Linhof - I like my Linhof Twin Shank tripod
I thought it might be fun to sing the praises of this seemingly little-known tripod.
The Linhof Twin Shank tripod is, for me, an excellent companion to my Sinar Norma 4x5 camera. It has a very favorable strength to weight ratio, and--because each leg uses only one lever lock--a very speedy setup time. The only downside is that when collapsed, the tripod doesn't get very small: a bit over 32" for mine, which has been modified from from factory configuration. With Sinar Pan Tilt head bolted on and Sinar Norma rail clamp attached, mine weighs 9 lbs 4.5 oz. I'd feel extremely comfortable using this tripod with an even larger camera than my 4x5, but I currently only have the 4x5.
Here's a picture of the tripod. Below the photo, I'll describe how I modified it to make it better-suited to field use.
If you search around for pictures of other Linhof Twin Shank tripods, you'll see that they come from the factory with struts that connect each leg to a collar that slides over the center shaft. Although one of these struts can be disconnected in the field, the other two are permanently attached.
I removed these struts and the collar they all attach to. In addition, I removed the center shaft that the collar slides over (it simply unscrews from the yoke). Then, I got out the mitre saw and shortened the center column. I upgraded the nuts that secure the legs to the center yoke with Nyloc nuts, added braces to the twin-shank part of each leg, and finally, I attached fender washers to the bottom of each leg to better grip the ground when the tripod legs are spread wide. Oh, and I also put some spacers around the bottom leg extensions to keep the fender washers from interfering with the locking levers.
The modifications took just a few hours and a trip to the hardware store, and they made this excellent tripod into a very nice unit for field use. My friend John Wimberley's tripod provided the inspiration for these modifications.
This tripod has also been a winner in the price-performance ratio as well. I've seen crazy eBay prices on used models, like in the range of $800 (hint for the eBay sellers: they don't sell at that price. For that price, folks can probably get a new one or a high performance carbon-fiber tripod). On the other hand, I bought my main tripod and parts/backup tripod for less than $100 each. At this price, I couldn't be happier.