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Tripod portability and fixing a temporary loss of mojo


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I wonder how well carbon fiber tripods stand up to being banged in the side during loading/unloading in a car.  My well used Manfrotto 058B has a good ding in one of its aluminum legs that doesn't affect it ability to extend at all.  I do wonder if it creates a weak point where buckling may someday occur.  Given that I never extend the legs, and there are two more leg sections inside, I don't think it would lead to a catastrophic failure.  The 26 pound load rating is for when it is fully extended to 7 feet tall.  I have no idea what its load capacity is when not extended with the geared column all the way down and locked.  I put 25 pounds on it all the time with the DSV-2B mount and two small to mid sized scopes without any issues.  If I crank up the center column, it has to be exactly level or there is some binding that goes on during the motion.  I'd rather have the heftier geared center column of the Manfrotto 161 (Bogen 3058), but they're hard to find for under $200 used.  If I even move up to a DSV-3, I'll probably have to get one, though.

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18 hours ago, Elp said:

If you're in Germany, Berlebach should definitely be high on your list. Mine doesn't have a tray or leg spreader so less weight to carry and it's much easier to adjust on uneven ground by moving one leg in/out to get it level. It can pretty much sit against the ground too if I wanted it to. Yes they do cost, but it's one of the few astro purchases which caused me to crack a huge grin as it's a thing of beauty, especially in black.

Yeah, this does seem to be the general consensus. I don't know what it is, but for some reason I'm just not completely sold on them. Again I know that this puts me in the minority! I guess if I put it this way: If the Gitzo and Berlebachs were the same price I'd buy the Gitzo.

I would love to see a Berlebach IRL, I wonder if there's a photography shop somewhere near me where I can see one in the flesh?

Edited by badhex
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7 hours ago, Highburymark said:

This is what I meant earlier when I said to be ultra safe for high magnification astro purposes, take the advertised payload and halve it. I was told that by an experienced wildlife photographer who also enjoyed astronomy. I’ve had two refractors and a Skytee on my 40kg Gitzo - probably 18-19kg - and it was great. But not sure how it would cope with 40kg! 

I like this approach, and certainly makes sense to be ultra cautious!

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5 hours ago, Louis D said:

I wonder how well carbon fiber tripods stand up to being banged in the side during loading/unloading in a car.  My well used Manfrotto 058B has a good ding in one of its aluminum legs that doesn't affect it ability to extend at all.  I do wonder if it creates a weak point where buckling may someday occur.  Given that I never extend the legs, and there are two more leg sections inside, I don't think it would lead to a catastrophic failure.  The 26 pound load rating is for when it is fully extended to 7 feet tall.  I have no idea what its load capacity is when not extended with the geared column all the way down and locked.  I put 25 pounds on it all the time with the DSV-2B mount and two small to mid sized scopes without any issues.  If I crank up the center column, it has to be exactly level or there is some binding that goes on during the motion.  I'd rather have the heftier geared center column of the Manfrotto 161 (Bogen 3058), but they're hard to find for under $200 used.  If I even move up to a DSV-3, I'll probably have to get one, though.

A similar thought has occurred to me. If I were to buy a Gitzo, I would probably consider it as something I can travel with as well, however I'm not sure a 5 series would easily fit in the side part of my backpack (bag is 40cm tall whereas tripod is 60cm) or be suitable for carry-on, so I'd have to make sure I have a big enough hold case to put it inside and pad it well. I do have a Manfrotto tripod bag which would also provide some protection. I've done it once with an aluminium tripod and was a bit worried about it denting. Not sure if I could do that with a Berlebach as it would take up a lot of the weight allowance.

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1 hour ago, badhex said:

Agreed Gerry, it's bonkers. I paid about the same for the scope!

Yeah, I'm looking at the cheaper ones mentioned in the thread- be good enough for the H130 and the 90mm Raptor. Its the length of the scope, more than the weight that causes issues IMHO. I cannot justify a new Gitzo. With a bit of playing around I'm sure these ones will be ok with the 120mm fracs.

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This invaluable site does lab tests on a lot of camera tripods for stability and portability: https://thecentercolumn.com/

As a result of their tests I recently bought (from Sweden) a carbon fibre tripod from the Leofoto Ranger range, the LS-364C.  These have no centre column and so are lighter and fold to a very compact size.

However Leofoto make a lot of other ranges too, with and without centre columns.  Go to https://www.leofoto.eu/

There's a lot of different combinations in the Ranger series.  The first 2 numbers in the model refer to the diameter in millimetres of the thickest carbon tube; the last number refers to the number of sections.  They're now imported into Europe as well as the US with 16 in the range in various weights and sizes, all but 3 having ball and socket heads in a package. 

Like you I have a Scopetech Mount Zero, and initially used it with my Leofoto Ranger tripod.

Then I bought a Skywatcher Solarquest mount.  I'm very pleased indeed with the Solarquest as it automatically finds and tracks the sun.

This means of course I have to swap between the mounts whenever I change from day to night use or vice versa.

