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Improving the pan of a budget tripod


Standard Member
I 100% agree that the solution to a decent pan on a tripod is to pay for a decent tripod ... prob with a fluid head. But...are there any tips for improving the pan of a budget head that pans but is a little sticky?

I have a budget Manfrotto tripod (mkc3-h01) and am wondering if lubricating the ball with a light oil might help. I use a small light camcorder so I don't think not gripping when tightened would be a problem.

Anyone done this or have any tips? Thanks


Distinguished Member
As I read this Manfrotto has a ball head with a "pistol-grip" style pan handle. I'm none too sure this suits video. +It's a very low price compared with their better video tripods.
As to lubricating, I suggest you contact Manfrotto, to see if they rec. anything - as I'd expect something really thick/sticky will be needed. But before that; check that the ball and cup are perfectly spherical . . . sometimes there are residual moulding marks that can make the camera jerk, however smoothly you move. If anyone knows a cure do tell. This problem is eliminated when metal parts are machined - but that costs.

Then come back with the news gd/bad and how it's affected yr filming.
It may help to find a local panorama that you can film. This should include a commentary giving details of the Mod (or not) giving you an unbiased take of the changes.

However, I wonder if you've "balanced" yr camcorder (with battery) so it is neutral as the ball is loosened. If it has a definate "pull" (Up, or Down) that will induce jerkiness, given half a chance.
+If there is no provision, then you'll have to add weights yourself - a bit DIY but should help - and easily removed.
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Established Member
One of the difficulties using a ball head for video is the universal motion which makes it tricky to pull off a smooth pan or tilt. The freedom of movement of the ball means you need a steady hand to achieve a level even pan. Conversely cheap pan and tilt video heads are usually great in those two directions but not so good if you try to combine the motions to follow a diagonal path.

I did some research to try to get a few more months out of my ageing pan/tilt faux fluid head and one of the suggestions was lithium grease which is a bike lubricant. I haven't had a chance to pick some up yet but will let you know how I get on.
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Distinguished Member
pete66 - yes sure agree that a ball is really unsuitable but didn't like to say. My manfrotto has a 70mm ball to get the head "level" (using the bubble) and then you use the pan/tilt - but I'm not sure a thin lubricant (as for bikes) will help - you should (?) be aiming for more-drag - hence a thick grease should be better . . . I've a tin of "underwater Grease" and it's pretty thick, but not much use for Bikes, other than protecting the handlebars against the rain!
However, my fluid head works perfectly well as-is . . . so I'd be wary of mixing "lubricants" . . . . What might be a better answer (for OP), is a superfluid (sometime called smart-lube) which makes small parts move very slowly . . . I have a calculator which undoes the display cover to become a tilt-support - when you release the catch it unwinds quite slowly - so I'm guessing a special compound is present.

I'm not sure why Manfrotto introduced this model, except it has a certain "wow look" and that may be its only Plus-feature. . . . . perhaps OP should ask the M-Sales Team what they suggest for video for similar money . . . that answer might the instructive, eh?
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Prominent Member
You really need a "fluid head" for your tripod. I have the Velbon DV7000. You need the fluid effect to get smooth pans. A tripod for still cameras is a waste of time as they are designed to be locked in one position for a still photo.


Distinguished Member
Agree #5.

Can OP please let us know what they have done to date, in order to improve the tripod they have....?

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