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04-26-2013, 07:27 AM   #31
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Sirui vs Vanguard

I am not familiar with the quality of the Vanguard ball heads, so I cannot speak to that.

However, for what it is worth, I like the ability to set a precise, quantifiable and repeatable minimum ball tension, instantly available, for each lens/camera combination I might mount, so that there is always some resistance to the camera just falling over when the main lock is released, no matter the weight combination. The Vanguard heads do not have that feature, even the largest, most expensive ones, that I can ascertain.

You have that dual feature with all the Sirui KX series ball heads, including the smallest K-10X. It shares the feature and the mechanism (a tension dialer within the locking knob) with the vastly more expensive Markins heads, and adds a highly useful feature the touted Markins heads do not appear to have - an additional dialing collar around the base of the locking knob, which allows numbered repeatability to the tension settings.

In use, you just set the range of tension so that your lightest lens/camera combination is zero on the dial, then memorize the numbered setting for each lens/camera setting up to your heaviest, and you are set. Just dial in the tension as needed for each combo, as needed. If you forget the number, you can just do it by feel, if necessary, then use it at that numbered setting for the rest of the session. I find this a tremendously useful feature I no longer would want to do without. See photo.

With the Sirui KX series (or, properly, my experience with the K-40X head) when minimum ball tension is set correctly for each lens/camera combo, you can place and use the ball head without fully tightening the locking knob. The proper resistance setting permits smoothly moving the camera when necessary, but keeps it firmly in place otherwise (this is very useful for leveling a K-5 using the viewscreen level feature). Or you can fully lock it down with just a quarter turn of the locking knob (and minimal effort) so that it will NOT move. Also, once you position the camera/lens under the proper minimum tension, it will not shift or move, even a minute fraction, when you tighten down to full, immovable locked tension. There is absolutely NO slop or fractional movement of the camera as you fully tighten the locking knob.

Another plus to the Sirui ball heads is the supplied instruction sheet. It is one of the best written, best illustrated manuals I can remember. It is clearly and carefully written in perfect, grammatically correct English, clearly and completely illustrated with excellent drawings and diagrams and very easy to understand. It is a model, in my opinion, for instruction manuals. And then there is the 6 year warranty.

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04-26-2013, 12:12 PM   #32
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QuoteOriginally posted by fliegenfischer Quote
However, for what it is worth, I like the ability to set a precise, quantifiable and repeatable minimum ball tension, instantly available, for each lens/camera combination I might mount, so that there is always some resistance to the camera just falling over when the main lock is released, no matter the weight combination. The Vanguard heads do not have that feature, even the largest, most expensive ones, that I can ascertain.
the Vanguard head I own does just that, exactly as you describe it. They even claim to have invented the system The dial around the main knob can be set to increase the minimum tension.

I'm not vouching for Vanguard more than another brand, just adding some info to the thread. Whatever the head you select, a high-quality product will never be wasted money.
04-26-2013, 01:18 PM   #33
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Well, bdery, if that is the case, then I stand corrected. I was looking at the specifications as described on the Amazon website, since I am, as stated, not familiar with Vanguard heads, and I did not see that precise feature mentioned (which I would think they would want to do, it being a selling point, especially for the Sirui heads).

Thanks for the clarification.

QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
the Vanguard head I own does just that, exactly as you describe it. They even claim to have invented the system The dial around the main knob can be set to increase the minimum tension.

I'm not vouching for Vanguard more than another brand, just adding some info to the thread. Whatever the head you select, a high-quality product will never be wasted money.
04-26-2013, 04:30 PM   #34
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I'm starting to move closer and closer to deciding on the Sirui kit myself. This thread is full of great info.

04-27-2013, 09:10 PM   #35
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I have been using the Sirui N2204 carbon fibre tripod and G-20 head for more than a year. The tripod/head combination has worked very well in different shooting locations and positions, including water, snow, low position with legs splayed, shortened legs, fully extended, etc. I am very happy with the system.

I had debated whether to get the K-20 head (now K-20X), but the G-20 was less expensive and the specifications seemed satisfactory for my needs. The lower price does not seem to equate to lower quality - the G-20 is solid, precise, and easy to use in the field. My only observation on the G-20 has been in outdoor temperatures colder than -15C, when the control knobs stiffen somewhat (they continue to function, however). The tripod is terrific.

