Since I’ve been doing the slit scan photographs, I’ve been spending a lot more time using my tripods. Since I now use a tripod four or five times a day, I’m having more problems with various bits loosening up and occasionally falling off.
There’s a way to deal with most of these problems: compounds that are made to keep threaded parts in place. The most prominent set of products goes under the brand name Loctite. They been around since the 50s and may have invented the product category. In the early 60s when I was working in a summer job as assistant to a mechanical engineer, I used the stuff a lot.
In those days, we used Loctite to make sure that threads wouldn’t ever come undone; we considered it a permanent fix. Nowadays you can get Loctite with various degrees of permanence. There are only two – well maybe two and a half – that are of interest to photographers wanting to get control of their tripods.
The first is what the manufacturer refers to as Low Strength. This is the perfect material for keeping hand assembled things from coming undone. I use it on tripod feet. I don’t know about you, but I always use the soft rubber feet that the tripod comes with, never changing them out for the hard pointy things you use on rock surfaces, or the flat pucks you use in the studio. I just want the feet to stay where they are: without some help, they don’t do that. The low strength Loctite is a perfect way to make sure I come back from the field with all of the tripod feet that I left with. Why not the permanent Loctite? The little rubber feet might wear out someday.
The second is the medium strength material, which is great for attaching Arco Swiss receiver to ball heads, and, if you don’t change camera plates a lot, for attaching camera plates to camera bodies and lenses.
The half is the permanent stuff. I’ve never been in a photographic situation where I’m completely confident that I’ll never want to get a threaded connection apart, but, if you’re sure, go for it.