Ball head for -26C

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by walter_j, Feb 11, 2018.

  1. walter_j

    walter_j Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    515
    Sep 10, 2013
    Hagwilget, B.C., Canada
    Walter
    I have a Sirui G-20x head, and find that everything almost locks up by -26C, and so becomes almost unusable. The knobs become so stiff that I can't turn them anymore. I'm thinking the aluminium ball may have a slightly different thermal expansion rate than the body. Or maybe there's a lubricant that's freezing?

    In any case, it doesn't work so good at -26C. Can anybody recommend a head that functions at low temps?
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
  2. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    860
    Feb 29, 2012
    At -26c, you need to strip all the lubricant as that’s what’s freezing up.
     
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  3. Indianpeaksjoe

    Indianpeaksjoe Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2012
    Colorado
    At -10F I have used a Really Right Stuff BH-25 without issue.

    -Joe
     
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  4. walter_j

    walter_j Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    515
    Sep 10, 2013
    Hagwilget, B.C., Canada
    Walter
    I'll give it a try. The Sirui site is of little help. Poor support
     
  5. archaeopteryx

    archaeopteryx Mu-43 Regular

    192
    Feb 25, 2017
    The Acratech Ultimate lacks lubricants to freeze. Not sure how much I'd trust the ball grip in the cold but it should be OK if you're not pushing capacity or tripod stability if the camera and lens do flop. For other heads, to expand on @kinalu's point, likely you'd need to disassemble, clean, and then relubricate with cold weather grease. Lenses will also freeze so, depending on needs and exposure duration, changing out their lubricants or setting focus and f/stop ahead of time can be helpful.

    Lubricant changeovers are common practice for polar equipment if you need reference to consult.
     
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  6. walter_j

    walter_j Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    515
    Sep 10, 2013
    Hagwilget, B.C., Canada
    Walter
    The 12-40 stopped AF at about -30C, so I used MF. I quit soon after too.
     
  7. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 5, 2013
    Dan
    I would find something to photograph inside well before -26. But that’s just me.
     
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  8. walter_j

    walter_j Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    515
    Sep 10, 2013
    Hagwilget, B.C., Canada
    Walter
    7_-8.
     
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  9. gnarlydog australia

    gnarlydog australia Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 23, 2015
    Brisbane, Australia
    Damiano Visocnik
    why are you doing this to me? it's 36C here and rather humid right now
    Great image BTW
     
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  10. sturgeon

    sturgeon New to Mu-43

    6
    Jan 28, 2011
    I'll second the Acratech. I've been using one of the originals for several years; it's pretty much the same design as the Ultimate. It's never failed me in any temp, from -30C to +30C. At colder temps I keep the camera inside my parka.
     
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  11. pondball

    pondball Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Canucks are a hardy lot, aren't we! :bravo-009:
     
    • Agree Agree x 4
  12. walter_j

    walter_j Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    515
    Sep 10, 2013
    Hagwilget, B.C., Canada
    Walter
    Operator error (maybe). I managed to over tighten the main knob, but the way to loosen it is counter intuitive. You loosen the friction knob, then tighten the main knob. This will free the knob. I'll clean it anyways, now that I got that sorted out.

    I needed to use pliers to loosen the friction knob and the main knob too, and I definitely can't make it that tight by hand.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
  13. walter_j

    walter_j Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    515
    Sep 10, 2013
    Hagwilget, B.C., Canada
    Walter
    RRS support says their heads grease is good to -26C. A premium head should have a better grease IMHO
     
  14. chap

    chap New to Mu-43

    2
    May 11, 2012
    Atlanta, GA
    Chap Lovejoy
    I spent a few hours at -30 in Banff and didn’t have any issues at all with my RRS BH-55, even after it had a nice dive into the snow. The 12-40 on the other hand froze up after an hour or so.
     
  15. walter_j

    walter_j Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    515
    Sep 10, 2013
    Hagwilget, B.C., Canada
    Walter
    I'll give the Sirui 1 more chance. Just in case it was my mistake. I've been out at -30c too, and clear nights (and therefore very cold) is what gets me going, so I really need a ball head that won't quit. AF isn't necessary, since I like to MF too. Aurora will always get me out no matter what the temp.
     
  16. DanS

    DanS Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 8, 2016
    Central IL
    All materials expand when they get warm, and shrink when they get cold. If you locked it down tight by hand when it was at -26C, and then brought it inside, it would be super tight at room temperature, because it expanded as it warmed up.
     
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  17. walter_j

    walter_j Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    515
    Sep 10, 2013
    Hagwilget, B.C., Canada
    Walter
    so maybe I also need to allow the head to acclimatize to the temp before use. Maybe it's best to put it in the back of the pu on my way to a shoot. And leave it alone when done until it reaches room temp.
     
  18. DanS

    DanS Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 8, 2016
    Central IL
    If I had to recommend one thing, it would bee to keep it covered at all times, so snow can't get down in the parts with tight tolerances. If it melts, and then re freezes it will lock it up for sure, as water is one of the few common materials that expands when it freezes.
     
  19. archaeopteryx

    archaeopteryx Mu-43 Regular

    192
    Feb 25, 2017
    To be more specific, potential for stiction depends on the relative coefficients of thermal expansion of the ball, housing, and locking arrangement (as alluded to in the first post). If the head's isothermal and parts are made of the same material the first order approximation is no change. However, there's scope for geometry related effects, usually differences in materials somewhere, and indoor-outdoor transitions impose a steep thermal gradient on the head so it'll definitely be well off isothermal occasionally. Usually the ball and housing are the same aluminum grade and that part of things not too much of an issue since the thermal conductivity is high.

    Most grades of aluminum have coefficient of expansion roughly twice typical steel grades. Might be something to take a look at when cleaning the head, though often things get looser rather than tighter when warm. Partly because the geometry scaling increases free space in threaded joints, partly because if a steel rod's ultimately pushing on aluminum often the rod ends up with less push because the aluminum spaces around it expand more than the steel does. The friction mechanism might work the other way round though; it happens none of the heads I've ever used have had one.

    I've actually never ice jammed a ballhead. Not for want of opportunity, either. Hopefully the ballhead gods won't notice this post and decide to change that.
     
  20. walter_j

    walter_j Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    515
    Sep 10, 2013
    Hagwilget, B.C., Canada
    Walter
    Oddly enough, a small head (sirui) that comes with the very light and flimsy tripod didn't have any issues, and I got most shots with it. The g20x, however, immediately had problems. Such bad problems too, that I was quite disgusted with it. Before I gave up on it, it would suddenly fall over even when it seemed to be firmly locked (and frozen) in place.