Your tripod is an indispensable gadget as if it weren’t there to stable the frame for you, who would? Sadly, this good friend doesn’t as much care as it deserves. It’s surely the least looked-after or maintained gear.
Either you are a landscape or a night sky photographer, you would often be shooting at sand, mud, or water. Sand or dirt can get into the threads of the tripod, making it difficult to use. Seawater can corrode the metal and produce a layer of grime on it.
How to Clean and Maintain a Tripod
You might not have encountered any problem yet, but the day you start noticing the signs of wear and are unable to work just because of the stuck tripod, you will regret your negligence. But before that happens, let’s get straight into the 5 easy ways to clean and maintain a tripod that will surely extend the life of your tripod.Tip #1
1. Cleaning With Soap and Water
The best option for effectively cleaning your tripod would be washing all the parts underwater. After a shoot at sand or beach, there could be grime, mud, or dirt affecting your tripod, so it needs a thorough cleaning by completely disassembling into its parts.
You need to disassemble every piece carefully as you will be cleaning each piece with soap and water. Fill the sink with water and add some dish soap to it to form a soapy water solution. Dish soap is best for the type of cleaning you want. Because it is a grease cutter, it works efficiently to remove the grime and doesn’t leave any residue. Using an old toothbrush or a scrubber, remove the grease from the threads. The main target area where sand grains and dust particles are entrapped. Air-dry the apparatus before collapsing the tripod.Tip #2
2. Dry Cleaning with an Organic Cleaning Solution
If you think your tripod hasn’t trapped that much dust or if you want to clean it more often, another way can be dry cleaning your tripod that might not be as effective but is still a good option. You can use a cloth, sponge, or a soft-bristled brush for the purpose.
Dismantle the tripod into its parts. Now, take a piece of clean cloth and put some mild organic cleaning solution on it. Start by cleaning the legs and rub it all over them. For threads, you can again use an old toothbrush. Just run the soft-bristled brush through the threads and clean any entrapped dirt or debris. Clean the inside of the legs also to ensure that they slide in and out smoothly.
Some tripods such as Manfrotto or Gitzo allow complete disassembly. It is recommended to take pictures of the tripod before disassembly to keep in mind each part’s exact location.Tip #3
3. Preventive Measures for the Tripod
If you want to protect your tripod from sand or seawater in advance, there are some easy and cost-effective options to go for. Using them, you can avoid damaging your tripod. Also, you will have to clean it less often. Nonetheless, it would be best if you were cleaning it after a good period of usage.
Plastic wrapping/sleeves that come in big rolls in the market can wrap tripod legs completely. It can effectively protect the tripod from an ambient environment. But one disadvantage is that you may not be able to adjust the height of the tripod. Also, it might not be a good option for underwater shoots.
Tennis balls can also serve the purpose. Three tennis balls can support three legs of the tripod by making a cut on top of each ball and adjusting each leg into it.
Using the right footwear can always help as they are designed to elevate your tripod, preventing sinking in softer grounds and providing a firm anchor during turbulent weather.Tip #4
4. Lubricating your Tripod
For efficient and smooth functioning, you should be using some good lubricants now and then. If you hear a grating sound while working with your stand, it suggests that it needs better cleaning to get all the debris off. Effective lubrication will help easily extend and shorten the tripod without causing you any distress at work.
What you need to do is to put just a small amount of lithium grease or silicone-based lubricant on the target area and screw the segment into place. Only a small amount of the lubricant is needed. If you put more than required, you will have to wipe off the extra, later on, that would surely go to waste. Apply on threads and grease all moving parts, joints, threads, and locks. It will ensure the smooth functioning of the twist-to-lock joints. Finally, screw the tripod carefully and wipe it with a clean cloth. Test your tripod by folding, twisting, and extending.Tip #5
5. Good Care of your Tripod
It would be best if you did not carry an elongated tripod over your shoulder with a mounted load. This can damage the delicate joints. When these joints are affected, your gadget no longer remains usable or otherwise, produces an awful work experience.
It would be best if you also weren’t leaving your tripod in your trunk for longer periods. This might affect the smooth functioning of the tripod as temperature extremes are not good for the lubricant. After working in sandy places, you should be rinsing the tripod well before you collapse the legs.
Tripod is the most trustworthy of all your photography accessories, but still, it is the most overlooked one. That’s because many of us don’t even know that not cleaning it now and then can potentially affect its performance over time and render it completely useless.
To avoid such a scenario, you should be cleaning it, especially after a long workday at a sandy place or a beach to help prevent any grime or dirt buildup inside your apparatus. Take good care of your photography gear so that you can keep having wonderful photos and a wonderful work experience.
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James Pattinson is a professional photographer who likes to write about what he experiences. He loves to share his honest review with people about photography equipment such as cameras, tripods, lenses, etc.