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Upgrading the head of a cheap tripod
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 9:54 am    Post subject: Upgrading the head of a cheap tripod Reply with quote

We've discussed in other threads about tripods, weigths and pricing.

My dream tripod would cost 1 (or less), weight 0 gramm and be robust and stable. Since it doesn't exist (yet) I decided to go for a professional one, so I got a nice second hand Manfrotto 055BPRO with a Manfrotto head. After not much time I realized it was too heavy for my back, so I was leaving it at home. I do very little studio photography so it make no sense to have such a nice tripod sitting at home for occasional use, then I sold it.

I was still keeping an old EXELAS french tripod, but even very light, it's too unstable. I use if sometimes for the Caplio GX100, that is extremely ligth. But I needed a more solid one for the SLRs.

One saturday when shopping at a commercial center, I saw a nice Starblitz TS-125, seemed solid and light and it was just 35, so I bought it.

I realized the tripod was not what I supposed it was the first time I put the Canon 350D with the Tamron 35-135 on it. The head was too loose, even the light pressure of pressing the shutter trigger made it to shake.
No good.
So I quiclky thought in replacing the head by a 3/8 withwoorth screw (the standard one for photography equipment) so I could place a professional head if necessary.

The first step was to dissasemble the current head.
To do so, I unscrew a small screw in the column, just under the head:

That allowed to unscrew the full head turning it counterclockwise, and I got the clean column at hand:

Once this done, I had to look for parts to build up a base for the head. I went to the local hardware store, (they know me very well, and at any time I come there the first question always is: "What strange thing are you looking for?"). I asked for 3/8 withwoorth screws and the young man said something about "... in the past...", but his father (an old man who grew up the shop) that was sitting behind the counter reading the newspaper, said "There is a box full of them at the top of that shelves".
The son took a ladder and climbed up, spent some time digging in and after a while came back with a box with a variety of 3/8 screws.

(BTW, this is where I found the spring for the battery adapters Wink)

I choose these:

And these black washers. And also a two components epoxy adhesive. (This one proved not to be strong enough later on). This washer was intended for the base of the head.

But I needed some element to keep the screw centered into the column. I had measured the inside diameter of the column, and I also got these smaller washers that fit quite exactly inside the column.

With these elements, I build a "torpedoe" that fits the column and keeps the screw centered. First, the head base built from the big washer and a nut:

And the "torpedoe":

Now it's time to cover all the torpedoe with enough epoxy cement put it inside the column and let it dry. After 24 hours, we can screw the top in, and voil?!. You have a brand new professional and light tripod...

And a pro head fitting:

As a final comment, the cement epoxy used was not strong enough, and after a while the thing got dissassembled...
So I had to ressort to a professional strong adhesive that it's 1200 Kg/cm2, used to glue walls in building construction:

With that last one, the tripod has been working fine for one year now.


PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice job! I hope it was worth the work and that your tripod is steady enough to hold the head and a cam/lens.

PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LucisPictor wrote:
Nice job! I hope it was worth the work and that your tripod is steady enough to hold the head and a cam/lens.

Thanks Carsten!.
Yes it, is. And much lighter than the Manfrotto...
I'll post some pictures with the new smaller head and the camera on top.


PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow! Great idea!

PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bravo! Nice job.
Tripod screws in 1/4" and 3/8" Whitworth are getting hard to find now, like yourself I sometimes find stuff like that in old forgotten stock.

PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2008 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is how it does looks today: I replaced the head by a smaller and lighter Ultrlalyt one...