Posted on 06/27/2010

Photo taken on June 21, 2010

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Ball Head Pan Handle Hack

Ball Head Pan Handle Hack
A few months back I bought a lightweight compact tripod (Slik Mini-Ultra II, I think it is) for hiking use. Then discovered that I had more use for it for mounting a camcorder than a still camera. The standard ball head was fine for fixed shots with the camcorder, but useless for less boring pan-tilt shots.

I didn't see any pan-tilt heads that I liked that weighed less than the tripod itself, unfortunately, so resigned myself to adding a "steering" handle to the head as a compromise.

The head as shown is topped with a Manfrotto quick release adapter plate (for compatibility with my other tripods). Between the Slik quick release shoe and the Manfrotto plate is the resulting mounting feature for an improvised handle.

The mounting feature is simply one loop of a standard door hinge, still connected to the bulk of the hinge leaf. The leaf itself was cut down to match the profile of the Manfrotto plate (notice the silver line just below the thumb lock). I removed the screw from the Slik shoe and replaced it with a standard 1/4-20 bolt (with a bit of the head filed down to reduce its profile to fit the Slick QR plate), which passes through one of the original holes in the hinge leaf. Another hole in the leaf was enlarged slightly, to fit the bolt head of the thumb lock, which protruded about 1/8" from the bottom surface of the Manfrotto plate. The displacement between these two holes conveniently set the tube at about a 20deg angle to the boreline of a mounted camera.

I have not yet made a handle for the rig, as (and here's the punchline) when I went to Amazon to order the filters for the elsewhere-described webcam modifications, I discovered that I had already put in my shopping cart Slik's pan-head equivalent of this ball-head...and forgotten all about it. This means I don't actually know if this hack works, because I haven't had reason to finish and test it.