Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
06-25-2012, 03:25 AM   #1
Veteran Member




Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Flyover America
Posts: 4,475
Let's talk ball heads

Thinking of getting a moderate priced ball head mainly for occasional macro use (Manfrotto 055XPROB+K20D+Sigma 105mm macro). Mostly close ups of plants in the woods but nothing all that demanding. Just something steady with good ergonomics.

About $150 or less. Does not need to be the last word in ball heads just decent for my purposes.
Have been using an old Manfrotto 3030 three way head. Rock steady but clumsy for macro work.
By the way I actually have 5 tripods for other purposes and all are heavier and set up for more specialized work so working load for this ball head will be very modest as I already have what I need for heavy loads.

Right now am looking at the Manfrotto 496 series and 054 series ball heads but willing to consider any brand.

Any thoughts in this price range?


Last edited by wildman; 06-25-2012 at 03:49 AM.
06-25-2012, 03:56 AM   #2
Site Supporter
Site Supporter




Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Gladys, Virginia
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 18,732
You might take a look at this discussion: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-camera-field-accessories/179155-yo...-ballhead.html.
06-25-2012, 04:00 AM   #3
Pentaxian
Heie's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2011
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 968
Oh, I thought this was a kinky off-topic thread....*slowly backs up hoping no one sees*

I just bought the B1 Ballhead from Benro in a package with their new C2692TB1 carbon fiber travel angel. When it comes in, I will gladly post some pics and let you know how it holds the K-5 and 60-250 (my biggest lens).

I have read some reviews (trust me when I say I researched the HELL out of this tripod lol), and some claim that the B1 is a garbage ballhead. The overwhelming majority, however, is that it is very good, especially for the price, and I have read about it supporting 5DII's + 70-200 f/2.8's with no slippage or creep. You can get them on B&H for about $150 and I have seen them come up used for roughly $100-125. Something to think about.

Hope this helps

Respectfully,
Heie
06-25-2012, 04:46 AM   #4
Loyal Site Supporter
Loyal Site Supporter




Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Tumbleweed, Arizona
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 5,343
Morning,

Ballheads - for such a simple concept - holding the camera steady, I find that they generate a great deal of personal opinion. I had an old plastic / aluminum tripod and head ($7) that I learned a lot with. I picked up a Benro travel angle tripod and it came with a ball head. The tripod was great (and I use it a lot). The Benro ball head was a POS. Now having said that, Benro went away and re-designed a series of ballheads, and the B1 was the result and it appears to be very good. I also acquired an old Manfrotto 3001 tripod (with a 486RC2 ballhead). I love the tripod - hate and despise the ballhead.

The Manfrotto 496 series and 054 ballheads are two completely separate designs and concepts. One - the 496, you screw in the camera, while the 054 uses a quick release plate system. The quick release plate system (my opinion) is superior and works much better, especially in terms of work flow. I had a Manfrotto 486 ballhead and I absolutely hated it for several reasons:
  • Just a single lever (no friction control) - but both the 496 and 054 appear to solve this problem.
  • The quick release plate required 3 hands to operate - 1 hand to hold the camera so as to not flop off (hitting the ground), 2 hands to try to operate the quick release mechanism (one hand to disengage the locking pin, and then needing a second hand to operate the release lever, removing tension on the camera plate, thus freeing up the camera). Maybe it was just me but it was very difficult to operate.
  • The Manfrotto quick release plate system - the RC2 in my case, I found it difficult to mount the camera plate in to the clamp. I had already had an Arca-Swiss QR system, and thus I was probably already spoiled on it.
I would just suggest, what ever you buy, to take a look at the following:
  • On the ballhead - to tighten, you need a friction control, plus the main control to lock down the ballheads position. A large lever or Knob works better in terms of operation (you get better leverage).
  • A quick release system (camera plate and clamp) that is easy to operate with one hand - 1 to hold the camera, and one to operate the clamp release mechanism.
  • A reasonably substantial ballhead - not too small, and depending on your application maybe not too large. I found the Manfrotto ballhead itself (forgetting about the plate/clamp and release) to be a wonderful size and built very well. That I liked about them.
  • Some type of tightening system that will easily lock down with out slippage. Also, something that will let you make some fine adjustments easily.
The quick release system to me is the key. I like the Acra-Swiss type system, but that will most likely put you out of your price range. I might suggest that since you have other tripods, you probably have a quick release plate/clamp system on those. A common plate/clamp system across all of your "support" equipment would make interchanging them pretty easy. Just a thought.

What it boils down to is that if its easy to use, you will use it, if its difficult its a waste.

After using Benro's "ball head" once, I went and researched ballheads. For me, I went with an Arcatech GP, mainly for the panning and gimbal capability (which I use a lot) along with the A-S quick release system (its easy), but that is out of your price range.

just my 2 cents....




Last edited by interested_observer; 06-25-2012 at 04:59 AM.
06-25-2012, 05:13 AM   #5
Veteran Member
GDRoth's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: S.E. Michigan, USA
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 831
I have a Really Right Stuff BH-40 which is great (and cost about $350).........................I recently got the Vanguard ABH-120L below for my monopod and it's a fine head for a reasonable price.......
Amazon.com: Vanguard ABH-120L Semi-Elliptical Ball Head (Black): Camera & Photo

BTW, I agree that the Arca-Swiss type is best..................
06-25-2012, 05:25 AM   #6
Veteran Member
dmort's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Bronx, NY
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 415
arca swiss compatible is a must imo - mostly because if you ever want a different plate or an L-Braket, you've got lots of flexibility. For affordability and arca swiss, I like cullmann ballheads - a little higher priced than what you specified, but good quality and not insanely expensive. Check on the mb8.5 - also comes with a nice case and a plate. They don't all come with plates, so for the $219 you get everything you need.

Personally, I have a kirk bh-3 which I have been very satisfied with.
06-25-2012, 06:58 AM   #7
Pentaxian
panoguy's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Washington, D.C.
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 3,291
Don't forget Feisol... they also make very good ball heads at a good price. Consider your ball head just like a tripod - you'll pay more in the long run (by frequently upgrading) if you go super cheap to start with. $150 should do the trick, though!

Like i_o, I've also suffered the injury of those poorly made/designed Manfrotto ball heads, so fair warning there. For what you are looking to do (macro) you will want no ball head slip or creep at all. The brands mentioned above (Cullmann, Benro, Feisol... don't know about Vanguard, which I think is Adorama's house brand) are all good if you go for the bigger balls (heh) which typically have a higher load rating (30+ lbs, and 1.5"+ balls ).

FYI: you should never attempt to use even half the stated maximum load if you want stability on these mid-range ball heads, and honestly you should try to imagine using 1/4 or less. I use a Markins Q-3, which has a max load of 65 lbs (!), but found it wasn't as stable as I'd like when I put my camera and a 5lb lens (Tamron 300/ 2.8) on it... and this is on a bombproof Gitzo 3-series tripod, so it was definitely the ball head. Not slipping or creeping, but rather it was hard to adjust because the locking surface of the small ball was too small for the dynamic load, I think. Now I'm looking at that RRS BH-55 ($400, sigh), even though I sold the Tamron....

Last edited by panoguy; 06-25-2012 at 10:22 AM.
06-25-2012, 07:11 AM   #8
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
LaurenOE's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Photos: Albums
Posts: 3,575
I used to be obsessed with Ball heads. Now, between video heads and long lens (Gimbal) heads, I'm fine with a basic level of Ball head functionality. I only use my ball head when I am taking strictly pictures and no video. I've had a Manfrotto 484RC2 for years.

I recommend staying away from a Ball head that advertises too much cross functionality - as in a Ball head that claims to be a "Gimbal" or "Video" capable head too.

It will probably do neither well.

06-25-2012, 11:44 AM   #9
Veteran Member




Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Flyover America
Posts: 4,475
Original Poster
Ok.

Ordered this:
Amazon.com: Vanguard ABH-340L Semi-Elliptical Ball Head (Black): Camera & Photo

and

http://www.adorama.com/VGABH340L.html

Can't see any reason this shouldn't work for me. But I can always return it if it's a dog.

