(continued from part 1)
I first decided that I could certainly live without the A-S system, simply because I couldn't find one single shop that sold even a generic base plate in that standard. For a country, Switzerland, that gave its national adjective to the system, that seemed pretty poor, but so it is !!!
I thus searched shops and catalogues, online and even, in that technological age of ours, on paper. And I chose to buy an all-Manfrotto system :
A 055PROB tripod ;
a MG468RC2 hydrostatic ballhead ;
a « junior elbow bracket » that I couldn't find now on Manfrotto's website - a huge piece of aluminium folded 90 degrees with two RC2 plates, allowing the camera to be mounted vertically.
I also bought a levelling ball, useful when doing panoramic images.
My problem started soon : the RC2 plates took a lot of space when mounted to the lenses in the bag, the one on the D200 with the grip hurt my hand, and most of all the « elbow bracket » was so big that it was simply impossible to leave it permanently on the camera. Consequently, I never used my tripod, except on rare occasion when I had to pack a separate bag for the humongously big bracket. Of course, I'm exaggerating, but not by an immense margin!
To sum up the problems : the legs were ok, the head worked smoothly, but the RC2 system was a PITA (and I am being quite gentle here).
I refuse, to this day, to count how much I had spent (plus the D200 and a very nice 80-400VR) in the tripod system, but I was back to square one, with the bonus of good legs and a good head.
I decided to trust my fellow Nikonians, and I did some research. And finally, I ordered a little set from Really Right Stuff:
a B2 Pro2 clamp;
a L-bracket for my D200 with grip, notwithstanding the caveats about the flexibility of that combo;
lens plates for my 80-200/2.8 and 80-400VR.
The package arrived quickly, and I found myself with a very nice little set. And there is no miracle: since I have had it, I have been using my tripod a lot more than I did before...
Here is a link to a Nikonians forum thread where I demonstrated the look of the beast once assembled:
I then assembled another smaller combination, with Gitzo GT1540T traveller legs, and a Foba MiniSuperBall head, for those moments when it is better/easier to carry a smaller tripod - and when I don't have my usual big array of lenses, but a "do-it-all" like the 18-200. On this, I did not err, and I made sure the Foba had an A-S compatible clamp, which it does. Normal for a Swiss brand, I guess! I also bought a generic camera plate from them, which I used on the D200 when I didn't want to have the vertical grip, and which now sits under my F100. But I had to almost litterally twist arms in my local shops before they found a way to order from Foba for me.
Here is another post at Nikonians with images and commentaries about the smaller combo.
The morality, as many a Nikonian must have found out, is that there is a reason why the A-S system is praised: it works. It may be a bit elitist or snobbish to say so, but it simply really does, and I should have listened. But I am still wondering why it is so hard to find equipment that good in shops in this country!
Have a great time!