Do I need to Buy A New Tripod ?

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I know, we all think it. Is it time to trade in this old tripod for a newer, bigger, “badder” tripod? Maybe I’ll go with one of those cool, sleek, black Manfrottos with a new head; or maybe I’ll go with a bright, colorful, more portable Mefoto tripod? Well, maybe we don’t all think about these things, but as the “Tripod Guy” of Spartan Photo Center, I get asked these kinds of questions a lot. Here are a few questions to ask yourself in order to find a good match for you, or if you should consider getting a new tripod.

Question 1: What am I using this tripod for?
Are you in the studio? Are you hiking outdoors, going bird-watching, or backpacking? Are you going to be doing more portraiture, action shots, macro, or landscape work? These are some of the questions we are going to ask when you walk in the door to look at tripods. It’s important to know what you have in mind for this tripod before you purchase it. Many people don’t know that different tripods are built for different kinds of work and equipment. All tripods have a weight rating showing how much they can hold, in other words you aren’t going to put a Canon 5D MarkIII with a 70-200mm lens on a baby Sirui travel tripod, it’s just not going to work out in your favor. Also, if you’re really interested in macro work, you might want to look into a tripod with a center column that swings down to the side for a better close up view.

Question 2: Is my old tripod really that terrible? 

Most Manfrotto and other high end tripods have parts available to repair your investment. If you’re missing just a small part, it might be better to just fix your tripod. You can actually find parts at manfrottotripodparts.com or bogentripodparts.com. However, if you have a part that is broken and you are thinking about buying a new tripod, go back to question one. Is your current tripod servicing your needs? If you have a tripod that doesn’t have replacement parts, you will have to send in your tripod for repair, which can get rather pricey.  Ask question number one again. If you aren’t satisfied with how this one is working for you, you might be better off investing in a new tripod that will have replacement parts available. How old is your tripod? If it’s from the 1960′s or 1970′s, they probably don’t repair your tripod anymore, or even yet have replacement parts for your tripod. If they don’t have parts for your tripod, it’s probably time to say goodbye to your good old friend. It’s not you this time, it really is them.

Question 3: Should I go with the pricey one or just go with the inexpensive one?

This is the sticky part. Ask yourself again, what are you using this tripod for? If you’re a pro and you’re making a living off of your photography business, it might be better to invest in a heavier duty, more pricey,  piece of equipment that is going to last and make you look good on the job. There are a wide range of options for people who are long time veterans of the photography business and those who are just beginning to dip their toes in the waters. If you’re a hobbyist, or you are just using your tripod for family photos and trips, it would be a good idea to look at a light duty tripod. That being said, be warned that if you purchase an inexpensive tripod and it breaks, and is out of warranty or doesn’t come with a warranty, your repair cost is probably going to be about half or more than what your tripod is worth. My day is riddled with distraught customers who realize that their bargain $50 tripod from the thrift store is going to require a $20.00 quick release in order to function, or be sent to the manufacturer for a $50.00+ repair. Make sure to ask when you come in if parts are readily available for your brand of tripod. If not, does the tripod come with a warranty? If you’re just using it for lightweight recreational use, these may not be very important to you.

 

We want to help you find what is best for your needs! Come in and let us know what you’re interested in, or you can find a selection of our tripods at ManfrottoTripodParts.com/Tripods.html

Updated 6-12-18 to correct web addresses

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What are the most commonly used tools to repair a Manfrotto?

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat are the most common tools to repair a Manfrotto product?

There will be several different sets of tools depending upon what you arerepairing.

The most common tools used are: flat blade screw driver, Phillips head (cross shaped) screw driver, Allen wrenches in 2mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm and 6mm (these are the most commonly used), TORX (looks like an Allen wrench with a star shaped head), 6mm and 8mm socket.  Very rarely we use a wrench, or pair of pliers, but the jaws are coated with a “gripper” so they jaws don’t scratch and scar the item being repaired.

We OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAalso have a few custom made tools since some of the heads cannot be repaired easily without them.  Occasionally a wooden dowel or a wooden tapping block.  We used a wooden tapping block instead of a hammer, since a hammer will distort and deface the metal.  Too much with a metal hammer will actually bend and distort the metal and change the extremely tight tolerances that many heads and tripod require.  For a short time there were 5.5mm sockets.

DO NOT USE any sort of “locking” fluids like Loc Tite, finger nail polish or Super Glue to hold, or lock a screw or nut in place.  First, some of these will not adhere to the paint or aluminum.  The grease that is used often will react to the glue and will not allow it to adhere or soften it and cause it to fail.  But more likely, it will foul the screw threads or block the movement of the parts, and be very difficult to remove.  Some of these products have solvents that will help remove them, others don’t and either the adhesive will have to be chipped away (very time consuming) or the part will have to be replaced since the threads of the fine screws cannot be easily cleaned.

