Tip: “Re-positionable” T-Lever Knobs

BH-40 on Versa 3 Tripod

In order to get adequate torque on the smaller diameter ball sizes we needed to design a locking mechanism that provides enough leverage to securely lock your mid-sized camera equipment into place. This high pressure locking mechanism is what gives our mid-sized and ultra-lightweight ballheads exceptionally high load capacities. Therefore, the main-lock knobs of our BH-40, BH-30 and BH-25 ballheads are “T-Lever” style knobs rather than the round shape found on our BH-55 ballheads.

A common issue you might face during normal use is the T-Lever coming into contact with the tripod platform or quick release clamp. This problem is easily solved by utilizing an often-overlooked feature of the T-Lever: The lever is spring-loaded and can be re-positioned without tightening or loosening the ball itself.

Simply pull the T-Lever.


Once it’s been pulled out (or disengaged) you will notice it can still be turned, but as it’s in this disengaged position turning it clockwise or counter clockwise is doing nothing to affect tension on the ball.

Set the T-Lever to the position you find appropriate, let it spring back to re-engage the T-Lever and then you can go back to standard procedure for tightening or loosening the ball. The operation is essentially very similar to using a socket wrench, where the re-positioning of the handle—in this case the long side of the T-Lever style knob—allows for better leverage and a clear path to rotate. By utilizing the ratcheting knob you will be able to apply tension to your ball head even in the most restricting situations.

It may even be possible to select a position for the knob that minimizes the occurrence of such movement restrictions or interference, since there are 6 different positions available and the operation of the knob will usually require less than 1/2-turn.

(NOTE: It is important to ensure the T-Lever knob springs back to a fully-engaged position before tension is applied to continue with a locking or unlocking motion. Partial or improper engagement of the internal parts can result in damage or unintended wear.)

Let’s recap.

  1. Pull the T-Lever knob out away from the ballhead body.
  2. While holding the knob out, rotate to a new position (in either direction).
  3. Let the T-Lever knob spring back. (You may need to wiggle the T-Lever slightly to allow full re-engagement.)
  4. Continue the tightening or loosening motion.


  1. Doug Haines says:

    Very helpful, as this is a constant frustration with my ball head. Figured there must be a way around it! Getting an L Bracket has helped. Going on a shoot tomorrow, will give it a try….


  2. Aaron J. says:

    This is more helpful than you know. I purchased a BH-40 LR for my Dynamic Perception Stage One and I have had a few issues with the T-Lever hitting the mounting plate. I just ran to the other room and tried this tip and BAM! Worked like a charm. You guys really do rock! Love your stuff!

  3. Why did you not use a round knob?

    • Jim @ RRS says:


      Using a round knob on such a small ballhead would result in a knob about 1/2″ to 3/4″ round, which would be either

      a) too small for getting a grip with gloves and/or large hands, or
      b) not allow for those with weaker hands to achieve full lockup on the ball joint

      By using the T-Lever shape, not only is it a compact-yet-non-slipping grip, but it allows a much wider range of user to lock the ballhead without discomfort or issue.

  4. Mitchell Green says:

    Months ago I called you about using my BH-40 on My feisol tripod which has large tripod base with not enough clearance for the lever. Your only solution was to buy a BH-55 which I did. Now I’m pissed learning I could have used this technique! It obviously isn’t a new feature in the BH40!

    • Jim @ RRS says:

      Hi Mitchell,

      There are plenty of other reasons not to use a smaller ballhead on a wider platform, since the radius of the ball/stem/clamp can still result in the camera running into the tripod when tipped into the drop notches.

      Each of us here has our own preference for use, but generally speaking we recommend BH-55 a lot for Series 3 and other larger tripods for this very reason, independent of the knob clearance concerns. Even with the “re-positionable” knob some folks will still find the operation of BH-40 too slow compared to BH-55, since having to re-position the knob frequently takes more time.

      The BH-40 knob feature should definitely have been pointed out to you, and I apologize if it wasn’t. That being said, odds are we still would have recommended the BH-55 for other reasons.

      Feel free to email me (jim@reallyrightstuff.com) if you have any other questions.

  5. How did I not know this about my BH-40?! Awesome!! Thanks for the tip!

  6. Roland White says:

    This is an often overlooked feature of the smaller series of ball heads, and does become important for clearing the clamp, so I am glad you are reminding your users. When I saw the headline on this, I was thinking you were describing a new product, because of your mention of “ratchet-able”, but the current design really should be described as a “position-able” T-Lever. Also, in your article, you did not make mention that the clamp size also is a big factor for the locking T-Lever lever to clear the clamp, and that there are a total of three sizes of RRS clamps to choose from to help with clearance.

    I really enjoy the large round knob on the BH-55, and wish there was a way to have a similar knob on the BH-40. Would it be possible to make a retrofit part that had a smallish stem to extend out from the ball head far enough to clear a clamp that is over the side, and then have an enlarged round knob at the end of the stem to allow firm clamping? It would look much like the stem and knob on your screw clamps. Just a thought.

  7. Red says:

    Discovered this accidentally whilst playing with my new BH-30. At first I thought it was a defect but quickly realised it was a very useful ‘defect’ – which turns out to be a feature.
    If this was in the manual, I did not rtfm. Ü

  8. Derwin says:

    Oh my! Thanks for that! I thought my BH-40 was defective!!! Thanks for the tips!

  9. Carl Licari says:

    Is this mentioned anywhere in the manual?

  10. Peter Knott says:

    Brilliant, so many times it has knocked the plate of my tripod.

  11. Matthew Friel says:

    Makes sense now, I couldn’t for a minute believe that this issue was not addressed some how.

    Works pretty good just takes some getting used to


  12. Mike Reid says:

    Oh wow….once I figured out the name for the tightening knob, I found this. Works great now with my Gitzo gt0540

    Thanks so much

  13. josh says:

    Wow, it only took me a year to find this. This has been my biggest frustration with the BH-30. Very happy I am killing time and happened to click on this link!

  14. Drake says:

    I was excited to read about this feature. I had to get out of bed and go try it right away! Works as advertised.

  15. Jeff says:

    Shopping for an RRS tripod/Ball head and I agree with Roland, This should be described as Positionable not “ratchet-able” when I first read this, I thought that the lever clicked with each torque setting.

  16. This has been bugging me for months! Who knew! Running down to my car right now to fix it…finally! Thanks

  17. David Bannister says:

    I also never knew about this very important feature of the BH40, which I’ve had for years. The only clue I had was on the redesign, your website mentions the positions as being increased from 6. I thought, what do you mean six, it just tightens or loosens continuously. RRS needs to push this out, even the instruction diagrams on the 40 web page show the 55! This is important for effective use of the 40 without knob envy.

  18. angelo says:

    grazie molto interessante ma quale peso riesco a supportare? va bene con nikon d700 e 70/200? grazie ancora

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