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05-22-2015, 05:17 AM   #1
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Tripod heads with friction control screw

I'm wondering about heads with screw like this:



I'm referring to the small screw allowing the user to adjust the friction level. My question is : how easy is it to adjust?

With my Vanguard head, there is a ring next to the main knob to adjust the friction (located where the blue ring shows on the picture). It's very easy to fine-tune and change the friction depending on the lens used (for instance, the 60-250 requires more friction than a limited prime). I wonder how easy it is to adjust friction on-the-fly with a screw such as this one. I'd prefer not to have to take out a screwdriver each time I need to change the friction level.

any inputs?

05-22-2015, 08:40 AM   #2
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I use a similar setup wtih my Acratech ball head and it works great.
The one you show here is smaller but should do just as well.
Fast and easy !

JP
05-22-2015, 08:55 AM   #3
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I think seperate friction control does not make much sense if it is difficult to access.
Then I would prefer a very long throw of the main knob (with a kind of damping included) instead.

This is the way my old and once inexpensive head works; the disadvantage of this solution is, that you need quite a big (and heavy) ball to make it work precisely.
Of course a seperate friction control would be better, as with this you can use the main knob without too much care about the force you are using.
But only if there is easy access.
05-22-2015, 09:50 AM   #4
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My Sirui K20 looks exactly like that. it's effortless to turn. You don't need a screwdriver or a coin or even a fingernail - you just push a finger against it and rotate the finger. I think the slots are just there to improve traction so you can do it if your hands are sweaty or something.

It doesn't change how difficult it is to turn the knob -- it just sets a minimum range for the knob.

I usually don't mess with it much. I played more with it after reading your post here than I probably have since I got the head in the first place. I don't know how your other style one works, but with this, if it's threaded as far out as it goes, the ball head can go from "so loose it feels completely undamped and I could swing it around by the plate" to "this isn't moving." The knob at that setting does almost 2 full turns. (The knob is numbered 0-11. At its very loosest, it stops at 3, and counting up, can reach 4/5/6/7/8/910/11/0/1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11/0.

Setting it to the first zero and then tightening it so it won't go below that, the head is pretty well damped and still moveable without much effort, and by 6 or so it takes a great deal of effort to move it by hand. At that setting, it tightens past 0 to between 1 and 2, but I don't think it's going to move even if you're trying with a long and very heavy lens for leverage if you take it much past 8 or 9. I don't have my camera mounted at the moment, but IIRC even at 3 or 4 it doesn't move with the 60-260 and K3+grip attached, unless I use more force than I feel comfortable doing with an expensive camera mounted.

Does that help?

05-22-2015, 10:41 AM   #5
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My Manfrotto 498RC2 has a very convenient friction control screw which for my purpose on several occasions has come in very handy especially with longer focal length lenses coupled with my Manfrotto 293 Lens support..
05-22-2015, 11:08 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by RKKS08 Quote
Then I would prefer a very long throw of the main knob (with a kind of damping included) instead.
I don't think I agree. rotating two turns on the knob takes time, I'd rather have a quicker movement, and control over the friction.

QuoteOriginally posted by narual Quote
My Sirui K20 looks exactly like that.
It is a picture of the K10X

QuoteOriginally posted by narual Quote
You don't need a screwdriver or a coin or even a fingernail - you just push a finger against it and rotate the finger. I think the slots are just there to improve traction so you can do it if your hands are sweaty or something.
That's what I wanted to know, thanks!

QuoteOriginally posted by narual Quote
Does that help?
Yes it does. I currently use the Sirui T-025X with its C10X ballhead. The ball is ok, but I miss the friction control, absence of sag and strength of the panning screw on my former Vanguard head (I still have that one but it's too large for the tripod). So I'm considering alternatives, and the Sirui K line of heads seems very interesting. Probably a K10X for me, since I want to keep it as small as possible.

What's your opinion on the K20X ?

One thing I'd ike to see is a head with two drop slots, like a discontinued Sunwayfoto I've seen before (not sure about the model).
05-22-2015, 11:21 AM   #7
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It all depends how much you are willing to fork out for the better gear.

Some companies produce very highly recommended ballheads of that sort.
You'd have to look it up and decide which is best for you.
As far as I am concerned, Acratech does very well indeed in producing such friction-adjustable knobs/ballheads but you'd have to spend quite a bit more.

For instance: K5 + DA*300/4 + TC with the mentioned ballhead is great.

Disclaimer: I am not involved with the (Acratech) company nor am I trying to push their product here.
It is from personal experience with that gear vs. others I tried.

05-22-2015, 01:18 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
Yes it does. I currently use the Sirui T-025X with its C10X ballhead. The ball is ok, but I miss the friction control, absence of sag and strength of the panning screw on my former Vanguard head (I still have that one but it's too large for the tripod). So I'm considering alternatives, and the Sirui K line of heads seems very interesting. Probably a K10X for me, since I want to keep it as small as possible.

