Tripod Help V2

Started Apr 2, 2007 | Discussions thread
NRothschild Veteran Member • Posts: 6,216
Re: 3530LSV & BH-55 Arrived


I do most of my shooting at eye level, but much of that is birding with a gimbal. I find that one of the benefits of a tripod is to be able to frame a scene standing up comfortably with no neck strain. That isn't always the best composition, of course- all depends on what you are shooting.

The sweet spot... this is the least amount of tension on the ball that allows it to stay put when you are not using it, but has minimal friction so that you can accurately frame the scene and then let go. I rarely lock my head down when I shoot (with a Markins M10 and M20). It is the nature of spherical ballheads (RRS/Markins/Kirk- everything except A/S) that the steeper the angle (up or down), the more more tension you need to set. The end result is that you will set the tension for some maximum angle, and then if you need an even steeper angle, you tighten the main locking knob a hair to get that extra level of tension, or reset the tension control if you will be shooting and reframing at that angle for some time (as in lunar imaging or maybe a bird high in a tgree that is moving about. or maybe shooting down for macro work).

Here is my procedure with my Markins heads, which will probably apply to the BH-55:

1) Set tension moderately loose- not loose enough that the head (and gear) flops over, but not overly tight).

2) Point the lens up about 40 degrees. Supporting the gear with one hand, loosen or tighten tension so that if it was any looser, the head would creep down.

You should now be able to position the head anywhere + - about 40 degrees and it should stay put. You should be able to accurately frame the scene, even with a long lens, and it should stay put. The movement should be smooth, which is part of the accurate framing thing. I have heard that RRS heads are sometimes not so smooth out of the box and need some use before they break in. If you don't like the smoothness, give it some time before you give up on it, and/or call RRS and ask about that.

The A-S head is elliptical, and the benefit of that design is that you will be able to hold steeper angles than with other heads. Since there is never a free lunch with anything, the A-S head may be difficult to move to extreme angles (I have seen this mentioned once or twice here).

I've only played wth the heads you mentioned briefly in the field, so the above is somewhat general. The idea is that when the main locking knob is fully loose, the head should not move or flop over. Except for extreme angles (BH-55), the main knob is generally used as an on-off switch, with the minimum tension set with the tension knob (or screw as with A-S). You should not have to be constantly tweaking the main knob to get good tension- the sweetspot is the point where tension is adequate even with the main knob fully loose. At least that is the way it works with my Markins.

I hope the above makes sense. It is difficult to explain, but more obvious once you've played around with it. Few people try more than one head- let us know what you think.


leftheaded wrote:

UPS just delivered a 3530LSV and BH-55 about an hour ago. First
impression - wow! The setup is taller than I guess I expected.
Legs fully extended, ballhead, camera is right about eye level for
me - I'm 6'... I can't imagine how I'll use it fully extended
yet... I guess only for shooting things at or above my eye level.
Guess I could get away with just using 2 sections. This is already
making wonder what the 3540LS would be like with only 3 sections
extended... and just using the 4th sections when needed.

The ballhead is pretty nice... I'm coming from a cheap $30
camcorder tripod so this is very different. I like it, but I want
to give it a proper shakedown and figure out if it works for me.
Afraid I have a lot to learn.. better break out the manual - don't
want to use it incorrectly.. or at least get the most out of it.

And I want to learn more about this "sweet spot" and what that
means. How can I find the sweet spot for my setup?

-- hide signature --


Post (hide subjects) Posted by
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow