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4/14
Shim
Updated on November 23, 2018

Leveling bases for photo tripod

In this second subsection dedicated to photo equipment necessary to the realization of assembled panoramas and more accurately to photo tripods, we will review very useful equipment to easily level your panoramic head: a leveling base, independent or built-in the photo tripod.



If you're a beginner...

A new part of this guide is now dedicated to you. There you'll find pieces of advice easy to apply to stitch nice panoramas, choose your logiciel, your equipment...

Create your first panorama Suivre

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Leveling the head...

While we could pass on setting the camera at the ideal rotation point to save some time - or else - it is compulsory that the camera remains completely horizontal during the rotation.

Why level the head?

The rotary axis must be completely plane or the assembled image will give the impression of bending on the right or the left. To avoid that, we'll have to reframe it and thus to whittle down the height of the final picture.

 

Lost material after resize

 

The effective zone will then be dramatically reduced in height if you don't take leveling into account. It will be smaller in pixels. A simple bubble level can do the trick but one as exists one the base ref. 338 Manfrotto or on numerous tripods is ideal. Some double-bubble levels can even be set in the hotshoe of the camera. Very useful... but always very accurate!

Double-axis or round bubble levels


Spheric bubble level
bubble level
Round bubble level Double-axis photo bubble level

Here are two classic bubble levels in photography. The first one is directly built-in the photo equipment hence is the base or directly in the head. The second one can always be in your pocket and is thus very pleasant to use. You put it in the hotshoe or directly at the base of the head and it does the trick! I prefer this second solution, more accurate.

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Leveling bases

If, round, double or triple-axis bubble level in hand, you want to level your head or panoramic head, using a very handy accessory to quickly level all of this perfectly can prove very useful, a leveling base.

There are two main categories of leveling bases:

  • The accessory added between the panoramic head or the photo head and its tripod. Two principles exist: either two stages are linked up with three pulling/drawing screws at 180° hence under the form of a video bowl.
  • Or it's the central column that directly integrates a base or it can quite simply be tilted.

Tip! Finding a solution to level your notched head quickly is almost essential. Whether you're using a tiltable column or a leveling base, you will never regret considering the time you'll save. Essential!

 

Summary table of leveling bases

  Base Weight (grs) Price
($/€)
 
Manfrotto 338
600
100
 
Benro LBA1
295
130
 
EZ-Leveler-II
200
100
 
Manfrotto 555B/556B Column
700
125
 
Benro Leveling Column
400
95
 
Feisol LV Tripod
2,225
560
 
Gitzo LVL Tripod
2,000
705
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Independent leveling bases

These are accessories that can be added between the tripod and the panoramic head in order to level it easily. Two main principles: either two stages linked up with three pulling/drawing screws at 180°, either in the form of a video bowl.

Pointilles

Base Manfrotto 338

Manfrotto 338 leveling stage

One asset of this stage is to be extremely convenient in the field because it shows three essential advantages:

  • stability, because it's wide and heavy,
  • accuracy to +- 5°
  • quickness of set-up.

However, it's bulky - 12 cm wide - and still quite heavy - 600 grs.

$112.90
|
Buy from Amazon.com

Technical specifications

 
Manufacturer
H / l
Weight Kg
Price $
Manfrotto 338
4 / 12 cm
0.600
120

Buy the 338 Manfrotto leveling base

   
Retailers
Price  
   
Logo Amazon.com
$112.90
Buy from Amazon.com
   
£99.00 Buy from Amazon.co.uk
    $99.98 Buy from Amazon.ca
         


Pointilles

Base Benro LBA1

Benro LBA2 leveling stage

This stage is maybe even more convenient because there's only one clamping screw, moreover it is:

  • stable but quite compact,
  • accurate to +- 15°,
  • and quick to set up.

Very good product, not expensive but very well manufactured!

