Ballheads...

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by cmo, Nov 7, 2008.

  1. cmo

    cmo Member

    Messages:
    1,457
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2006
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    A while ago I sold my old tripod with its integrated ballhead and bought a new hi-tec carbon-fibre tripod from Velbon. So, I attached a ballhead that I still had in my shelf... and it shakes like hell. It is quite obviously not the tripod but the ballhead in itself. Well, I mounted a huge 560mm Leitz Telyt with a Canon EOS 1v with the heavy Powerbooster attached on it... about 5 Kilos, and no stabilizer, of course.

    What kind of ballhead wold be a good compromise between weight and stabilty? The combo with the EOS and the Telyt is the heaviest equipment I have, but of course it is prone to vibration.
     
  2. nsouto

    nsouto Subscriber

    Messages:
    516
    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2005
    Location:
    Sydney Austr
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm having a lot of success with a Manfrotto 488RC2 head on my old Kennett Benbo tripod.
    It holds even the biggest of my 35mm gear, the Arax 6X6 with the big Sonnar 180/2.8 and even the rb67 without the slightest problem.
    On the monopod I've got a slightly smaller 486RC2 that also cops with just about anything short of a LF camera.
     
  3. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

    Messages:
    6,709
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Every time I post a response like this there is a rapid volley of "you really need to spend $300 on a ball head to get a good one."

    Let me just say this: me too (with the exception that I hang a slightly different MF SLR on mine).
     
  4. cmo

    cmo Member

    Messages:
    1,457
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2006
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Brian, you are so right, ballheads, that's a science, and the are many, many scientists in these forums... and they all seem to have so much money.

    But I tried different ballheads, and none except the old 2-kilo monster I owned was sturdy enough: FLM 38, the big Manfrotto, a medium-sized Novoflex, they all vibrated with this long lens and/or juddered when moving the lens and could not really fix that weight, must be the leverage effect of that big bertha thingy. An of course I don't want to spend 500 dollars for the benefit of carrying a lot of extra weight :smile:
     
  5. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

    Messages:
    1,954
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2005
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    5 kg is pretty heavy.

    I have an Arca Swiss Z1 SP ball head that I use for an Arca F-line Metric 4x5 camera. With my heaviest lens, max weight is still under 10 pounds but rock solid. Camera rigidity is more of an issue that the ball head. Also, the asymmetrical ball is great and prevents camera flop with the heavy gear. Not cheap, ~$350 but you get what you pay for.
     
  6. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,678
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Location:
    Chicago
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I've had several ball heads and bigger and more expensive is better. I found that the Kirk head is as solid as anything else (arca, RRS) and a bit less expensive. I have the smaller size (BH3) which is quite good for my 4x5 and 6x6, and OK with my old rickety 8x10. The weight for the 8x10 with it's heaviest lens is around 12-ish lbs. To make it work, though, I needed to build a tripod block to center the weight. Honestly, though, I think you'd need to heavier BH1. Weight is only part of the equation. You also need to consider the camera induced vibration, how far the vibration source is away from the mounting point/center of gravity, and magnification.
    Given all this, a long 35mm lens is probably the hardest thing for a ball head to support. Don't mess around. If you really intend to use the 500mm much, get the biggest, high quality ball head you can.
     
  7. Edwardv

    Edwardv Member

    Messages:
    397
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2005
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Look at the Acratech ball heads, supports 25 lbs plus, compact, light, and a lot better than most.

    http://acratech.net/

    Good luck.
     
  8. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

    Messages:
    1,064
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2004
    Location:
    Fond du Lac,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Check out the Photo Clam Professional Ballheads at www.reallybigcameras.com. They look pretty good, and Kerry is very good to deal with.
     
  9. Maris

    Maris Member

    Messages:
    891
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2006
    Location:
    Noosa, Australia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Maybe the strongest small ball head in the world is the Manfrotto 468MGRC4 Hydrostatic Head. It weighs about 1.5 pounds and is rated for a 30 pound load. My Tachihara 810HD triple extension 8x10 works fine on it.
    The hydraulic locking mechanism needs only light finger pressure to actuate but the ball will not move with the big camera at any angle.

    I got mine at KEH and I think they still have this expensive head at a "bargain" price.
     
  10. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

    Messages:
    1,064
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2004
    Location:
    Fond du Lac,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi Maris,

    I forgot about that one! Thank you for pointing it out.
     
  11. Erwin Plau

    Erwin Plau Member

    Messages:
    9
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    Location:
    Northeast Ge
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    What about an old Linhof tripod with a big LF camera ballhead? What you ask for is either a $1,000 Gitzo tripod with a $500 ballhead (3 Kilos) or a $50 veteran (5 -10 kilos). Save the money and give some change to the bellman.
     
  12. cmo

    cmo Member

    Messages:
    1,457
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2006
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Now I know why Velbon calls its tripod series "Sherpa" :smile:

    Maybe that is an option, will look into that. And in a few months I could buy a Gitzo from an unemployed wallstreet broker or GM manager...
     
  13. Robert Budding

    Robert Budding Member

    Messages:
    467
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2004
    Location:
    Arlington, M
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    You don't have to spend $300 on a ball head - as long as your willing to buy another ball head every five years. That's what I did - once. So I bit the bullet and bought a RRS head that should last a lifetime.
     
  14. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

    Messages:
    5,682
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    The problem with long lenses and small heads is that they are balancing, 'touching' at only one, tiny contact point. The slightest disturbance, and it will swing, pivoting around that point. No matter how hard the thing is fastened, or how hefty the (ball) head.
    You need a big (in size) head, with more than just one point of support, to keep such things still.