I get massively confused when it comes to tripod heads screw sizes blah de blah, so excuse the possible simplicity of this question. I have a GigaPan Epic Pro and a Manfrotto 475B Pro Geared Tripod. I also have a 2 way tilt head that came with my Monopod which I am currently using as the head for this tripod as well.

Problem is that this head doesn't seem the most stable to place the massive GigaPan unit on with a Nikon D4 and a 400mm lens (all in all a damn heavy setup!). The GigaPan unit has what I call the 'normal' screw (or is it a thread?) which is the same one you get in the bottom of almost every camera known to man these days (like I said, I'm useless when it comes to this stuff). The tripod has the 'big' screw (thread?) that the heads screw in to. This is all pretty normal. Here are my questions;

1- What are these screws/threads actually called, I've seen 1/4 inch and 3/8 inch thrown around a lot and I'd guess that 1/4 inch is the 'normal' one and the 3/8 the 'big' one?

2 - For the GigaPan I'd ideally place it straight onto the 'big' screw, obviously this is not possible, but would this Manfrotto 120 3/8 to 1/4 inch Adaptor be pretty much what I am after.

These might seem very simple questions but trust me, I consider myself a pretty decent photographer but when it comes to this I really struggle to get my head around it.


(also I didn't have the rep to create the tag 'GigaPan', but I think it should be, so feel free to add it! )

  • Looking at a video review of the unit, it almost seems as though no QR plate or head was used at all by this user: vimeo.com/10513066
    – dpollitt
    Oct 27, 2012 at 22:06
  • added the tag "GigaPan" for you - as i agree it should have that tag. 1/4 & 3/8 would be the screw diameter - though I'm not sure if with or without the thread.
    – DetlevCM
    Oct 27, 2012 at 22:06

2 Answers 2


Yes, there are two standard threads that are almost universal in the industry:

  • 1/4"-20 (threads per inch), used between tripod heads and small/medium format cameras, and in a host of accessories; and

  • 3/8"-16 (again, the 16 is tpi), used between tripods and heads and between heads and cameras in some large-format systems, as well as with many larger studio accessories.

These two thread sizes are standard to the point that if anything turns out to have a different thread size, it'll be a real surprise -- even if everything else in the system is metric.

And the Manfrotto adapter plate is pretty much exactly what you're looking for, yes.

  • Stan, I was worried with that adapter plate of not having any way of actually locking the adapter plate to the legs. Does that concern you at all? I personally would think a nice ball head would be safer, especially with a 20lb setup.
    – dpollitt
    Oct 27, 2012 at 22:05
  • 1
    Take a good look at the picture again, and notice that there are three set screws on the plate to hold it firm against the tripod's mounting plate.
    – user2719
    Oct 28, 2012 at 3:53

The GigaPan Epic Pro itself weighs 7.25lbs with battery. Then once you add in a Nikon D4(2 lb 15.3 oz), and a Nikon 400mm f/2.8G ED AF-S (10.2lbs), you are talking about putting roughly 20lbs of gear on the tripod. This is significant, but certainly not unheard of.

The GigaPan Epic Pro has the standard 1/4-20 tripod screw at the bottom. You can read more about that here: Is there a standard tripod mount?

My assumption is that GigaPan included this standard screw so you can mount the camera to a non proprietary setup. If they chose any other screw, they would either have to engage head manufacturers to develop custom quick release brackets, or create their own heads.

I know that one option you brought up would be to mount legs directly to the GigaPan. I think that this might cause you issues. The reason is that without a proper head that locks into the legs, you might risk the connection between the legs and GigaPan loosening up. I cannot say this from experience, but I think you would be best suited with a very sturdy head.

For a head you might want to look at something like a Manfrotto Hydrostatic Ball head. They do an excellent job of making sure that the lock and ball aren't going anywhere.

  • So a tripod head can stay connected to the legs without problems, but a GigaPan robot cannot? If they wanted to, they could have used a 3/8" screw - which is what makes head and legs interchangeable between manufacturers. There are also 3 little screws to lock the head in place - that would work on a GigaPan too. The only reason to use a head would be for leveling out the GigaPan bot for example. A head isn't required for a secure connection - also, a 3/8" screw is stronger than a 1/4" screw.
    – DetlevCM
    Oct 27, 2012 at 22:09
  • Nice answer, but I think from Stans answer the adapter plate will do just fine. It will make my life simpler as well as with the current setup I first have to level the tripod and then the GigaPan unit once its on the head, whereas with a simple, flat adapter there wouldn't be a need to do this. If anything it would also just look safer and put my mind at ease. With a head between the tripod and GigaPan it just looks like a point of weakness (paranoia!) Oct 28, 2012 at 19:58
  • @RobQuincey - Stan knows what he is talking about, so trust him :)
    – dpollitt
    Oct 28, 2012 at 21:08

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