$120.00
|
Buy from Amazon.com

Technical specifications

 
Manufacturer
H / l
Weight Kg
Price $
Benro LBA1
40x65
0.295
130

Buy the Benro LBA2 Leveling base

   
Retailers
Price  
   
Logo Amazon.com
$120.00
Buy from Amazon.com
    $119.00
         




Pointilles

EZ-Leveler-II

The Nodal Ninja EZ-Leveler-II base

This quick leveling stage is the logical partner of rather light panoramic heads that are the Nodal Ninja. With low bulkiness and for only 200 grs it is possible to level your panoramic head very quickly and easily. For a light head like the Nodal Ninja 3, it's perfect.

€83.00 *
|

Technical specifications

  Manufacturer H / l Weight Kg Price €
EZ-Leveler II
4 /9 cm
0.200
$100

Buy the EZ-Leveler Nodal Ninja

   
Retailers
Price (€)  
    € 83.00 *
    $99.95
   
         

 


Pointilles

Column Manfrotto 555B

Manfrotto 555B and 556B Columns

These central columns, adaptable on almost the whole range of Manfrotto tripods (two references for the two categories of Manfrotto tripods) has the characteristic to possess a leveling half-ball on its top that can be tilted as well as a bubble level. By loosening the screw at the base of the column, which, by the way, isn't necessarily very convenient, we can tilt the head or the panoramic head screwed above up to 15%.

$130.00
|
Buy from Amazon.com


Column Manfrotto 555 B

Technical specifications

 
Manufacturer
H / l
Weight Kg
Price €
555B Column
41 / 5 cm
0.670
140
  556B Column
41 / 5 cm
0.670
125

Buy the Column 555B Manfrotto

   
Retailers
Price  
   
Logo Amazon.com
$129.90
Buy from Amazon.com
    $129.90 Buy from Amazon.co.uk
         

 





Pointilles


Tiltable central columns

Thanks to a clamping screw on the side or under the tripod, it is possible to tilt the central column at 10/15°. The leveling is very quick, without adding weight to the tripod! I like this solution in the field.

Pointilles

Feisol CT-3472 LV

FEISOL CT-3472 LV Tripod

Feisol manufactures very nice carbon tripods, very light and yet stable and this one possesses, moreover, what I find most convenient to quickly level a panoramic head: a central column that tilts to more or less 10°, as the famous Leveling Gitzo... But unlike Gitzo, Feisol offers a tripod that would be equivalent to a serial 3.

A really great product I highly recommend!

$724.95
|
Buy from Amazon.com


Technical specifications

 
Manufacturer
Size
Weight Kg
Price
FEISOL CT-3472 LV
from 8 to 177 cm
2.25
$660

Buy the tripod CT-3472 LV Feisol

   
Retailers
Price  
   
Logo Amazon.com
$724.95
Buy from Amazon.com
    $724.95 Buy from Adorama.com
         


Pointilles

Gitzo 2531 LVL

Gitzo carbon LVL tripods

Gitzo has among its range of carbon tripods - hence unfortunately expensive! - two tripods which central column can be tilted entirely unlike the Manfrotto one which only has a tiltable ball. It's more convenient because the clamping screw is much more accessible. I love those tripods which qualities I pray everyday!

$806.00
|
Buy from Amazon.com

Trépieds gitzo LVL 2531 et 2540

Technical specifications

 
Manufacturer
Size
Weight Kg
Price €
GT2531LVL
from 16 to 158 cm
1.590
700
  GT2540LVL
from 16 to 172 cm
1.660
835

Buy the tripod 2531/2540 LVL Gitzo

   
Retailers
Price  
   
Logo Amazon.com
$806.00
Buy from amazon.com
    - Buy from Amazon.co.uk
         

 

 


 

It's now time to pay interest to the almost indispensable accessory in panoramic photography by assembling: the panoramic head Suivre


Next page 5/14 : the panoramic head suivre

 

pointilles





     
 

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