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04-10-2015, 09:39 AM   #46
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QuoteOriginally posted by CreationBear Quote
That's a great review as well...the only thing lacking in the BHL line for me would be the RRS lever clamp, but no doubt all of your review samples are ridiculous overkill for me, considering where I'm at on the photographic food chain.
There are several lever clamps that are arca-swiss compatible.


04-10-2015, 10:22 AM   #47
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QuoteOriginally posted by panoguy Quote
Unless your backpack or budget is tight, overkill is a good thing.

several lever clamps that are arca-swiss compatible


Ha, y'all are reminding me of what a fellow troutbum friend of mine used to say, "Fly reels are jewelry for men." I'm almost afraid to handle a RRS BH-55.


At any rate, since the subject's been raised: do the GP and A-S p0 still manage "everyday" tasks like macro photography as well as other heads at their price-point, or are they more specialized tools? If so, I might lean toward the Acratech "Ultimate Ballhead" since I usually do a few close-ups at some point in a day afield.
04-10-2015, 12:12 PM   #48
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QuoteOriginally posted by CreationBear Quote
several lever clamps that are arca-swiss compatible

Ha, y'all are reminding me of what a fellow troutbum friend of mine used to say, "Fly reels are jewelry for men." I'm almost afraid to handle a RRS BH-55.

At any rate, since the subject's been raised: do the GP and A-S p0 still manage "everyday" tasks like macro photography as well as other heads at their price-point, or are they more specialized tools? If so, I might lean toward the Acratech "Ultimate Ballhead" since I usually do a few close-ups at some point in a day afield.
When I went ballhead shopping, the AS P0 was not available - it came a couple of years later. For me it came down to the RRS BH-55 and the Arcatech GP. The RRS head was larger and heavier, had a panning clamp option, but together it was much more than the GP. The GP won out on price - and to me it just looked cool. In some ways I really wanted the RRS since they are located in San Luis Obispo - where I went to school, and they employ a bunch of CalPoly mechanical engineers. That was 8+ years ago.

About 2 years ago, I started seriously thinking that a geared head would help in a number of circumstances. I decided on a Manfrotto 410 as the least costly alternative - then started searching craigslist. After about 6 months, I came across one that was what I wanted to pay. The $270 new was ok, but I needed to try to reign in the "mechanical support" costs. I actually found one from professional photographer who was selling his old one (fully amortized) and had upgraded to an Arca Swiss Cube ($1K). I scored under $100 with shipping - but it took time (and some luck) to eventually find a deal.

The ballhead is good for most (90%), but for doing some astro stuff (equivalent to your macro stuff), I wanted to aim a bit better - so the geared head allowed me to independently dial in small changes for each individual axis, in a controlled manner. With a ballhead, when you loosen the main knob, all three axis go into play to varying degrees (its just the nature of ballheads). With a geared head, you have individual control of each axis independently. This is good for adjusting the framing of a shot. The downside of the geared head (the 410), is it is a massive chuck of Italian iron. If you were to drop it on your foot - you would suffer a substantial amount of blunt force trauma.

So, to answer the question - the GP for me is the every day tool - day in and day out as I shoot 80% off a tripod. The 410 is the specialized tool that makes small precision adjustments easier and less time consuming. The GP can do the small adjustments, but its just going to take a bit more time and fiddling, since you will have at least 2 of the axis in play at one time.

I was sorta of hopping that Panoguy was going to include the P0 in his review. The P0 achieves the same functionality as the GP just using a different design approach. If I were to do all of this again with the P0 available - I really do not know what I would choose (since the P0 is a few dollars cheaper). I will say that I have had absolutely zero regrets with the GP. Its size/weight is perfect and it just works the first time, last time and every time. (Note, I also have the Arcatech leveling head to go under my Nodal Ninja panorama head - so yes, I have bought Arcatech products several times with absolutely no regrets. Did I say I really like Arcatech products. When I was first looking for a ballhead, I called Arcatech and talked with the owner. I asked about a warranty. He said that they have a 5 year warranty - but if something breaks regardless, call us and send it in and they will replace the unit - since they want to see what happened (for product improvement). I asked how many broken units they have seen. He said 3 so far - usually from falling off a cliff. I see that they even made a video.)Here is another thread on pretty much the same topic... with lots of wonderful responses.
04-10-2015, 12:26 PM   #49
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Thanks for the detailed response--I can't see myself doing really technical photography (e.g. worrying about parallax, extensive focus stacking, etc.) in the field, so "durable with good ergonomics" pretty checks most of my boxes.

04-10-2015, 12:38 PM   #50
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QuoteOriginally posted by interested_observer Quote
I was sorta of hopping that Panoguy was going to include the P0 in his review.
It was on the list of possible heads to include, but aside from being stuck on a tripod upside down (like the Novoflex MagicBall and Burzynski heads before it, while the Acratech is convertible), it doesn't manipulate the ball and camera in an appreciably different way. That was my convenient excuse to exclude the hundreds of other 38-48mm ball heads out there, as well. (Those RRS fans really let me know their displeasure in the comments, too!) Otherwise I'd be stuck with a pile of heads as big, or bigger, than my original "Battle of the Titans" 10-head review, and that took a very long time to go through them all! I've since learned to balance my objectives with a dose of reality...

Another issue is that I couldn't find out the diameter of the ball inside the P0, but gauging by photos and the published width, it looks to be less than 38mm. I'd hate to get one and find it doesn't make the cut for the group, or put it aside for my 24-36mm ball review group (2016?).

Last edited by panoguy; 04-10-2015 at 12:45 PM.
04-10-2015, 02:42 PM   #51
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QuoteOriginally posted by panoguy Quote
It was on the list of possible heads to include, but aside from being stuck on a tripod upside down (like the Novoflex MagicBall and Burzynski heads before it, while the Acratech is convertible), it doesn't manipulate the ball and camera in an appreciably different way. .......

(Those RRS fans really let me know their displeasure in the comments, too!) ......

Another issue is that I couldn't find out the diameter of the ball inside the P0, but gauging by photos and the published width, it looks to be less than 38mm. ......
That really answers my question!!! I kind of always wondered about the P0. The RRS in the end was too big and $400 for the GP was already pushing my limit. I sort of knew this in the back of my mind. I do remember sitting in my office with the GP order window up - do I press [buy] or not - my wife is gonna kill me. Now after writing that - it was the one purchase that was essentially a lifetime buy. I just use it much more that I even anticipated.

I was really very pleasantly surprised with the GP review. It was loooooong. And then the conclusion, with it coming up as the best selection. Your Uniball review also answered my wondering on that product. Now, after 8 years of GP use and a bit of abuse, I really do have to agree. It's also pretty indestructible.

So, even with my being off today - I guess I actually need to get up and something accomplished - like grocery shopping (my wife tells me).

04-11-2015, 09:52 AM   #52
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I've read through all the threads mentioned and watched the videos here and there. Those "3 Legged Things" sound pretty good actually.
Could I get some opinions on the following legs? Keep in mind i am attempting to get a tripod that is decently good at everything. I know master of none comes into play, but I will only be buying one.

CF600 or CF700
Search - Henry's best camera store in Canada


T2205x
Sirui T 2205X Carbon Tripod Load 12kg 6 Year Warranty | eBay

And for kicks the 3LT Bryan, (just started reading about it) man its versatile.

Also, the P0 for some reason still pulls my strings a lot. It's the simplicity of it. I am technically inclined and have great spatial awareness, but the less is more factor really does it for me. Maybe in this case less isn't more though and the GP would be better. Its too bad I couldn't hold them in my hand.


Last edited by wissink; 04-11-2015 at 10:27 AM.
04-11-2015, 11:14 AM   #53
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QuoteOriginally posted by wissink Quote
CF600 or CF700
Search - Henry's best camera store in Canada
Run, don't walk, Run away from these "Cameron" tripods at that price. They are a "house brand" of Henry's (like Oben at B&H or 3Pod at Adorama), but unlike the big NY stores, they are rebranded crap tripods that go for maybe $50-75 on eBay or Alibaba.
Seriously, just don't!

(shudder)

Okay, now that's over (and I need a shower or something), I already reviewed the aluminum version of that Sirui CF monster, and the larger-than-Brian 3LT Eddie. My take? That Sirui 2205x is equal to the Eddie (and frankly better built), while the Brian is a short tripod with a long column (ie: not too stable unless you're a hobbit).
04-12-2015, 06:51 PM   #54
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QuoteOriginally posted by wissink Quote
... Also, the P0 for some reason still pulls my strings a lot. It's the simplicity of it. I am technically inclined and have great spatial awareness, but the less is more factor really does it for me. Maybe in this case less isn't more though and the GP would be better. Its too bad I couldn't hold them in my hand.
I'm an engineer and I can understand your view on simplicity. Pano's explanation of the differences between the GP and the P0, was all that I needed. Personally - for me the GP was the right choice. I have used it in all of its configurations. The gimbal is not a substitute for a dedicated gimbal, but it gets the job done pretty well.

I don't know of a store that carries all of these (especially in Phoenix), so to actually go in and play with them is nearly impossible. The next best thing is to have Pano play and report.

04-13-2015, 06:27 AM   #55
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QuoteOriginally posted by panoguy Quote
Run, don't walk, Run away from these "Cameron" tripods at that price. They are a "house brand" of Henry's (like Oben at B&H or 3Pod at Adorama), but unlike the big NY stores, they are rebranded crap tripods that go for maybe $50-75 on eBay or Alibaba.
Seriously, just don't!

