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leveling head for tripod with scope? (1 Viewer)

Jeff51

Active member
Supporter
United States
hi, when I ordered my scope/tripod, the sales person suggested I also get a leveling head, so that even if the length of the tripod legs on uneven ground wasn't right, with the leveling head, I could still get the scope level without a lot of finicky leg adjustment. advice much appreciated on whether that's a useful feature to add to the tripod setup or just a needless complication. I've gotten a lot of really helpful advice here and am glad to be able to ask more experienced observers. Jeff
 

Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
I don't use one, but if it's a big heavy rig already, and you have the money, why not? I think leveling systems are great for taking photos that will be stitched together for panoramas, but I don't see the need for scopes. A good two-way head can still be pointed with little difficulty without being perfectly level. Even being way off of level is not a big issue for pointing a scope, it's just a bit annoying, and if it isn't happening very often, wouldn't make using a leveling head worth the weight, bulk, complication etc in my opinion/experience.

--AP
 

Jeff51

Active member
Supporter
United States
I don't use one, but if it's a big heavy rig already, and you have the money, why not? I think leveling systems are great for taking photos that will be stitched together for panoramas, but I don't see the need for scopes. A good two-way head can still be pointed with little difficulty without being perfectly level. Even being way off of level is not a big issue for pointing a scope, it's just a bit annoying, and if it isn't happening very often, wouldn't make using a leveling head worth the weight, bulk, complication etc in my opinion/experience.

--AP
thanks for this too -- should have added I'll use scope only for general observation and won't be taking pictures or videos.
 

wllmspd

Well-known member
My Manfrotto head has a bubble level on, but I don’t use it. It’s easy enough to get the legs sort of right so the head is level.
Peter
 

jmepler

It's just a flesh wound.
United States
Completely unnecessary in my opinion. Having your tripod head roughly level is more than sufficient for general observation.

I describe my leveling process in this post. I do it without even thinking about it now.
 

Ratal

Well-known member
Blimey.

He is pulling a fast one. There is absolutely zero need for anything bar a good tripod, a run of the mill nice and normal tripod head and the scope!
 
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DMW

Well-known member
Blimey.

He is pulling a fast one. There is absolutely zero need for anything bar a good tripod, a tripod head and the scope!
I think you may misunderstand, but a levelling head is a type of tripod head, it isn't an additional item.

I have a levelling (bowl) head on a heavy tripod I bought for videography, and it's extremely useful for seawatching, when the ability to pan horizontally and keep the horizon level is important (to me at least). In general use, I find it helpful if I am scanning for the same reason.

I wouldn't particularly recommend buying a levelling head for regular general use, not because it's any more complicated to use (it isn't) but because they tend to be heavy and bulky.
 

Singlereed

Well-known member
I bought the Benro levelling base for my Benro tripod - it goes between the base and the pan/tilt head. It does add a bit of weight and size but I find it a quick way to get the head level for a nice even pan action. Some of the Benro tripods include it as standard. I bought it via eBay from a seller in China for about £70 iirc. I tried a copy one first from Amazon for about 30 but it was very rough and I sent it back.
 

Ratal

Well-known member
I think you may misunderstand, but a levelling head is a type of tripod head, it isn't an additional item.

I have a levelling (bowl) head on a heavy tripod I bought for videography, and it's extremely useful for seawatching, when the ability to pan horizontally and keep the horizon level is important (to me at least). In general use, I find it helpful if I am scanning for the same reason.

I wouldn't particularly recommend buying a levelling head for regular general use, not because it's any more complicated to use (it isn't) but because they tend to be heavy and bulky.

Seriously? Pull me up on that? Because you are wrong. Levelling Head/ Base. Have a look yourself. And he STILL doesn't need one.



 

DMW

Well-known member
Seriously? Pull me up on that? Because you are wrong. Levelling Head/ Base. Have a look yourself. And he STILL doesn't need one.



Not a helpful comment. I didn't claim that the OP needed one. I described my own use for a levelling head (not base) and suggested that it was probably not worth buying for general use. I don't know how you interpret that as being wrong.
 

Tringa45

Well-known member
Europe
There are several possibilities here. Some tripods (e.g. Berlebach, Gitzo Systematic) have a removable base allowing the fitment of either flat base, centre column, geared centre column or half-ball cups (standardized for either 75 mm or 100 mm). The latter would either accept the levelling base adapter from the tripod manufacturer or a video head with integrated half-cup, as optionally available on some of the larger Manfrotto video heads.
Without this interchangeability, a levelling base of the type linked by Ratal could, for use with a video camera, be added between the tripod and a conventional video head.
I agree though that levelling makes little sense for scope users.

John
 

jmepler

It's just a flesh wound.
United States
A leveling head does not eliminate the need to properly set up your tripod. Setting your tripod on uneven ground with the legs all the same length is going to lead to instability. A leveling head may make your scope or camera level, but it will do nothing for the instability.
 

jring

Well-known member
Hi,

in my experience another way to level the scope apart from adjusting tripod leg length to the terrain is unnecessary. It's rare enough that the ground is so uneven that you can't find a level place and if it is, chances are that the center of gravity will be so far off that the tripod is unstable...
For the rare cases in between, I would not carry more bulk.

Joachim
 

Jeff51

Active member
Supporter
United States
Hi,

in my experience another way to level the scope apart from adjusting tripod leg length to the terrain is unnecessary. It's rare enough that the ground is so uneven that you can't find a level place and if it is, chances are that the center of gravity will be so far off that the tripod is unstable...
For the rare cases in between, I would not carry more bulk.

Joachim
Hi Joachim, much appreciate this last comment in particular, and all the others above too on the (absence of) need for a leveling head, which I've returned to the vendor. and with that last comment in mind I've been a lot more careful in assuring stability of tripod before I put the scope on. many thanks, Jeff
 

Hauksen

Forum member
Antarctica
Hi,

in my experience another way to level the scope apart from adjusting tripod leg length to the terrain is unnecessary. It's rare enough that the ground is so uneven that you can't find a level place and if it is, chances are that the center of gravity will be so far off that the tripod is unstable...
For the rare cases in between, I would not carry more bulk.

Joachim
Moin!

Having spent a lot of time on the dykes on the North Sea Coast and along the Elbe river, your rare situation seems to be my normal. The slope often is a better place to be than the top, mostly because of the wind.

I occasionally like to use the bubble level on my tripod since it allows me to put more of my attention on the birds while setting down the tripod, but a levelling head really seems to be for the kind of minute fine adjustments that I suspect are entirely unnecessary in birding.

Regards,

Henning (HoHun)
 
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