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Thread: I need to get my bald head checked!

  1. #1
    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    I need to get my bald head checked!

    well, I'm getting older and older.

    I started out a wise young man on AP.. many moons ago.. and.. oh! hangon!!

    make that BALLHEAD.. not bald head .. anyhow, I started out much wiser and now I feel more like a 'wiseguy'(as the Yanks would say)

    I feel as tho I was wiser earlier because all that mattered was getting photos and not stuffing around with why the photos are getting harder to capture. Before now, if the images didn't come out as I hoped, i simply blamed myself and as I searched for cool looking images of stuff I like(and stuff i didn't know I liked until I found it too).. I found more info that I originally intended too(and that unfortunately included info from KR )
    And y'all wonder why I sometimes sound confused... I had a tormented upbringing over the past 4-5 years with my intro into digital photography.
    When in doubt, simply contradict what you just previously said.. even if it was only in the last paragraph. That's what I call hedging your bets.. you can't really be wrong with that attitude.. hey Ken?

    OK, so.. TruBlueBiker in another thread is querying ballheads and stuff, and I have some experience with them. Manfrotto stuff only tho.. none of the reallie goodie goodie stuff that costs more than my car does(yeah! I drive cheap cars too).

    So in that thread, I explained to TBB that the Manfrotto MG486 ballhead is not one that I'd recommend. Even tho I'd given it slightly unfavourable review, it's not a bad head.... really!.. main gripe, it's too tall. Easy to operate slightly cumbersome in terms of physical stature.. which means that it has protruding bits that protrude more so than most other ballhead types I've seen.
    my biggest gripe recently(for a while actually) was with a specific set of lenses, this ballhead suddenly became a chore to use. I'd take the time to frame the scene as I wanted.. taking great care sometimes to make sure an animals head is in the correct part of the frame and so forth(I can be really really pedantic about framing!!.. worries me in that I'll end up losing shots), but when I framed the scene, lightly holding onto the lens/camera tightened down the ballhead, with the very easy to use lockdown knob.. I would always lose a few millimeters off the top of the frame. So if I wanted a large lizardy looking animal holding onto a tree trunk orientated at about 45° and wanted the tip of her nose pointed towards and about 5cm from one of the top corners, the ballhead would droop just enough to crop out the tip of the nose or some crap. End result would be that I'd have to give myself a bit more leeway by framing unnaturally upwards and trying to estimate how much more I'd need(which was always wrong). In the time it takes to do this properly lizardy looking animal is tired of waiting and moves up 5cm more.. leaving me to redo the entire framing process again!

    ..Stoopid manfrotto!
    So I tried to explain some of the problems that comes with this type of gear to TBB, without trying to write an essay where an essay wasn't needed, ie. as a reply in someone elses thread. That's what this thread is for! )

    now I gotta tell ya.. I did stuff up tho! Yep!(I usually do tho, so there's no reason to leave AP just yet) but I was rushed.

    I incompetently fixed the problem before I thought of the idea on how to display what the problem actually was. That is I pulled the baldhead apart and cleaned it out but I didn't post a pic of the actual scale of the problem(you just have to take my word for it when I explain it).

    Due to TBB's ballhead thread, I followed a link to a ballhead manufacturer called acratech, and in one of their products marketing guff they claim no need for dirty grease.. etc, etc.. for the ballhead operation. Which makes perfectly good and sound sense. A ballhead is not a universal joint in a driveshaft of a car, or a wheel bearing.. its not spinning at 5000rpm, it barely moves at all on the whole.. how many times do you physically sin the ballhead around. Yeah, grease makes it nice and smooth to glide smoothly from one point, to another point 1mm to the left.. that's way cool and obviously speaks of ooodles of quality from the manufacturer. Sooth operation should be due to care in details and craftsmanship. Smooth surfaces or appropriate materials on the surfaces should be the reason that the ball moves smoothly.. not Mobil1!!

    So I pulled the ballhead as far apart as I dared too.. where my inherent laziness in walking to the next room to get a pair of circlip pliers overpowered my intrinsic curiosity in knowing what was beneath the circlip. I don't care.. and at the time I didn't care.. but what was immediately obvious was the torpid state of the greasy garbage manfrotto uses on this particular ballhead(which looks identical to the crap they also use on their 488 series ballheads too). this one is hard to see tho, as mine is a particular model that uses a rubberglove over the ball so that it doesnt get dirty or cause dirtyness either.
    So if a lowly stressed ballhead doesn't need grease, why not clean it off?

    That's it! That's all I did and while the ball now moves a lot more freely(maybe the grease became too sticky ) I cleaned it out by spraying liberal and copious amounts of WD-40 and immediately the grippy grease lost it's hold on the ballhead(when lightly loosened). it took almost forever to wipe the WD spray residue off, and that would have been easier had I have removed that large circlip!... and it's now dry enough with just the lightest film of WD remaining

    BUT!!! it now locks down tight.

    I just mounted the 300/2.8 onto it and it didnt' budge. '
    So not only does that goopious gloopy grippy grease cause more friction, but it must also cause slight sloppy slackness too!