What's your opinion on the K20X ?

One thing I'd ike to see is a head with two drop slots, like a discontinued Sunwayfoto I've seen before (not sure about the model).
I decided on the T-1205x over the 025x since I already had the K20x. I haven't compared the two sets of legs in person, but they seemed pretty comparable in paper, with the 1205 being a touch less compact (but still fitting in my bag) and a touch more sturdy. But they're quite similar, so it should be close to your experience.

You'll have to mess with it a bit to completely fold up the tripod. The head is slightly too large for this functionality, I suspect, and I really wish the knob for the ball head and the knob for the rotation were at a different angle from one another -- say 120 degrees instead of 90. And if the drop slot was 120 from those, it would be perfect. But it's not, so it can be a bit of futzing around to get the tripod legs to close up completely.

The k10x may not have as much of a problem, but I wasn't sure if the 10x would be strong enough, where the 20x will handle anything Pentax can throw at it.

The only complaint I have with it, and I think this is really just a complaint with ball heads in general, is that it's a pain to change targets on the fly if they're not on the same plane (i.e., if you can't just pan). You either have to leave the ball head loose enough that it's no longer rock solid when you stop moving (i.e., it might sag if you let go), or tight enough that it takes enough effort that I'd worry about knocking the tripod over. It might be that hanging weights from the tripod will make this easier - I just got the 1205x a few weeks ago and haven't used them extensively yet, and my old legs didn't have a hook. But when it comes down to it, I suppose, this is what a gimbal head exists for. Which is why my next purchase pricey camera gear purchase will probably be one of those.

I haven't been able to compare it with any other nice ball heads, because the other ball heads I have had were junk (a compact one for a monopod, one that could barely hold a point & shoot, and the not completely terrible one that came with my old "slik sprint pro II" tripod. That one worked OK when I just had a D5100 and a couple of lighter weight lenses, but couldn't handle the K5's weight with any decent lenses.
05-22-2015, 01:21 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by jpzk Quote
Some companies produce very highly recommended ballheads of that sort.
Of the sort that fits on a compact tripod? It seems the choices are pretty limited, most company making compact heads strip them of all the goodies found on larger heads, such as friction control. Even high reputation companies like Gitzo, 3 legged things and others tend to remove more "advanced" features.

I already have a Vanguard head that does everything I want, but it's simply too large the the Sirui tripod.
05-22-2015, 01:24 PM   #10
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Oh - and to save you some time in case you decide to head down a similar path to the one I'm on:
Sirui MP-20 Quick Release Photo Platform BSRMP20 B&H Photo Video

I can't even find that on Sirui's website, but it does exist - a quick release clamp with the same kind of safety pin their heads have. I have one attached to a blackRapid strap with threadlock so I can keep a plate on my camera all the time -- makes it easier to switch between strap and tripod. (now, if only I could get an L plate that would fit my K3 + grip well enough that I never had to take it off)
05-22-2015, 07:58 PM   #11
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I have gone through the same exercise trying to find a full featured ball head for my Benro Travel Angel tripod. I also have their large 3 series tripod with a photoclam 44ns ballhead that is made like the Arca Swiss or Markins heads. It has the friction control that I miss on the little Benro head. The smallest I have found with the friction control is a 30mm ball. I think that would still be a little large for these smaller tripods.
05-25-2015, 06:32 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by GaryH Quote
The smallest I have found with the friction control is a 30mm ball. I think that would still be a little large for these smaller tripods.
Well, the things I've found so far often have balls between 29 and 33mm, and the bases are 45mm wide or less for the most part.

QuoteOriginally posted by narual Quote
Oh - and to save you some time in case you decide to head down a similar path to the one I'm on:
What's the purpose of that? the tripod heads already have this. I'm not following.
05-25-2015, 09:21 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
Well, the things I've found so far often have balls between 29 and 33mm, and the bases are 45mm wide or less .
This one has a 48mm base but it does have friction control.

PRO 30NS | Photo Clam USA
05-25-2015, 09:50 AM   #14
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The Photo clam looks like a good option. It's not widely available, however, is it discontinued?
05-25-2015, 05:15 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
What's the purpose of that? the tripod heads already have this. I'm not following.
Did you skip the rest of what I said?

If you put that on a black rapid or whatever strap connector that typically uses the tripod socket, then attach an arca Swiss plate or L bracket to your camera, it's much easier to switch between strap and tripod.

Here's a better explanation: Black Rapid + Arca Solution | Enthusiast Photographer

Last edited by narual; 05-25-2015 at 05:57 PM. Reason: Rose itch -> to switch
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