Tuesday, January 29, 2008

When quick release clamps are too quick to release

For my tripod setup, I use an Acratech Ultimate Ballhead and a Gitzo 1228 for the lightest combo available that can still reasonably stabilize my 1Ds MkII + long lens (usually a Canon 100-400 or 70 - 200 f2.8). I've been using this setup for years with no major problems. However there have been a few times where the clamp worked itself loose and other times where I thought I had tightened it down but it was actually mounted loose. Luckily I always noticed it before it was too late, and clamped it down. Well "always" until a couple of weeks ago:

I was shooting in the wine cellar at a winery in Israel (had not started drinking yet, honest!) and having a good time talking to the guide and my ex-girlfriend (who was just asking me a few days earlier why I'm not more careful to make sure my camera doesn't fall out from the QR clamp):

Then when I picked up the tripod, I see my camera free falling in slow motion..... thud..... I wasn't too worried as I had dropped my camera plenty of times. But this time was different. It was a 5 foot drop onto solid concrete. When the guide picked up a clear piece of plastic and handed it to me, I knew I was in trouble. It was the plastic cover to the top LCD:

The LCD was broken, nothing worked, and when I took off the lens, I saw the mirror stuck in the up position and the shutter buckled. It landed square on the top shoulder of the body so the lens (16-35) was ok, but the flash mount was dented also:

Well I didn't think it could be fixed but I took it the next day to the Canon service center in Ramat-Gan and the guys did a bang up job replacing the shutter, mirror box, LCD, flash shoe mount, and re-calibrating everything. It only took a few hours, we did some shopping on Bialik street, caught a movie, came back and it was as good as new...whew.... and didn't cost too much either (~$650 with my CPS discount).

First order of business when I get back will be to replace the twist knob QR clamp with a lever locked one like the ones made by Really Right Stuff. I thought about doing it a while back but could not get the one that came with the Acratech Ultimate Ballhead off. Turns out they require heat and a lot of torque to remove. I'll make sure I get it off somehow this time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Chateau Golan, good choice. At least you had something to enjoy afterwards.