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Thread: Arca-Swiss Cube

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    Arca-Swiss Cube

    I'd like to hear from anyone who has used an Arca-Swiss C1 cube head.
    I've seen one being used for architectural, product and landscape photography. It seemed to be in its element for these types of jobs as it allows very precise adjustments.
    However, I'm wondering how it would fare being used with something like a 70-200mm or a 100-400mm lens for fairly close sport or wildlife photography. Would I be better sticking to my Z1 ballhead for these and the Wimberley II for 500mm and over?

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    There is a big discussion on its use at GetDPI. You are aware the current price at B&H is $US1,924.00?
    Last edited by Analog6; 22-02-2011 at 12:40pm.
    Odille

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    Thanks for the link Analog6.
    There are lots of interesting comments including those made by the landscape shooter!
    However, I'm still on the lookout for comments from other types of shooters.
    Yes I am aware of the price minus the leather bag and am a fairly regular B&H customer.

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    you might also want to consider the Manfrotto 405 - it's doesn't have exposed gearing which is a thing I consider a risk factor with the arca swiss cube. The way I see it is that exposed gearing can cause problems in dusty/sandy environments. I have been using the 405 head from manfrotto for just over a year and I actually bought a second one it's that good. And the 405 makes use of the RC4 quick release platform which spreads the weight of the camera over a much larger area than other QC platforms do and I see that as beneficial to stability. the stated maximum weight capacity of the 405 is somewhat conservative IMO my 405 can easily handle my Ebony 8X10 fully loaded with a heavy 280mm f/4 lens.

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    FWIW RC4 is a consumer level product. For a more professional QR product the RC5 and RC0 are more suitable.

    either way Manfrotto products are not very highly regarded in the real professional industry. That they do a job of holding your camera upright is not in question, it's a matter of how well they do it for a given amount of money.

    Arca Swiss is a far better product for professional use.

    I doubt very much that a Manfrotto 405 is going to be anywhere near as stable as a Arca Cube. From my brief play with both the 405 and a 400, I can't see any value in the 405 other than it does a job(didn't seem like good value for money tho). The 400 geared head looked very solid(but external gearing again!) operated very smoothly and precise and just very solid in it's ability to move in fine amounts and then lock down.

    In the end I just went with the ballhead(but the NatGeo version with the rubber covering for weather protection) and was happy with it while it was new, but as I find with all Manfrotto stuff(I have enough)... they wear out too quickly(wonky and wobbly).

    I've never seen or touched a Arca Cube, but I remember that the chap that runs Luminous Landscape raved about his. Expensive, but worth it.

    anyhow.. we each have various points of view on various gear, my experience with Manfrotto is not as positive as others opinions will appear to be.
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    Nice one Arthur
    .
    Cheers, Mal

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    Thanks Othrelos
    I appreciate your concerns about exposed gearing in dusty/sandy environments. However, I'm not that rapt in the manfrotto gear I currently own and several forums I currently read put the Arca Swiss Cube ahead of anything that Bogen/Manfrotto produce.

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    Great response, Arthur.
    Like you, I've never seen or touched an Arca Swiss Cube and I have read the Luminous Landscapes guy's glowing comments.
    I just want to find out whether the Cube can be sucessfully used when following moving wildlife or sportsmen.
    I've used beanbags or fixed mountings and ballheads on safari vehicles, monopods, fence rails, forked sticks......
    Can anyone, based on experience, enlighten me regarding the Cube's usefulness or otherwise when following a moving subject
    that requires more than just panning?

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    I just watched a YouTube video on the Arca Swiss Cube - a great demonstration by a German fellow.

    It is clear is not built for this use Babu. It is a precise, slow to adjust head designed for architectural, medical and scientific photography.

    My advise for your application is a Wimberley 2 - couldn't go past it for fast, smooth, accurate, broad sweeping movements of your lens When I bought mine (last year) it was AU$950 - I notice on their website now they are under AU$600 - I'm spewing and can't work out why the massive price drop. I'm talking their main head, not their sidekick which is probably worth a look at too!

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by mal from cessnock; 28-02-2011 at 11:35pm. Reason: sp

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    it can only move left to right and not up and down as I understand the head....... you need to twist the knobs

    I use http://acratech.net/product.php?prod...0&cat=1&page=1 as the head moves up down left right, the leveling base I also use. This combo is not perfect but very close. I also use this setup as a every day ball head combo. Sits on a Manfrotto 055 tripod

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    "enlighten me regarding the Cube's usefulness or otherwise when following a moving subject "

    For this application the cube would be a very poor choice, Unlike others here I have actually used an Arca swiss cube. IMO the cube is very good for Macro, Landscape/architecture and still life work but for action photography, forget it. For this you cannot beat a gimbal head. Ball heads do not allow you to balance your camera/lens the way gimbal heads do, and for this reason they are less common with photographers such as myself who use lenses 400mm and longer.

    Arthur, you are standing on slippery ground when you define the RC0 and RC5 QR platforms from manfrotto as the only "professional" QC platforms. I have seen numerous highly qualified, professional photographers using RC2 platforms.