(shudder)

Okay, now that's over (and I need a shower or something), I already reviewed the aluminum version of that Sirui CF monster, and the larger-than-Brian 3LT Eddie. My take? That Sirui 2205x is equal to the Eddie (and frankly better built), while the Brian is a short tripod with a long column (ie: not too stable unless you're a hobbit).
Hahaha. Well, frankness and passion. Much appreciated. The thing that draws me to the Brian is the 7' max height which could be good as a light stand, and the monopod option. Otherwise the Sirui is it for me I think.

QuoteOriginally posted by interested_observer Quote
I'm an engineer and I can understand your view on simplicity. Pano's explanation of the differences between the GP and the P0, was all that I needed. Personally - for me the GP was the right choice. I have used it in all of its configurations. The gimbal is not a substitute for a dedicated gimbal, but it gets the job done pretty well.
Thanks interested_obserer.


Panoguy, what do you do with all these heads and legs after you review them? Do you resell? Or is there some creepy collection of skeletons in your closet?
04-13-2015, 08:32 AM   #56
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QuoteOriginally posted by wissink Quote
Panoguy, what do you do with all these heads and legs after you review them? Do you resell? Or is there some creepy collection of skeletons in your closet?
Oh no. They all get sent back to their respective manufacturers or (if they have one) Canadian distributors. That's who I approach for loaners and technical advice during the review anyhow! Alas, I cannot "buy and expense" stuff with abandon.

There have been a few cases where I personally bought the equipment and later resold it as used, but that was mainly to get all the heads for that "big ball" review that were from little known brands (which, at the time, were Sirui and Photoclam). If I buy something with the original intention of personal use, I don't review it, since I know I'll already have a bias based on my selection. Same thing goes for the cameras reviewed at DPR in Seattle, from what I understand; you won't see a reviewer's name on an article covering something he or she already shoots with.

So, no skeletons (of the camera gear kind) in my closet! That doesn't mean I don't already have 3 tripods and 4 ballheads, but they all have their purpose (and don't ask about pano-heads!).
04-13-2015, 09:36 AM   #57
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Mind me asking what you use the most?
04-13-2015, 03:00 PM - 1 Like   #58
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QuoteOriginally posted by wissink Quote
Mind me asking what you use the most?
If you're asking me, then my most used tripod and head combination is a Gitzo GT3541 Mountaineer tripod with a Novoflex Classicball 5 head. Big, heavy, and built to survive carpetbombing... of course I shoot multi-row, HDR panoramas for a living, so my needs are rather extreme. It also took 15 years and many other tripods and heads to get to this point (plus, I honestly wouldn't have considered the Novoflex until I tested one for that big review).

My second most-used combination (rather frequently these days, since it's my hiking and travel kit) is a Nest NT-6294 carbon fiber tripod with a Sunwayfoto DB-36TR ball head. I think the tripod cost me $200 and the ball head $150, so spending $1600 like I did for my "big rig" is not necessary (or even optimal, for hiking).

I use a Berlebach Report wood tripod for my studio shooting (which is rather rare). It weighs 7lbs and is impervious to vibration, so it stays where it is most of the time.

Glad you asked? (EDIT: I added links to each product, just in case you wanted to see just how crazy this all is...)

Last edited by panoguy; 04-13-2015 at 04:29 PM.
04-20-2015, 05:39 PM   #59
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Recent Sirui T-025x decision

I asked the following questions in the comment area below the PF review - probably not the right place...

Hello, I enjoyed your review so much I mail-ordered one and it arrived yesterday! This Sirui has wonderful fit and finish, yet I’m looking for feedback on its stability. It seems that with the center column attached (not extended) even a slight evening breeze will cause uncontrollable vibration. Does anyone have experience using this tripod in a low light, backcountry setting? Must the center column be removed for stability in breezy conditions?
For background, I’ve used a Manfrotto 190-CXPRO-3, w/ 308RC ball head for several years. It’s fine, when I have it with me. But I leave its 4 lb. mass behind too often - thus my interest in a lighter tripod. I understand light tripod limitations, just interested to hear of others’ experience out there in low light breezes with these light tripods. Thanks very much.


I realize now that the questions I asked have answers that are unique to my needs and interests – and therefore unique to each photographer. As for stability: On a breezy evening, using K-5iis w/ 16-50 zoom, the Sirui T-025x held firm for a 30 second exposure of a foreground feature with Big Dipper in the sky above. Stars were sharp! (The photo wasn’t great, but that’s my fault not the tripod’s.) I had to crouch uncomfortably low under my camera, but the composition I chose required a low camera angle. How strong was that breeze? Well, strong enough that I chose to remove the center column. If it had been much stronger, the sand would have been stinging my face and I wouldn’t have stayed… (Why I chose Pentax.)

When I packed up to go home, I dropped, yes dropped the Sirui into my fanny pack! What a feeling – to have such a light, compact tripod… Sometimes choice of gear is as much emotional as it is practical. There is no “prefect” piece of equipment. Period. I think being able to *drop* a tripod into my fanny pack told me this was the “right” choice for me.
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