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FORUMS General Gear Talk Tripods, Monopods & Other Camera Support 
Thread started 09 Oct 2016 (Sunday) 03:28
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Understanding the knobs on my ballhead

 
heldGaze
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Post edited over 4 years ago by heldGaze.
     
Oct 09, 2016 03:28 |  #1

I recently got my first ballhead ever, a Sirui K-20X. I've always used Pan & Tilt, but with my new legs, I decided to give a ballhead a try.

The instructions are less than perfect, so I want to confirm that my understanding of how to use these knobs correctly is accurate. The panning base locking knob, and quick release clamp knob are straightforward. What I have a question about are the main locking knob and friction adjuster dial. The main locking knob (MLK) is the largest knob on the side, with the friction adjuster dial (FAD) inset on the MLK. There is also a calibration ring around the MLK.

What I think is the correct way to use these controls is this... the MLK is used to adjust how much tension is on the ball, as well as lock it. The FAD can be used to control how far the MLK is able to turn. So when I have figured out how much tension I want on the ball when I unlock it (the loosest I want it to be), to move my camera around, I can adjust the FAD such that the MLK will not be able to open up any further than that point. Once the FAD is set, I only use the MLK when in the field to loosen or lock the ball. If I switch gear to a different body & lens combination, I may want to have a different amount of tension on the ball when I unlock it. That is when I would again adjust the FAD. Using it this way, I'll never accidentally unlock the ball and have it so loose that the camera just flops over. Also, once I've set the FAD, I can spin the calibration dial such that the zero mark is wherever the MLK is when fully opened. Lastly, I could use the FAD to lock the MLK completely so it is unable to turn. Like if I have it locked for very long exposures and don't want it to move, or am shooting an event and want to maintain that exact amount of tension on the ball.

Is this how other people are using the controls on their ballhead? Is there a different or perhaps better approach? Am I misunderstanding the use of the knobs in some way? Am I doing everything right, but there are also other use cases I'm not thinking about?

Thanks. I'm doing a bunch of testing and getting comfortable with my new gear this weekend before taking it out. I'd hate to make mistake, and have several grand worth of camera and lens smash on the pavement.


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crbinson
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Oct 09, 2016 08:28 |  #2

I think it will make more sense to you once you perform step 7 in the instruction manual.

http://media.sirui.de/​bdas_eng/KX-Serie_en.pdf (external link)

This adjustment may not be the desirable for all body/lens combinations.


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Trvlr323
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Oct 09, 2016 09:59 |  #3

I love these heads. Essentially your post is correct and I think you have a good understanding of what the controls do. There is no 'best' way to set up MLB and FAD. What is in the manual (above) is a basically a recipe to keep the camera steady with the MLK tightened but allow you to still move your rig if desired without resorting to loosening the MLK. My approach is to set the friction for my heaviest lens. That way I don't have to worry about reseting it for every lens change and I just have to add a bit more pressure to move the rig with a lighter lenses. Sirui heads are very smooth so I often just open up MLK slightly, make my adjustment and retighten. It will all depend on how much precision you want. Once you get going with it you'll find what is best for you and it will become intuitive. Hope that helps.


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CanonCameraFan
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Oct 09, 2016 10:15 |  #4

Good thread! I just received my first full size ball head; a Photo Clam PC-40, so found this input very useful. Thank you.


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heldGaze
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Oct 09, 2016 14:30 |  #5

Thanks for your replies everyone.

crbinson wrote in post #18152265 (external link)
I think it will make more sense to you once you perform step 7 in the instruction manual.

http://media.sirui.de/​bdas_eng/KX-Serie_en.pdf (external link)

This adjustment may not be the desirable for all body/lens combinations.


Yeah, this is what I mean about the instructions being less than perfect. Once you turn the FAD clockwise until it stops, you can no longer adjust the MLK. So the second part of the second to last sentence in your screenshot doesn't quite make sense. It could be written a little better, more clearly. I walked through the entire instruction manual the night I first got the ballhead (Friday), and then just played around with it a bunch and came to my understanding in the OP.

nqjudo wrote in post #18152317 (external link)
I love these heads. Essentially your post is correct and I think you have a good understanding of what the controls do. There is no 'best' way to set up MLB and FAD. What is in the manual (above) is a basically a recipe to keep the camera steady with the MLK tightened but allow you to still move your rig if desired without resorting to loosening the MLK. My approach is to set the friction for my heaviest lens. That way I don't have to worry about reseting it for every lens change and I just have to add a bit more pressure to move the rig with a lighter lenses. Sirui heads are very smooth so I often just open up MLK slightly, make my adjustment and retighten. It will all depend on how much precision you want. Once you get going with it you'll find what is best for you and it will become intuitive. Hope that helps.

Yeah, I'm very happy with my purchase, and I got over $70 off the ballhead with my Adorama bonus points. The name of the controls are a little weird, as the friction adjustment dial doesn't adjust the friction of the ballhead directly, it's more of a control of the MLK. I think that section of the manual is if you want to set up the tripod to be able to keep moving the camera, like if you're shooting sports or something like that. But I do a lot of landscape/cityscape/as​trophotography, and will want to lock it down, and then loosen the MLK to recompose the frame.

Like all tools, one gets more proficient with usage. I just don't want several grand toppling to the pavement my first time out in the field with this thing. So I'll play around some more with it in the house this week. But I like that you can use the FAD to prevent the MLK from opening up too much and losing all tension on the ball, having your lens flip down and the momentum causing the tripod to fall over.

CanonCameraFan wrote in post #18152334 (external link)
Good thread! I just received my first full size ball head; a Photo Clam PC-40, so found this input very useful. Thank you.

I'm glad you found the information useful. A little of the blind leading the blind, but we'll get it figured out.


Cameras: Sony α7R II, Canon 40D, Samsung Galaxy S7
Lenses: Canon 11-24mm f/4 L, 24-70mm f/2.8 L II, 50mm f/1.8 II, Sigma 18-200mm
Telescope: Meade LXD55 SN-6" F=762mm f/5, with a 2x Barlow T-Mount
Retired Cameras: Canon SD300, Nokia N95, Galaxy S, S3 & S4
C&C Always Appreciated

  
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Understanding the knobs on my ballhead
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