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Thread: Carbon fibre warning

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    Ausphotography Regular wilko61's Avatar
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    Carbon fibre warning

    Hi All, I was reading this blob (hope this post works!) and thought it way interest people with Carbon Fibre Tripods. Strange, I haven't heard similar experiences causing failure in push-bikes or other carbon-fibre components.

    I still have a metal tripod

    Cheers

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    Interesting. I didn't know getting them wet was an issue but maybe that's just a Manfrotto problem, as it may depend on the exact manufacturing process, resins, materials etc used.

    I don't think I would ever buy a CF tripod, except with some one elses money.

    JJ

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    My $45 Tripod gets in the Salt water every day , Most times I dont bother to even wash it down , Mind you the bottom segments are seized up now after 5yrs but thats because I never really extended them from the beginning I guess , Think I'll stay with aluminiun after reading that , I thought CF would be better as well
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    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/ Steve Axford's Avatar
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    I think you need to view this as a specific problem with that tripod rather than a generic problem with carbon fibre. I have a gitzo cf tripod and it goes into salt water with no problem. I would expect a metal tripod to perform much worse as it would be subject to corrosion.

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    ooow, I don`t like the sound of that. Must keep tripod dry...must keep tripod dry.....
    Graeme
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    Carbon fibre can handle a lot of things, but generally it doesnt like boiling water of all things. Also cheap carbon fibre isnt UV stabilized and will eventually perish after being in the sun a lot.
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    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/ Steve Axford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by knumbnutz View Post
    Carbon fibre can handle a lot of things, but generally it doesnt like boiling water of all things. Also cheap carbon fibre isnt UV stabilized and will eventually perish after being in the sun a lot.
    Carbon fibre is a composite material, like fiberglass. It can handle boiling water without a problem, provided it is good quality. It can even be used for turbine blades, if it is composited with metal. Carbon fibre is a superb material if it is well made. It can be lousy if poorly made - just like most things.

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    I'm a fly fisherman, and have been using quality carbon fibre components built in a similar manner to tripods (jointed tubular carbon/epoxy sections) in ocean and brackish water for many years. Good quality carbon fibre is an EXCELLENT material for use in salt water. If it breaks from even very frequent use, you have a bad product. The rods I use are built to very specific tolerances and have been wet hundreds of times in salt water. If they expanded more than about 0.1mm their joints would have seized and broken, and this has never happened.
    So it's just that tripod. Carbon fibre is fine, and a good one should last years in salt water and sun without a problem (Except that it changes colour in sun, but well made should still retail all of its original strength).

    I have also owned lousy ones, made very cheaply, that have suffered various fates- but never salt water damage. If they went to basic precautions when building the things they could avoid all of this.

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    The new Boeing 787 (Dreamliner) is made from Carbon Fibre.

    Carbon fibre does tend to crack in a line. I have busted two carbon fibre bike frames. But I think this article is not telling us the whole story. Reading between the lines, I would suggest he throws his gear around a bit.
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    On the other hand, aluminium that is not anodised can be damaged by high concentration salt water (Sea water will sometimes be enough), despite it's resistance to normal corrosion. Beware of long exposure of aluminium to salt water! You're better off with CF than aluminium in salt, though if you wash them well each time, you'll have no problem with Al.

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    Well, my Manfrotto isn't CF, and after lugging it around Floriade, and up and down Mtns, and standing it in several rivers, I'd happily swap to a CF one any day. A 5km walk isn't much fun without a tripod, it definitely isn't much fun with a big heavy one. Of course, that heaviness helped heaps on a windy night taking some city light shots in gusty winds. I guess my only solution is to win the lotto and then have both tripods and pick and choose depending on whether I'm walking with it, or wanting stability.
    I'd be pretty disappointed to have it split like that. Surprisingly he may well be killing it with kindness. It sounds to me like it's not just copping the usual water and abuse, but then also warm water showers as well. Perhaps a little less TLC? Who knows. I guess I'll note the model number NOT to buy when I do go to a CF one.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ezookiel View Post
    ..., I'd happily swap to a CF one any day. A 5km walk isn't much fun without a tripod, it definitely isn't much fun with a big heavy one. Of course, that heaviness helped heaps on a windy night taking some city light shots in gusty winds. I guess my only solution is to win the lotto and then have both tripods and pick and choose depending on whether I'm walking with it, or wanting stability.
    ....
    Sure, for hiking weight is a big deal, but the times I've compared like for like CF and Aluminium tripdos the weight difference has been quite minor as much of the weight is in the fittings, joints, head etc.

