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Thread: Berlebach Uni 17 Tripod

  1. #1
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    Default Berlebach Uni 17 Tripod

    This is my first review, so please bear with me.

    Since I began using the Sigma 300-800mm zoom with my 4/3's Olys, I immediately became aware of the need for vibration resistance, both from impact, and from harmonic disturbances as well. When you are shooting at a 35mm equivelant of 1600mm, shooting with remote shutter release and mirror locked up, even if you are set up on concrete, you don't move during the shot! I moved up to the Berlebach from a Giottos 8180, which is an excellent tripod but not up to the task with the Sigmonster. With the Giottos I require a shutter delay of 4 seconds after mirror lockup, using the remote shutter release. I needed to try to make that delay shorter if possible.

    Enough said. I needed mass, and a tripod made of a material that was not only rigid, but that would absorb and dampen vibration. I also wanted a massive geared column because I had some "interesting" experiences releasing the tension a bit on a rapid column with the Wimberley and big lense mounted! Being able to quickly adjust camera height from shooting downward to upward by crank is, well, sweet, as long as the mechanism doesn't contribute to any shake.

    When using a Wimberley head, the only way to adjust for a level horizon, if the head is not leveled, is to rotate the lens in the lens mount as you pan. If you don't want to level your tripod through leg adjustments every time you move (and this is not fun with a big rig mounted) you either require an additional leveling head, or a leveling tripod. The Uni 17 utilizes a massive 3.75" ball through which the 1.5" diameter geared column runs through. There is 15 degrees of tilt from vertical which should be sufficient to level the head with the built in green bubble level, even in the most extreme conditions. 5 degrees is usually plenty.

    The legs are constructed from clear Ash, which has a reputation of being an excellent dampener. All hardware and metal pieces are exemplarary in their build quality, and the leveling ball, and helical gearing for the column is as smooth as silk. All knobs are easy to access, and lock up is quick. I am able to loosen the leveling ball enough to level out the head with the big lens mounted without any fear of it flopping on me, something I was concerned about.

    I should have ordered the chain accesory that hooks between the legs to constrain how far they can spread, as the legs have no built in limiter to their spread. Once you have the tripod setup as you like it, you tighten each of the three legs with the slip levers. They are very burly and you can crank on them if you want with no worry. Very versitile system, but I would prefer to have the chain between the legs with that much of an investment sitting on top!

    Besides the chain, which I will be purchasing, the only drawback of this tripod is the size and weight. At 39" tall, 8" diameter at he top of the legs when folded up, and 7.5kg this is no lightweight unit to hit the trail with. However, with the Wimberley, Sigmonster, and camera mounted, its not to bad slung over my shoulder. I have a tripod pad coming to make it more comfortable. I guess you have to make a choice between weight, and a steady, vibration reducing platform from which to shoot.

    For more technical information, here is a link to the Berlebach website.

    And here are a series of photos of the tripod with the Wimberley head, and Sigmonster mounted.

    Column down

    A closeup of the mechanism

    Another closeup of the mechanism with the column raised

    The leg clamp

    Tripod foot with typical retractable spike

    Keep in mind that the column is 1.5" in diameter. Good shot of the leg clamps

    This is the full extent that the leveling ball rotates. The large knob on the right tightens the ball. I think the small knob is the a friction maintainer that prevents flop when you loosen the big knob. Just like a good ball head.

    With a pop can for size reference (I think this is an international reference!). My check from Pepsi should be coming shortly.

    Shooting low

    Another shooting low. Even on the slick bricks the leg clamps are sufficient to hold where I set them. However I would prefer the chain to cranking down the clamps. I need to check if there is either a shorter column available, or a way to mount the head without the column, so I can set up from an even lower angle.

    All folded up, but with the Wimberley still attached.

    I considered a Manfrotto 475B, which Romy Ocon uses with great results, or a big Gitzo, but with a 2X factor camera, I wanted to eliminate equipment limitation as much as possible, especially since my skills are limited! Besides the Gitzo with a geared column and leveling head was nearly double the cost of the Berlebach, and Carbon fiber, although rigid, is a healthy transmitter of vibration.

    All in all the Berlebach Uni 17 is a superb piece of equipment. Having ordered it directly from a German company what else could I expect! Sales service from Berlebach was excellent. I recieved my tripod in just over two weeks.

    Purchase price was just over 500 Euros (around $750 US) I expected a hefty shipping price, but Berlebach discounted the tripod for me (unsolicited) to the extent that the shipping was free! I was flaberghasted! I am very happy with this aquisition.
    I will post some of my in the field results later, that will address the handling of the tripod, and ,more importantly how well it reduces the shakes with the big lense. I'll give some better feedback on the lens itself once I get some more experience with it.


  2. #2
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    Default Re: Berlebach Uni 17 Tripod

    Great review. I wish you great success with it and sigma, and plenty of wonderful photos!

    Let us know how does it perform after some usage period!

    Thank you very much
    Yours Bojan

  3. #3
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    In Beautiful So-Cal
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    Default Re: Berlebach Uni 17 Tripod

    What a tripod. But I guess that is what you would need with that lens.

  4. #4
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    On the Hudson River @ Albany, NY
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    Default Re: Berlebach Uni 17 Tripod

    I have both the Report (with pan head) and the 113--aka my crutch-- monopod (with integral WOOD head--very light). I grab them over my carbon fiber Gitzos, etc. all the time. Especially appreciated in cool/wet weather.

    Ray Hull

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