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03-11-2008, 06:36 PM   #1
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Pan Head, or Ball head?

Hello, everybody.

My tripod is the Bogen/Manfrotto 190XV legs, with a 3047 pan head.

The head is over 20 years old, and the side-to-side handle is getting hard to lock in place.

I'm thinking of getting a new head, but am torn between another pan head, or a ball head.

These are the two heads I'm considering.
Ball head.
Bogen / Manfrotto | 468MGRC2 Hydrostatic Ballhead | 468MGRC2
Pan head.
Bogen / Manfrotto | 3039 Super Pro Head | 3039 | B&H Photo Video

Would you recommend a smaller head?

Would you recommend a non-Bogen head?

I'd like to hear your opinions.

Thanks.

Mike


03-11-2008, 07:09 PM   #2
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I've owned the head you have and it's good but I finally got tired of the handles. At the same time I had an older Manfrotto ball head (#108). I just picked up this: New Benro KB-2 Ball Head fit Gitzo Manfrotto - eBay (item 200199747802 end time Mar-13-08 14:23:02 PDT)
It's a great head. Easy to use and very solid for even the Bigma. I'd highly recommend it. I don't think it's going to last as long as an Arca, Manfrotto or Gitzo but should be good for 10 years or so.
03-11-2008, 10:22 PM   #3
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Ball head all the way!!! So easy to adjust composition. Pan head is used for action panning or precise movement. I have experience with both cheap and expensive ball head. The cheap one is not as smooth, more creeping, and my particular Amvona head smelled pretty bad. Then, I bought the Acratech V2. Night and day I've to tell you. The movement is silky, no creeping, friction adjustment does give you real effect compared to the cheap type. The probably with ball head is that you have to take the ball out to give it a good clean once a while (probably once every two years- depend on your shooting environment). The Acratech one, however, has the ball exposed so cleaning is easy, and there is no messy grease to deal with.

From the price point you're considering, the Acratech would be a good choice. A similar option would be RRS BH-5 or Arca Swiss B-1. These are the three often recommended options. The Acratech is cheaper than the other two (accessories+the main ball head). It's also an American-based company with extremely friendly customer service.
03-12-2008, 03:34 AM   #4
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It all boils down to personal preferences. I have used most varieties of tripod heads out there. I am not overly fond of ball heads for several reasons. The biggest is that I just cannot set one plane of movement. When I move a camera on a ball head, everything moves, meaning I have to realign X, Y, and Z planes each and every time. The advantage of a ball head is quick camera movement.

Likewise, the pan heads were made more for video cameras. The arm does get in the way most of the times. However, you can set each plane separately, which is its greatest advantage over a ball head.

After trying most of them, I eventually settled down on a Manfrotto 115 Super 3D head. This allows me to set each plane separately, but is easily accessible without that arm to get in the way. Makes me a happy photographer.

On the flip side, I also bought a secondary tripod with a pistol grip ball head for those moments when I need to quickly compose in the field. Regardless, I still prefer the Super 3D head.

03-12-2008, 06:44 AM   #5
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++ on the Acratech ultimate ballhead. It's not cheap but definitely worth it. Mates really well with my Gitzo tripod and its lighter than what you're looking at I believe.

--thrice
03-12-2008, 07:59 AM   #6
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Both types of head are good. Which one is better depend entirely on the type of pictures you are doing. If I was in your shoes (you should be glad I'm not) I would sit down and give a good look at most of the pictures you're doing on tripod, and decide according to what you see. If you do a lot of panorama, the pan head is definitely the way to go. For sports or nature,I would go with the ball head.
03-12-2008, 08:05 AM   #7
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If you're looking for precise controls on individual planes, I might also suggest a geared head. Things are darn heavy compared to some ball heads, but they offer much more precise control on individual planes than a pan head, without the annoying handles.

!c

03-12-2008, 09:02 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Bokeh Quote
Hello, everybody.

My tripod is the Bogen/Manfrotto 190XV legs, with a 3047 pan head.

The head is over 20 years old, and the side-to-side handle is getting hard to lock in place.

I'm thinking of getting a new head, but am torn between another pan head, or a ball head.

These are the two heads I'm considering.
Ball head.
Bogen / Manfrotto | 468MGRC2 Hydrostatic Ballhead | 468MGRC2
Pan head.
Bogen / Manfrotto | 3039 Super Pro Head | 3039 | B&H Photo Video

Would you recommend a smaller head?

Would you recommend a non-Bogen head?

I'd like to hear your opinions.

Thanks.

