that it might show it is level, but the legs would now be--or the head, or anything else attched to them. Does that make sense?

Anyway, the ball leveller sounds like a better deal, though a bit more expensive. I wonder also whether the built-in spirit level on it will be obscured when I put my little head on it. Hoping to find someone who has the same set-up and see if it works for them.

I remember seeing you praising your leveller, Boyd--that's one of the reasons I started thinking about this. The more I thought about it, the more it bothered me each time I had to tinker with the legs to get something close to plumb...

Maybe you should get a kickback for influencing my purchase!
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Old October 2nd, 2004, 08:47 PM   #4
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<<<-- Originally posted by Chris Long : my thoughts about the level floor were about how to afix the level for the first time--get it calibrated. -->>>

Unfortunately, I don't think there's much you can do to "calibrate" it, you just have to stick it on. One of the problems with these things is that the mounting plate on the tripod head may not move in exactly the same plane as whatever you attach the level to.

I think the level on the Bogen ball unit is designed to work with their fluid heads:
http://www.manfrotto.com/product/tem...=12&itemid=746
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=203536&is=REG

I haven't used one of these although I've considered getting one for my still camera which I often use to take panoramas made of multiple images.
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Old October 2nd, 2004, 10:00 PM   #5
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Why not just keep the bulls-eye level in your camera bag, then set it on top of the head when setting up the tripod? Quick and easy.

Dan
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Old October 3rd, 2004, 07:48 PM   #6
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It's a good point, Dan, but I think I'd like a solution that's always right there, so to speak. I'm thinking the ball leveller is the way to go.

Boyd that's the one. I'm going to get one, I think. Next paycheck, which coincides with the end of the holiday closing at B and H! Nice!

Thanks for your input, guys.
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Old October 4th, 2004, 10:23 AM   #7
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I'm curious to hear how it worked out. I use the same 3130 head that I mounted on a still camera tripod from "Ritz". Although it has a built in bubble level I have to play with the legs to balance, so I was considering using this also.
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Old October 4th, 2004, 04:22 PM   #8
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Samuel, I'll be sure to post a review of how it works when I get it. Should be in about 2 weeks.

Chris
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Old October 4th, 2004, 07:45 PM   #9
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I was thinking about leveling too when looking for a tripod. I've got just a minimal camcorder (Sony TRV38), so I purchased a Manfrotto/Bogen MDeVe 756B. It's has a 50mm leveling ball and spirit bubble. Most here will tell you that 50mm is too small, and they're probably right for a medium and up size camera, but for my ~2 lbs unit, it works very well. Leveling with this unit is a breeze. Very quick and easy.
Here's the B&H page:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=NavBar&A=getItemDetail&Q=&sku=272829&is=REG&si=feat#goto_itemInfo

You might want to look at one of the larger units:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?ci=1&sb=ps&pn=1&sq=desc&InitialSearch=yes&O=SearchBar&A=search&Q=*&shs=mdeve&image.x=0&image.y= 0

Hope this helps...

Allen
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