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Archive 2012 · Macro focusing rail: Novoflex?
  
 
S Dilworth
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Macro focusing rail: Novoflex?


After driving myself crazy by moving tripods back and forth in tiny increments, Iíve decided I need a macro focusing rail.

I ordered a Novoflex Castel-XQ, but the shop told me itís been replaced by the Castel-XQ II (click photo twice to enlarge). Unsurprisingly, this new model is more expensive.

This is a Ďbuy once, use foreverí purchase for me, so I can tolerate (unhappily) the higher price.

But Iím concerned about that odd-looking Q=Mount X D clamp. How could that work with my square-dovetail Markins plates (example)? Iíve heard rumours about Novoflex Arca-Swiss compatibility issues in the past, never mind with this new clamp style.

Does anyone know the nature of the incompatibility between certain Arca-Swiss-style items and certain Novoflex items?

What do you think of the Castel-XQ II?

Thanks.



Oct 10, 2012 at 11:59 AM
sjms
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Macro focusing rail: Novoflex?


then get it right: http://reallyrightstuff.com/Items.aspx?code=MACRO&key=cat

Edited on Oct 10, 2012 at 12:24 PM · View previous versions



Oct 10, 2012 at 12:22 PM
vsg28
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Macro focusing rail: Novoflex?


Their rails are fantastic, the quick release not so much. What is the price for the new one anyway?

If RRS is out of your budget, Hejnar makes a very similar product (great quality) and sells on eBay for a bit less. I personally bought a Velbon super mag slider, stuck a panning clamp on top.



Oct 10, 2012 at 12:22 PM
sjms
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Macro focusing rail: Novoflex?


right there with RRS. approx $375US


Oct 10, 2012 at 12:27 PM
S Dilworth
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Macro focusing rail: Novoflex?


The Really Right Stuff B150-B is 409 euros at the only place in Europe I can find it, plus shipping.

I intend to live for a long time, so Iíve considered it despite the price. However I ordered the Castel-XQ because Novoflex claims it has 380 mm of total travel.

From YouTube videos, it looks like the RRS B150-B has very fine adjustment Ė†finer than the Castel-XQ Ė†but less total travel.

I donít go beyond life-size, so extremely fine movement is less important to me than the longer travel. This is especially true because I want to use the rail to drive a lens through its focus at much lower magnifications too.

The Hejnar looks like a copy of the RRS (so similar travel), and gets very expensive after $54 shipping from the USA and probable import duties. Looks well-made, though.

I guess I still donít know if the Q=Mount X D clamp on the Castel-XQ II works with Markins ĎArca-Swissí plates. It doesnít look like it would, does it? But I canít understand the design.

Since the shop didnít have the Castel-XQ I ordered, theyíve given me the option to order the Castel-XQ II at a small discount (but still more than the original Castel-XQ, so Iíd have to pay extra). If itís compatible with my Markins plates, I might take it.

An even more expensive alternative: the Arca-Swiss monoball X-table (model 802330), near the bottom of this page. Any thoughts on that?



Oct 10, 2012 at 08:05 PM
sjms
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Macro focusing rail: Novoflex?


then you have purchased what you feel you need.

as to the AS cross system ot is simiar to the novoflex and RRS with the RRS being the hghest precision.



Oct 10, 2012 at 08:15 PM
S Dilworth
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Macro focusing rail: Novoflex?


Just to clarify, sjms, I ordered the Castel-XQ (online) but the order failed. The shop emailed me to say the model was discontinued and replaced by the Castel-XQ II (which is totally different).

They offered me a small discount on the Castel-XQ II as a consolation, but Iím afraid to take it in case it doesnít work with my Markins plates.

I guess youíve got the RRS B150-B (or even two crossed B150-Bs?).

The RRS specs say the lead screw has 103 mm of travel, plus thereís another 128 mm of travel by shifting the rail along the tripod clamp. Is there any way to use that 128 mm of travel with about 1 mm precision?

For example, is the underside of the rail marked in 1 mm increments, like the top?

I sometimes need well over 103 mm of travel, but when I need that travel I donít need more than about 1 mm precision (2 mm might even do).

Thanks for your thoughts.



Oct 10, 2012 at 08:37 PM
 

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jcolwell
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Macro focusing rail: Novoflex?


Hi S,

I use a 20cm Contax focus rail attached to a 30cm Hejnar multi-purpose rail, with a RRS B2-FAB mini, threaded clamp. Rails from eBay. Clamp from RRS.

Cheers, Jim








Oct 10, 2012 at 09:00 PM
gardenvalley
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Macro focusing rail: Novoflex?


http://www.speedgraphic.co.uk/bellows_tubes__racks/novoflex_castelq_focusing_rack/8417_p.html

140mm of movement, is that enough?

I have used the Novoflex Q- mount clamp, but not the QXD, with plates and L brackets from Graf, RRS, Kirk and Hejnar with no problems at all. That new clamp looks interesting and I can see what they are trying to do by permitting the camera to be mounted 2 different ways using the same clamping mechanism. I`m sure it works fine as Novoflex don`t produce poor quality gear.



