Bubble Level for Quick Release Clamp?
I have the older model Markins M20 ballhead, which does not have a bubble level on the quick release clamp. Does anyone make a bubble level that fits into the quick release clamp? I have never seen one and think that none are made. It seems that it would be a good product to have.
I realize that one can put a regular level of some kind on the clamp. However, a nicely crafted product that fit into the clamp would be better.
I also realize that one can use a bubble level in the hot shoe of the camera; however, I would prefer to level the ballhead before attaching a camera. Although this is not a consideration of great importance I will nonetheless appreicate receiving any suggestions or information you may have.
#1. "RE: Bubble Level for Quick Release Clamp?" | In response to Reply # 0nrothschild Registered since 25th Jul 2004Wed 29-Feb-12 12:26 AM | edited Wed 29-Feb-12 12:34 AM by nrothschild
I you *really* want to do this, and I mean *really* want to do this ...
RRS makes some long plates and camera bars that have integrated levels. My Long Lens Support uses their 10" bar, with a level. There may be others within the line and also from other makers such as Kirk or Hejnar might be a good source for this if he does it. And if Hejnar doesn't, from what I've hard he would probably make one for you . (I've seen some comments about customized work).
RRS makes a couple of levels that fit under the head, indicating the leveling of the tripod mount. But that is not quite what you are looking for.
Just out of curiosity, most people do not like the Markins approach because they want to level things after the camera is mounted. So I am curious why you want to do this before you mount the camera.
(I'm always interested in the reasons behind preferences that cut against "popular opinion")
P.S. You could buy the smallest, cheapest Arca-Swiss plate you can find (which would likely be from Hejnar or some other Ebay type outlet). Then you can glue a bubble level on it. McMaster-Carr sells adhesive backed bubble levels (with lots of choices).
The quality of the plate would not matter as long as it holds firmly enough in the clamp to take the measurement. Giottos, for example, may make some inexpensive plates, or one of the other Far East ballhead makers selling inexpensive heads. Some claim to be A-S compatible.
my Nikonians gallery.
#2. "RE: Bubble Level for Quick Release Clamp?" | In response to Reply # 1Wed 29-Feb-12 02:46 PM
No, it is not important enough to me to buy another plate or bar with a level. As I mentioned, this is not a big deal, just something I would like to do if an inexpensive way were available. Of course, I can buy an inexpensive level and place it on the clamp. However, I am not sure that it would line up straight enought to be accurate.
Why do I want to do this weird thing? 1. I may shoot with two cameras and prefer to get the tripod head level before I place a camera in the clamp so I don't have to fiddle with bubble levels in each camera; and 2. I am not sure that the bubble level in the hot shoe is all that accurate. Again, this is not a big deal. I just have the misfortune of having a clamp that was made before Markins started putting a bubble level on the clamp.
I am interested in this comment: "most people do not like the Markins approach because they want to level things after the camera is mounted". Neil, how is the "Markins approach" different from others? I do not have experience with other heads so I must have missed some distinction between the Markins heads and other heads. Please explain.
I will plan to just adopt the hot shoe bubble approach and get happy with that. However, I will look forward to hearing from you about the "Markins approach" vs. the approach of others.
Thanks for your input and comments.
#3. "RE: Bubble Level for Quick Release Clamp?" | In response to Reply # 2nrothschild Registered since 25th Jul 2004Wed 29-Feb-12 05:23 PM
The "Markins approach", in the context I meant it, is to put a bubble level on the clamp where it is not visible with the camera loaded. It has the advantage of not requiring additional bulk on the clamp.
An alternative approach is the RRS/Kirk method, where one long edge of the clamp is made thick enough to place a decent sized bubble level. That adds to the bulk and weight of the clamp. That results in a bubble level you may or may not be able to clearly view with a camera loaded, depending on the contour of the camera body. My D2h has a problem with this, more than my MB-D10 grip, for example.
It also forces you to put the knob or lever facing forward, which some people may not prefer.
Another approach is to embed a tiny single axis spirit level, similar to the levels in hot shoe levels, in the side of the clamp. Photoclam does this. It does not give dual axis level indication and in my opinion is not very useful in real life although it will do a simple leveling of the horizon only.
None of these methods work with the clamp flopped over in portrait mode, where a well designed hot shoe spirit level will work. If you have an L bracket this then becomes a moot point because you would never flop it over.
Bubble levels do not allow you to accurately level the horizon in the case where you want some vertical tilt. You are more or less forced to level the camera in both axis even if that is not your desire.
Personally I would trust my hot shoe spirit level (similar to, or identical to the dual axis model now sold in the ProShop here) more than a bubble level. A bubble level requires very precise placement during manufacturing and precise boring of the depression it typically sits in. And with little "travel" of the bubble, it is, I think, inherently more difficult to use and arguably less precise in real world use.
There are reasons that high quality carpenter levels are spirit levels and not bubble levels.
In other words, there is no reason to assume a bubble level is better calibrated than a Spirit level and I would argue that a bubble level is more susceptible to tiny manufacturing tolerances. And, if a hot shoe level does prove to be out of tolerance it can be easily exchanged or replaced, where returning a ballhead just because the level is not quite right might be more problematic, inconvenient, and expensive.
If you are shooting two cameras you just need to put the bubble level in the first camera's hot shoe, level the clamp, and then dismount that camera and mount the new camera. It is, of course, possible that you might disturb the leveling while doing this, which I guess is why you want it on the shoe.
However, with the level on the shoe you have no way to verify that nothing shifted between mounting the camera and just prior to taking the shot. So by my way of thinking the hot shoe spirit level has a final single advantage here. In exchange for knowing, with certainty, that you are level as you take the shot you must transfer the hot shoe level or use two of them. A small price to pay if you are a stickler for accuracy here.
Just trying to make you feel better about your decision
I have levels on two of my clamps but rarely use them because I believe my hot shoe bubble is easier to use and more accurate. I only use the clamp bubble levels when I am too lazy to pull out the hot shoe level.
my Nikonians gallery.
#4. "RE: Bubble Level for Quick Release Clamp?" | In response to Reply # 3Thu 01-Mar-12 12:13 PM
Hello Again Neil,
I see what you mean about the "Markins approach". Unfortunately the clamp on my Markins does not have a level. However, as mentioned above I plan to use the bubble level in the hot shoe and be happy.
Thanks for your explanation and comments.