August 4, 2012

A Useful Friction Tool by Sunwayfoto

The term "Friction Tool" did not mean much to me, until I received one complementary copy of this tool among other things for review from Sunwayfoto headquarters, recently.

Does a small tool deserve a review?

This one does for many reasons.
First I like simple and vanguard ideas.
Second, it comes from a Chinese company who proves to be an innovator and not a laggard by just copying.
Finally, it gives a simple solution to a long term issue of adjusting the small Friction Control thumb screw on many ball heads following the Arca Swiss® style Friction/Lock Knob limiter.
Apart from the original Arca Swiss® Monoballs, there are quite many ball heads from Markins, Photoclam, Benro etc, that have adopted this design. However, it was after the recent Sunwayfoto XB-Series low profile ball head reviews that I read complaints about the small friction control/ limiter knob especially from RRS ball head users.

The Friction Tool
Maybe, these a little bit biased opinions, forced Sunwayfoto's designers to come up with this "Friction knob adjustment tool" as I would call it in a more descriptive way.
I have never had a problem using my thumb or another finger to adjust the friction control limiter on a Sunwayfoto or any other similar in design ball head. However, I have to agree that it would be very difficult to impossible doing so, in a situation where keeping your hands and fingers warm in thick gloves is very critical.

Sunwayfoto Friction Tool w/ zip-lock bag
The "Friction Tool" is a small 25mm (1") aluminium disk, only 2mm (0.079") thick, with a convenient hole on top and two flat extensions at opposite sides. One extension is 8,15mm (0.32") wide, while the other is 9,55mm (0.375") wide.
Sunwayfoto Friction Tool on carabiner w/ XB-44 Ballhead
The top hole proves well thought of, in order to hang the Tool on a key ring like the one pictured above. Needless to say that I find carabiners most useful when it comes for hanging photography accessories on a bag or a backpack for instant access.

Sunwayfoto XB-44 Ballhead Friction control by Tool in thick glove
Wearing thick gloves in the middle of the Summer, with a temperature of 37 oC (98,6 oF) outside seemed at least hilarious to other members of my family... but I had to prove if this tool was easy to use under the circumstances of freezing cold.
Sunwayfoto XB-44 Ballhead Friction control by F-Tool in thick glove closeup
And yes indeed, I could manage to handle it well, meeting the Friction Control Knob grooves without any effort. The hypothetical adjustment in deep cold is easy.

More Uses
The dimensions of the "Friction Tool" flat extensions, gave me more ideas for more uses other than it was originally designed for.
It can become very handy also as a "Bushing Tool"...
Sunwayfoto XB-44 Ballhead bottom bushing removal by F-Tool
The Tool becomes also handy for tightening and/or loosening a 3/8"-16 to 1/4"-20 conversion bushing like the one pictured above, in the bottom mounting hole of the XB-44 ball head.

Either the conversion busing is used on a ball head...
Fotopro QAL-500 QR clamp with bushing
or on a Quick Release Clamp center mounting hole.

Even more it can become handy as a "Screw Tool"...
Fotopro PU-60 camera plate w/ captive screw
Tightening or loosening a captive screw on a camera base plate.
(If the screw is equipped with an appropriate slot, of course).

Although I seldom need gloves in the winter, since I live in a quite warm climate, I find this little Tool very original and handy for all the tasks it can be used into. A nice to have gadget by all means. 
According to Sunwayfoto, this Tool will be included together with the other accessories in the box of all Sunwayfoto XB-Series Low Profile Ball Heads and maybe not only.
Somehow, it is not clear if it will be sold separately as an accessory.

I hope you found the review and ideas useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos & Photosynths: © 2012 S.C.Vlachos

The Friction Tool will be available for sale as an independent accessory soon.

Update: Sep 2012
Sunwayfoto Friction Tool sells at US$ 3.97 from

Relevant Articles:
Sunwayfoto DB-36TRLR Traveler Ball Head Review
Sunwayfoto XB-44 Low Profile Ball Head Review
New Sunwayfoto FB Series Lightweight Ball Heads

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