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Feel the intensity, not your equipment. Maximum image quality. Minimum weight. The new ZEISS SFL, up to 30% less weight than comparable competitors.

Berlebach Report Wooden Tripod (1 Viewer)

Tringa45

Well-known member
Europe
I think most of us would be well served by a decent 8x42 and if our interests (waders, ducks etc.) demanded it, by the addition of a medium-sized scope and tripod.
However, nearly all of us are afflicted with NAJS (new acquisition justification syndrome), typically: "I need a new binocular for owling".

Having disposed of several tripods in the past, I have just added a fourth to my present collection.
On another thread I mentioned that vibrations in strong winds on the North Sea coast were quite disturbing at just 25x on my old 4 kg Gitzo Studex and having read the detailed tests on "The Center Column" and on the linked test of 3-section systematic tripods, I was very tempted by either the FLM CP-34 L4 II or the CP 38 L4 II.
Both extend to about 175 cm and would double up for occasional use with binoculars. However, I have a basalt fibre Gitzo GT2942L, which is adequate at binocular magnifications if not for scope use, and the excellent service I experienced recently on my Berlebach 552 head prompted me to order one of their wooden tripods at a fraction of the cost of the FLMs.

The Berlebach Report tripods are a modular system with ten different inserts (levelling, centre columns, 2-way heads etc.) and as single extension (4 heights) and double extension (3 heights). In all there are probably close to 1000 possible combinations. The inserts have a male thread (64 mm?) and are secured by a threaded collar on the underside of the apex, for which a special tool is provided.

In "The Center Column" tests the 302 tripod showed very good stiffness and only fell down the rankings because of its relatively high weight. Being fairly tall, I am comfortable with an eyepiece height of around 158 cm on an angled scope and with the 552 head and a Kowa 883 this translates to a tripod height of 132 cm. The 302 with a plane top plate and a maximum height of 139 cm was the obvious choice, being the simplest, cheapest and probably most stable for the height requirement.

An online order was placed on a Sunday and the tripod arrived two days later per DHL from the other side of the country! Mine weighs 2,95 kg (2,8 kg specified).
Befor transferring the head I attached my 883 to the Gitzo Studex and at 60x magnification rapped one of the legs for a comparison of damping qualities. There was some initial disappointment, as they were very similar. Perhaps it was naive of me to expect an improvement of a 3 kg wooden tripod on a 4kg aluminium example, but I am otherwise very satisfied. The standard leg angle, as on my Novoflex TrioPod is 20°, but with the 883 on top the additional tripod weight drops the centre of gravity by about 10 cm and provides a very firm stance. There is precise adjustment for alternative leg angles of 40°, 60°, 80° and 100° (!?).

Visually, the 552 (or 553) head merges perfectly with the tripod top plate but there is nevertheless a contrast between the CNC precision of the 552 and the somewhat rustic appearance of the wooden tripod. However, everything is well engineered and, after all, a 553 head currently costs 75% more than a 302 tripod!

Finally, Berlebach tripods do possess a certain charm and if one is willing to accept a little additional weight, nothing else can provide so much stability for such a modest outlay.

John
 

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