Over time, grime and dirt can accumulate and detract from the performance of your ball head. Or maybe, it just needs a change.
Why put up with any reduced smooth movement of the ball when there are solutions readily available?
Whether you want to take off the tripod head to do some cleaning or maintenance or to buy a new one, removing the ball head can be a simple task. We explain each stage of the process of how to take a ball head of the tripod legs.
Step-by-Step Guide: How to remove a ball head from a tripod
1. Secure the Locks
- First tighten the ball locking and center column knobs.
- Do this by turning the ball locking knob clockwise to lock the head in place.
- Then turn the center column knob clockwise until it stops.
- Once these are secure, check for any other loose parts and lock those too.
2. Secure the Tripod
- Make sure the tripod is positioned on a solid and sturdy surface.
- Hold the tripod with one hand to keep it steady. If your tripod has a center column this could be a good place to get a sound grip. Otherwise one of the legs will do.
- Be mindful of not placing your hand in a place where it could get pinched by the movement of the tripod head.
3. Check the Bottom of the Ball Head for screws
- Look for screw holes at the base of the ball head.
- If there are screws there, remove them using your hand, matching tool or pliers.
- If not, the ball head may have a sleeve and come off easily.
4. Check the Top Ball Head Mount
- Use a coin, screwdriver, or Allen wrench to loosen the top screw.
- If stuck, check all screws are loosened, including crosshead or Phillips head slots.
- Apply lubricating oil if necessary and wait a few minutes before attempting to unscrew again.
- If applying oil doesn’t work, consider replacing the head to avoid damage. Ensure the replacement is compatible with your tripod and equipment.
5. Unscrew the ball head from the tripod
- Keeping a good grip on the head, turn the head counterclockwise to unscrew it, taking care not to drop it.
- If the ball head has been attached for a long while you may need very firm pressure to loosen it.
- If it’s difficult to get it loose, check that all of the knobs are locked in place and try again.
How to remove a ball head that is stuck
- Detach the plate from the spotting scope.
- Grip the tripod near the head on both sides, with the other hand holding the ball head.
- Pull downwards and outwards, twisting your wrist in one direction.
- If you encounter resistance, twist your wrist in the opposite direction. Keep pulling the tripod down and working the head loose until the ball head comes off.
Extra tips: when applying pressure to a stuck ball head doesn’t work
Some birders have reported success in getting movement by applying plastic bags to ice to their ball head, or even putting the whole tripod, complete with stuck head, into the freezer for a few hours
Even the tiniest amount of shrinkage caused by the change in temperature can enable the stuck mechanism to be released.
Just be sure to dry off any damp or condensation that accumulates if you need to try this method!
Final thoughts on removing a ball head from a tripod
It is important to handle the equipment with care and make sure that the tripod legs are positioned securely before attempting to remove the ball head.
Removing a ball head from a tripod is – usually – a relatively straightforward process. Where you might run into difficulties is remembering to remove all the little screws before you get started!
If the tripod head has been firmly attached for quite a while – and for long-lasting, good quality ball heads, hopefully it has – it can be a bit of a struggle to separate it from the tripod legs.
By taking the necessary precautions and trying some of our suggested tricks, we hope that you can ensure a smooth and successful removal of your ball head from the tripod.
- 1 Step-by-Step Guide: How to remove a ball head from a tripod
- 2 How to remove a ball head that is stuck
- 3 Final thoughts on removing a ball head from a tripod