    Try hiking with this...


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    So when carbon fibre gets wet it 'expands'!!!

    How do those F1 cars fly around race tracks at 300km/h in the wet!!

    More likely, just a typical Manfrotto design issue.

    I never liked their clamp system of tightening legs, and if it was the lowest leg on a 190 series that caused this blobber's tripod to fail, then I'd dare say it was a combination of the small diameter tubing of the tripod leg added to the Manfrotto leg clamp system, as well as a small amount of external force on the leg that did it.

    if the issue is related to any expansion effect of cf in water, then all legs would be affected in some way.

    First I've ever heard of this type of problem, and my Gitzo used to live in all types of waters for longer than I care to admit.

    I used to clean mine up quite regularly mainly after submersion in dirty waters, such as sea or muddy, and the only issue I've had in the 5years I've had mine for, is a broken bushing sleeve due to my own fault when disassembling the tripod for a more thorough clean.

    I suppose a question that could be raised is .. what is the quality level of the carbon fibre used for tripod legs?


    Quote Originally Posted by Ezookiel View Post
    ..... Of course, that heaviness helped heaps on a windy night taking some city light shots in gusty winds. I guess my only solution is to win the lotto and then have both tripods and pick and choose depending on whether I'm walking with it, or wanting stability.....
    I've never had any issues having a lighter weight cf tripod and strong winds!
    More of an issue in such strong winds is camera shake due to the excessive gale. Trying to get a single sharp shot is hard enough, even with a carbon tripod and quite sturdy head.

    For more security in such conditions, use your camera bag with whatever remains inside it and hang it from the hook.
    This is actually safer than a heavy tripod, because the chances are that this heavier(metal) tripod is going to be top heavy anyhow.
    The larger tubed legs are almost always at the top of the tripod, and also the head and camera .. etc, etc ... so having a top heavy tripod and camera setup is less desirable.
    Hanging the camera bag from the underside of the tripod, lowers the Centre Of Gravity, making it more stable in high winds.
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    I did that with the bag, but ended up having to stretch out the strap on the bag till it got almost to the ground, as the wind just made the bag sway, and was likely to cause more movement in the camera than the wind was. But thanks for the details on your Gitzo, looks like that's a brand to aim for when/if I do upgrade to CF.
    And jjphoto, no thanks, I'm happy to not hike with that lot, but if you use it to shoot cars, then there's a good chance you could get it all there in one of them
    I do wonder about the step ladder though. I've actually thought at times of whether carrying one of those could just give you that small edge over the other million photos at some places, such as Floriade, where everyone else's photos are from ground level, but a person with a step ladder could climb up just that bit higher and get the whole "picture" that the flowers are made into, or when taking that shot of the woolshed that's been done a thousand times, you could get up just that bit higher to get the fence in as foreground interest without it actually blocking the view of the woolshed the way it would for a ground based shot, etc etc etc. There are probably thousands of times it could make all the difference, in your case above, the extra height would make a huge difference with car photography.
    Now who makes a CF step ladder light enough to take bushwalking for those landscape shots of old bushman's shacks etc?

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    The carbon fiber is actually encased and bonded together in a resin (usually epoxy), so I suppose the question is what is the quality of the resin? Some resins may be more porous than others.
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    Cars, planes, bikes, fishing rods etc have a lot exterior resin. It adds weight although minor, but sliding surfaces and those like tripod legs where tolerances are tighter have very little resin.
    My quote earlier in regards to boiling water is quoted from a friend of mine who used to work at Lola making F1 and Indy cars and he also said that it also depends how the carbon fibre is made. There is 2 ways, wet and dry and it makes a big difference to the end quality.

    Quote Originally Posted by davidd View Post
    The carbon fiber is actually encased and bonded together in a resin (usually epoxy), so I suppose the question is what is the quality of the resin? Some resins may be more porous than others.

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    Account Closed Wayne's Avatar
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    I have dipped my Gitzo plenty of times, my Benro the same and no sign of any issues.

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    Never really thought about it although I suppose I should have. CF or any epoxy based composite is a funny material and has to be manufactured to not only tight tolerances but in almost pharmaceutical standard clean rooms.

