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Tripod/head options for Swaro ATX95 with old (non-AS) foot (1 Viewer)

Nick Leech

Well-known member
I have a Swarovski ATX95 scope currently used with the Swarovski CT101 carbon fibre tripod with Swaro DH101 head. I am getting a bit fed up with the DH101 head. When carrying the scope on the tripod the scope can twist (the pan-lock on the head not very effective). Also the head is rather plasticky and prone to vibration. Pan and tilt locks not entirely satisfactory - a little residual wobble. So thinking of changing the head, but fairly happy with the CT101 legs.

I want the new head to be capable of handling the weight of a Swaro ATX95 (but nothing heavier), to have smooth tilt and pan, be lockable, whilst being as lightweight as possible - ideally 600g to 1kg max.

Please note that my ATX95 is an older model with a mounting foot which is NOT Arca-Swiss compatible (unlike the newer model ATX95). See attached photo of bottom of my mounting foot. IMG_1189.JPG

The central hole is 3/8 inch screw thread and the other two smaller holes are un-threaded. I was hoping that I could use a quick release plate on my new tripod head which includes an "anti-rotation pin" as well as 3/8inch screw thread, which would fit into the ATX95 foot to prevent movement when tightened up.

I was thinking of getting a Gitzo GHF2W fluid head as it gets good reviews.
Problem 1 - not sure it fits on the CT101 legs; the legs have a 3/8 inch screw fitting, but think the Gitzo head has a 1/4 inch fitting - is this correct?
Problem 2 - the Gitzo head takes Arca-Swiss plates and my ATX scope does not have an AS foot (it is an older model without AS compatibility). Swaro say it will cost £200 to update the foot of the ATX95 to the newer AS version, which seems a lot. Or I can just screw the current ATX foot into the Arca-Swiss plate that comes with the Gitzo head; that is fine, but there is no anti-rotation pin so it relies on being tightened well all the time to prevent roatation see second photo. 61N5aErBLtL._AC_SY450_.jpg

Then there is the Swarovski CTH head, which appears to be a re-badged Gitzo GHF2W with a couple of minor teaks. It costs more than the Gitzo, but I would be prepared to pay the extra if the Swaro version has some advantages (eg does the inluded quick release plate have an anti-rotation pin?). Does the Swaro CTH have a 3/8 inch mount or a 1/4 inch? Does anyone have the Swaro CTH head and can comment?

Other heads I am considering - Manfrotto MVH500AH, Manfrotto 701HDV, Sirui VH-10. I think the Manfrotto heads have a different plate (not Arca-Swiss)? But looks like the plates do incorporate an anti-rotation pin that may fit into my ATX95 foot. Then the Sirui head does have an Arca-Swiss plate and it also seems to incorporate an anti-rotation pin.

Although happy with the Swaro CT101 legs, I would be prepared to replace the legs as well if it meant getting exactly what I want in terms of connection to my ATX95!

Or maybe I should just bite the bullet and pay Swaro to change the foot on the ATX95!

Any advice please?
 

Tringa45

Well-known member
Europe
Nick,

Scope feet that fit directly into a video head are the exception rather than the rule. Most fit an appropriate quick release plate to the scope so there would be absolutely no justification in getting Swarovski to modify the ATX95 to be Arca-Swiss compatible.

Even then the safety retention systems are not always compatible between Arca-Swiss products from different manufacturers, so a loosened clamp could result in catastrophic damage to the scope. The simplest solution would be to use a head and dedicated QR plates from one manufacturer.

The Manfrotto MVH500AH is well liked by many here on the forum, is smooth, stable and reasonably priced, but somewhat heavy (though that is not necessarly a major consideration with the ATX95 :)). One user here has adapted it to Arca-Swiss with a clamp from Kirk, which replaces the original Manfrotto clamp. This is a conversion you could carry out at a later stage.

The Gitzo GHF2W is light and allegedly good, but I really don't understand why Gitzo have supplied it with a QR plate so unsuited to scope use. You would need a plate with a compatible safety retention and anti-rotation pin.

