Tripods, Filters, And Miscellaneous Gizmos

Tripods, Filters, And Misc Gizmos

Tripods. The Smith-Victor booth had a sampling of their Acme-Lite tripod line, including the Propod IV. This heavy-duty, twin-shank ("crutch" style) model features unique quick-set pins that index into holes in the adjustable center leg section, plus height reference marks that make it fast and easy to extend all three legs to exactly the same height. It comes with the PRO-4 fluid head, which is a three-way type with separate locking handles for each movement axis. Maximum height is 71", length closed is 37"; weight is 8.5 lbs.

The Benbo tripod line (Tiffen) has added two new ball heads, models 320 and 322. The 5.25 oz No. 320 is designed for lighter tripods and cameras up to 9 lbs in weight. It has a single locking knob for both ball and pan movements. The larger, 12.5 oz No. 322 handles loads up to 17 lbs and features separate control knobs for the ball and pan movements, plus another to adjust the ball drag tension. All knobs have a non-slip covering. Both heads are backed with a five-year warranty.

The latest Cullman (R.T.S. Inc.) 'pod is the No. 2650 Grounder. This feather-weight travel tripod tips the scales at only 3.5 lbs, but has an 18 lb load rating. Full height is 60", yet it folds to 16". The legs are aluminum, with a trapezoidal profile and non-glare finish. The center column is reversible for super low angle capability.

New Davis & Sanford (Tiffen) tripods included a titanium finished XL version of their popular Magnum series. It can be had with or without a FG10 three-way head. A great general-purpose tripod, it features all-metal construction, reversible center column, built-in bubble level, and a 15 lb load rating. The legs are foam-padded for painless handling in extremely hot or cold weather conditions.

If you need an inexpensive tabletop tripod for your point-and-shoot or other small cameras, Davis & Sanford's new Mini Tripod could fill the bill. Fea-turing die-cast aluminum construction, its rubber-tipped, foldable legs facilitate storage in your camera bag. It is supplied complete with a ball head.

The Davis & Sanford Centerball ball heads cure the slight image shift encountered upon tightening the ball locking knob with many ball heads; by moving the support collar downward to lock, rather than pushing the ball up, the ball is rigidly supported with no room for any minor "monkey motion." There are three new models: the 6 oz Centerball 24, with a load range of 10 lbs; the 9 oz Centerball 32, with 13 lb load range; the 11 oz Centerball 38, with 20 lb capacity. Models 32 and 38 also feature a cutaway camera mounting platform that provides unobstructed access to the mounting screw.

Davis & San-ford also announced two new fluid heads. The F12 has separate locking knobs for the calibrated pan-and-tilt movements, the tension of which can be adjusted, and the handle can be positioned as desired. The heavy-duty F4 model can support up to 25 lbs, and offers smooth pans and 60° up/down tilts.

Another neat tripod item from Davis & Sanford was their Copystand. Unlike a traditional bulky baseboard/column/lights copy stand setup, it consists of a two-section telescoping arm (9.5" to 14") that clamps to any handy desk or table edge, with a swivel head that accepts cameras weighing up to 3 lbs. Weighing 2 lbs and change, it is a slick solution for on-location close-up work, such as cataloging collections for insurance records.

Gitzo (Bogen Photo) introductions included the MK2 Mountaineer carbon fiber tripods, updating the original models with greater strength and torsional rigidity, grooved center column, stainless steel weight hook, and ergonomic rubber grip locks. The MK2 Classic Aluminum Alloy Tri-pods have been similarly upgraded, plus new leg height markings and a universal foot support system that combines steel spikes with rubber tips, also accommodating optional all-terrain feet. The G1377M Magnesium Center Ball Head features adjustable drag control and unique interchangeable camera platforms; an optional dovetail adapter (G1387) is compatible with quick-release plates from Gitzo, Manfrotto, Arca Swiss, Graf, Kirk, Foba, Real Right Stuff, and Studio Ball. The new Mono Trek Monopod/Walking Stick is designed for backpackers and long distance walkers who also need a degree of camera support. Three versions differ at the business end: the G1560 has a removable ball head; the G1559R has a rubber neck; and the G1559 has a wooden knob that unscrews to expose a 1/4-20 tripod screw. All models are height adjustable, and come with a steel spiked foot and an all-weather shoe.

For those who appreciate the elegant appearance of exotic wood and gleaming brass, KB Systems' new KB1A Ebony tripod will have you drooling uncontrollably. Rock-solid, the Gaboon ebony is rubbed to a satin sheen, and the brass head, fittings, and accessory tray are highly polished and receive a tarnish resistant finish. The 10 lb KB1A extends to 62", and closes to 34" (also available in Eastern White Ash, Black Walnut, Mahogany, and Purpleheart). These tripods look terrific with a wood and brass large format camera mounted on them. The KBC2 Cradle Head, also of polished brass, accommodates SLRs with long lenses, as well as spotting scopes and small astronomical refractor telescopes. If you have a really large and heavy 8x10" or larger format camera, consider the new KB1004 Giant tripod; weighing 24 lbs and sporting a 7" cast brass head, it's up to the task.

Manfrotto (Bogen Photo) fielded their new Carbon One Series Tri-pods/Monopod. They feature unique, three-faceted carbon fiber leg tubing that offers structural and operational advantages, along with quick-action flip-lock clamping levers. Light weight magnesium head castings keep the weight of all models under 4 lbs, and the shoulder design allows employing the center column as a lateral arm. The 460Mg 3D Magnesium Head partners well with the Carbon One tripods; the ultralight weight, quick-release plate, conical-bearing locking system, and compact rubber-grip control knobs offer capabilities belying the minimal size and weight. A No. 3424 Column Clamp accepts removable tripod columns and heads, clamping to any handy support up to 2.25" thick; it also provides serviceable support for binoculars and spotting scopes. For heavy-duty needs, the new ProBall 468/469RC Ball Heads offer 22 lb and 28.6 lb load ratings, respectively.

