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Sirui K-20X friction tuning

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by Klorenzo, Jan 13, 2016.

  1. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    I got today the Sirui K-20X and I have a few doubts. I'm testing it with the 75-300 at both ends.

    First big issue is friction: I tried to find the perfect value for the big blue knob but it is always too loose (camera falls) or the movement gets sticky: nothing happens then a big jump too far. The stickiness is amplified at 300mm. I expected something super buttery, like a manual focus ring. My $50 travel velbon tripod 3-way head felt much smoother. Never used a ballhead before, neither any expensive heads.
    The best option is to set it even tighter, enough to keep the camera still in most positions. So with a good amount of force the movement is steady and predictable. But it is tiring to use it this way, after 2 minutes testing I can feel my arms still stiff.
    The panning base rotation is much smoother.

    There is also a little slack in the main knob movement, like 1 degree where the knob can turn back and forth without transferring any movement to the underlying mechanism.

    I discovered that the little friction gear does nothing but locking the minimum friction value you can use.

    Then the scale on the main knob is off: all loose is 5 and all tight is 2 (passing over 10), like the ring is not in the right place. No big deal.

    There is a very tiny adjustment movement when I leave the camera after locking the knob.

    Note: I'm testing it on the Velbon travel legs, fully collapsed, so some problems, like the last one, could be caused by the legs. Maybe the friction issue too, as the legs bends absorbing part of the thrust?

    Any suggestions?
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2016
  2. walter_j

    walter_j Mu-43 Veteran

    364
    Sep 10, 2013
    Hagwilget, B.C., Canada
    Walter
    I have the same issue with the head. I emailed sirui about it but no response yet. I expected better from them
     
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  3. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    You guys must be doing something wrong, because I have a K-20X head that I use with my GH4 and f/2.8 glass, and even an adapted 50-200, and I don't have any issues. I have the friction tuned to where when fully loosed, the camera will hold it's position (with every lens except the 50-200), yet is easy enough to adjust prior to locking down.

    I actually find the K-20X a great head, especially for the price. It doesn't offer any super fancy features, but for a well built, medium sized ballhead, you can't beat it for the price.
     
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  4. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    The little knob tunes the friction adjustment characteristics. There is no true 'lock' and 'unlock', the numbers are not absolute things. What I did is fully loosen the main knob, adjust the little knob until it is as loose as I want, then just use the main knob to tighten or loosen.
     
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  5. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    The main knob can be fully loosened and then it stops turning. I'm quite sure that the intention was to have a zero on the scale here, I have a five. I can use the numbers as a simple reference, but does not sound right.

    Now to the gears: reading several times the manual and several reviews it seems to work like this:
    - you fully unscrew the main knob and the small "flat star" gear
    - you turn the main knob until you have a reasonable amount of friction so that you can point the camera around and it does not suddenly fall (except for extreme angles).
    - you fully screw in the small gear
    - now the main knob cannot go to values lower then the current one. You can turn it more to get more friction eventually completely stopping the ball but you cannot have less.

    Let me know if I got this wrong, I expected something different. I expected for intermediate positions of the small gears to be relevant and influence the amount of friction. Instead the small gear is fully open or fully closed.

    The main problem, especially at 300mm, is small movements: let's say I want to turn the head to the right by 2 degrees but I usually get 5. The head does not start to move as soon as I apply a little torque, there is some significant static friction (not enough grease?). I've read that the 360 rotation of the ball head (not the base) can be quite stiff, but I'm seeing the same on all axis.

    I'm considering returning it for a replacement. All reviews use adjective like "silky", "liquid smooth", etc. and I'm not seeing that (except in the base 360 rotation).

    I'm asking to see if I'm doing something wrong, if it needs a little break-in, etc.
     
  6. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Regarding the scale on the friction lock knob shaft, check to see if it can be turned separately to line up the zero. In my experience, that is a fairly common thing, allowing a numerical scale to be lined up as desired by the user. The real reason for it, though, is so that Manufacturing does not have to spend expensive tech time getting the scale right.
     
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  7. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
    .... I too had the same problem with the Sirui ballhead, in my opinion it's pure garbage. I replaced it with a Giottos ..... problem solved. How these Sirui tripods and ballheads get good ratings is beyond me ....
     
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  8. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    I don't know, but it certainly hasn't caused me any troubles or concerns when mounting thousands of dollars worth of gear on it. When I loosen it, it will still hold the camera and lens but allow me to adjust my framing, and then I tighten it back up and it's good to go.
     
  9. walter_j

    walter_j Mu-43 Veteran

    364
    Sep 10, 2013
    Hagwilget, B.C., Canada
    Walter
    Problem solved. To return the head back to factory settings, loosen main knob completely, then gradually tighten friction knob while moving the ball head until there is some friction. This is from the instruction sheet that I got desperate and read. It seems to be back in working order
     
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  10. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    I did a few more tests: seems like the main issue about the initial "wobbling" that causes the sudden jumps is in the camera/plate pairing. With the ball completely locked with a little force I can clearly see the camera swing while the plate remains still. And in the EVF I have 1 or 2 degrees of elastic free movement.
    The plate is covered with anti-slip rubber, I suppose this is the problem. I tried to put the place in both orientations, with and without camera external grip. I strongly locked the plate to the camera with a big coin.