Really excellent, though expensive, is the Berlebach 553 (I have its predecessor, the 552). For the front-heavy ATX95 I would buy the longer 87 mm plate, which could be fitted facing forward to achieve good static balance, a convenience even with the counterbalance switched in.
I also have the somewhat lighter and cheaper Berlebach 510, which is adequate for my Kowa 883, has adjustable tilt friction and a single lock for pan and tilt. It lacks a counterbalance function, however.

You need not worry about tripod and head compatibility. All heads accept a 3/8" stud and in the rare event that the tripod had a 1/4" stud, you could use an adapter.

John

PS:- I share your misgivings on the DH101; it was really not worthy of the Swarovski name.
 

etn991

Member
You can get a lens plate (a short arca swiss plate with a lip on it, like this Lens plate) and attach it to your scope foot. You can get extra screws to go into the plate if you want more support than a single screw and the lip. Then you can use most arca heads. You may need a longer rail than I showed, I just wanted a quick pic for reference.

Swarovski also makes a balance rail which attaches to the foot of the scope and has arca swiss (AS) on the bottom. I don't know if the current model fits your scope. I have the older version of the rail (I also have the same atx95 with older foot that you have), so I cannot speak directly to the newer rail. Since the older rail is still not AS compatible, I attached a very long lens plate to the bottom of it, so I can move quite a bit to balance it (depending if camera is attached or not).

I tried the Gitzo GHF2W, and found it didn't work well for me with the atx95. Too heavy for it and flopped all over. I have the MVH500AH and the 502HD head (both adapted to AS), one for a lighter setup and one as a heavy setup.
 

Nick Leech

Well-known member
I have the MVH500AH
I am now gravitating towards the MVH500AH. Do you know if the non-AS foot of my ATX95 will fit directly into the quick release plate that comes with the MVH500AH? That plate appears to have a 3/8 inch screw (a 1/4 inch screw which I can remove) and an anti-rotation pin. Will I be able to arrange for the anti-rotation pin to fit inside one of the holes on the bottom of the ATX foot when screwed into the 3/8 threaded hole?

I don't attach a camera to my scope - just used for observing - so am thinking that the quick release plate provided with the MVH500AH will be sufficient to balance the ATX95. Do you think that is so?

Thanks.

Nick
 

birdcat

Well-known member
Supporter
United States
If you want a locking tripod head, the Gitzo GHF2W and Swarovski CTH don't technically lock. There are other threads that discuss this, so you may want to investigate further if the current head is a problem for you. For me, it "locks" well enough, but I use the CTH with an ATS 65 and don't walk much with everything assembled.

I have had both Swaro/Gitzo tripod heads, and the CTH version of the tripod head does include a QR plate with an anti-rotation pin, while the GHF2W QR plate does not have this pin. You can also buy the Swarovski version of the plate separately I believe.

Both are the same heads essentially (exterior differences are obvious, not sure if any internal differences exist), so 3/8" thread on the base for attachment to a tripod. For the QR plate, it is 1/4". Based on the picture of your scope foot, you would also need one of those small 3/8" to 1/4" adapters that threads into your scope foot and sits flush to use the QR plate. My Swarovski scope came with this adapter, but maybe yours is lost?

Replacing the ATX 95 foot would only make sense if you were going to use the Gitzo/CTH tripod head as other tripod heads may not be as compatible with that foot. I haven't tested myself but I see it mentioned that not all Arca foots are created equal. That said, I do personally like the direct connection of the Arca scope foot on my ATS to the CTH tripod head. But it's £200 to update yours, so your call on if it's worth it.

Given you want locking, the GHF2W/CTH may not be for you.
 

Bill Atwood

Registered User
Supporter
United States
The Swaro PTH head plate fits the Gitzo GHF2W. It's what I used with the ATX95.


Based on birdcat's post I would have Swaro change the foot and use it on the GHF2W.
 

Tringa45

Well-known member
Europe
oThe Swaro PTH head plate fits the Gitzo GHF2W. It's what I used with the ATX95.


