Resurrecting a broken 50-year-old Linhof tripod with a little DIY repair

Jul 6, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Jul 6, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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There is a lot of old camera gear out there and I regularly see people showing off their “finds” on social media. Usually, though, it’s cameras or lenses. Often in decent working condition, too. Occasionally, though, they become repair projects, and following that process is fascinating. Less common, though, are anything photo-related that isn’t a camera or a lens… Like a tripod.

Well, Markus Hofstätter found himself in possession of a 50-year-old Linhof tripod that had apparently been involved in a bicycle accident and was in pretty rough shape. Being a big fan of really old camera gear and also being pretty good at repairing it, he decided to see if he could give this old Linhof tripod a new life.

The broken Linhof tripod!

The main issues with the tripod were that one of the legs was missing its stabiliser that allowed it to swing out to the right distance (and not fall over) and the ball head was broken – and had a screw missing. Knowing that there was still plenty of life left in this tripod once repair, Markus set about the task. The stabiliser, he said, was pretty easy to fabricate and install. The ball head, however, was another matter.

Markus says that he wasn’t entirely sure how the ball head was supposed to work and lock at the position you set it to. He found a similar ball head online for sale at a local shop and asked them to send over some photos and video of the mechanisms so that he could see exactly how it was supposed to work and… Well, to his surprise, they actually did!

Markus documented the process in the video above to not only show the process but also explain his approach to this repair and the challenges and choices he made along the way. Ultimately, he did manage to repair it, though!

If there’s a lesson here, it’s to not rule out old or broken gear so hastily. Many items can be restored to their former function, even if not their original appearance. I mean, sure, that’s not the official Linhof knob on the ball head, but hey, if it works, right?

Markus wrote a little more about the repair on his blog, so be sure to check it out.

Would you have repaired this? Or would you have just thrown it out and bought a new tripod?4

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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2 responses to “Resurrecting a broken 50-year-old Linhof tripod with a little DIY repair”

  1. Mike Downey Avatar
    Mike Downey

    I had a Linhof tripod exactly like that in perfect shape that I gave to the Salvation Army a few years ago. It’s an ok tripod, but nothing to write home about.

  2. Ilkka Alavalkama Avatar
    Ilkka Alavalkama

    Old pro tripods may be heavy but with the right repairs they are still pro tripods ? https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=TwistedPerspectives&set=a.1598263800475853