Linhof - Review of Linhof Heavy Duty Tripod, comments welcome.
OK, a new Linhof Heavy Duty Tripod with center column will now set you back $4,289.45, and you still will need to purchase a head for it. I'm guessing that there are very few photographers out there that are willing or even could dole out that much money for a tripod. So why even consider it? Well current model is all black and I'm sure has it had some minor improvements or revisions in recent years. Well there are plenty of earlier versions of the current model out there. I believe there was a first version with a bit different leg configuration made are till the 1960s? (Bob S. comment on this?). Older versions of the current tripod model can be had for under $500. Shipping costs can take your breath away. In the past few years have I bought 2 of them. One to use for photography. The other one for use with a Questar telescope (Questar once recommended this tripod for mounting their excellent telescope on).
So why consider this tripod?
This is one very seriously stable heavy duty tripod. At maximum leg and column extension it places your tripod head 6 feet 8 inches inches above the ground and the tripod is still rock steady. I have yearly used it to photograph our local school's plays from the back of the auditorium. Tripod is extended way up there. I actually attached two clamps to the 2 rear feet/legs to stand on. Tripod easily held my weight and the weight of camera with ease. Another little secret is that the 4 foot long geared column off a Linhof Heavy Duty Copy Stand can be used with the tripod. All you have to do is remove the top clamp from the tripod's column. Little round piece of metal holds the top clamp and the column together. Drill a small hole in the side of the copy stand's column matching the one in the top clamp. Use a easily removable clevis hitch to mount the top clamp onto the 4 foot column. Using the column from the copy stand increases the maximum height to 8 feet 8 inches without a tripod head and is amazingly solid.
Legs fold out and are held in place at maximum extension by aluminum rods. One time I needed to have the camera about 2 feet above the ground. I first removed the center column. I then removed the aluminum rods and replaced them with longer chains allowing the feet to extend out to maybe 20 degrees to the ground. You have a very solid 1 to 2 foot high tripod.
Choosing a head for this tripod seems to be it's Achilles heal... using too small of a tripod head will be the weakest link. I personally prefer a Ries J250-2 head.
Portability... you've got to be kidding. Weighed mine without a head and came in at 24lbs. I have a fabric carrying case for it and have carried it for distances of several hundred feet, but to be honest I use mine either in the studio or from the back of my car.
There is a 90 degree adapter to have the camera column extend horizontally out from the top of the tripod. Never considered one until I found a 90 degree adapter at a price I couldn't pass up on. For table top photography an amazing accessory to have and use. You're able to sit in a chair with clear leg room and have the camera right in front of you. I use 2 sandbags over the opposite tripod leg as a counter weight.
Tripod Dolly: never used one but have been told that Linhof's (OEM) dolly is an excellent product.
Variations: (posted this a few days ago on another thread) Back in the 1980s we rented a Linhof Heavy Duty tripod whose bottom legs were probably X3 or X4 the length of the normal chrome bottom OEM legs. Center post was raised all the way up (possibly with an extension). I'm guessing the top of the tripod was 12 feet above the ground. Was actually a very, very stable. Working with the Sinar mounted way up that high was a challenge since I was standing/balancing atop a way less stable step ladder.
Replacement parts? I have no Idea. The rubber/composite feet ends I've epoxied them to the bottom of my tripod's legs. Never needed to use the spikes and replacement rubber/composite feet ends probably not available or maybe by special order with a price to match.
So what do I use my Linhof Heavy Duty tripod for? One with legs only for my Questar telescope. The other has been used over the years for high speed film photography, photographing plays from the back of the auditorium, testing lenses, using my 11x14 from the back of the car, Digital FX with an 800mm lens and Sidemount Wimberley Head, and always in the studio. One time shot on a very windy day with the tripod and a 4x5 Sinar Norma mounted on it... extended bellows vibrated with the wind but the camera was rock solid.
Would love to have others comment on the Linhof Heaby Duty Tripod. I've used them since the late 1970s. Sold them twice in the past, always with regrets later on. Would never even consider selling my current two.