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which brand(s) for reliable clamps

clamp clamps reliable arms

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#1 Nicool

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Posted 24 May 2016 - 10:59 AM

hello Wetpixel!

 

I think my trusty Ultralight clamps (AC CSF model, those with 15 degrees side movement flexibility) now deserve to retire, as they've become a little tough to use, after about 300-400 photo dives, over... 7 years!

 

By "tough to use" i mean i need to screw harder to get the arms steady, and i am often not fully happy with the steadiness.

 

Looking at photo dealers not too far from home, i am given a number of choices as far as manufacturers are concerned:

-ULCS (the same AC CSF ones which i have)

-Nauticam (same manufacturer as my housing)

-I-Das clamps, offering apparently 60 degrees side movement flexibility

-a number of carbondive.com clamps, some with very peculiar shapes

 

Those are the 4 brands within easy reach for me which i have down-selected.

 

Could you share feedbacks on the easiness to use, quality, and durability of these clamps?

 

thanks!

Nicolas



#2 blibecap

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Posted 24 May 2016 - 01:10 PM

I cant find any clamps at   "carbondive.com "


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#3 Nicool

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Posted 24 May 2016 - 01:14 PM

I cant find any clamps at   "carbondive.com "


Sorry, i meant carbonarm.com

#4 giffenk

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Posted 24 May 2016 - 02:52 PM

Are you sure the clamps are the issue? It may be your balls?

If you have balls without orings, the balls polish over time and are harder to grip. If the balls have orings, then the orings degrade.

#5 JimG

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Posted 24 May 2016 - 11:29 PM

I was in your position and changed mine for Nauticam clamps. Very pleased with them after a year. I also have some I-DAS stuff (not clamps). Their kit is quite cheap but not as well finished. After every trip I have to pickle all the I-Das gear in vinegar to get the white crud off.


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#6 Cerianthus

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Posted 24 May 2016 - 11:38 PM

I just have to re iterate my experience with idas, i wouldnt recommend:

http://wetpixel.com/...das#entry353674

 

for me, they were even not that cheap.

 

im still using them (I cleaned them thoroughly with vinegar and a ultrasonic bath and changed the orings and then they work ok-ish), because I have to sell the thought of a spending spree on new clamps and arms to my wife :-)

 

i had a play with a friends nauticam arms and they are definitely in a different league then the idas ones. Very smooth movement. But they were quite new....


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#7 thetrickster

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Posted 24 May 2016 - 11:47 PM

I've got ULCS, i-Das and Nauticam

 

By far the Nauticam ones are the best, I can obtain a tighter grip than the others. I've now replaced (at great expense!) all my clamps for Nauticam ones.


Regards, Richard

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#8 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 25 May 2016 - 12:05 AM

I use Nauticam one and Inon ones

 

The Nauticam ones are big and easy to use. The Inon ones are really light and compact for travel. 

 

I tend to change my clamps every 400-500 dives. 

 

Alex


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#9 TimG

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Posted 25 May 2016 - 12:26 AM

I was surprised to read Nicool was having problems with ULCS clamps; and then Alex saying he changes his every 400-500 dives.

 

I've had the same set of 8x ULCS clamps since 1999, they've done around 1500 dives - nearly all with Inon Z240 strobes - and I've never had a problem with them. Same o-rings. Nothing changed or tweaked. They get rinsed (usually!) after dives.

 

Maybe I have just been lucky with them.


Tim
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#10 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 25 May 2016 - 01:27 AM

It is going to depend on how much you move your strobes! Old clamps still work - they are just not as nice as new ones!

 

I'd also add that I thought I was happy with my clamps until I put new one on. 

 

Arms last forever - just get new o-rings every few years. But new clamps are always a pleasure to use. 

 

Alex


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#11 TimG

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Posted 25 May 2016 - 02:57 AM

It is going to depend on how much you move your strobes! Old clamps still work - they are just not as nice as new ones!

 

I'd also add that I thought I was happy with my clamps until I put new one on. 

 

Arms last forever - just get new o-rings every few years. But new clamps are always a pleasure to use. 

 

Alex

 

Much like camera bodies then, eh?

 

:lol2:


Tim
(PADI IDC Staff Instructor and former Dive Manager, KBR Lembeh Straits)
Nikon D500, Nikkors 105mm and 8-15mm, Tokina 10-17mm,  Subal housing

http://www.timsimages.uk
Latest images: http://www.shutterst...lery_id=1940957


#12 Nicool

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Posted 25 May 2016 - 05:31 AM

Wow thanks guys for the very informative answers, i couldn't dream of more :-)

 

Are you sure the clamps are the issue? It may be your balls?

If you have balls without orings, the balls polish over time and are harder to grip. If the balls have orings, then the orings degrade.

Good point. My balls (...) are still in good shape though i could definitely replace all the o-rings, which i haven't done yet, it cannot hurt.

In fact, i replaced 2 arms o-rings some time ago because i got dissatisfied with clamp tightness, and it didn't produce the expected improvement. At that time i thought it was because i adopted huge Nauticam float arms (carbon ones).

 

I use Nauticam one and Inon ones

 

The Nauticam ones are big and easy to use. The Inon ones are really light and compact for travel. 

 

I tend to change my clamps every 400-500 dives. 

 

Alex

In fact i started thinking my clamps could be the weak point when reading at your last book Alex, it was one of the many useful learnings from it. Thanks again for sharing so much and for the nice dedicace :-)



#13 Nicool

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Posted 25 May 2016 - 05:35 AM

Wow thanks guys for the very informative answers, i couldn't dream of more :-)

 

 

I was surprised to read Nicool was having problems with ULCS clamps; and then Alex saying he changes his every 400-500 dives.

 

I've had the same set of 8x ULCS clamps since 1999, they've done around 1500 dives - nearly all with Inon Z240 strobes - and I've never had a problem with them. Same o-rings. Nothing changed or tweaked. They get rinsed (usually!) after dives.

 

Maybe I have just been lucky with them.

Would you recommend separating the clamps from the strobe arms in the rinse tank?

I must confess that after pushing all housing buttons for salt residue, and turning strobe knobs, i am too lazy to take care of arms clamps, but maybe it's worth it?



#14 TimG

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Posted 25 May 2016 - 05:58 AM

Wow thanks guys for the very informative answers, i couldn't dream of more :-)
 
 

Would you recommend separating the clamps from the strobe arms in the rinse tank?
I must confess that after pushing all housing buttons for salt residue, and turning strobe knobs, i am too lazy to take care of arms clamps, but maybe it's worth it?


Yeah, sometimes I do, Nicool. But taking care of the arms and clamps isn't something I put much thought into. They get a rinse and that is it. They've performed flawlessly all the time and are hardly delicate instruments. I'm pretty good on my housing and ports, strobes etc. But arms? Clamps?..... Not so much.

Tim
(PADI IDC Staff Instructor and former Dive Manager, KBR Lembeh Straits)
Nikon D500, Nikkors 105mm and 8-15mm, Tokina 10-17mm,  Subal housing

http://www.timsimages.uk
Latest images: http://www.shutterst...lery_id=1940957


#15 giffenk

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Posted 25 May 2016 - 08:09 AM

I am curious about the replies regarding replacing clamps.Like TimG I am still using my original S&S clamps (not as old as TimG's). There is nothing to "wear out" on them. So no need to ever replace them. Maybe I am missing something?

 

You could abuse them and allow crap to build up on the threads, but then I would simply replace the bolt, not the whole clamp.

 

My S&S arms are resin with orings. So my balls wear, not my clamps. The orings now need replacing as they are cracking (but still working fine). I could not find a suitable replacement oring (big fat orings!) so I ended up "doubling up" by using a small AND a large oring from the faucet section of a local hardware store on each ball. Works just fine.

 

Do steel balls cause the clamps to wear? If so, then a simple re-bevel session with a hand file should return the clamp grip surface to working order (kind of like sharpening your hedge shears...). No need to discard the clamp.

 

Thoughts?



#16 okuma

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Posted 26 May 2016 - 10:09 AM

I have some of the very first Ultra clamps - anodized blue!

Periodically do the following maintenance:

1. replace all the O rings

2. dis-assemble and wire brush off the screw.

3. add a small amount of o ring grease to the threads and enjoy your 'new' clamps!


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If it is so easy every one would be doing it!

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#17 cristiansub

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Posted 27 May 2016 - 11:38 PM

I use carbonarm (carbonarm.com) and Isotecnic are good (isotecnic.it)

 

For some accessories I find good and not expensive this: http://www.flex-arm.com/


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#18 Nicool

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Posted 03 June 2016 - 05:32 AM

Hi all,

 

I have just received my 4 new Nauticam clamps, and I must say I love them!

They are bit bigger than the ULCS but weight the exact same on land (75 grams), let’s see if my housing’s buoyancy gets changed underwater (I had managed perfectly neutral rig, so it will be easy to tell). I think the metal parts are thinner that’s why.

 

At the same time, following Gifenk and Okuma’s advice, I have replaced my arms’ balls o-rings by Nauticam’s spare blue o-rings, I mean these ones:

http://reefphoto.com/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=5751

 

I wanted to do the same for my Inon Z240 ball’s o-ring, I mean these ones:

http://www.divervision.com/inon-spare-arm-o-ring-456212143381.html

Although it seemed to me that the Inon o-rings were larger than the Nauticam. When attached to the Inon ball, they also seemed to protrude more, and then I believe to better protect the ball, and possibly ensure a tighter grip.

In fact, Inon are disclosing the precise diameter of their ball joint: 24mm/0.9" (http://www.inon.jp/products/armsystem/arm.html).

I couldn’t find the precise figure for Nauticam’s o-rings.

Visually, it seems the ULCS o-rings are also of a different size (different from Nauticam and Inon).

 

I had the false impression that all ball mounts were about same size (I mean among reputable manufacturers) and that associated o-rings would be interchangeable.

 

Would you recommend that I buy the (apparently larger) Inon o-rings to replace those on my Inon balls?

If Inon’s o-rings are indeed larger, would you see any issue in using them on my ULCS and Nauticam strobe arms? I am thinking that if they are larger, they might provide a tighter grip with less effort. Thoughts?

 

Cheers

Nicolas



#19 giffenk

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Posted 05 June 2016 - 06:35 PM

There are lots of different sizes of balls. Many are close enough to be compatible. The 22mm, 27mm and larger balls do not mix well with the 24mm, 25mm and 1inch balls. The 24mm, 25mm and 1inch balls can be mixed okay as long as they utilize orings.

The oring groove in the balls also differ across manufacturer. So each ball needs a diferent size oring.

The bottom of this page gives a handy reference for ball sizes...
http://www.camerasun...bracketry/index





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