Slik showed their new line of carbon fiber tripods and monopod. They feature an 8-12 ply design for substantially improved strength without weight increase. The two tripods, model PRO 803CF and PRO 840CF weigh only 42.3 oz (1200 gm) each and the PROpod 380 monopod weighs 13 oz (370 gm). The PRO 803CF has an operating height of 60.2" (1530mm) and has three leg sections. The PRO 804CF has four leg sections and folds up to 17.7" (450mm) in length but still has an operating height of 57.1" (1450mm). Unlike all other carbon fiber tripods which are black, Slik's CF series is finished in a distinctive bronze color.

Two new Velbon (Hakuba) tripods, models VGB-36 and VEB-36, are evolved descendants of Velbon V-series tripods introduced 20 years ago. Light weight, all-metal with braced legs, they represent the classic "all-around" tripod for general use with 35mm SLRs and lighter medium format cameras. The VEB has a non-geared, "rapid" center column, while the VGB has a geared column. Their economical price will appeal to many budding photography students.

Filters. Cokin (Minolta) was showing some recent additions to their extensive line of resin filters. The No. 006 yellow-green is great for outdoor scenes with large areas of blue sky and green foliage. Effects filters included the No. 140 Oval Center Spot White, which vignettes to white toward the edges; a No. 141 Oval Center Spot Black darkens toward the edges; the No. 148 Wedding 1 White lightens and diffuses the bottom and left and right lower corners of the image; a No. 149 Wedding 1 Black darkens and diffuses the same area. Other new diffusion options include the No. 142 Net Filter 1 White; No. 144 Net Filter 2 White; No. 143 Net Filter 1 Black; and No. 145 Net Filter 2 Black. There was also a nice black nylon filter wallet for the company's new X-PRO large format series filters, which holds seven filters, the X-PRO holder, and adapter ring(s), and it can be worn on a belt.

Lee Filters added an 81+Red Series, which combine an 81-series color temperature filter with a red cc filter. A great combination for many landscape and outdoor portrait lighting situations, there are three "off-the-shelf" versions available: 1R025 (81+CC025 red, subtle); AR05 (81A+CC05 red, medium); BR10 (81B+CC10 red, very warm). You can also custom order your own preferred combination. Also new are four 3-filter sets designed for particular shooting (light quality) circumstances: Sunset Set; Sunrise Set; Landscape Set; Twilight Set. New accessories include individual velvet filter envelopes for 4x4" or 4x6" filters; a FK100 slip-on filter holder, designed to avoid vignetting with Schneider wide angle XL lenses, fits any lens with an outside diameter of 100mm; an FP+R105 adapter, which allows adding round filters to the front of the Lee Foundation Kit filter holder, a means of using rotating polarizers with the square holder.

Sunpak (ToCAD) now has their own line of Picturesplus filters, available in standard screw-in sizes from 37-82mm. A full selection of correction and effects types are offered, including correction (for black and white and color films), circular polarizer, fluorescent, grads, soft, fog, diffusion, vignette, color enhancers, ND, close-up diopters, etc. Though affordably priced, they come with a lifetime warranty.

Tiffen is now distributing Kodak Professional's Wratten filters, acetate filters, and Polymax filters, under the name "Ko-dak Pro Gear."

Miscellaneous Gizmos. Hakuba had some handy items of interest to photographers. Their PowerPen, which resembles a small felt marker, prevents corrosion of battery contacts. Good for alkaline, lithium, and rechargeable batteries, you rub the pen's applicator tip on the contact surfaces of the batteries and the appliance (cameras, flashlights, radios, etc.), coating the contacts with a non-toxic, non-corrosive, all natural citrus and mineral oil solution. Conductivity is improved and battery life is increased, along with helping prevent damage caused by corroded batteries. Not for use on car batteries or zinc-air batteries.

Digital camera users in particular will appreciate Hakuba's Batt Pak, a zippered nylon wallet that holds spare batteries and a media card. It even has a clip to attach it to a belt loop. No more rooting around in the bottom of your camera bag!

Another Hakuba item is a series of three dry-storage containers, collectively dubbed Dry Box. These rectangular, translucent plastic containers seal tightly, and can be used in conjunction with several moisture and fungus control products, including Humidity Adjuster Sheets, HiDry Sheets, a fungicide, and a desiccant. They're a great way to store cameras and lenses in humid climates. Model KMC-11 measures 13x8.75x5.5"; KMC-12 is 13x8.75x9"; and KMC-13 is 18.5x9.5x9.25".

Leica has a new laser distance measurement device, the Leica LRF 800 Laser Rangefinder. Aimed mainly at golfers, boaters, and hunters, the unit could also prove useful to owners of cameras such as Fuji's GX617, which accepts 180mm and 300mm lenses, but has no direct way to accurately focus these long lenses other than with a ground-glass back usable only with the first shot on the roll prior to loading. Range is from 10-800 yards, accurate to one yard. Readout is via an internal LED display, which automatically adjusts its intensity according to the ambient light level. The optical design is basically a 7x21 monocular. The LRF 800 measures 4x3.75x1.4" and weighs 10 oz.

If you've ever had to replace a crystal on a good watch that got bashed while climbing around in the boonies, you'll be interested in the Neo-Band from OP/TECH. It's a neoprene watchband that features a snap-on neoprene cover to protect your watch from damage while participating in all manner of outdoor activities. Cheap insurance, the Neo-Band is available in three sizes, as well as several colors for the fashion conscious.