I'd love your recommendations for a head

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by BHuij, Apr 11, 2017.

  1. BHuij

    BHuij Member

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    I have kind of a weird situation.

    I've been shooting digital as well as 35mm and medium format for several years, and for most of that I've gotten used to ballheads.

    However, I'm now starting to shoot 4x5 using an Intrepid, and my ballhead is not a good match for shooting large format.

    In case anyone here isn't familiar with it, the Intrepid 4x5 weighs only about 2 pounds (maybe 5 or so with a lens on it), so it does just fine on my compact travel tripod. The legs are fine, but the ballhead just doesn't give me the kind of precision that I really want for this shooting style.

    So what I'm looking for is a small, lightweight geared head if possible. Lightweight is on my list because I backpack this camera around with me. Manfrotto has this offering:

    https://www.amazon.com/MANFROTTO-MHXPRO-3WG-GEARED-QUICK-RELEASE/dp/B00URXUC9O/

    But the reviews indicate that the head is plasticky and not very precise. I'll probably try one out in person at my camera store and make my own judgments before I write that one off, but in the mean time I'd like to get suggestions, since I can't seem to find geared heads made by other manufacturers at all.

    If there are no good lightweight geared heads (I realize that sounds like an oxymoron), I would like to get a solid 2- or 3-way pan with a handle. The Intrepid has a rotating back, so I really don't need more than 2 axis functionality. I just want the head to be solidly built and lightweight, and a quick release system is a must.

    No real brand preference. Vanguard, Manfrotto, Feisol, whatever. Anyone have a pan head that they absolutely love? Price range is up to around $150.
     
  2. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    I have used loads a lot heavier than 5 pounds on my Acratech Ultimate Ballhead and had no problem with precision.

    [​IMG]

    Ball Head by Narsuitus, on Flickr
     
  3. locutus

    locutus Member

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    That new geared head is indeed not great, the older Manfrotto 410 is absolutely *perfect* for a 5x4 or 5x7.

    I use mine with a Shen Hao TZ45A on top of it, very happy with that setup.
     
  4. OP
    BHuij

    BHuij Member

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    The 410 looks great. I realize with geared heads there's only so small you can go, especially without sacrificing operational quality. Unfortunately it's a bit out of my price range. In addition, I think losing the gearing in exchange for a smaller, lighter build is a good tradeoff for me. Going back to a 2- or 3-way pan with a handle will also probably save me some money as well.
     
  5. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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  6. Trail Images

    Trail Images Subscriber

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    I've shot heavy RB67 ProSD and Wista 4x5 for years. After a variety of ballheads over the years I've found the best I've ever had only 3 months ago. I spent a few weeks researching ALL kinds of units and watching lots of Youtube stuff too.
    Being retired I'm in the field every week and have exercised this extensively. The Wista 4x5 was never a challenge for most all my previous heads, but the Mamiya on macro work always seemed to be edgy on creeping. Not the case with this unit. Once locked in place it is rock solid.
    Induro BHL3S
     
  7. OP
    BHuij

    BHuij Member

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    Thanks for the recommendation! I don't think the problem is that my ballhead is bad (it doesn't creep on me or anything), it just seems like the fundamental design of a ballhead doesn't work with the super precise, single-axis-at-a-time control I'd like to have when shooting 4x5. I'm looking at the Vanguard PH-113V and the Benro S2. Funny enough, I also shoot an RB67 from time to time, although not so much anymore now that I've gotten addicted to large format.

    Thanks all, and keep the suggestions coming.
     
  8. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

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    I like the Gitzo G2270M. Not geared, but super smooth movements.
     
  9. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    Lightweight is my middle name. I've been using a Bogen/Manfrotto 3025 for years with my field cameras. I recently got one of the "replacement" (I think just a re-naming) 056 3D heads and it works just as expected. Not geared, but precise enough for my architectural work in the city and small and light enough to haul around on my back or bicycle.

    Here's a link: https://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-05...1997385&sr=1-7&keywords=manfrotto+junior+head

    Don't let the appelation "Junior" scare you off; I use a Wista DX or SW and up to 300mm lenses with the head with no problem. It's a 3-way head, but without long handles. You can loosen all three lock-downs and have the equivalent of a ball head, or just loosen one or two lock-downs at a time for adjustments in fewer planes.

    If you can live without gears, this would be my recommendation for lightweight without resorting to a ball head (I don't like ball heads much), nor do I like quick-release plates (I'm just about as fast with the normal screw) after seeing a LF camera hit the ground because the operator accidentally released the quick-release plate...

    Best,

    Doremus
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2017
  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi bhuij
    i wouldn't say i love it, but it is all i have used and it works well for me.
    i use a bogen 3047 and never had a problem with it for the most part.
    i've used it with 4x5 cameras all the way to 11x14, with small hex qr plates and
    the big square ones .. i got it IDK 20+ years ago and haven't ever used anything else.
    i am sure there are things that might be less finicky easier to lock down / use/ connect a QR plate to &c et C. ...
    but to be honest i figure it would be 6 of 1 and 1/2 dozen of the other ...

    good luck !
     
