Adjusting Base Friction On the Arca-Swiss p0 Ball Head

I was recently contacted by a reader who wanted to know more details about the Arca-Swiss p0 ball head for their potential use in the field. After speaking with them, I realized their application may require adjusting the base friction setting of the head, so I’d like to address that here.

While the locking ring provides some friction adjustment, and the patented elliptical ball prevents the head from “flopping over” as you get closer to 90 degrees, heavier systems will require adjusting the base friction setting for nominal performance.

So, here I will go step by step, with photos, on how to properly adjust the base friction setting on the Arca-Swiss p0 ball head to accommodate differing camera and optic weights to ensure the benefit of the elliptical ball head is maintained.

Step 1: remove the beauty ring to access the adjustable gears. Use a #1 Reed & Prince or #1 Phillips head to remove the 4 screws.

Step 2: remove the beauty ring by hand. There may be a bit of friction, so just twist it slightly to overcome any stiction and pull.

Step 3: use a small, thin flathead bit or small prying tool to remove one of the set pins. It’s unthreaded, so just pry it up vertically and slowly, so it doesn’t fly away.

Step 4: use a permanent marker to mark the original position on the gear.

Step 5: use your prying tool to then turn the gear. Righty tighty, lefty loosy.

Step 6: adjust the other 2 adjustment gears by the same amount and replace the set pins.

Step 7: fully unlock the head with the locking collar then manually move the head around and ensure it’s as tight, or as loose, as you want it.

Step 8: make any further adjustments as needed. Ensure you move the adjustment gears synchronously, as each should be at equal tension for proper functioning of the locking mechanism. In other words, set all 3 gears at the same setting or you may break them when locking the head.

Final Step: replace the beauty ring and you’re done. Be careful not to overtighten; tighten the screws in opposition by tightening one to snug, then do the same to the screw on the opposite side, in an X pattern. Once snug, give each a quarter turn, again in an X pattern.

That’s it. A very simple and straightforward process while it’s not as easy as having a dedicated friction knob on the head, it simplifies the design and control scheme of the Arca-Swiss p0 while still having control over the base friction. Of course, this makes it more difficult if you use different combinations of varying weight on the same head but for people who use a single system paired to a single head and tripod, it becomes as easy as “set it and forget it.”

If you have any questions, just hit me up in the comments or email me directly.

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