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Sunny Sra wrote:
how low can you go?
Even with the tripod nearly on the ground and no center column, with this type of tripod the camera can be no lower than the height of your ballhead slot. For full utilization of tilt lens capability, I consider this tripod position not low enough!
If one were shooting on a flat surface, to be used as the focal plane, the max of 8 degrees of tilt on the 17 TSE lens would place the center of the lens at 4.8" (12.2cm) above that focal plane. The camera body of a 5DII with RRS L bracket adds approximately 2 " (landscape orientation) or 3.2" (portrait) of depth beneath the lens center. A 1D style body with a RRS L bracket will add 3.5" of depth below the lens center in either landscape or portrait mode. This means the 5DII camera body needs to be 2.8" from the ground for landscape orientation or 1.6" from the deck in portrait mode. A 1D body will need to be 1.3" from the ground in either orientation.
The conclusion from these calculations is that to use the full extent of low angle tilt for the 17mm lens, one needs to get the bottom of the camera body 1.3-3" from the ground.
The only way to do this is to orient the ball head parallel to the ground, or pointing downwards slightly. One creative solution is shown by jcolwell above, and I showed another with a horizontal center column. Explorer style tripods work really well too, a great solution for this situation as the center column can angle downwards. If the ballhead sits upright and rests on a tripod base it may never be capable of utilizing the full tilt capability of the 17 TSE.
Of course there are many artistic or technical reasons for not wanting to use full tilt movements on the 17 TSE, but that's another consideration.
tilt tables here