Tripod Head Woes

I love my Arch-Swiss D4 Tripod Head. Sure it is expensive, fairly heavy but it is wonderfully built; in fact as many reviews say it is built like a tank. However….

After 9 years of hard use – it has fallen 60 feet off a rock face; been dumped on a beach many, many times; thrown in the back of too many cars; and generally treated with no care at all – it finally (like the rest of the UK) went on strike and gave up working! The gears had been getting stiff for a while, but the final problem was the classic clamp on the top of the head jammed and no amount of twisting and swearing could tighten it to lock the camera on.

So I had a choice, new tripod head or get the clamp replaced?

Looking at the now grossly inflated prices for new D4’s, £1,400 (I paid £850 only nine years ago), I decided to try for a new clamp. So after a number of chats with Jack from Robert White about my options, I opted to get Arca-Swiss to service the head during which the head would be replaced if required. So off the head went to Robert White who would handle sending the head to Arca-Swiss in France. Then I waited….

After about a week, Jack came back to me with the bad news…

Arca Swiss has checked all parts and has decided that your head needs a full overhaul. There is quite substantial grit / sand inside the head and many rusted components which need replacing. The price for this service is £430.00 + VAT

Well, that was a bit of a shock to say the least. But I considered my options: the head is the best tripod head I have used; it has provided great service for 9 years; I love that quick adjustments can be made followed by tiny fine adjustments; it is still much cheaper than getting a new D4. So I gave the go ahead to have the “full overhaul” done.

Two weeks later, the tripod head was back. And wow, it is like new with a shinny new clamp and top plate and everything back to new-like silky smooth operation. The only sign of the old head is the odd nick on a couple of the rubberised controls.

So I am very pleased with the end result and, in my opinion, it was well worth the money for the repair. Now I must look after it a lot better 🙂

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