    Bewdy! Manfrotto stumbled on the only grease known to mankind that lubricates and causes friction at the same time! ... but unfortunately those qualities work against common sense and therefore as the user would want them too.
    The friction impedes smooth operation, and the lubrication seems to work against holding the jigger down tight when required!

    That's what I wanted! I paid nearly $600(all up, with many plates) to watch the forces of nature opposing each other at the cost of my sanity!

    So now the hilarity is over(I'm about to go back and mount the TC's onto the 300mm and see if she's going to hold on for much longer capt'n.

    Quick clean was all that it needed.. nay! In fact, a clean is something it shouldn't have needed.. no manfrotto grease is what it really needed!
    Whilst I did clean the ballhead, I also cleaned the base out too.. it had the same goop slapped all over the insides. panning was always smooth with a light fluid friction. No complaints there. but no grease was a bad idea in the base. I opted for some copper based grease for the base. Sprayed on and sticky so it doesn't eventually drip out(i hope). smoother than before too.. but it was perfectly workable as it originally was.

    herez and couple of pics I just tookcoz you have to take pics of stuff, if you just tested gear!)


    mantle clock. In past times, where I framed here(and took reasonably great care in framing too), the ballhead would have dropped severely where the top of the frame would easily have been more in line with the 'scalloped in' embellishment at the top of the clock.(easily!.. maybe even lower). now all I have to do is frame. hold lightly and slowly turn the friction adjustment knob. ballhead is locked down nicely and doesn't droop any more.


    oh! and because I cant bring myself to sell the tammy 300/2.8 I like to see 100% crops taken with it. yeah.. it ain't no uber 300/2.8 ED AF-S VR XIXX.. but at 1/10th of the price.. i reckon it does just enough to make it worth holding on too for a while yet.

    First of all I'd like to thank Kevin(trublubiker) for his bald head, or ballhead thread.. or whatever!... for posting the question. Which then had me browsing more gear that I probably can't afford(yet) and then thinking about the good ol days before grease was even invented. Well... at first I wondered what prehistoric caveman would have used on his ballhead gear, if petroleum products were thousands of years yet to come.. basically naught!(just like acratech do).
    Then of course I started to think how prehistoric and backwards acratech's line of thinking was, which inevitably lead me to conclude that I wanna be a rockstar.. or caveman.. or Fred Flinstone!! ... whatever gets me off this slippery slope I was previously precariously perched upon.

    Mounted the TC's to the lens too, and also a massive improvement there too.


    that's the 840mm(300mm + 1.4x + 2.0x TC's) version.
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
    {Sigma}; ->10-20/4-5.6 : 50/1.4 : 12-24/4.5-5.6II : 150-600mm|S
    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC


  2. #2
    Still in the Circle of Confusion Cage's Avatar
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    Jeez Arthur, I really didn't intend to open such a huge can of worms!

    I'm emailing you a Bex and a cuppa. Take both, lie down, rest and recuperate.

    So, how is the 468? 486? 488? Gawd, now I'm as confussed as you.

    Nice clock by the way.

    Cheers

    Kevin
    Cheers
    Kev

    D600 : D7200 and too much stuff to list

  3. #3
    A royal pain in the bum!
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    lol thanks dude

    clock is there only for testing purposes.. a cheapo Tawainese contraption that used to produce the most annoying chime noise. I'm normally one to enjoy the sweet serene sounds of a properly created and melodic chime from a proper clock.. but the tweet tweet pseudo MIDI sound emanating from the clocks 3mm speaker was ruthlessly disabled(wirecutters! )

    LOL!

    486 is the daddy of the three(stupidly confusing!) .... 488 is about a mid sized ballhead and 486 is a smaller travel sized ballhead. Yeah.. now I can frame and forget. That is now that's it spick and span and smelling like a paint factory.. I frame the scene and twist it locked down tight and she doesn't droop on me...(the ballhead of course!! )

    With the 300mm and the two TCs mounted, i have to be diligent with how I place the lens in the clamp tho.. i slide it forward a touch to get the camera-lens balance just right. if I have it all the way back, there will be a very slight(1mm) shift upward in the frame, but not noticable if the COG is front heavy. The problem here is that the camera being further back(with 4-5 inches of extension) unbalances a fairly heavish setup. the lens alone balances nicely on the tripod.. were i placed the QR plate on the tripod collar pretty close to a good balance point(another reason why you should have a long tripod collar foot, and not the ones that the manufacturers recommend.
    ie. I noticed that on the RRS site they have listed a few plates for specific lenses. the length of the plate they recommend for many lenses, i feel, is too short. For most lenses the minimum I'd want(now) is 90mm.

    Remember too now, when you mount the lens to the ballhead via the tripod collar you rotate the ballhead so that the clamp is 90° to how you normally attach the camera alone. So instead of sliding sideways, it will slide forward and backwards.. otherwise your camera and lens face sideways!

    anyhow.. all is now OK.. not as bad as it seemed a few hours ago, anyhow

  4. #4
    Still in the Circle of Confusion Cage's Avatar
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    Arthur, I'm still trying to get my head around how a ballhead with a stated 30Kg carrying capacity, will only support a 300mm f4 lens if the tripod collar is used as the mount point, as it would be. Total weight of lens + camera is less than 2.5Kgs. Go figure.

