Advise on Tripod Collar Replacement / Ballhead/Tripod

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by birdied, Jan 14, 2012.

  1. I have the following:
    D300 and D7000
    Nikon 300mm f/4 ED-IF AF-S.
    Markins Q-Ball Q3 Emille
    Markins Camera Plate P300U
    I am looking for replacement for the tripod collar as it seems to wobble on the above ball head. Or is it the ballhead I should look to replace?
    I have looked at the RRS replacement collar , but am confused if I must buy another head and plate.
    I would prefer not to have to invest in another head and plate if possible, but need all the help I can get for the camera/lens to be steady.
    Would also like to replace my tripod in the near future, so suggestions for something that is light, but steady and can travel without having to check would be appreciated.
    This is my first experience with longer lens, so need your advise as to how best resolve the issue.
    Thanks for you help.
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I am not very familiar with Markins ballheads, but if they use Arca Swiss-style dove-tail plates, the Really Right Stuff tripod collar and plates should be compatible with that head. In any case, I would highly recomment using Arca Swiss-compatible components as that is now the de facto standard for tripod heads and accessories.
    It is well known that the 300mm/f4 AF-S' tripod collar is poorly designed. In fact, my experience is that all completely removable tripod collars from Nikon, including the one from the 80-200mm/f2.8 AF-S, are done poorly. That is why there are those aftermarket replacements that would cost you another $150 or so.
  3. Roberta, it's the lens collar you need to replace. I doubt it would be the ballhead, though I decided to get the markins M10 instead of the Q3 because of the 300 f/4 weight (*). Though I am actually quite convinced the Q3 can take it.
    I got the Kirk replacement collar, which has integrated the Arca-Swiss style plate; I do believe the same is true for the RRS one. So only the collar itself should be enough. The difference in wobble is amazing - only after I mounted that Kirk collar, I noticed how crappy the Nikon collar really is (and next of course wondered why it took me so long).
    (*) the problem for me was a bit the descriptions: the Q3 was described as taking a "Pro DLSR with 70-200 f/2.8" and the M10 as "Pro DSLR with 300 f/2.8" - a D300 with 300 f/4 fits exactly in the middle. Since after 2 unsuccesful tripodheads I wanted to do it right, I went for safety and got the M10 instead, despite breaking my initial set budget royally.
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The 300mm/f4 AF-S is not that big a lens. It is very close in size and weight as the 70-200mm/f2.8 AF-S VR (both versions). In fact, Nikon uses the same soft case for both lenses. (The 70-200 is slightly shorter so that Nikon pads the case with some hard foam about 0.5cm thick inside to make up the length difference.) Any good ballhead is going to support a 300mm/f4 with even a D3/D4 attached without problems. I don't think the Markins Q3 would have any problems with the 300mm/f4. The problem is in the Nikon collar.
  5. The RRS collar has removeable shoe (separate purchase?) with a built-in Arca-type plate. Markins clamps are mostly compatible with other Arca-type plates, but there are differences in size. If you have a screw type Markins clamp, you are probably OK, but if you have a quick lever clamp, you may have problems.
    In the worst case, the Markins clamp can be replaced with one from RRS. You can call RRS for advice.
  6. The Really Right Stuff setup consists of a rotating collar and detachable foot with the Arca dovetail mount. The collar and foot both have 1/4-20 threads if you need to attach another type of quick-release plate or mount to a monopod. I bought my 300mm f/4 with the RRS collar and haven't used the Nikon collar, but I can say that the RRS collar is a solid mount that has given me no issues.
  7. Another collar to look at is the Kirk - I've got it on my 300mm f/4 and love it. I understand the RRS is also great, I just have no experience with it.
  8. Like Shun, I think the Q3 should hold a 300/4 just fine - dimensions and weight are very close to those of the 70-200.
    What clamp do you have on your Markins - with lever or knob release? It is generally recommended to use only plates from the same manufacturer with lever release clamps, but that mixing is OK with knob release clamps.
    The 300/4 RRS replacement collar is the LC-A10, and you need the LCF-10 foot (which, BTW, fits both 70-200 lenses and the LC-A11 replacement collar for the 80-400).
    With regard to tripod purchase: have a good look at the Induro CT Series.
  9. I use the KIRK Replacement collar, and i'm perfectly happy with that ...
    Wether the collar is the only culprit or the balhead adds to the trouble, is easy to test by "Stabilizing" de collar in the way you find ath the end of this page :

    If you still have problems with vibration then, you may need to find a solution for the collar, and the tripod head as well. ....