    Then I noticed another thing: at 300mm, with the ball fully locked the shots with self timer are much better then the ones I get when I gently press the shutter button or when I hold the camera/lens with both hands applying a little pressure. Probably still the rubber. I do not have other plates to try.

    So I moved outdoor (windy day...). The white sign was my AF target, the upper part, away from the two small branches:



    Setting the small AF box exactly in that place was a struggle. The camera/lens is slightly front heavy, too little friction and the lens falls down so I have to tighten/release every time (holding the body with the right hand only, maybe I should keep the friction knob on the right?). Too much friction and the movement is jerky.

    I did a quick tripod/handheld comparison at 1/100s-1/320s, 300mm. The tripod helps but does not give me 100% tack sharp shots. I do not think it's shutter shock because self-timer solves the problem.
    I could use a remote wireless shutter, but with moving subjects is non-sense.

    The legs were on soft terrain (only one section extended), no weight applied. I wonder if what I'm seeing is normal and then tripod is not what I need, or if I should try a replacement and learn a few more tricks.

    @oldracer@oldracer with a little force the numbered ring can be moved and the instructions says to move the zero to the "all loose" position after friction calibration. So nothing wrong here, maybe the "four" was even properly placed according to factory defaults.
     
  11. walter_j

    walter_j Mu-43 Veteran

    364
    Sep 10, 2013
    Hagwilget, B.C., Canada
    Walter
    I had the same issue with plates so I got the RRS baseplate. It's heavier, but it's very convenient not to have to fiddle with baseplates when the RRS plate is always on. Too bad they didn't machine the camera base with a accra. Another issue I had was with the twist lock tripod legs always slowly collapsing. It seems I'm always tightening those twist locks. I wish they used lever locks instead. My old Monfrotto tripod is a bit heavier. but it's my go-to when I need a no-compromise tripod.
     
  12. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    I didn't use the supplied plate. I have a Joby ultraplate on my cameras that allow me to mount a hand strap to the camera, while also being able to put it in any arca-swiss head. I haven't done anything at 300mm with the combo, but for landscape type shots, I have had no issues.
     
  13. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    @Klorenzo@Klorenzo, a few thoughts:

    When I was doing some shutter shock testing of my GX7s I had a similar problem with the camera waving around even though the QR plate and everything else was tight. What I finally discovered was that the threaded metal boss on the bottom of the camera was not well anchored internally to the camera chassis. (!) Worse, the boss was maybe 0.005" proud of the camera bottom, so no amount of tightening could really tighten the QR plate against the bottom of the camera. What I did was to machine a 0.010" well into the QR plate. This allowed the plate to clamp to the whole camera bottom, eliminating contact with the wobbly threaded boss. I agree with you too that rubber is A Bad Thing. I have either removed it or machined it flat on my QR plates.

    Re wireless shutter release, my Panny android app is slow to the point of lethargy. I have a wired release that I bought for maybe $10 on eBay. It works great and without lag. My most common use for it is when I extend my camera height on a monopod for high angle shots. You might want to try one of those.

    Re tripod feet on soft terrain. Just for grins I tried a shutter shock test with my big Gitzo G320 sitting on our basement floor carpet. This is a commercial carpet with a thin pad. Totally hopeless and absolutely not the fault of the tripod! So, yes, if you are on grass, moss, etc. IMO you can forget about ultimate sharpness. My carbon Benro has 3/8"x16 threaded leg tips, same as Gitzo, so I bought a $30 kit of Gitzo convertible rubber/spike tips. I just screw the rubber tip down for use or up to expose the spike. It just takes a few seconds. Maybe they would fit your Sirui, too.

    Re smoothness of the ball, I have an Acratech GV and it is still not perfect. Very disappointing given what I paid for it, but probably that's the situation across the board.

    Glad to hear that the numbered ring can be adjusted. I was pretty sure that would work out.
     
  14. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I've noticed the wobbling with rubberised plates too. Much less of a problem with my eBay E-M1 L-plate that I use instead. In addition to being more stable for horizontal shots it makes vertical clamping better too.

    With the GM5 the situation is worse. The tripod socket isn't actually firmly attched to the chassis frame. I have a little Arca plate with a lip to prevent rotation, if I tighten it too much I can actually see the camera case flexing under the strain!

    As far as legs go - the Sirui EN-2204 that I got which came with the K-20X also has retractable spikes and lever locks. On soft carpet it's still a bit bouncy though, not much you can do about that except to load more weight and use a timer since you can't exactly spike into the carpet.