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Thread: How does good friction control knob work?

  1. #1
    Equilibrium8's Avatar
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    How does good friction control knob work?

    Hi

    I have a relatively good tripod (secure enough for me), but the friction knob is very weird. It is the same knob that allows you to remove the head from the bottom of the base. The friction control part is just the first few degrees of the turn. This results in the head becoming looser wobbly) as the part it controls turns.

    Is this how most friction control works? I've searched but I can't find any info about the inner working of these things.

    I'm not sure if my explanation is clear. I'm finding it tricky to explain.

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    Re: How does good friction control knob work?

    Kenny could you supply us with the make and model so we have a better idea of what you are describing.

    Cheers:

    Allan

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    Equilibrium8's Avatar
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    Re: How does good friction control knob work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Polar01 View Post
    Kenny could you supply us with the make and model so we have a better idea of what you are describing.

    Cheers:

    Allan
    It's a Fotopro TX-pro II ballhead. It is the same as this one http://www.flickr.com/photos/tdp_photos/8173876526/
    I only find it on Chinese sites, so I doubt it is well known abroad. I have found one or two reviews on US sites though.

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: How does good friction control knob work?

    I don't know this particular design, but the behaviour does not sound ideal. I have two tripods ball heads and in one the ball head is esentially just screwed onto the legs and is held in place by friction. On the second unit, there is an allen screw that is used to lock it in place.

    I wonder if what you are seeing is just a symptom of your ballhead not being screwed down tightly enough, rather than deliberate design on the part of the manufacturer. I get the same type of issue if my one ball head (the friction fit one) starts to loosen up. Try to tighten up the base of the ballhead by turning it clockwise until it has tightened up.

    If this is an ongoing issue, you might want to get a small bottle of Loc-Tite (the non-permanent type) and apply a drop to the ball-head threads to ensure that the head does not loosen from the legs.

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    Re: How does good friction control knob work?

    That doesn't sound like a friction knob but rather just the mounting knob. Many ballheads have a knob for locking and one for tension on the ball. The idea behind the tension adjustment is that the knob is set to a pressure that will hold the camera in position,without locking, and it will not move on its own under the weight of the camera. It is loose enough that additional pressure, from you, will move the camera to wherever you wish then hold on tight enough again that it won't move from where you put it. That tension adjustment and it's ability to stay at a set pressure to hold your camera is what separates the good from the bad.

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    Equilibrium8's Avatar
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    Re: How does good friction control knob work?

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    I don't know this particular design, but the behaviour does not sound ideal. I have two tripods ball heads and in one the ball head is esentially just screwed onto the legs and is held in place by friction. On the second unit, there is an allen screw that is used to lock it in place.

    I wonder if what you are seeing is just a symptom of your ballhead not being screwed down tightly enough, rather than deliberate design on the part of the manufacturer. I get the same type of issue if my one ball head (the friction fit one) starts to loosen up. Try to tighten up the base of the ballhead by turning it clockwise until it has tightened up.

    If this is an ongoing issue, you might want to get a small bottle of Loc-Tite (the non-permanent type) and apply a drop to the ball-head threads to ensure that the head does not loosen from the legs.
    Thanks! It does loosen up when the knob is loose. If I tighten it up, I won't be able to make pan adjustments. I think that is one of the things the knob is used for for.

    I'll try that though.

  7. #7
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: How does good friction control knob work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Equilibrium8 View Post
    Thanks! It does loosen up when the knob is loose. If I tighten it up, I won't be able to make pan adjustments. I think that is one of the things the knob is used for for.

    I'll try that though.
    Normally there are two places where your ball head can rotate; the mounting screw, where the ball head attaches to the legs of the tripod. You should be able to remove and replace the tripod head if you, for instance wanted to put on a pan head, rather than a ball head.
    The friction knob should be connected to a different part of the ball head mechanism.

    When I look at the image you have attached a link to, there is a two-part black ring that sits between the orange upper ball head and the lower orange of the tripod column. The bottom part of the ring is what you need to tighten up; the top ring should turn when you loosen up the friction knob.

