How to Get Spare Parts to Fix Your Manfrotto / Bogen Tripod for Cheap

Do it Yourself, Photography
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It was a dark night in San Francisco. I was on Treasure Island trying to capture some shots of the city skyline by night. To get better photos, I decided on climbing on the riprap boulders placed along the shoreline. After I found a good spot to set up my tripod, it happened…I opened the lock of my tripod legs pulled them out one by one and all of a sudden I heard a piece of plastic drop on the rock below me and each of my hands was holding a piece of my tripod. I was totally shocked. This is my favorite tripod and I had it for over 12 years. We traveled all over the globe. I took thousands of pictures on this Manfrotto tripod and now it gave up on me. I quickly realized what happened and tried to be as careful as possible to not lose more parts. After placing both pieces on a big boulder, I grabbed my headlamp and tried to find the piece which was missing. First I didn’t even know what part was missing and what it looked like. I just hoped I would see something in the cracks between the boulders and would be able to recover it. 

No chance. I searched for maybe 15 minutes and stuck my hand in holes I normally wouldn’t 😉 Unfortunately, I was not able to recover anything. I carefully grabbed all my stuff and walked back to my truck, which was just across the street in the parking lot.

What happened was, that the actual lock piece of the first/top segment came off the tube. On the top end of the second segment is a plastic shim, consisting of two halves. This shim stops the leg from coming out all the way (if the lock doesn’t come off) and it also stops the legs from rotating. One of the halves of the shim was still on the leg but the other half of the shim felt in between the boulders. At that moment I had to make a decision about what to do. Could I salvage the tripod for tonight and be able to take pictures of should I call it quits and go home and see how I can get the tripod repaired. I had some tools with me in my truck and decided to see if I can MacGyver the tripod back together to be able to take pictures. Actually, it was not a big deal at all.

I took the remaining half of the shim off and saved it. Then I put the lock back on the tube and secured it with a screwdriver. After the lock was attached I inserted the rest of the tripod leg segments and see how it would perform and if the tripod would be stable. Once locked, the tripod was as sturdy as ever. The only issue with the missing pieces is now that I can again pull the segment out too far and it will come undone. Fortunately, I won’t lose any more parts when that happens now, as I removed the other piece already. Now I had to be only careful to not slide the leg out too far for a good stable grab of the lock. The next segment down would now be able to rotate 360 degrees but that is only a problem when collapsing the tripod for storage so the locks don’t hit the other legs.

I continued shooting that night and got some amazing photos of San Francisco. Unfortunately, I encountered a lot of lazy drive-through tourists who instead of walking to the spot, as I did, just pull over on the main road and snap pictures. This is the Instagram-generation. It was the on-ramp to the San Francisco Bay Bridge and lazy people just pulled over and turned their flashers on to get photos. As I walked back to my car, after finishing my photo sequence, I told a few of them, that this is not a parking lot and their response was only “We know”. I hate an attitude like this. People are just lazy nowadays and want to drive up to every photo spot and probably not even get out of the car anymore. The SFPD should patrol that area and give tickets to these people. They would make so much money throughout the year.

San Francisco Skyline

How to get spare parts to fix your Manfrotto tripod

The next morning I decided to see how I could fix my tripod and possibly get spare parts. Of course, I would have the option to drop the tripod off and have it repaired by someone else. This would be probably super expensive and I looked for alternatives. First off, I started with the manufactures website.

My damaged tripod with the new spare parts.

Manfrotto Website

When you are on the Manfrotto website, scroll all the way down and you will see Customer Service in the footer of the website. Below that, you find Service & repair. Click on it. If you just purchased your tripod you might want to contact the warranty department.

On the next page, it asks you to enter your SKU. This is just your model number and you can find it on your tripod. In my case, it was “190CXPro4”. This will give you one or multiple lists with spare parts and diagrams to easily identify the parts you want to buy. There are four spare part list for my model, but when you look closer you can see the date for each list. Check when your tripod was built/bought and select that list. To be safe, I cross-referenced the part throughout all four of the lists and the part number was always the same. But you really want to make sure you look up the right piece. 

Write down the part number or take a screenshot, as you will need this number later on.

On the same page where you see the spare part lists, you see contact information for Vitec Imaging Service. Do not contact them if you only want to buy spare parts. That’s what I did and they just replied to my email with a quote request for spare parts to send my information to a different department. They wouldn’t even forward that. It’s the usual customer service experience, too many departments.

If you only want to buy spare parts contact Vitec Imaging Distribution. Same company, different department. 

Contact details are as follows:
E-Mail: parts-vid-us@vitecgroup.com
Phone: (201) 818-9500

I called them the next business day and actually had a great chat with one of their representatives. The conversation was way better than expected and the guy was super helpful. First, he confirmed that I had the right part number and he checked his stock. Unfortunately, they were out of stock, so he recommended me to check online at two other places.

ManfrottoSpares.com

ManfrottoSpares.com is out of the UK but has great service and they deliver quickly. This is one of the biggest Manfrotto spare part dealers and they have an amazing stock of spare parts. The easiest way is to enter the part number you found in the previous step and search for it. As the site is a little bit more complex if it comes to different models of tripods. The part I am looking for was in stock and was about $10 plus shipping.

B&H Photo-Video

B&H Photo-Video also sells Manfrotto spare parts and for whatever reason, they had the same part I needed in stock as well. I ordered from B&H before and I am really happy with their service. For me, they had a few advantages. I had a good experience with them and already an account set up and they have a rewards program where I get rewards for shopping there. On the downside, the same part was there $15 instead of $10. For me, it was worth the little extra money to support the company, have easier shipping as they are located inside the US and I get rewards.

Other Sites that sell Manfrotto parts

I found two more sites, which I haven’t tried personally but they look legit. Be aware that if you use any of the sites listed below, you are doing that at your own risk.

https://manfrottotripodparts.com/

https://bogentripodparts.com/

Conclusion

A few days after I ordered my parts from B&H, they arrived and I was able to fix the tripod myself. This saved me the labor cost if I had dropped it off or sent it in to be fixed. Don’t be afraid of working on your gear. This gives you a better understanding of it and prevents future issues of the same kind.

Did you know that Manfrotto is owned by the UK company Vitec Group Plc? The same company also owns Bogen Photo Corp and Manfrotto’s and Bogen’s biggest competitor, the french company Gitzo.

Have you guys ever fixed your own tripod or other gear? Let me know in the comments.

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