Tripod "Heads" and Quick Release Question

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Hoover, Oct 15, 2006.

  1. Hoover

    Hoover Guest

    I don't need the fanciest tripod around - I had never heard of tripod heads
    until i started doing research - what's the advantage over a regular
    tripod - And what is a "quick release" head - you don't have to screw it
    into the camera? I know these are basic questions for experts, but I have
    no clue
    Hoover, Oct 15, 2006
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  2. Hoover

    bmoag Guest

    There are many proprietary inexpensive tripod designs were a plate with the
    tripod screw is attached to the camera and then the plate with camera
    attached is inserted in a slot on the tripod head. The camera and plate can
    be removed by flipping a catch lever without having to unscrew the camera
    from the tripod.
    Whether or not this is an advantage is up to you to decide.
    The biggest problem with tripods, especially less expensive units but also
    with many very expensive units, is that they do not hold the camera firmly
    enough for small adjustments of position and require much fiddling.
    Regardless, a tripod is an indsipensable accessory.
    bmoag, Oct 15, 2006
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  3. Hoover

    Ronald Hands Guest

    heads until i started doing research - what's the advantage over a
    regular tripod - And what is a "quick release" head - you don't have to
    screw it into the camera? I know these are basic questions for experts,
    but I have no clue

    If I've interpreted your question correctly, here are a couple data

    1. The tripod head screws on the top of the tripod and stays there
    permanently. It allows full movement of the camera: 360 degree panning,
    vertical movement so that the camera is pointing up or down to
    whatever extent you desire, and finally a movement that allows you to
    tilt the camera from horizontal to vertical. When the desired position
    is reached, everything can be locked to prevent unwanted movement. These
    heads come in several variations, including three-way pan and tilt and
    ball-joint versions.

    2. The quick release is usually a small plate that is screwed to the
    bottom of your camera. It fits into a recess in the tripod head,
    locking securely in place, but a lever or button allows it to be
    released quickly. When everything is set up, it takes but a moment to
    mount the camera on the tripod: just align the plate with its receptacle
    and snap into place.

    Might be useful for you to do a quick search on Google. If you search
    for "Bogen quick release", the first illustration shows one form of the
    quick release plate and its socket.

    Try this site:

    -- Ron
    Ronald Hands, Oct 15, 2006
  4. Sure you do! (Keep researching, because the question is not
    "if", but is more like which one is actually the fanciest...)
    Pan/tilt heads are suitable for just that, and as a result are
    commonly used for video, and are sometimes called video heads.
    They pan and tilt as separate movements, with separate locking
    mechanisms, and when locked will hold a camera solid without any
    manual assistance. When unlocked, hold on tight or things get

    A ball head is nice for a lot of hands on manipulation, and
    allows a relatively lightweight camera (up to a normal SLR +
    lense size) to be very easy to maneuver. If the camera going to
    be moving around continuously, it beats a pan/tilt head. Again
    though, hold on if anything is loosened up enough to move...

    If the camera gets truly *large*, as with an 8x10 view camera,
    pan heads and ball heads can be used they just aren't safe or
    easy. For heavy cameras that will be positioned and not moved,
    a gearhead is very very nice. There is no risk that it will
    fall over while the adjustment is loosened enough to reposition
    the camera; just crank on the gear and position it.

    A 35mm SLR with an 800mm telephoto lens to photograph wildlife
    is not very "flexible" on a gearhead, though it is indeed safe.
    A gimbal mount, however, can make a big lense act like it is
    weightless. The locks are "loose", but it won't move when not
    being held.
    Actually that is a "quick release mount", not a head. Any head
    can have a QR mount. And it seems as they each do too... all

    For non-QR mounts, there are two "standards". One is a 1/4 inch
    threaded bolt, and the other has a 3/8 inch thread. (There are
    "converters" that can be screwed onto a 1/4 bolt to make it 3/8
    inch.) Almost every tripod and tripod mountable equipment uses
    one or the other, obviously with the larger 3/8" being more
    popular on larger equipment.

    Quick release mounts invariably attach to/with a standard
    threaded bolt. Most of them are for 1/4" threads, some for 3/8"
    and a few have both available.

    A QR consists of a "plate" that is "permanently" attached to the
    camera (via that standard 1/4" threaded screw) and a "mount"
    that is "permanently" attached to the tripod. (Occasionally
    there are equipments that really do have their QR permanently
    mounted! Some tripods, for example, have the QR mount
    incorporated into the tripod, and the only 1/4 screw is the one
    on the QR plate that attaches to the camera.)

    The idea then is that the "plate" can be easily attached and
    detached from the mount, via some locking mechanism that is
    easier than screwing and unscrewing the 1/4" bolt! Some of them
    actually are more difficult!

    But the real trick is to have a given tripod with a given QR
    mount, and then all equipment that is ever mounted on it has a
    permanently attached plate that fits that QR. Or conversely an
    equipment (a camera or bellows or whatever) has a plate
    attached, and each and everything it will ever be mounted on has
    a permanently mounted matching QR mount on it.

    Because there are so many, that never happens. Instead you'll
    probably end up with more than one system. It can be annoying,
    but it can also be useful too. For example, if you have a
    variety, and have extra QR mounts and plates, before any given
    shooting session starts you can set up everything that will be
    used to have the one set of QR equipment. That way, during
    the shoot you can switch quickly between equipment.
    But this is the *fun* stuff!