  8. #8

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    Re: How does good friction control knob work?

    Kenny: when I look at the image there are two knobs, one one the right hand side of the image which is a large knob with numbers on it and another smaller one on the left hand side of the image. I would guess that the knob on the left side of the image is the one that allows the head to spin 360 deg around the horizonal axis of the tripod that would allow you to do pans. The larger knob controls the pressure applied to the ball with the camera clamp allowing you to adjust the pitch and sideways roll of the camera and than lock it down so it does not move. If you back off the pressure way off you can rotate (spin) the camera 360 degs in the horional plane, however if you do not do this and try to spin the camera with out backing the pressure off the small knob you can likely lossen the head ballhead base from the tripod head thus the head as you say gets wobbly (done this myself and it will not be the last time).
    I would suggest that you only use the use the main knob that holds the ball with the camera clamp to adjust the camera pitch and roll, the smaller knob to pan the camera to the right or left. Try not to pan using the ball only, pan by spinning the whole base.
    I not not know how you have your camera setup on the tripod, however I will assume that you like myself are right handed. This is how I have mine setup. The knob to control swing is on the left so I use my left hand to loosen and tighten it, so my right hand controls the knob that adjusts pitch and roll. So I put attach the camera to the clamp, look through viewsscreen, left hand adjust swing knob, using right hand to swing unit, like it lock with left. Now use right to loosen right knob while using left had to steady camera now both hands adjust pitch and roll, steady with left while right hand tightens main knob to lock in place.
    The thing to remember it to always swing the camera using the head not the just the ball, if you use the ball to swing you will loosen the lower unit from the top of the tripod.

    Cheers:

    Allan

  9. #9
    Equilibrium8's Avatar
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    Re: How does good friction control knob work?

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    Normally there are two places where your ball head can rotate; the mounting screw, where the ball head attaches to the legs of the tripod. You should be able to remove and replace the tripod head if you, for instance wanted to put on a pan head, rather than a ball head.
    The friction knob should be connected to a different part of the ball head mechanism.

    When I look at the image you have attached a link to, there is a two-part black ring that sits between the orange upper ball head and the lower orange of the tripod column. The bottom part of the ring is what you need to tighten up; the top ring should turn when you loosen up the friction knob.
    Thanks! I think I got it.

  10. #10
    Equilibrium8's Avatar
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    Re: How does good friction control knob work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Polar01 View Post
    Kenny: when I look at the image there are two knobs, one one the right hand side of the image which is a large knob with numbers on it and another smaller one on the left hand side of the image. I would guess that the knob on the left side of the image is the one that allows the head to spin 360 deg around the horizonal axis of the tripod that would allow you to do pans. The larger knob controls the pressure applied to the ball with the camera clamp allowing you to adjust the pitch and sideways roll of the camera and than lock it down so it does not move. If you back off the pressure way off you can rotate (spin) the camera 360 degs in the horional plane, however if you do not do this and try to spin the camera with out backing the pressure off the small knob you can likely lossen the head ballhead base from the tripod head thus the head as you say gets wobbly (done this myself and it will not be the last time).
    I would suggest that you only use the use the main knob that holds the ball with the camera clamp to adjust the camera pitch and roll, the smaller knob to pan the camera to the right or left. Try not to pan using the ball only, pan by spinning the whole base.
    I not not know how you have your camera setup on the tripod, however I will assume that you like myself are right handed. This is how I have mine setup. The knob to control swing is on the left so I use my left hand to loosen and tighten it, so my right hand controls the knob that adjusts pitch and roll. So I put attach the camera to the clamp, look through viewsscreen, left hand adjust swing knob, using right hand to swing unit, like it lock with left. Now use right to loosen right knob while using left had to steady camera now both hands adjust pitch and roll, steady with left while right hand tightens main knob to lock in place.
    The thing to remember it to always swing the camera using the head not the just the ball, if you use the ball to swing you will loosen the lower unit from the top of the tripod.

    Cheers:

    Allan
    Thanks Allan. Great explanation. I think that is exactly what I was doing.

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