Mike
My Manfrotto head is the 0168 ball head. This head has the standard ball on top, but also has a pan release. I find it the best of both worlds. There are two adjustment levers on the head, one allows the ball to move freely, the other allows the ball to rotate only. It holds my 400 very firmly. I put the levers to the front for ease of use, and lack of sticking them into my face.
03-12-2008, 05:51 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by flyer Quote
Both types of head are good. Which one is better depend entirely on the type of pictures you are doing. If I was in your shoes (you should be glad I'm not) I would sit down and give a good look at most of the pictures you're doing on tripod, and decide according to what you see. If you do a lot of panorama, the pan head is definitely the way to go. For sports or nature,I would go with the ball head.
I shoot mostly portraits and still life.

For still life, either head would be good, as set up time is not a consideration.

For portraits, I'd rather be able to set up as fast as possible in order to keep the shooting flow going with the model when changing locations.

I've only used a ball head a few times, but I really liked their ease of use, compactness (abscence of big knobs on long shafts) and the fact that ball heads of similar weight capacities seem to be about half the weight when compared with pan heads!

Look at the two heads I posted; the ball can support 22lbs, and weighs 1.4lbs, while the pan can support 26.5lbs, but weighs 4.5lbs. I never realized this before.

It never occured to me to try and oil my current head until after I posted this thread. Maybe that's all it needs, but I have been wanting a new head for a while.

Thanks, for your response, flyer.

And thanks also to Peter Zack, aegisphan, Chako, thrice, shutterdrone and Canada_Rockies for your advice. I will think about it all before making a decision.

Mike
03-13-2008, 01:58 AM   #10
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Mike, you might also take a look at a Kirk BH-1 ballhead from Kirk Enterprises, another fine American firm. It's comparable to the Arca-Swiss full-size ballheads, takes the same camera plates, and has a pan release as well as the ball release. Lovely action, good load capacity, compact size, moderate price for its class, and Art Wolfe swears by them.
03-13-2008, 05:13 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by christinelandon Quote
Mike, you might also take a look at a Kirk BH-1 ballhead from Kirk Enterprises, another fine American firm. It's comparable to the Arca-Swiss full-size ballheads, takes the same camera plates, and has a pan release as well as the ball release. Lovely action, good load capacity, compact size, moderate price for its class, and Art Wolfe swears by them.
Thank you, Christine.

I am listening to, and looking into every bit of advice people are kind enough to leave here.

I'll let you all know what I get when I buy it.

Mike
03-14-2008, 05:01 AM   #12
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You should also consider the Manfrotto 488RC2 head. I have one on my 190XPROB and really like it.
03-14-2008, 08:20 PM   #13
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Personally, I hate ball heads; any attempt to adjust in one direction invariably causes off-axis motion, which is aggravating when trying to level a shot. My favorite head for body mount is actually the NPC Pro Head, which is based on an artificial elbow joint. It has a single knob that frees two separate axis motion (up/down and side to side) and a separate panning knob for rotation. I find it infinitely faster to set up than trying to level an all-over-slop ballhead.

I think my favorite WOULD be an Arca-Swiss B2 - IF I could actually find one

For lenses with a tripod mount, there's nothing like a Wimberly head.
03-17-2008, 03:15 PM   #14
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In the past I owned the 3 way head that you're looking at, and used it with everything up to and including a monorail Linhof 4x5. Did some long exposures (2+ hours) and it was always rock solid, but heavy. I currently use the 468MGRC2. In use it's been very solid, though I wish they had recessed the friction adjustment, and used a knob rather than a lever for the pan lock. It also matches very well with my Gitzo 1227 MkII weight wise. With the friction adjusted correctly, I have no problems precisely adjusting the camera position.

As a side note, when I bought the 468MGRC2, I also tried 2 Acra Tech heads. While I was impressed with the quality of the machining, they both shifted as the ball locked, something which I find unacceptable in a $100 head, never mind a nearly $500 head.
03-17-2008, 07:21 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by romicsteve Quote
You should also consider the Manfrotto 488RC2 head. I have one on my 190XPROB and really like it.
Hey, your first post!

Welcome to the Pentaxforums, romicsteve, I think you'll like it here. Lots of friendly people always willing to help!

Back to the head; I'm starting to consider the 488 head, as it's less expensive, and I'm not going to put anything heavier than a K100D/K10D and a 50-135 on it.

I know the 468 would be a better/stronger head, but it's more than twice the price of the 488.

Then again, you do get what you pay for. The trouble is, there's a lot of other gear I want to buy.

Thanks for your posts too, Groundloop and 24x36Now.

Back to thinking.

Mike
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