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  1. #21
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Honolulu, Hawai'i
    Large Format
    Generally, ball heads have more strength for weight, but there are a lot of factors that may make one ballhead better than others for certain purposes.

    Arca-Swiss ballheads, for instance, are slightly eccentric, so as the tilt angle increases, the tension increases in the joint, so it's less likely to flop, and it will actually be able to hold the camera at a more extreme angle more easily than other ballheads.

    Linhof ballheads are made to very tight tolerances and are designed not to move when tightened. With some other ballheads you might adjust the position of the camera, tighten the knob, and find that the camera moves slightly when tightened.

    Some ballheads have very smooth panning like a fluid head, which can be attractive if you do any motion picture photography.

    The Arca-Swiss B2 has two balls, so it has the strength of a large ballhead to support up to 150 lbs (sounds like overkill, but with a heavy long lens or a lot of bellows extension on a view camera, you'll need it), but is relatively compact and weighs less than a typical pan-tilt head that can support 50+ lbs, and yet it has the control of a pan-tilt head, since the two balls control different axes independently.

    I had a large Gitzo low-profile head for several years (among various others)--good support but not as solid or as easy to control as the B2, and it was too stiff to use with a lightweight camera, so it was only suitable for large cameras.

    The Majestic head is quite solid and very affordable, but impractically heavy for the field, and as sturdy as it looks, it's not as solid as the B2.
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  2. #22
    MattKing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Delta, British Columbia, Canada
    Multi Format
    The Manfrotto 322RC2 linked to above and others like it have one advantage that may not occur to everyone - they combine a reasonable amount of leverage and excellent, one-handed operation.

    For those of us who need one-handed operation, that is really useful!

    My main tripod head is a "joystick" head like the following:


    It is good for one-handed use, and it has other strengths, but due to the distance between the camera mount and it's pivot point, in hindsight I think I would be better off with something like the Manfrotto 322RC2.

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

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