Oiling is not required.  There are some lubricants and greases that are used.  The most common grease is a silicon based gel.  This lubricant does not flow like oil, it stays where it is put.  Flowing oil gets all over, can degrade the lubricants that are there, destroy the rubber bumpers and grips and generally make everything sticky.  There is a sticky grease-like goo that is used in between the fluid disks in video heads.  The super sticky goo is what gives you the super smooth, fluid movement in the video head.

Most of the spare parts DO NOT include tools, if they do, they will be shown in the photo of the part on the product page.

This post was updated to reflect a change in address and the addition of new items

How to Find Your Tripod Model Number

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If you are going to DIY (do it yourself)  a tripod repair, then you need to know how to find the model number.  Manfrotto tripods and heads have different model numbers.  So if you see a model number on the head, it identifies the head only.  Likewise, a Manfrotto 055xb is identifying the tripod only.

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The most common place for the tripod model to be on your tripod – is on the leg, next to the manufacturers nameplate.  The name is often engraved, like this Manfrotto 055XB tripod, or it is a sticker.  If it is a sticker and the sticker is worn off, you are out of luck.  With out the proper model number there is almost no way to accurately know.  Many tripods have several versions or variations, and no surprise, not all the versions are interchangeable.  Especially on brands where they have been manufacturing them for long periods of time, you cannot expect every part to match.

Tripodmodel2The manufacturer will change the product from time to time, refining the design, improving the features, often without renaming it.  So version 1 will be completely different from version 6.  And lets throw in that some tripod brands do not make their own tripods.  There are a few brands (like: Ambico, RCA,  Sony, and Sears) that have the tripods manufactured for them.  Some will use different manufacturers with completely different parts, yet use the same model numbers. So there is little or no way to find out what tripod you have.

Tripodmodel3

Another place where you can find the  model number is on the main casting.  The main casting is the part that holds the legs together at the top.  It may be a label or a sticker or even embossed on the main casting.

Be aware that in Manfrotto the 055XPROB is VERY different from the MT055XPRO3 So you cannot rely on just the model number.  It has to be the whole number and all letters included.

If you cannot find the Manfrotto model number, and it is in need of repairs, you can always send it to us.   We can repair any tripod that we have listed on our website, as long as the parts are available.  On tripods we service, with in stock parts (click here to see models we stock parts for) , we strive for a 3 day turnaround.  Costs vary, but simple repairs can be as low as $ 25 labor + parts +  shipping.

If you send us a note with your name, address, day time phone number, email we will call or email you with the estimate for repair.

Send your Manfrotto for repair to:

ManfrottoTripodParts.com Repairs
c/o SpartanPhotoCenter
108 Garner Road
Spartanburg, SC 29303

 

Blog post was changed to reflect changes in address.

How To Adjust The Leg Lock On A MT055 Tripod?

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flip lock

Flip lock adjustment

The new MT055 tripods have a quick snap  lock lever.  You will need an 8mm socket nut driver.  On the back of the leg lock is a screw that adjusts the tension on the snap lever.  If it is really loose you may need to turn it a lot, generally you will only need to turn it a little bit.  In my experience never more than a third of a turn.  Unlock the snap lever, turn the nut driver about a quarter to a third of a turn and snap the lever tight.  Check the tension of the leg.  If it is still slipping un-snap the lever and adjust it again.

Be VERY careful that you do not over tighten the screw.  Short term you may not see any difference, other than it is very hard to snap. Long term you will wear out and damage the snap lever and maybe even crack the leg lock. Carbon fiber tubes are very strong, in length, but not diametric compression.  Too much pressure and you can crack and split the tube.  A simple repair then becomes a much more expensive leg tube replacement.

Each tripod model has different leg lock collars based on whether it is aluminum or carbon, 3 or 4 leg tubes and if the tube are upper, middle or lower.  Find your tripod models HERE.

If you are having problems, or for a tune up or for repairs, send your name, address, daytime phone and email address along with your tripod to:

ManfrottoTripodParts.com Repairs
c/o SpartanPhotoCenter
108 Garner Road
Spartanburg, SC 29303

Once we have it, we will evaluate it and contact you. Please send us your daytime phone so we can reach you during business hours.

Lastly, if we are repairing your Manfrotto Product; we are recycling all broken parts and scrap articles. Almost nothing goes into the trash if we can help it.

Updated to reflect the changes in address