It’s one thing to come out every day with good solid advice for how to do anything, whether it’s manage your finances, run a business, or (as is the case here), how to take better pictures. It’s another thing entirely to follow ones’ own advice. There are countless instructors out there that offer great learning resources, and have an online presence that illustrates how to do things correctly, yet many would have to fall back on the axiom of “Do as I do, not as I say.” We’re all guilty of this occasionally, but I try to stay more to the side of practicing what I preach.
For instance – I’ve written articles and posts about maintaining your gear and checking things periodically (the most detailed of these can be found here). This advice is good advice and extends to your entire gear collection – not just the cameras and lenses. It includes tripods, ball heads, batteries, flash cards, and so much more. Cleaning and maintaining your gear is a ritual that we all have. Some may be more detail-specific than others who choose to send gear off for extensive cleaning and maintenance, so it’s really a matter of personal preference.
While recently working on my 10-stop filter project (which was intended to be published this month), I noticed that my ball head was coming loose. Several times I had taken my allen wrench to the base and tried to tighten things down. Short term fixes proved fruitless though, and I ended up having to send it off to Bogen/Manfrotto for a true service call. It might have to do with the little spring that I saw go flying out of the ball head while on my Adirondack trip but I can’t be sure.
I’ve had this post in the works for some time now, and with all but a few shots completed, believed it within the time frame to finish the project up this month. It’s not in the cards though, as the tension spring for the tripod ball head has loosened sufficiently that I no longer feel comfortable relying on it to keep the SLR securely in place. Since my DIY efforts to keep things maintained were not sufficient, the head has now officially left the premises and is en route to be repaired by the folks at Manfrotto. It was actually a pretty good deal – shipping costs only to get it off to them for an estimate, and regardless of whether repaired, they return free of charge.
Given that it’s only a tension spring in the base of the ball head, I can’t imagine the cost being too exorbitant, so the fix should be taken care of in short order, and I’ll get the gear back and be ready for shooting again! It does mean that the promised DIY project I mentioned in the newsletter, (you do subscribe to the newsletter, right?) will not materialize in September as originally anticipated. But, in the interests of practicing what I preach, the ball head was sent off for maintenance, so it looks like the DIY project will have to wait until October.
Since the ball head (and legs) are starting to show some wear and tear, it may be time to retire the heavy aluminum set and look to invest in some carbon fiber legs. With all the options out there ranging from the Manfrotto line to the Gitzo line and everything in between – what does the reading audience say? Any suggestions for what to do moving forward? This will likely become a full-fledged post of its own tomorrow on things to consider, but would welcome some feedback from the reading audience up front. Sound off in the comments on your own preferences – I’d love to hear what directions different people have taken and why. Until tomorrow then…happy shooting!