  10. BTW :
    I do think that replacing the collar with the KIRK Collar will be sufficient since , to my knowledge the MarkinsMarkins Q-Ball Q3 Emille are Arca swiss compatible, so the collar should fit on that., and since its specked for up to 30 kilo's it should be able to keep the set-up stabilized...
  11. I have the 300/4, Markins Q10, RRS clamp and the replacement Kirk collar. The Kirk is a great collar. It's a slightly tight fit in the RRS lever clamp (well, tighter (requires more force to get the lever closed) than the RRS L-bracket on my D300). I also have an RRS screw clamp on a monopod for that and of course, tightness is not an issue.
  12. My own preference would be to forget ballheads altogether and get a nice sturdy 3way pan&tilt head. Weight for weight they're much more stable and easy to set up than a "plate-balanced-on-a-stalk" ballhead - unless you're working in very awkward spaces, when admittedly a ballhead does come into its own. But for ordinary knockabout general or landscape use, I really can't see the attraction of a ballhead. One loosened screw and the entire camera goes crashing into the tripod legs! Who needs that?
  13. Thanks everyone, I appreciate your quick replies.
    Edward , I do not have the quick release plate. I have the one with knob for tightening.
  14. The lens collar on 300mm f4 is one of Nikon's poorest, along with the 80-400mm. That's what is wobbling. I replaced mine with a Kirk, but a RRS is really good too. Your ballhead is almost certainly OK. I have the AcraTech head and love it because it's impossible to jam with snow/ice. Tripod. For travel, I'll suggest the Benro Travel Angel C-269. I have the A-269 (aluminum) and it's great for fitting in a suitcase. It folds down to less than 18 inches and is very stable with lenses up to my Nikon 70-200mm f2.8. The C-269 is the carbon fiber one. If it comes with a ballhead, sell the ballhead on eBay; it is junk. Use your Markin's head. I use a Gitzo 1325cf for my "everyday" tripod, when not traveling by plane. It's the best piece of photogear I've ever bought. It just might outlive me.
    Kent in SD
  15. Like several others above, I use the Kirk replacement collar, and love it, but I'm sure the one from RRS is just as good. Bjørn Rørslett has found that the original Nikon collar can be modified at no cost by wedging an asthma inhaler between the foot and lens. Sounds crazy, but I'll believe anything Bjørn says. Besides I've tried it, even though I later opted for the Kirk foot. His page on the Nikon collar for this lens, and his entire site, are worth reading.
  16. Putting a soft/pliable cylinder or rubber thing won't dampen the vibrations of the lens against wind properly. The construction has to be more rigid for it to work truly well.
  17. AH, forgot to add : I like to put the lens (not he camera) on a Jobu Black Widow Gimbal Head (not the most expensive one, but one i can afford and gets the job done..) , i find a gimbal for a longer lens much more convenient , but that's just me ..
  18. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Another issue is that Nikon's removable tripod collars are very rough in their rotation. It is a bit of a pain to go from horizontal to verical and back. I don't use my 300mm/f4 AF-S on a tripod often; in fact in these days I almost always use it hand held. Otherwise, I to would opt for replacing the collar. When I shoot from the tripod, I use bigger long lenses.
  19. Hello Roberta,
    This was the exact same lens that convinced me to get a much better support system setup than what I had been using for about 20 years. The primary culprit is the worthless collar that Nikon put around the lens. I replaced mine with the Kirk collar. I don't have any experience with the RRS collar, except to say that it is more expensive than the Kirk, and seems to involve more parts to be assembled.
    I use the Markins Q20 on a Gitzo 1325 carbon fiber tripod. The 1325 is no longer made, the equivalent model today is called the Gitzo GT 3531. The Q20 head is rated for an incredible 100lbs or so. Even the Q3 head has a really high load rating, so the ballhead will not be a factor concerning stability. I have a Wimberley clamp with knob closure on my Q20 head. Along with RRS, Wimberley has safety stops that you can put on the Arca-Swiss type plate to stop the lens from sliding out of the clamp if it is not fully tightened down.
    The only problem with the Gitzo 3531 is that it is a large tripod (though light, because of the carbon fiber construction). For travel, I use a Gitzo 1541 tripod (with head, about 3 lbs). You may wish to look at the 2000 series Gitzo tripods. The Gitzo 1000 series of tripods seem too light to support this lens.