    I've sent Markins another email asking them to clarify this statement.

    I'll let you know their response.

    Kevin

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    Bloody Hell!! My non bald head hurts. What a read.
    I did however consider then take your view and cleaned the crud out of my little Manfrotto 482.
    It's so much better now.
    So whilst my head still spins, I thank you Arthur.
    Peter.

    Some of my photo's are at www.peterking.id.au

  6. #6
    A royal pain in the bum!
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    Quote Originally Posted by peterking View Post
    .....
    So whilst my head still spins, I thank you Arthur.
    ok, now that makes at least two of us.. as Kevin seems to have escaped unscathed!

    you must also know that, i was once labeled a 'head turner' by someone that I really respected.. I now know what they meant with that comment

    it's funny how I used to think that greasing something was a good thing.. now I know better.

    I still have my old 488 ballhead sitting unused for about 3-4 years.
    A terrible ballhead for almost any lens I reckon.. except maybe a pancake or voightlander 40mm lens or something
    (lol! only semi joking, but mounting the 300/2.8 on it, it simply doesn't hold the weight, even though the camera/lens combo is well balanced.. it just keeps drooping slowly till it reaches an end point.

    I'll have a go at cleaning that one too, hopefully tomorrow.

  7. #7
    A royal pain in the bum!
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    I just cleaned the 488 ballhead too, basically the same deal. clogged up with crud around the ball, which made it both more sticky and not as grippy especially with a heavy lens.
    The slight stickiness isn't really a problem, as the difference between clean and not clean is only noticeable at very finely loosened ball pressures. In fact it could be argued that having it more sticky with light opening pressure is better as there is less tendency to 'DROP' suddenly.. very easy with a very front heavy lens like a 300/2.8
    haven't used this ballhead in what feels like a hundred years.. Worlds apart in terms of feel and user friendliness compared to even the MG486.

    Cleaning it out helped it in at least one of the problems it's always had.. much better now at holding the very front heavy 300/2.8... even at extreme angles and with me placing pressure on the lens(or body) to deliberately cause slippage in the 488's grip on the lens. It had none of it!.. great to see this now.. I remember in trying to frame the moon a few times in the very distant past, it used to slowly droop with the heavy 300 on it. I know that the moon moves out of the frame slowly.. but this was me just watching the ballhead slowly droop down from a bystanders point of view! I remember laughing at it as it slowly drooped.. no amount of tightening the ball locking knob would compensate for this weakness.. and it was all due to the grease manfrotto uses.
    Now with a clean ball, but with a light covering of WD-40, this thing now feels solid, and more trustworthy.

    But there is still the problem of framing drop.. to most users this is not an issue. 10mm lenses and so forth will not see this annoyances. You may also not see this if you're using a consumer grade 300mm lens mounted via the camera mount.
    With the 300/2.8 mounted with the tripod collar(of course) i still get this framing recomposure, even tho the camera and lens combo is reasonably well balanced. The RC2 plates may also have something to do with the problem, as they're not configurable to allow adjustment of the COG of the camera lens combo.
    The drop is not massive now. I do remember it to be much worse, but relying on memory compared to actual results, I can't really quantify it.



    It's pretty obvious for those that care. trying to maintain a specific horizon is close to impossible and guesswork is required. the drop looks to be about 5-10mm or so in actual distance, this is a bit extreme as the focus distance was about 3-3.5meters.. on a 300mm that's pretty close.. but it gives you an idea of the problem.. and that there is a problem.

    No matter how or what i tried, framing the scene with the central horizon guides in the vf set to the green line was impossible. I tried very light pressures on the locking knob first and it held well, with small drops in framing, but the framing was easy to knock or may eventually sag or raise itself, as the ball wasn't properly locked down. If I then started to lock it down with more pressure on the knob, it would slowly drop to settle at that red line.
    The more pressure I applied with the locking knob the more it dropped.
    Leaving it only lightly loose is not an option.
    Annoying as hell for this situation.. but as the pro's always say.. if you have to use too much pressure on the locking knob, then the ballhead is weak(ie. not recommended).

    the ballhead has it's uses for less demanding applications lightweight gear, shorter focal lengths.. etc. add a 500mm or a 300mm with stacked TC's .. etc.. if that gear is large.. then it's obvious.. you need to spend more on the ballhead to start with, and maybe the tripod legs eventually.
    At least the MG486 is working a lot better than before.

  8. #8
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    my partly bald head is spinning LOL
    Steve


    Equipment: A couple of Canons with some lenses and a heap of enthusiasm



  9. #9
    It's all about the Light!
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    And I thought AK might be having a go at me

    Ball heads are ok for wildlife but not so much for 'accurate' needs.
    I sold my 3-way head and am happy to live with the bald ball head.
    regards, Kym Gallery Honest & Direct Constructive Critique Appreciated! ©
    Digital & film, Bits of glass covering 10mm to 500mm, and other stuff



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