Based on birdcat's post I would have Swaro change the foot and use it on the GHF2W.
Bill,
You do mean, just buy the Swaro PTH plate for $27? This would be compatible with both the Gitzo GHF2W head and Nick's ATX95 as it is.
There is no need to pay 200 pounds to change the scope foot.

John
 

Bill Atwood

Registered User
Supporter
United States
I mean the PTH fits the GHF2W and is what I used with the ATX95.

Birdcat's info regarding Swaro changing the foot was news to me. If I was still using my ATX95 it would be my preference.
 

rpg51

Well-known member
Consider the MVH 500AH. Kirk makes a replacement bridge for the top of the 500AH that includes an excellent AS clamp. Kirk will also supply a simple high quality AS plate for your scope. Their plates are really good. Their plates do not rotate on the scope foot and they do not loosen. Talk to Kirk, they are good people and they will help you. You will end up with a great fluid head that you can use for cameras, lenses, scopes etc. that are arca swiss compatible. The system will be safe and it will work very well for you. I toss my tripod over my shoulder with a scope or camera attached with zero concern that it will loosen or fall.

That is what I would do.
 

birdcat

Well-known member
Supporter
United States
Correcting myself - the plate that comes with the Swarovski CTH head is 3/8" on the plate itself, not 1/4" like I believe the Gitzo GHF2W is.
 

Nick Leech

Well-known member
OP here.

I tried the Gitzo GHF2W head and decided I didn't like the fact it doesn't lock properly. Although I like the light weight of the head, it does feel a little bit under-sized for the ATX95. I tried the Manfrotto MVH500AH head and thought it was OK, if a little too big. But I didn't like the insubstantial plastic anti-rotation peg on the QR plate.

Then I tried a Sirui VH-10. I like that slightly more than the Manfrotto MVH500AH. The Sirui is slightly smaller than the Manfrotto and a shade lighter in weight. I prefer the plate on the Sirui (has a more substantial metal anti-rotation pin). Also, the Sirui head is nearly all metal - some parts that are plastic on the Manfrotto are metal on the Sirui. The panning action feels a bit smoother on the Sirui. It fits onto my legs a bit tighter than the Manfrotto. The counterbalance on the Sirui feels a bit stronger than the counterbalance on the Manfrotto with my ATX95 (even though the spec would indicate otherwise). The VH-10 ticks all the boxes for me.

So I sent back the Manfrotto MVH500AH. I am selling my Gitzo GHF2W.

So I have ended up with the Sirui VH-10. I have bought a Neewer Quick Release Plate which fits the VH-10 (I notice it also fits a Manfrotto MVH500AH) and will be a spare QR plate for the VH-10. The Neewer plate was only £8 on Ebay is great for the price.

Incidentally, I also bought the smaller Sirui VA-5 for my lighter weight "carrying on walks" rig - ATX65 scope with Sirui R-1204 legs.

Am very pleased with the two Sirui heads!
 

Saxatilis

Well-known member
Interesting your experience, Nick: I'd like to share mine. I also own and use some of the video heads you mentioned both for use with an Oberwerk 70-45 binocular telescope and with a regular spottingscope (Nikon Fieldscope ED 82A, but also alternatively, with an inexpensive Svbony SV406P 80mm ED). I have an old Manfrotto 701 HDV, a Velbon FHD 71Q, a Sirui VH-10, a Gitzo GHF2W and an even older Manfrotto #136 that was given to me. Long story short, I found that the old Manfrotto 701 HDV is still the most suitable for my raptor-watching with the beloved Nikon ED 82. It’s still very fluid after 13 years of intensive use. The Gitzo GHF2W is definitely a beautiful, perfectly smooth head but, while tightening them, the two knobs do not get to lock the pan/tilt movements completely, while the Velbon FHD-71Q is a traditional two-way fluid head, solid but a bit too rigid, maybe ideal for those who used heavy VCR. I stably have the 19x70 Oberwerk binoscope (4.2kg) mounted on the Sirui VH-10 head, the tripod being an excellent Innorel NT364C.
 
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