Thanks for the help.

Last edited by wildman; 06-25-2012 at 11:59 AM.
06-27-2012, 03:03 PM - 1 Like   #10
Veteran Member




Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Flyover America
Posts: 4,475
Original Poster
OK got it and had some time to fuss with it.

1. Overall build quality looks fine. No rough crude stuff nicely finished.
2. Fits on tripod perfectly - looks like it was made for it.
3. Easily handles the load I put on it. This is the largest Vanguard ball head at "88" pounds.
4. Tried a Wimberly rail I have for my long glass and it fits perfectly.
5. Creep for macro use - none. Set the drag so gear stays where I put it, Did not lock it down just shoot at 2 sec delay and pics seem fine. Can't see any need to use the lock function for my purposes. Setting drag properly is all it needs without also locking it. Did try using the lock and just looking through viewfinder I could see no movement. I think the huge ball is a big advantage here.
6. Movement seems smooth and controlled.

Conclusion: I'm a happy camper. It works. Can't imagine what practical advantage spending $300 more would have given me at least for my purposes.

PS - It's made in China

Last edited by wildman; 07-11-2012 at 11:23 PM.
06-27-2012, 04:17 PM   #11
Pentaxian
selar's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Sydney, Australia
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 2,042
QuoteOriginally posted by Heie Quote
Oh, I thought this was a kinky off-topic thread....*slowly backs up hoping no one sees*
laugh I thought the same too!
06-28-2012, 04:38 PM   #12
Pentaxian
panoguy's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Washington, D.C.
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 3,291
QuoteOriginally posted by wildman Quote
OK got it and had some time to fuss with it.
Thanks for coming back to report on the actual item (with photos - bonus!). This helps a lot of people out...
06-29-2012, 04:20 AM   #13
Veteran Member




Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Flyover America
Posts: 4,475
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by panoguy Quote
Thanks for coming back to report on the actual item
You're welcome.

Further update:
The little lock pin on the guick release lever fell out on the kitchen floor (thank god not out in the woods) along with a dinky screw and spring.
Anyway after finding all the parts I got it together again and all is well. For now I'm just assuming the set screw was not tight enough and not a design flaw but I'm keeping my eye on it.

Another shot using this ball head.
ISO 100, f/11, 2s

Last edited by wildman; 07-11-2012 at 11:23 PM.
03-12-2014, 03:27 PM   #14
New Member




Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 15
Well, could somebody tell me about amount of "sag effect" (DK, if it is proper name of the problem- descr.: When locking the head the ball moving slighty, what is terrible in macro or tele shooting) in Manfrotto 468, Gitzo centerball and other ball heads? THX
03-12-2014, 03:33 PM   #15
Veteran Member
crewl1's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 9,797
QuoteOriginally posted by Dr. Evil Quote
Well, could somebody tell me about amount of "sag effect" (DK, if it is proper name of the problem- descr.: When locking the head the ball moving slighty, what is terrible in macro or tele shooting) in Manfrotto 468, Gitzo centerball and other ball heads? THX
If that is a concern, I would over spec the ball head then you don't have to worry.
There are a couple of really big ones in the market place, I have tried a smaller Benro and it is great.
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/24-photographic-equipment-sale/254522-sal...all-heads.html
Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
ball, head, heads, macro, manfrotto, purposes, series, tripod
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Crazy world of high-end ball heads... panoguy Pentax Camera and Field Accessories 7 09-01-2013 06:47 PM
For Sale - Sold: Slik & Cullman ball heads, inexpensive. dshombert Sold Items 1 02-16-2012 09:18 PM
Anybody else here hate ball-heads? LeDave Pentax Camera and Field Accessories 31 04-08-2010 02:18 AM
Good deal on Acratech Ball Heads... heliphoto Pentax Camera and Field Accessories 3 12-05-2009 04:45 PM
Ball heads - what to look for Squier Pentax Camera and Field Accessories 29 07-02-2009 01:47 AM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 03:13 AM. | See also: NikonForums.com, CanonForums.com part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top