  20. Putting a soft/pliable cylinder or rubber thing won't dampen the vibrations of the lens against wind properly.​
    How do you justify that from an engineering standpoint Ilkka? Have you actually tried it? Rubber or foam is exactly the stuff to dampen vibrations. It's rigid structures that allow the transmission of vibration, and softer, pliable materials that absorb vibration.
    IME, the main culprit for catching wind-induced vibration is the tripod legs (low mass for a comparatively high surface area), and decoupling the lens and camera from these will really help to reduce image vibration. That and sandbagging the tripod.
  21. How do you justify that from an engineering standpoint Ilkka?
    Ok. In conditions of gusty wind, the lens with its large surface areais the one that is most affected by the wind. If you put something that is soft between the tripod and the lens, what you achieve is this: you dampen the lens vibrations from being transmitted onto the tripod. What you want is the exact opposite: you want to create a rigid coupling between the lens and the tripod, by mounting the foot from two positions on the barrel along its length. This means the tripod and lens act as one and vibrations are drastically reduced.
    Have you actually tried it?
    Yes, I have. I found that a rigid secondary coupling piece inserted between the foot of the collar and the lens barrel is most effective in stabilizing the lens and ensuring consistent sharpness at slow speeds (the critical range from 1/2s to 1/60s). The piece that I used with the Nikon collar to this lens was the one in the attachment.
    This piece of made of PVC and matches the radius of the barrel, which makes it effective against rotational vibrations caused by wind from the side. In practice I used the Burzynski collar which was almost as effective (thanks to being made from better materials than the Nikon) but allowed smooth rotation of the lens from vertical to horizontal. The difference could be seen (in favour of my construction) but the Burzynski took much less space than the Nikon collar (making e.g. handholding more comfortable as it was never in the way of my hands) and included an Arca-Swiss dovetail, but in my testing it was not quite as effective in preventing the vibration of the lens (as determined by simply testing the consistency of the final images) and in normal conditions and with M-UP/exposure delay mode it was good enough for me.
    A similar construction, but with a bit more complex profile, is what I use with the 200mm f/2G AF-S Nikkor, which also has a terrible tripod collar. In vertical shooting with a Wimberley Sidekick it vibrated horribly. Problem solved with a block of PVC machined to fit between the RRS foot and the lens barrel. Rotation of the lens is possible but not as quick as with the standard Nikon foot. In this case I greatly value the effectiveness of the additional components in ensuring sharp images; unfortunately no third party manufacturer has truly solved the issue with the 200mm. Reportedly the tripod mounting has been improved in the Mk II of the lens but I have not tried it.
  22. BTW lots of people back in the day used to say that wood was the best tripod material for avoiding vibrations ... tried that, too, and found that my 35% lighter carbon fiber Gitzo was far superior to the Berlebach Reporter in making sharp images. The thing is that the wood indeed effectively dampens vibrations, in a second or so, but with CF the vibrations never get a chance to start.
    Of course, my experience is with Nikons; the mechanical requirements for a tripod for LF cameras may be different.
  23. I tried the trick with slamming in something dampening with the Nikon collar. Absolutely no comparison to the Kirk collar - the replacement does the job better in every way (indeed including orientation from landscape to portrait).
    For what it's worth, maybe my earlier post was vague about the ballhead: the Q3 should do indeed.
  24. Thank you everyone. I am definitely going to check on the kirk collar. I appreciate all the information!
  25. Roberta, regarding a tripod, I always put mine in checked baggage when I travel and that is what the TSA agents here in Houston have told me to do. They do not allow tripods to be carried onto airplanes as they are "tools over 7 inches" or could be "weapons. " Others might tell you that you can take them into the plane's cabin. That is why you need to what size will fit your checked luggage. Four leg section tripods collapse into shorter lengths than three section leg tripods. Carbon fiber cost more, are lighter and stiffer and usually hold more weight. Look at the Induro line of tripods if cost is an issue for you. My daughter just got one and she love it.
    Joe Smith
  26. I should add that the asthma inhaler is rather stiff rather than springy. Jamming it between the lens and foot reduces somewhat the tendency of the Nikon foot to act like a hinge, which is why it helps reduce vibration. I agree that a proper collar and foot such as the Kirk (which, as I said, is what I use) is the right solution.
  27. I have the KirK on order! Thank you everyone for all your suggestions and relaying your experiences. Now will research the tripods and possible Gimblal heads as they do look very appealing.
    Again, thank you.

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