    If you have been inside Boeing here in Melbourne you would see what goes into the layup stage of the process. Fibers have lifespans and must be used before a certain date. This is important in an aircraft.

    My final year project at Uni was a study into water in epoxy based composites and found that the "strength" of the composite actually increases slightly with water but then fails very quickly. Also the temperature of the water is important and warmer water is worse. Anyhow, these were structural tests with the pieces sitting in water for days, weeks and months, not the occasional splash and then tested to aircraft loads and beyond.

    Overtightening of composite materials is a real problem especially in a circular structure. It is a major problem on bikes where the seat post inserts into the frame.

    Anyhow.....when using a CF tripod just be careful not to overtighten it. I wouldn't overly worry about the water getting it, unless it is under a lot of stress. Hopefully most CF tripods would be finished in a way to stop water getting into the epoxy. Oh and if you do put it in water, make sure you don't freeze it afterwards.....or you will damage the structure!
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    The new Boeing 787 (Dreamliner) is made from Carbon Fibre.

    Carbon fibre does tend to crack in a line. I have busted two carbon fibre bike frames. But I think this article is not telling us the whole story. Reading between the lines, I would suggest he throws his gear around a bit.
    can't compare the two and i agree there is more to this than what meets the eye, possible not abuse though..

    Quote Originally Posted by George Edwards View Post
    On the other hand, aluminium that is not anodised can be damaged by high concentration salt water (Sea water will sometimes be enough), despite it's resistance to normal corrosion. Beware of long exposure of aluminium to salt water! You're better off with CF than aluminium in salt, though if you wash them well each time, you'll have no problem with Al.
    aluminum that is protected by any means, anodise, alodine, paint is worthless when it gets chipped or scratched thus allowing the corrosion a place to start. That said, i refurbed by tripod and alodined and painted the fittings (these are the most corrosion susceptible items) and it has taken many dunks in seawater some without rinsing and ther eis not any sign of corrosion on teh fittings yet.

    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    So when carbon fibre gets wet it 'expands'!!!
    lol, yeah thats a good comment, it might be close to teh truth when teh fibres are penetrated and moisture/water is allowed to 'wick' down the threads, this would cause some expansion, but not enough to cause a crack i would have thought...



    Quote Originally Posted by rellik666 View Post

    Overtightening of composite materials is a real problem especially in a circular structure. It is a major problem on bikes where the seat post inserts into the frame.

    Anyhow.....when using a CF tripod just be careful not to overtighten it. I wouldn't overly worry about the water getting it, unless it is under a lot of stress. Hopefully most CF tripods would be finished in a way to stop water getting into the epoxy. Oh and if you do put it in water, make sure you don't freeze it afterwards.....or you will damage the structure!
    i reckon your on the money, overtightening is a sure way to get a lengthwise crack. Looking at the fittings, which are pretty much teh same as the other 190 series fittings with a toggle tightener and a bolt and nut - it would be pretty easy to over tighten either the 'T' bolt and nut or the other bolt and nut hence making it very tight when locking teh legs...

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rellik666 View Post
    .....

    Anyhow.....when using a CF tripod just be careful not to over tighten it. I wouldn't overly worry about the water getting it, unless it is under a lot of stress. Hopefully most CF tripods would be finished in a way to stop water getting into the epoxy. Oh and if you do put it in water, make sure you don't freeze it afterwards.....or you will damage the structure!
    Thanks for the info Roo.

    So almost certainly water will get inside a tripod leg tube if submersed for an extended time(as you would as a landscaper), but I'm assuming that water damage to cf is a problem if the water was present for a prolonged period, rather than occasionally and then dried out.

    That is, it would be ok if soaked for a very short while and then drained, but if the cf was exposed to water continuously, ie. soaked, over a period of time, that's when the cf starts to fail.

    Also, if the tripod leg did in fact allow water into the tube, the water would(could) remain in the tube if not drained, but the water would remain at the bottom of the tube, not near the clamp so high up.
    If water filled the inside of the tube up to the level of the clamp, then it'd be quite obvious to any user!!

    One thing I remember is that water is quite a powerful solvent too .. but only really over a prolonged period of contact/saturation.

    How do fibreglass marine vehicles .. boats!! grapple with the problem?

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