Preferred Tripod Head?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by Andy K, Jul 20, 2004.

  1. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    I have had several tripods over the years all of which had Pan and Tilt heads. I am currently looking to buy a new light-weight tripod. I currently favour the Velbon Ultra Luxi SF for its' sheer compactness.

    I have never had a tripod with a ball and socket head. Can anyone enlighten me as to the advantages of ball and socket tripod heads?

    Bearing in mind I use 35mm SLRs with (occasionally) heavy 'long' lenses is this the way to go? Or should I stick with pan and tilt?
     
  2. ThomHarrop

    ThomHarrop Member

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    I use a Bogen ballhead and love it. I have a big heavy tripod which I use for my Pentax 67 and my 4x5. I like being able to unlock the head and move the camera freely. It allows me to level and orient the camera very quickly. I have to admit though that I once played with an Arca Swiss head in the store and it was heaven. It cost a lot more but it was clearly better engineered. It was silky smooth (although it had no load on it at the time) but I didn't feel it was worth the extra money (several hundred dollars more) for my needs.
     
  3. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    I'd recommend finding someone with a ball head (regardless of make) and trying it out. It's a personal choice - some people love them. I hate them because if you want to adjust level in one direction, you're quite probably going to lose it in another direction. With a ball head, all directions are in play when the head is loosened.

    The other folks here at work love them for our TV cameras - they set up very quickly. Again, get your hands on one and try it out - you may love it, too.
    juan
     
  4. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    preferred tripod head

    I use MF & 35, use a small benbo ball head on a small tripod which I keep in the car & Emo multiball on a larger tripod. Biggest advantage is compactness, No handles to snatch & grab on what have you. Quality differs greatly from brand to brand. One to look at is Giottos(sp?) smooth & priced in line w/bogens.
    Some people don't care for BH's because everything loosens up w/one knob. Just takes some getting used to.
     
  5. Shesh

    Shesh Member

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    I use a Giottos ball head (MH 1001). I find it very convenient compared to a pan tilt head when it comes to 35mm or 6x6cm. I have used it with lenses upto 300mm f/4. You may want a larger one if you use longer or more heavier lenses (the MH 3000 is really nice). When it comes to LF, I realized last weekend that I would be better off with my pan tilt head.

    That said Arca Swiss make the best ball heads I have seen. What ever route you go, make sure you have the pan bed, tension lever and a locking lever.
     
  6. Deniz

    Deniz Member

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    I've always been a ball head user and for my 8x10 i recently bought a manfrotto 488RC4 head. Its lovely.. smooth and locks down solid.
    I also tried the giottos heads and they dont work at all. they didnt even lock down tight, i don't get it, they are rated 20lbs and could hardly carry my 12lbs camera.. so i bought the manfrotto, couldnt be happier.
     
  7. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    I know nothing about 8x10 photography, but from what I have seen the cameras are quite large. Is it a possibility the leverage and not weight had a bearing on the performance of the giotto heads you tried deniz?
    I know one of my P&Ts struggles with my praktica and its' 28-200mm semi-macro lens, not because it is heavy but because it is long and adds additional leverage to the load on the tripod head.
     
  8. mikewhi

    mikewhi Member

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  9. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    Thanks Mike. Unfortunately all my cameras use film and are therefore incompatable with it! :smile:
     
  10. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

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    I've used a couple of ball heads but I find that, for 35mm, a pan-tilt head works better for me. I recently picked up a Bogen 3001 with a 3025 3 way head as a light weight 35mm sticks/head combo. For larger stuff, I use a Bogen 3036 tripod with a 3047 head.
     
  11. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

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    I use the Kirk ball head and love it. It is built very well and easy to use.
     
  12. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    I have recently moved to an Acratech ball head. It is very strong and light weight. I prefer a ball head to a 3 way head, even for the 4x5.
     
  13. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    I have a Arca/Swiss B-1 Ballhead and the comparable Kirk Ballhead. I love both of these ballheads and use them as platforms for eveything from my G2 Contax though my Bolex Rex 5 with Norton Animation Motor (the 8x10 Wehman is a lightweight compared to the Bolex).

    You can see a couple of pictures in my APUG Gallery of my Arca/Swiss ballhead supporting my Wehman 8x10 view camera.
     
  14. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    I too was a pan and tilt man for many years and when the first carbon fibre tripod by Gitzo was launched I decided to invest in it after doing a review of a number of tripods including the Gitzo for a UK magazine. At the same time I decided to go for the Gitzo 1376 ball and socket head and within weeks wished I had taken that step years before. The ball and socket is quick, light and very solid and I use 35mm medium format and 5 x 4 on it. I have a friend who has the Arca and it is also excellent.
     
  15. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    I have a berlebach which has a built in ball head. It's very light, wooden, and was amazingly cheap for a sturdy wood tripod/head ($189US).

    [​IMG]

    They also have models cheaper than this with a center column..
     
  16. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    Thank you everyone.

    It seems the consensus is on going with ball and socket!
    The reason I like the Velbon is it also has an extremely simple and quick 'twist-lock' system for the legs and a splittable centre column so you can use it at a very low height (17cm), with a maximum height of 1.2m. It collapses down to 34cm in length. My priority is on saving weight and bulk, because a lot of the time I cycle to locations with all my gear in a backpack, so a tripod that folds down to 34cm in length, with a compact b&s head is going to be ideal!

    Thanks again everyone, the Velbon Ultra Luxi SF it is! :smile: