ball heads on tripods
normally I've preferred a pan tilt head to a ball head. But folks just keep mentioning that if I'm not using a ball head then I'm somehow just not getting all the advantage and ease. I don't know if this may work better for cameras you normally hold in your hand, so that's why I'm posting this question here (assuming that most LF users don't hand hold their camera often ;-)
Normally I use exactly this head:
I work by separately adjusting the angle of horizontal and vertical. Actually it works well for me as I can hold the back of the camera with one hand and adjust and tighten each axis.
I tried out the ball today and find that (out in the field) its just hard to orient and align the camera compared to the head I'm used to. The camera just rolls all over the joint. Not only left and right but even twists around.
so ... is there a trick to this or are ball heads just more suited to folks using hand holdable cameras like SLR's and rangefinders.
I dunno ... help?
I use a Kirk BH-3 with all of my cameras. If you keep the tension tight, and a hot shoe level handy, the camera will align just fine.
The main attraction of a ball head, as I see it, is high strength for the weight of the head. A pan-tilt head offers more control, because you can adjust each axis separately.
The best of both worlds is the Arca-Swiss B2, which uses two balls, one for each axis, so it's a pan-tilt head with the strength of a ball head, but it's a large head (3.5 lbs) designed to hold big cameras and long lenses (capacity 150 lbs!). The Z2, which is scheduled to replace it someday, will be smaller and more compact.
With a single ball head, like most ball heads other than the B2, I find it easiest to level using a round bullet level, rather than a single or double vial level, because the bullet level imitates the motion of the ball.
In addition to David's comments, you need to keep tension on the ball. Tension helps to keep the ball from taking off in whatever direction it wants. Also, experience helps: you quickly get the feel of the mechanism and learn how to control it.
With a LF: why don't you gaet yourself a geared head ?
What you probably want is to level the camera as easy as posible, a ball head is even worse than this 3 way head.
I have a Manfrotto 410 for up to the RB 67, and will get a larger one for my Sinar.
The head you've shown has three knobs to tighten. Arg!
I use ball heads because they take up less space, weigh less, and are easier to travel with than pan tilt heads. But I really hate trying to level ball heads and I much prefer the greater control possible with pan tilt heads, so I use one whenever possible, which is always when I am working out of my car.
My advice, if you don't plan to travel a lot by air, get a nice pan tilt head and avoid the multiple irritations and lack of precision of a ball head.
Having said all that, the pan tilt head you show is a very hard to work with, even harder than good ball heads. How do I know? Because I have one exactly like it. That is, IMHO, definitely not a good pan tilt head.
Exactly! For years I used the Arca B1 single ball head, and loved it. Then I found the B2, and there was no going back. My B2 works perfectly with an 8x10 and the heaviest portrait lenses.
Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
I use a Bogen/Manfrotto 405 geared head for 4x5 and smaller, and I love it. I couldn't get used to a ball head. I replaced the head you show with the geared one. Every control is separate and the gears are smooth and precise. Leveling is very fast. I would get a larger one for 8x10 if they were affordable.
I have a kirk bh3 and love it. I had a geared 410 and hated it. Different people are different. If you like what you have, it is great (: