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Leica Tabletop Tripod with Large Ball Head



Like many other RF camera users, I am reluctant to encumber myself with a tripod unless circumstances dictate it. Sometimes, however, such as in an art gallery, museum, cathedral or other building, the available light is insufficient for a hand-held shot and the use of flash may not be appropriate or even allowed. A tripod is then the best solution.

When I have to use a tripod, I prefer it to be as portable and unobtrusive as possible. A full-sized tripod has quite a large "footprint", can get in the way of people walking past, tends to attract unwanted attention and may even be forbidden in some places. Leica's tabletop tripod suits my requirements very well in this regard.

I chose the Leica tabletop tripod for use with my M cameras because it was recommended by a number of people whose opinions I value and it would fit conveniently in my camera bag. At the same time, I bought the Leica Large Ballhead, to allow me the flexibility to position the camera as necessary.

The Leica tabletop tripod and ballhead combination is expensive compared to competitive products but these are high quality, well made products. The tripod legs can be rotated so that they come together to make it a very compact item. It fits easily in the front zipper compartment of the LowePro Nova 3 bag in which I transport my cameras, lenses, filters, film, etc. One word of caution, however; the legs are made of iron and could snap if subjected to undue force.

An obvious drawback of any table-top tripod with fixed length legs is that there is not always a convenient flat, level surface of the right height on which to place it whenever you want to take a shot. However, in combination with the ball-head, the camera's angle and direction can be adjusted as necessary, so the surface does not have to be perfectly horizontal. It works equally well braced against any firm surface, which can be horizontal, sloping or even vertical, such as a wall. It can also be used as a "chest pod" with practice, if there is no alternative.

The Leica ball-head is chrome finished and is threaded top and bottom, so that it can be attached both to your camera and to the mini-tripod (or any other tripod legs with a 1/4 inch thread). The ball itself is scored with deep lines that enable it to be locked very securely into any chosen position by gently tightening the cl& screw. For longevity and to minimize the risk of deforming the ball, it is a good idea to avoid over-tightening the cl& and always to store the unit with the cl& loosened.
I can't add much to what Ray just said earlier today, but here are a few notes. My pair (as described above) have the Leica names Tablelap Tripod (14100) and Ball-and-socket head (14110). I'd really like to recommend as well -- for any tripod under an M -- Really Right Stuff's Camera body mounting plate B30, which gets the tripod's screw dead center into an M. Whether you love using an M with a tripod or not, but after you find that you sometimes can't do without one, it may still be a good idea to own both the pocket-sized Tablelap pair mentioned above, as well as a bigger pair like Manfrotto or Gitzo, plus a bigger, more movable ballhead like Linhof's Profi II.
If anyone is interested, I have one of these for sale. Please contact me off-list:

Leitz Wetzlar Germany Ballhead #14118/14119? (early 1970s) black
body, chrome top, chrome knob
-- engraved with Leitz Wetzlar Germany logo like FOOMI/KGOON, EX
condition $110
Leitz Wetzlar Germany TOOUG table-top tripod (1970s) black; not
engraved w/ Leitz logo on body
- marked Ernst Leitz Wetzlar Germany on bottom screw , rubber
tips, paint loss, $60
A high quality, well made, but inexpensive alternative:

Manfrotto 3007 Tabletop Tripod Legs - USD14.95
Manfrotto 3007X Extension for Table Top Tripod - USD17.95
Slik SBH-120 Compact Ballhead 120 - USD29.50
ClearSight Leica M to Arca Adapter - USD49.95
Hama Double Spirit Level (Shoe Mount) - USD35.95

The Slik compact ballhead has panning rotation, and of course the M/Arca adapter doubles as a QR plate for a ballhead equipped with an Arca/Swiss quick release cl&. All prices are current B&H except for the ClearSight plate.