    "I doubt very much that a Manfrotto 405 is going to be anywhere near as stable as a Arca Cube. From my brief play with both the 405 and a 400, I can't see any value in the 405 other than it does a job"

    It is very stable however the tripod legs you attach the 405 to had better be up to the task. Manfrotto do not make a single set of legs that are really capable of handling this particular head so I use a gitzo GT2531EX. The 405 is a very solid tripod head, I consider it to be a reasonable alternative to the arca cube. And 405 can be used for panning shots when you disengage the gears - a useful feature.
    Last edited by Othrelos; 01-03-2011 at 3:54pm.

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    Gimbal heads (a la the Wimberly and the one I have - a cheap knock off by Fancier) do go up and down within their 'swing'. I used mine extensively with the Canon 100-400 I had, and use it now for the H2 with the big lenses on. You can swivel side to side and up and down at the same time, and the action is very smooth. I use it on either my Manfrotto 055 or 190B, and I have even used it on the monopod, but it is not as useful there.

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    That a professional uses a product for their purpose, is not an implication that the product itself is is of a professional standard. The premise of each of those ideas are mutually exclusive.

    That is: you don't have to be a pro to use pro gear, and you don't have to use pro gear to be a pro! Use the product that best suits your needs. That's how simple the world really is.
    The notion that that some professionals are using the RC2 QR system and this has me on some unstable ground!!! .... well, it seems a bit ludicrous to be honest.

    BUT!! price in a manufacturer's product range generally hints to the quality of the product, and it's suitability in a professional environment.
    A professional is many types of people, not a singular stereotype bound by some law of product placement. A professional product will(or should) simply be fit for use in more situations than a non professional product will be.
    There are some (many!) situations where the suitability of the RC4 or RC2 plates would be inappropriate due to their lack of durability and strength of duty. The RC5 is basically a more heavy duty system, fit for more situations. The RC0 system follows suit. And I have no doubt that someone will know of a situation where the RC5 and RC0 plates are not suitable in a professional environment(they would need to explain this to Manfrotto themselves for the purpose of bettering those two products).

    As is stands I didn't actually state that the
    ... the RC0 and RC5 QR platforms from Manfrotto are the only "professional" QC platforms
    .. I merely said that those two products are more suitable for professional use.

    Had my intention been to state that any of the platforms were Manfrotto's ONLY professional product, I wouldn't have placed the RC0 in a statement like that ...A statement like that would have less wordy and quicker to type.
    Manfrotto list their professional photography head platforms on their website and the only QR system found is the RC5(and for good reason I suspect).

    I myself am not a professional, but I do prefer to use products that cater to a very wide variety of uses. For many of my purposes the RC4 plate system is simply not one that I would trust to hold my gear(in some situations, not all!).
    99.99% of the time, I'd trust a $29 el cheapo no name variwobble off ebay for getting a shot. But!!.. in some situations I need much more stability, and the strength of the RC4 system was unacceptable(compared to the RC5, that is).

    I found that in playing around with the various product on offer(at a physical store), I believe that the RC0 was a very solid platform, that the RC4 is a suped up looking RC2, and that the most durable and best performing(for my use and intended use in the future!!) was the RC5.
    To be honest, I kick myself now for having chosen Manfrotto at all, and should have gone with the Arca Swiss system(or QR plates and accessories).. but the RC5 was an extremely purposeful product by comparison to the RC2/4 system, and I can't ever imagine exceeding it's ability to hold onto my gear.
    (FWIW, as it stands the ballhead is really the only limit I still face in some situations, and had funds been available back when I got my ballhead(yep! Manfrotto of course ).. I would have definitely forked out the $1K plus for the 400 geared head, but not the $700 plus for the 405.

    The 405 looked too 'spindly', or to be more accurate.. cantilevered... to be as rock solid as the 400 series head. The (physical) design of each type is the clue as to how each would perform in any given situation.
    The cantilevered design of the 405 would be inherently more prone to vibration than would the monolithic design of the 400 geared head(and obviously the Arca Cube).
    ie, the 405 would be more prone to vibrations and hence will not be as stable as the 400(or Arca Cube). simple physics dictate this.
    Just because one has never crossed that threshold, doesn't mean that the threshold doesn't (or will) never exist.
    I just hate purchasing stuff that I eventually find is not fit for purpose.

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    "the 405 would be more prone to vibrations and hence will not be as stable as the 400(or Arca Cube). simple physics dictate this.
    Just because one has never crossed that threshold, doesn't mean that the threshold doesn't (or will) never exist.
    I just hate purchasing stuff that I eventually find is not fit for purpose."

