Fluid head tripods

Don Haines

Beware of cats with laser eyes!
Jun 4, 2012
8,254
1,879
Canada
I was asked an interesting question this morning, to which my response was that I did not know..... I put it out for the collected wisdom of the forum.

the question was: is there fluid in a fluid head, and will it freeze if it gets too cold?

anyone know?
 

Valvebounce

EOS 5D SR
Apr 3, 2013
4,303
234
52
Isle of Wight
Hi Don.
Some fluid heads most certainly do have fluid in them, I had a cheaper all in one fluid head video tripod (can’t remember the brand, something along the lines of a Velbon) and the fluid leaked out on a very hot day, made a right bloody mess! :mad: It was a sort of tacky slippery icky stuff! :sick:
I also have a Manfrotto fluid video head which I bought to replace the cheap one, I believe this does have fluid in it, this one has never given any trouble, hot or cold. I think the freezing point of the “fluid” is very low, (like might freeze in Antarctica low) it does however get more viscous as the temperature drops though not to the point of stopping working In any conditions I have encountered.
I have no idea if all fluid heads contain fluid.

Cheers, Graham.
 

Don Haines

Beware of cats with laser eyes!
Jun 4, 2012
8,254
1,879
Canada
Hi Don.
Some fluid heads most certainly do have fluid in them, I had a cheaper all in one fluid head video tripod (can’t remember the brand, something along the lines of a Velbon) and the fluid leaked out on a very hot day, made a right bloody mess! :mad: It was a sort of tacky slippery icky stuff! :sick:
I also have a Manfrotto fluid video head which I bought to replace the cheap one, I believe this does have fluid in it, this one has never given any trouble, hot or cold. I think the freezing point of the “fluid” is very low, (like might freeze in Antarctica low) it does however get more viscous as the temperature drops though not to the point of stopping working In any conditions I have encountered.
I have no idea if all fluid heads contain fluid.

Cheers, Graham.
The ones in question are a Manfroto and a Benro.... both better quality heads. Mine has survived the day outside at -20C, but I have no idea what they are rated for. guess it’s time for a letter to the manufacturer :)
 

bhf3737

---
Sep 9, 2015
494
557
Calgary, Canada
www.flickr.com
I think fluid head refers to "keeping the movement fluid", i.e. they do not transmit vibration when panning and tilting. There are various technologies to achieve this, e.g., the more expensive Manfrotto heads use Nitrogen cartridges to implement this. The amount of friction depends on weight and temperature and some heads (e.g. Manfrotto N8) can automatically adjust to the weight and temperature. Some cheaper ones require further attention. Manufacturers of brand heads specify working temperature range of their products, which is typically between -5 and 35C. But I have used cheap heads in -30C range for night sky when the lens got foggy and battery died before the head getting frozen.
 

Valvebounce

EOS 5D SR
Apr 3, 2013
4,303
234
52
Isle of Wight
Hi Don.
My Manfrotto video fluid head has never given any trouble, it was the most basic head they did, I’m pretty certain it has the viscous liquid type damping.
I discovered the leaky cheap one a couple of days before my sister in law‘s wedding day which I was supposed to record, I went to my local high street shop and bought the Manfrotto as a ‘birding‘ kit, I am very happy with the tripod but the head is not getting much use now, it did get a fair bit early on but needs evolve with income! :rolleyes: I do know that I could grab it and use it today without problems!

Cheers, Graham.