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Thread: Ball Head Suggestions

  1. #1

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    Ball Head Suggestions

    I plan to get a ball head for my Manfrotto tripod. Could any of you provide suggestions as to the pros and cons of the various models? I do primarily landscape and wildlife photography.

    Thank you, Chuck

  2. #2

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    Allan Short

    Re: Ball Head Suggestions

    Chuck: I got a Feisol ballhead and tripod, the ballhead I got was their CB-50DC which I found was an excellent choice, great craftmanship and as the price was great compared to a lot of the major brands bought from a retail store. I do mainly landscape like yourself along with architecture. I will add a link to there web site, this is there US site I ordered though their Canadian site. I also got great service.

    http://www.feisol.net/

    Cheers:

    Allan

  3. #3

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    Re: Ball Head Suggestions

    I have used the trigger release type Manfrotto 322RC2 for several years.

    Easy to manipulate and grips in whatever position you release the trigger. I reversed the handle to make it left hand operation; just reposition the attachment plate screws.

    This means that I can position with my left hand while my right index finger is always on the shutter button, which is handy for quick shots.

    The downside, is that it will creep slightly if set in a downward angle with a heavy lens, and/or flash unit. Tightening the friction control helps but can then make operation a little heavy. But for quick use, like panning or when using the tripod on uneven ground etc when I keep a hand on the trigger handle this isn't a serious problem.

    It can cause a few problems with long shutter speeds though.

    Recently, I purchased a carbon fiber Manfrotto and got the Hydrostatic heavy duty head 468MGRC4.

    Absolutely no creep whatever equipment is used. Very heavy construction and as well as the standard size it will also fit the large size camera attachment bolt.

    Two separate locking mechanisms. When the rotation lock is released the pan is very smooth with no rocking. The ball head has a large diameter tightening adjustment screw which is easy to use.

    The disadvantage which I sometimes find with insect shots etc is that the left/right leveling adjustment is fairly limited. Fine for normal uneven ground adjustment but with insects I find that I sometimes need to quickly move my camera position diagonally downwards more than the ball fitting will allow.

    There are two slots which allow for full downward movement but not down and twist to get the diagonal movement of the simpler trigger release ball head.

    This can be overcome by releasing the rotation lock so it is a matter of straight down then rotate instead of a diagonal movement.

    Providing I position my tripod correctly before attempting a shot this isn't a serious problem now; since I have become use to it.

    Positioning on a subject is obtained by moving the camera instead of a controlling handle. This possibly takes a bit of practice but is similar in effect to hand holding the camera.

    Sometimes, for quick shots, I don't fully tighten the adjustment controls but find no slack movement problems. The ball action is very smooth.

    The only major drawback which may be a problem with this particular head is the price! But it is very well made and I would recommend it, subject to my previous comments.

    If you need any more specific information, Chuck, just ask.

  4. #4

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    Re: Ball Head Suggestions

    Chuck one other thing I forgot, I purchased a L-bracket from Really Right Stuff, it allows me to change from landscape to portrait in a matter of seconds, as I do a lot of pans in that position, it also allows me not to have to drop the camera over onto its side away from the centre of the axis of rotation. The Feisol head a a very smooth rotation for doing pans.

    Cheers:

    Allan

  5. #5
    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: Ball Head Suggestions

    These are weird looking ballheads, but are used by many:

    http://acratech.net/product.php?prod...9&cat=1&page=1

    If I was looking for a ballhead I'd seriously look at one (have two other brands already: a Manfrotto 486RC2 which is an entry level BH, but the one I use most of the time, and a Gitzo GH3750QR which I'd like to get rid of - great design, poor execution).

    It's worth spending some time on the Acratech site - particularly watching the videos.

    They seem to be very well made and extremely versatile. If I was buying one, I'd choose the GP model as it can double as a levelling base - very useful in landscape work if one is stitching pans. These are not cheap, but I've already spent more on two heads, that I don't use.

    Glenn
    Last edited by Glenn NK; 12th September 2012 at 01:55 AM.

  6. #6
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Ball Head Suggestions

    I would look for a ball head with an Arca Compatible Quick Release. The RRS and other L-brackets are the best thing since sliced bread!

  7. #7
    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: Ball Head Suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    I would look for a ball head with an Arca Compatible Quick Release. The RRS and other L-brackets are the best thing since sliced bread!
    I agree - if only I would have figured that out sooner.

    Glenn

  8. #8

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    Re: Ball Head Suggestions

    Thanks to all of you for taking the time to help me. Now I need to get busy and do my homework.

    Cheers, Chuck

  9. #9

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    Lennart Elg

    Re: Ball Head Suggestions

    I agree with the recommendation to look for an Arca compatible quick release.
    Two things to watch out for:
    1) Not all manufacturers bother to state whether their systems are "Arca compatible" or not - you may need to do some detective work if you rely on mail order
    2) There seems to be degrees of compatibility - while all comply with the Arca profile (subject to manufacturing tolerances in some cases) I have found some variation in safety lock devices

  10. #10

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    Have a guess :)

    Re: Ball Head Suggestions

    For what it's worth, Really Right Stuff make what's considered to be the "Rolls Royce" of ball heads. Personally, I use a RRS BH-55 - wouldn't use anything else.

  11. #11
    DanK's Avatar
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    Re: Ball Head Suggestions

    Another thing to consider is where you do that work. If you have to haul the stuff on your back, you might want to opt for a smaller, lighter head even though it won't be as smooth. I use an Induro BHD-0 (which is arca-compatible) on a relatively inexpensive Oben (B&H) carbon-fiber tripod. It's worked fine, and it is not very heavy. If you go to a good bricks and mortar store, you can try some out. (I went to B&H while in NYC for work.)

    If I were a pro, I might consider the top of the line brands (RRS, Gitzo, etc.), but for my purposes, the difference in price was not worth it.

  12. #12
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Ball Head Suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by lenelg View Post
    There seems to be degrees of compatibility - while all comply with the Arca profile (subject to manufacturing tolerances in some cases) I have found some variation in safety lock devices
    I agree. My Giottos Arca Compatible Quick Release allows Giottos Plates to slide in and out but, the safety catch tab prevents many plates manufactured by other than Giottos to slide in and out. The safety tab is designed to prevent the plate (and therefore the calera and lens) from sliding out of the QR clamp if the clamp becomes inadvertantly loosened.

    There are four fixes to this problem:

    1: Use only Giottos plates. I don't like this fix because I don't really like the Giottos L-plate. It doesnt conform to the lines of the camera and can be a bit awkward if you are hand holding the camera with plate mounted. OTOH: The Giottos L Plate is a generic plate and will work virtually all cameras. You don't need a separate L-plate for each camera type like you do with virtually all the RRS or Kirk L-Plates...
    2: Route a slot in the plate to allow it to pass by the safety catch.
    3: Remove the safety tab which will allow all plates to slide in and out but would forsake the security of a safety tab.
    4: Open the QR all the way when switching plates and drop the pate in from above. While it is a bit slower than sliding a plate in and out, it retains the safety catch tab and doesn't require any modification to the plate.

    I use method #3 and have had no problems once I figured it out.

    Some QR clamps do not have any safety catch at all. While this allows you to slide any other manufacturers plate in and out it removes the safety of the tab preventing inadvertent release.

    Giottos Ball Heads are quite sturdy and stable and are in the mid to lower price range. The Adorama Flashpoint Magnesium Ball Heads are low priced heads which are quite good. I use the F-1 on my modified SLIK Pro 330D tripod which weighs less than two pounds with head. However for more general purpose tripod, I would think that the Flashpoint F-2 would be a better selection...

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