I didn't think this would be a problem.  However the Mount Zero wouldn't release from the tripod.  It may be because I'm disabled and my hands don't work properly, but First Light Optics very kindly sorted this out for me free of charge.  It happened again though, but this time with a help of a strap wrench I (eventually) got them apart.

Thanks to a suggestion here on SGL I then bought a Berlebach Report 112 tripod.  This has solved the problem as a lot of the Berlebach tripods have interchangeable heads.  The one I chose has a spring-loaded bolt to fix a mount on top (see pic below), and this makes it very easy to swap mounts.

As I said, it's probably just my disability, but I'm flagging it up in case it's peculiar to the Mount Zero.

 

image_2022-03-29_202659.png.e07f05cdc45af05c8dd50b4dc90af212.png

 

I love my Berlebach Report 112, and chose this model as it collapses to a small size and isn't overly heavy.  Yes, it's a little shorter than the more popular 212 and 312 models; however I always sit to observe and so this isn't a problem for me at all. 

Additionally, not having the legs extended means that it's more stable.  Plus I use mine with an accessory tray that makes it even steadier.  I don't detach the tray from the legs for speed of set up, plus this means that the whole scope and tripod easily fits through a doorway.

I'd add that my Berlebach is much steadier than my Leofoto, although of course the Leofoto is a lot lighter.

 

 

Edited by Second Time Around
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11 hours ago, badhex said:

Yeah, this does seem to be the general consensus. I don't know what it is, but for some reason I'm just not completely sold on them. Again I know that this puts me in the minority! I guess if I put it this way: If the Gitzo and Berlebachs were the same price I'd buy the Gitzo.

I would love to see a Berlebach IRL, I wonder if there's a photography shop somewhere near me where I can see one in the flesh?

It’s not just how well the BB tripods look, it’s also their lovely smell

😊

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1 hour ago, JeremyS said:

It’s not just how well the BB tripods look, it’s also their lovely smell

😊

Sniffable Berlebachs and lickable objectives? What's next, the relaxing sound of a Feathertouch? 😂

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1 hour ago, Second Time Around said:

This invaluable site does lab tests on a lot of camera tripods for stability and portability: https://thecentercolumn.com/

As a result of their tests I recently bought (from Sweden) a carbon fibre tripod from the Leofoto Ranger range, the LS-364C.  These have no centre column and so are lighter and fold to a very compact size.

However Leofoto make a lot of other ranges too, with and without centre columns.  Go to https://www.leofoto.eu/

There's a lot of different combinations in the Ranger series.  The first 2 numbers in the model refer to the diameter of the thickest carbon tube; the last number refers to the number of sections.  They're now imported into Europe as well as the US with 16 in the range in various weights and sizes, all but 3 having ball and socket heads in a package. 

Like you I have a Scopetech Mount Zero, and initially used it with my Leofoto Ranger tripod.

Then I bought a Skywatcher Solarquest mount.  I'm very pleased indeed with the Solarquest as it automatically finds and tracks the sun.

This means of course I have to swap between the mounts whenever I change from day to night use or vice versa.

I didn't think this would be a problem.  However the Mount Zero wouldn't release from the tripod.  It may be because I'm disabled and my hands don't work properly, but First Light Optics very kindly sorted this out for me free of charge.  It happened again though, but this time with a help of a strap wrench I (eventually) got them apart.

Thanks to a suggestion here on SGL I then bought a Berlebach Report 112 tripod.  This has solved the problem as a lot of the Berlebach tripods have interchangeable heads.  The one I chose has a spring-loaded bolt to fix a mount on top (see pic below), and this makes it very easy to swap mounts.

As I said, it's probably just my disability, but I'm flagging it up in case it's peculiar to the Mount Zero.

 

image_2022-03-29_202659.png.e07f05cdc45af05c8dd50b4dc90af212.png

 

I love my Berlebach Report 112, and chose this model as it collapses to a small size and isn't overly heavy.  Yes, it's a little shorter than the more popular 212 and 312 models; however I always sit to observe and so this isn't a problem for me at all. 

Additionally, not having the legs extended means that it's more stable.  Plus I use mine with an accessory tray that makes it even steadier.  I don't detach the tray from the legs for speed of set up, plus this means that the whole scope and tripod easily fits through a doorway.

I'd add that my Berlebach is much steadier than my Leofoto, although of course the Leofoto is a lot lighter.

 

 

Thanks for the detailed reply and the link, very helpful. I haven't specifically looked into the 112 but will check out the specs tmw! 

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I have the Berlebach Report 112 (astro version) too and I am very happy with it. I have an Artcise carbon fibre tripod rated for about the same load, but the Berlebach is by far more stable especially when using my SCT (only a 6 inch, but still 1500 mm focal length). For extra height I have a Berlebach Uni extension column that Berlebach kindly made to a custom size for me - 30 cm. As the combination is super stable, I am toying with trying a 50 cm extension tube too. I used to observe sitting but now I find I like a bit more height (easier to use the red dot finder). As I am not seated, I am of course on my two wobbly feet and I simply steady myself by resting a couple of fingers on the top of the tripod - this doesn't cause vibrations or degrade the views! 