- Craig
04-29-2013, 03:10 PM   #36
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Just thought I'd swing by this thread as I've been doing some research on a monopod in the past couple days, and as I ponder which ballhead I want to buy next.

For reference, I have a Gitzo and a Feisol head. The Gitzo has a terrible quick release system while the Feisol's is simply perfect, in my opinion. So I'm taking apart my tripod heads as I speak and was planning on swapping the Feisol's over for fun.

Here is why the Gitzo is worth the money (pardon the snap-shot quality):

The QR platforms have approximately the same amount of screw threaded into them despite the thickness difference...



But the Gitzo has about 1.25" of threads inside the ball itself, and the platform is secured to the ball stem with a 3/8" long set screw, whereas the Feisol's QR platform is merely glued onto 3/8" of the threads. The Feisol's ball is hollow and the inside is visible in portrait orientation. I can't see the end of the threads looking in that way...



Another example, and this is what got me thinking about why the cheap ones are so cheap...

The Gitzo has more leg tube inside the metal sleeve. More glue surface area, stronger bond:



The thread is a good read, even if it's a Nikon forum!

Discussion Forums @ Nikonians - Printer friendly page, topic ID #29624 -

My Feisol is great, except for 3 design flaws. My Gitzo is great, except for 2 design flaws. But after using both, I know why Gitzo can get away with charging so much, even though there is no perfect product.

Buy used, buy when the opportunity strikes. The carbon fiber legs and head were $200, although heavily used. Brand new in 2007, the head was $247 and the legs were $575. Best money I've spent on gear in a long time

As a PS, and one of the design flaws of the Feisol--look at the paint missing and scratches on the stem of the ball from a couple months of gentle use. Look at the stem of my beat-to-shit Gitzo...
04-29-2013, 09:26 PM   #37
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Interesting findings and though nothing really surprising. For my applications I doubt that I'll face the limits of my Feisol but the extra build quality of the Gitzo shows itself here.
04-30-2013, 07:23 AM   #38
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Gitzo vs Feisol

ryan s, thanks for your contribution, especially the Nikonians discussion link. Interesting and useful information. Glad I ended up with Gitzo legs. For my uses, the best.


Last edited by fliegenfischer; 04-30-2013 at 07:33 AM. Reason: spelling
04-30-2013, 05:46 PM   #39
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I ended up purchasing a Benro Travel Angel II alloy kit today. I don't see the advantage of Carbon Fiber in the Benro/Induro's as you spend more than double the coin for cutting the weight in half. This could be a huge issue if I was lugging around a medium format camera kit, but I'm not, I'm lugging a Pentax camera kit. the half kilo difference in weight between the Induro 214 Carbon ($400) and 214 Alloy ($150) (the two they had in stock) just didn't seem worth it to me. Also, with reading that carbon isn't as durable if you drop the sucker (and I plan on flying with my pods) then the weight savings vs cost just isn't there.

I was all set buying the 214 alloy and looking at heads, when I noticed the travel angels. I've read good reviews, and the construction is very similar to the Benro. But they fold up ultra small and that is perfect for my uses. The shop keep is a super air head, and knew nothing, which really was unfortunate, so I may look at the 15 day exchange policy if this doesn't work out, but I'm really excited. The tripod is about the same weight as my Induro, but the head it comes with is much better. I was going to buy an entry level panner style ball head for Induro, but didn't like any of their offerings there compared to the Sirui or the Vangaurd. The Benro head is very similar to the Sirui, so hey why not.

I'll report back on my findings...

Total kit $280 Canadian + gst for the alloy body.
06-13-2013, 09:13 AM   #40
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Update

Back from three weeks on the road shooting giant Sequoias and ancient Bristlecone Pines in the Sierra Nevada and White Mountains in California.

Good test of my new field tripod setup. Sirui head, Gitzo legs and Markins low level adapter (see earlier postings for details) all worked essentially flawlessly for shooting from ground level to full height, at over three pounds lighter than my old Bogen system.

Discovered that the neoprene storage bag that comes with the Sirui K-40X ballhead works well to protect the head while it is mounted on the tripod legs.

Nothing to complain about. I'm very happy with the performance of all parts of the setup.
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