Oct 10, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Roland W
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Macro focusing rail: Novoflex?


The photo of the newer Castel-XQ II makes it look like it has a gear track underneath, and has a drive knob to move the upper rail along in the base. It also looks like there is a clamp down knob that will lock the movable rail in place. those are both important features, especially the good clamp down method. One thing that is missing it seems is a quick release to allow fast movement of the rail along in the base. The quick release is an additional feature of the Really Right Stuff rail that is handy if you are changing your set up a lot.

I have never seen or used one of the two direction QXD clamps that Novoflex shows on the rail. Since it is a screw clamp, it likely will fit a wide variety of Arch Swiss plates and brackets. But in looking at it, there are only three of the corner things that clamp the plate, which is a kind of different than a normal screw or lever clamp. It may work fine, but for me I would want to play with one before ordering. Obviously that was the question of your post, so lets hope someone comes through with experience.

The movable rail in the NovoFlex Castel-XQ II rail system also shows both 1/4 inch and 3/8 inch threads as extra places to mount things. That means if you did need a different clamp, or wanted to mount something else on there, you have a way to do it.

There are no markings on the bottom dovetail of the the Really Right Stuff rail. If you need a calibrated scale for indication and need that for over the maximum 103mm travel of the RRS main slide, you will need to work some other system out. If you mounted the rail in a clamp that was about 50mm long, and the clamp did not have the relief areas in in like most RRS clamps do, the safety screws on the bottom of the RRS dovetail would contact the clamp in a way that the total travel was about 70mm. You could then measure that and use it as a known movement to either add or not add that fixed amount. You also may be able to add a scale or ruler to things in some way.

The Novoflex Castel-XQ II relies on the one scale to be read by both the movable items. In its case the upper clamp slider is still fairly close to the scale, so estimating is likely reasonably accurate. The Really right stuff rail system has the upper scale further away from the clamp below, but in evaluating it and how accurate the estimating could be, it looks like you could easily get it within plus or minus 1 mm, so that method may work out for your needs based on what you descibed. With a normal clamp that would add about 110 mm of additional movement, which helps, but is still short of what the Novoflex offers.

The RRS slide has very finely engraved markings every milimeter for the scales, and there is one on each side of the top for convience. The lead screw moves the stage about 1.25mm per turn, and using that it is easy to move the stage very smoothly, and estimate position on the scale. There is a knob on each end of the RRS slide, and one end has a larger diameter because it does not have a clearence issue like the other end does. The knob is not marked with any scale to allow rotation movement to give calibrated fine movement, but markings could likely be added. I have done focus stacking sequences with the RRS rail with good results, but have not yet tried one that needed high precision movement.

I understand the issues with high prices for Really Right Stuff items in Europe, which becomes a significant issue in choosing what you want. I do see that RRS will ship internationally, but duties and taxes and shipping may make a local purchase at a store over there a better deal. Good luck with your decisions.



Oct 11, 2012 at 12:15 AM
sjms
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Macro focusing rail: Novoflex?


well it seems that Roland W has just about covered it. thank you RW. and i hope you got the answer you needed SD

Edited on Oct 15, 2012 at 01:04 AM · View previous versions



Oct 11, 2012 at 02:19 AM
S Dilworth
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Macro focusing rail: Novoflex?


Thanks for your thoughts, all. I still donít know what to do, but youíve given me some more to think about.

At the moment Iím waiting on the shop to confirm whether the XQ-II would fit my Markins plates. If it does, I may get it at the discount price offered, though I wish I could read some reviews on it. The long travel is very attractive for my use.

I wish I could see the Really Right Stuff B150-B in action. In the meantime, I think Rolandís explanation of its function is as close as Iíll get Ė and thatís pretty close!



Oct 12, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Alan321
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Macro focusing rail: Novoflex?


Whatever you get you will soon recognize the need for the ability to adjust position towards the subject and also sideways or else you'll still be shifting your tripod to recompose. Vertical adjustment is done with the central column on your tripod - if it has one. You may or may not also want a levelling base or ball head so that you can adjust tilt forwards and sideways.

Cheap macro focus rails may well be adequate despite being less precise with the adjustments and a bit wobbly until they are locked down. They're still a lot easier to use than shifting the tripod repeatedly.

The looser you can frame the subject the more scope you have for using a cheaper focusing rail. On the other hand, you might want the greater precision and smoothness of operation if you are focus-bracketing for a program such as Helicon Focus. Then again, unless you are photographing something shorter than the travel of the focus rail (as in macro work) you will need to adjust the focus with the lens anyway so you are back to being able to use a cheap focus rail. A cheap one might just have a 1/4" threaded bolt instead of a quick release system.

- Alan



Oct 14, 2012 at 01:37 PM
e6filmuser
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Macro focusing rail: Novoflex?


There is a lot of advice and experience here:

http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/index.php?sid=da730063756c46b6b5ae680847f25034

Harold



Oct 15, 2012 at 11:40 AM





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