I have travelled to the Canary Islands a couple of times with the 112 and it fits in hold luggage only, so be aware of that. It also takes up a fair amount of space in the suitcase. I am currently travelling with the Artcise CF tripod - it is stable enough with my travel scope, much lighter of course, and folds up to half the size. 

Edited by Ags
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I need to make a small correction to my previous post.  I do have my Report 112 tripod extended a little bit, but just enough to bring it up to the right level for me to observe sitting on my adjustable height stool.

If I didn't need the head in the picture I posted I'd also use an extendable centre column.

@Ags. I assume your centre column is non-geared. How easy is it to adjust?

As Ags mentioned, the ability to customise is one of the advantages of buying from Berlebach.

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7 hours ago, Ags said:

I have an Artcise carbon fibre tripod rated for about the same load, but the Berlebach is by far more stable especially when using my SCT (only a 6 inch, but still 1500 mm focal length).

May I ask what Artcise tripod you have? Is it rated for 20kg? I know you already mentioned slightly in your post, but how do you find the difference in size and weight for travel? Do you have an image that compares the two?

EDIT: And how do you find the Artcise handling the current setup on La Palma? I would probably use it for something similar or my 102mm APO.

Victor

Edited by Victor Boesen
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4 hours ago, Second Time Around said:

@Ags. I assume your centre column is non-geared. How easy is it to adjust?

It's not adjustable, it just has 3/8" thread connectors:

UniTube.jpg.254a0ebdbbc30624d3765d66cc73449a.jpg

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22 minutes ago, Victor Boesen said:

May I ask what Artcise tripod you have?

I have this:

https://www.amazon.com/-/es/Trípode-carbono-trípode-portátil-ARTCISE/dp/B08M5YW1YG

It is far better for travel than the Berlebach and more than adequate for my 66 mm f6 refractor both for visual and photography. I don't think it would cope with a 102 mm refractor however.

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Looks like there a few like that one, mines a Leofoto 253, around 1ft fully closed, 2.5ft full open, the definition of compact. Works for my AP rig, won't for a long refractor.

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Thanks all. I did buy this last year specifically for travelling with a ZS73 and AZT6 or AZ-GTi combo (so quite similar to your setup Ags, although I never personally got on with the AZT6): https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p8276_TS-Optics-C255FMO-Carbon-Tripod---Height-up-to-1560-mm.html

It is rated at 12kg and similar to suggestions in this thread I assumed I wanted to approx halve that figure for astronomy purposes, which as fine for the above combo. I struggled to find tripods which packed down to ~40cm in a reasonable price bracket. It's fine; not incredible, but fine for the purpose. I keep the centre column down and don't extend the tripod further than the first or second leg sections, and I added a fabric 'tray' which helps a bit with stability. It definitely wouldn't take anything bigger, but assume it would probably be fine with the Zero + ZS73.

Doesn't solve my current problem though! 😂

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I had my doubts about the AZT6 and it sat on a shelf for ages. I tried selling it at one point. Now however it really works for me, especially when I use a 1 kg counterweight. Strangely it seems smoother when I put the C6 on it! I think someone on the forum mentioned it favorably, so I gave it a second chance. Glad I did!

Edited by Ags
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On 27/03/2022 at 13:16, jetstream said:

Looks excellent Mark, how does the mount attach to the Gitzo? Is there an adapter we can buy? Thanks

Confirmed mine has a 3/8” bolt Gerry, though for anyone thinking of buying a Gitzo they should check the specific model as they have different top plates

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1 hour ago, Highburymark said:

Confirmed mine has a 3/8” bolt Gerry, though for anyone thinking of buying a Gitzo they should check the specific model as they have different top plates

Thanks Mark.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

Just a quick follow up to this a couple of months down the line.

In short, I 100% made the correct choice - the Gitzo has been outstanding. Ridiculously sturdy, obviously super light, basically ticking all the boxes (except the insane cost 😂

I've ended up pairing it mostly with the Scopetech mount zero and either the TS102 or ZS73, and the portability and ease of use of that overall setup has meant so many more observing opportunities. Last week I was out 6 nights! Admittedly there are some other factors making that possible but nonetheless - the Gitzo has been a huge contributor. 

Very happy! 

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3 hours ago, badhex said:

Just a quick follow up to this a couple of months down the line.

In short, I 100% made the correct choice - the Gitzo has been outstanding. Ridiculously sturdy, obviously super light, basically ticking all the boxes (except the insane cost 😂

I've ended up pairing it mostly with the Scopetech mount zero and either the TS102 or ZS73, and the portability and ease of use of that overall setup has meant so many more observing opportunities. Last week I was out 6 nights! Admittedly there are some other factors making that possible but nonetheless - the Gitzo has been a huge contributor. 

Very happy! 

Great choice! I have a very similar setup for my FC100 and it’s by far my most used setup. Glad it has worked out well for you 👍

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