  11. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    Use a 3-way head for this application because it feels the most natural to me
     
  12. guangong

    guangong Subscriber

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    I have a Linhof ball head that can easily handle my 4x5 Wista as well as my Leicaflex with 400mm f5 lens, a combination that weighs a lot more than 2 pounds. Small but steady. Yet, I prefer to use a standard head with handles when using a view camera. To me a ball head is more convenient for "aiming" rather than for composing.
     
  13. Hans Mulders

    Hans Mulders Subscriber

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    For my intrepid 4x5 inch I use a manfrotto ballhead 168 with hexagonal quick release plate.
    The Intrepid is not heavy and you can easy control the adjustments to get it in level.
    If you go for a more heavy camera I would suggest a 3D head like the Gitzo low profile 1570 head.
    This one I use for my cambo 5x7. The ballhead feels to me a little to difficult to adjust leveling.

    B.t.w. Is it the first type intrepid you have, I mean the kickstarter camera?
    I have the kickstarter one, nice step in camera with ok value for the money with its acceptable flaws.
    I wonder what you think about that camera.
     
  14. Gimenosaiz

    Gimenosaiz Subscriber

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    Hi!

    Agree!! I uses the 410 with my Pacemaker+Aeroektar. Easy to use and precisión!!

    Cheers!
    Antonio
     
  15. OP
    BHuij

    BHuij Member

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    I have the V2, where a lot of the birch plywood has been replaced with black anodized aluminum. Didn't know about it until after the kickstarter was over, so I just bought one after I filed my taxes in January. Only had it for a few weeks, but I absolutely love it so far. It weighs so little and the things that I see online reviewers complaining about have no actual effect on my final image quality (rack and pinion isn't as smooth as their ShenHao, ground glass isn't as bright as their Maxwell, rear movements aren't as flexible as their Toyo monorail, etc. etc.). I used my dad's 4x5 Toyo View monorail for a while and of course it has the Intrepid beat on luxury features like every single movement being geared and detented, etc. etc. It also weighs 9000 pounds. My Intrepid can easily strap onto my bike and go on mountain biking trails with me with all necessary gear.

    Thanks again everyone for recommendations. I've seen some heads that look like they would fit the bill really well. I'm off to the camera store sometime this week to try out a few heads on my legs and get an in-person feel before buying.
     
  16. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I can't help you with your question - I'm very happy with my RB67 and a mid-level Manfrotto ballhead.
    But I chuckle every time I see the thread title: "I'd love your recommendations for a head"
    Especially when I read the first line in the initial post: "I have kind of a weird situation."
     
  17. Ari

    Ari Advertiser Advertiser

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    It's outside of your stated price range, but a smaller FLM ball head, like the CB-38FTR, will hold your gear very well.
    The great thing about it, too, is that it offers 2-way movement when you need it, making levelling your ball head a very simple matter.
    This video shows how it works:
     
  18. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    Ball heads are absolutely useless for photography in any format, but particularly bad for LF.
    They're designed for video cameras. That's all they're good for (if that).

    I suggest getting a Majestic head.
    It's geared on one axis (usually front/back tilt) and manual on the other.
    They're no longer made, but come up often in the used market.

    I have two Majestic tripods with these heads.
    I use them to support my car when doing an oil change.

    - Leigh
     
  19. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Subscriber

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    Speak for yourself Leigh! I have two Kaiser ball heads that work just fine for 4X5. I would have no problem using them with my 8X10, but I use an old Majestic with the 8X10. Of course the Kaiser heads I'm talking about weigh almost as much as my 4X5 camera and that helps. The one drawback to using a ball head for large format is having to reach under the camera to adjust, but this can be done by feel once you get used to it. Protruding handles are slightly easier. I just think your harsh words like "Useless for photography in any format" are just a little over the top. If you don't care for them that's fine, but many of us find them to work slick as a whistle. The price that the better and heavier ball heads go for, used and new, is a good indication I'm not alone in my thinking.
     
  20. Neil Poulsen

    Neil Poulsen Subscriber

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  21. Neil Poulsen

    Neil Poulsen Subscriber

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    Are you kidding, for a 2 lbs camera???
    This is a good choice for what you've described. I used these for years before purchasing their pro level replacement, a 3039 head. A 3047 also has the advantage of having quick-release plates. Very strong, I use these hexagonal plates with an 8x10, as well as with much lighter 35mm cameras. 3047 heads usually sell in the range of $40 to $75 or so.

    Only available used, get one with a lock that prevents the plate from coming off, in case it hasn't been properly positioned. (Earlier ones don't have these locks.) When some versions of these heads wear out, they can still move in one of the three degrees of freedom, even when tightened. Ask, or check before purchase.

    Another advantage to a 3047 is that they have a maximum payload of about 16lbs. So, room to move up to heavier cameras.
     
  22. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    What you've got is the software developer's choice - you can have it cheap, you can have it precise, and you can have it light. Pick two. Or in the case of geared heads for tripods, pick one-and-a-half.