    Everyone starts without a clue. Nobody was born knowing how to
    tell time, count money, or tie their shoes. Most of us remember
    both learning how to do those things *and* teaching our children
    or grandchildren how to do them. Who remembers learning/teaching
    the advanced questions???
    Floyd L. Davidson, Oct 15, 2006
  5. Hoover

    Hoover Guest

    thanks for the info -

    Hoover, Oct 15, 2006
  6. : I don't need the fanciest tripod around - I had never heard of tripod
    : heads until i started doing research - what's the advantage over a
    : regular tripod - And what is a "quick release" head - you don't have to
    : screw it into the camera? I know these are basic questions for
    : experts, but I have no clue

    If you go to a Kmart or Walmart or other similar store you will find
    tripods that may or may not do what you want. Most of these have a bult in
    "head" which allows the camera to be panned (turned left and right) tilted
    (aimed up and down) and sometimes skewed (turned from a horizontal
    orientation to a vertical or somewhere inbetween). But since different
    people and different equipment can require or may work better with a
    slightly different head, such a built in head is limiting. So most higher
    end tripod makers allow you to purchase the tripod (legs with a mounting
    plate on top) seperate from the head. Then there would be a range of
    different heads available that can be mounted on that tripod to allow the
    camera to be aimed where it should.

    As to Quick Release (QR), some all-in-one tripods have these built in, and
    some do not. And for those without you can get add on ones if you wish to
    add one. In general a QR is a metal (or plastic) plate that has the tripod
    screw in it, which you secure to the camera, and a receiver plate that
    mounts (or is built into) the top of the tripod head. when the plate on
    the camera is slipped into a slot on the receiver a lever or button locks
    the two together. To remove the camera from the tripod (to catch that
    person acting silly behind you) you just flick the lever or press the
    button to release the camera for hand held use. One problem is that each
    manufacturer (and each model from that manufacturer) is a totally
    different design and they are not compatable with each other. So if you
    have a QR on your tripod and a different one on your monopod you will not
    be able to swap back and forth without stopping to unscrew the tripod
    plate and screw on the monopod plate. Negating the whole concept of the QR

    Of course you could do as I did. It isn't pretty but it works. I bought
    several sets of QR that mount to a 1/4" screw (with an adapter in my case)
    and screwed these to the built in QR on the tripod and the monopod. Then I
    just secured the original QR permanently in place on both. Now I have the
    same model of QR on both support devices and so I can go from tripod to
    monopod to hand held operation in a snap. One other thing I did with my QR
    is a bit odd. One passion I have is panorama shots and I like to use a
    pano head (marked in degrees along the horizontal axis). But I don't need
    this when I am not taking a pano. So I put a QR camera plate on the bottom
    of the pano head and the tripod plate on the top. This way I can snap the
    pano head onto the top of my regular tripod and then snap the camera on
    top. When I'm done with the pano head, it unsnaps and goes in the bag and
    my tripod and camera are back to normal quick and easy. :)


    Randy Berbaum
    Champaign, IL
    Randy Berbaum, Oct 16, 2006
  7. Hoover

    Hoover Guest

    thanks for all the info - appreciate it

    Hoover, Oct 16, 2006
  8. Hoover

    Neil Ellwood Guest

    The best way is to go to a decent camera shop and have a look at them.
    Neil Ellwood, Oct 16, 2006
  9. I may take some flack for this, but here goes anyway. Try a regular
    tripod. If it works, fine, if it leaves a bit to be desired, you can
    get a better one later. We recently bought two inexpensive new tripods
    that are worlds above the stuff we paid considerably more for twenty
    years ago. Although these were going to be backup/spare tripods, we
    use them a LOT and leave the older heavier ones home. They came with
    the removable quick release, one was twenty bucks, one was twenty five!
    They are the lightest pods we have. But then, our newer cameras are
    also lighter than the ones we used to lug around. These tripods are
    fine for smaller lighter still cameras. They do NOT work for video-
    the heads do not move smoothly enough. We have a heavy fluid head
    video tripod for that- one you don't want to have to carry very far.

    These new cheap tripods are fine for stills with reasonable weight on
    anything but a very windy day. The big thing about the fancy tripod
    heads is smooth movement with no "stickion". Essential for video,
    helpful when trying to exactly frame a telephoto shot where you want to
    smoothly loosen and move head a degree or two.

    Unless you are really exacting in your shooting a regular inexpensive
    to medium price all-in-one tripod should do you fine. However, so many
    come with quick release I'd hold out for one that does.
    Don Stauffer in Minnesota, Oct 16, 2006
  10. Hoover

    cjcampbell Guest

    You are right about fancy tripods -- the best tripods are simple
    designs, more rugged, lightweight. Unfortunately, lightness, stiffness
    and ruggedness are somewhat conflicting aims and in order to get all
    three the price can really soar.

    Quick release heads have been explained adequately. Personally, I am
    not convinced that they are all that useful. However, the better
    tripods all seem to have them.

    I personally use a Manfrotto CF tripod with three section legs and a
    magnesium head with short knobs. I love this tripod. Nothing sticks out
    to snag clothing or furniture while I am carrying it around. It is
    light enough to carry it all day. And it is reasonably stiff; it will
    support a DSLR and 400mm lens just fine. I especially like the
    rubberized carrying handle. This tripod has not got a lot of features,
    but it does its job very well.
    cjcampbell, Oct 17, 2006
  11. In addition, some gearheads place the centre of rotation for pitch well
    above the camera platform itself. With some care, you can mount the
    front nodal point of the camera lens at the centre of rotation. This
    isn't normally useful for a still camera, but a movie camera mounted
    this way retains exactly the same perspective of the scene while it pans
    and tilts. It allows you to carefully line up a matte painting with the
    background and then change camera aim without losing this alignment.

    Gearheads also provide smooth movements.

    Dave Martindale, Oct 18, 2006
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