    If you think the physics involved are simple perhaps you aren't looking at things closely enough. Physicists are discovering unexpected levels of super-symmetry in the LHC and HIC atom smashers. The things that are predicted by the perceived "norms" that physics should conform to are often dashed by physics in the real world. theory and conjecture is all well and good, but I prefer to have empirical data. If all you have used are manfrotto ball heads than your presumption that the 405 isn't up to snuff is excusable and I think you are confusing the 405 with it's smaller sibling the 410. Though I can't say I'm impressed by manftotto ball heads, their hydrostatic heads are the only half-decent thing in their line up...I don't like gitzo's heads either but i'm just a snob using a B55 from RRS - however even the B55 ball head is ill suited to handling an 8X10 view camera (or even a 4X5 for that matter), because as soon as you unlock it you have to reposition a very bulky, heavy camera and make sure it is perfectly level. The 405 makes using 8X10 so much easier and faster because you are adjusting the cameras angle one axis at a time.

    here is an image of the 405 for those interested:
    Last edited by I @ M; 02-03-2011 at 12:16pm.

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    Nice gear Othrelos, I love it. Certainly looks like something I would enjoy.

    Othrelos, post some images, what's your main photographic interest?

    Pentax, how does it compare with Nikon and Canon? (haven't had much contact with the P)

    BTW nice pic of your gear Well executed.
    Last edited by mal from cessnock; 02-03-2011 at 2:32am.

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    Hey, when do I become a regular member?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mal from cessnock View Post
    Hey, when do I become a regular member?
    A bit OT, but, automatic titles ...

    New Member < 50 posts and < 30 days
    Member >= 50 posts
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    Ausphotography Addict >= 4000

    Anyone 'member' and above can edit their user title.
    Last edited by Kym; 02-03-2011 at 9:26am.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Othrelos View Post
    If you think the physics involved are simple perhaps you aren't looking at things closely enough. Physicists are discovering unexpected levels of super-symmetry in the LHC and HIC atom smashers. ... bla bla bla
    For all practical purposes, when dealing with camera/lens support, basic Newtonian physics / mechanics applies.
    regards, Kym Gallery Honest & Direct Constructive Critique Appreciated! ©
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kym View Post
    For all practical purposes, when dealing with camera/lens support, basic Newtonian physics / mechanics applies.
    Fair enough, recently in preparation for my purchase of a pentax 645D I have been testing my lenses for the Pentax 645 system including the A*600mm f/5.6 ED [IF] and my tripod head of choice was the manfrotto 405 attached to a Manfrotto 028B tripod. The Pentax 645 A*600mm f/5.6 weighs 4.8Kg the Pentax 645NII weighs 1380g. The maximum load capacity of the 405 is 7.5Kg the weight of this set up is 6.1Kg. As an exercise in testing the stability of this set up I placed a glass of water on the top of the camera, with a shutter speed of 1/8th without mirror lock up I fired the shutter. The only perturbations in the water occurred when the mirror returned, And subsequent examination of the T-max 100 film I had loaded in the 645NII under a 10X Schneider loupe showed that there was no vibration blur proving my point that the 405 is worth it's high cost.

    I do have access to far heavier lenses e.g Pentax M*800mm f/6.7 ED IF however, I do not have the appropriate 67>645 adapter to allow use of this lens on a 645 camera so this lens will remain untested at this point. for those interested the Pentax M*800mm f/6.7 ED weighs 6.4 Kg The pentax 67 weighs 1700g fully loaded.
    Last edited by Othrelos; 02-03-2011 at 12:35pm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Othrelos View Post
    ...... theory and conjecture is all well and good, but I prefer to have empirical data. If all you have used are manfrotto ball heads than your presumption that the 405 isn't up to snuff is excusable and I think you are confusing the 405 with it's smaller sibling the 410. .....
    nup!... definitely the 405 and not the 410, but the one I wanted was the 400.

    As yourself, I prefer empirical data to theoretical versions, but empirical data usually is amassed as a consequence for proving(of disproving) the hypothetical.

    When Manfrotto update their design philosophies with this greater understanding of subatomic particle physics as the basis, I'll probably begin the long process of rebuilding respect for their products.
    As it stands, I don't have the resources to waste my limited funds on proving my theories, but I do have allowances for product purchases based on those theories.
    I hate to gamble, so I'm going to stick with my beliefs as the basis for proving that my theory is either correct or not.

    As it stands, I'm not a big fan of their ballheads, on a very few occasions, my gear overburdens the quality of their hydrostatic ballheads by a large margin, and I usually have to find alternate methods to produce acceptable images as a consequence. The issue is not a pressing one, as the instances are few and far between, so I make do until I can update the ballhead at least.
    But the issue is not so simple as I have invested much in the QR system too, and need to take that into consideration as well.

    A cantilevered design(405) is simply not going to offer the same level of rigidity as a monoblock design(400).
    That the 405 works for you is great, and gives me some hope that it may work for me too(but I doubt it), and so I think in going with my theoretical beliefs, the 50% higher price tag on the 400(over the 405) may eventually be worth it in the long run.
    I have no idea on what the 410 even looks like, neither did I know of it's existence.
    I will test the two products before I decide tho.

    The two products I looked at and compared were the 405 and the 400. (The 400 has a similar design philosophy to the Arca Cube)
    The two products were on offer on the floor of a well known and reputable photographic store in Melbourne.

    Once I have the empirical data(if ever??) I'll reply with it.

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