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10-27-2015, 11:52 AM   #1
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Ball Heads vs Pan/Tilt heads

I've always used a Pan/Tilt Head (Manfrotto #3126); and am wondering what are the advantages/disadvantages of Ball Heads over this type of head?

I'm in the market for a new tripod, and wondering if I should keep using this head (only supports 8.9#), or get a new head as well. Right now the heaviest I use is my K3 with my 55-300; but that may very well change in the future for a heavier lens(s).

Opinions appreciated, as well as brand!

10-27-2015, 12:07 PM   #2
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I moved from a ball-head to a geared head because of heavy lenses....


heavy lenses caused 'droop' whenever I would mount them on the head.....
10-27-2015, 12:08 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by csa Quote
I've always used a Pan/Tilt Head (Manfrotto #3126); and am wondering what are the advantages/disadvantages of Ball Heads over this type of head?

I'm in the market for a new tripod, and wondering if I should keep using this head (only supports 8.9#), or get a new head as well. Right now the heaviest I use is my K3 with my 55-300; but that may very well change in the future for a heavier lens(s).

Opinions appreciated, as well as brand!
Best Tripod Head | A Face Off: Ball Head vs. Pan Head

I have a pan-tilt head but would personally prefer a ball head...

Heavier lens, 150-450, you wish
10-27-2015, 12:09 PM   #4
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I started with a pan/tilt (because I did not know any different) but once I moved to a ball head I won't go back.
That assumes a few things:
1) You do not do video. Pan/tilt is better for video I am told
2) You get a good ball head. A cheap one is an exercise in frustration. A good one is a pleasure to use.
3) You get one that is rated for your gear. Take the manufacturers ratings and discount by half at least. A good ball head should lock with zero movement or droop when using your heaviest gear. If it shows any droop, don't bother get one with a higher weight rating.

Either will work, so maybe go to a store and actually play with some different ones. I prefer ball heads (I use the acratech GP) but others might prefer the pan/tilt.

10-27-2015, 12:15 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by bertwert Quote
Heavier lens, 150-450, you wish

Only in my dreams!

Thanks for the link, it does point out the good/bad of each style.
10-27-2015, 12:16 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
so maybe go to a store and actually play with some different ones.
The nearest photo store is almost 100 miles away.

That Acratech GP is a beauty, but definitely out of my price range for a head.
10-27-2015, 12:18 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by csa Quote
The nearest photo store is almost 100 miles away.
Mine is about 75 I don't make special trips, but when we are in the city I stop if I can think of a reason.

10-27-2015, 12:20 PM   #8
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I haven't traveled for many years, so don't think I'd be going to any photo store in the future. A shame that the 2 that were here, closed.
10-27-2015, 12:29 PM   #9
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My closest camera store is 300 km (185 miles for you Americans), so I stop there whenever I get the chance which is every couple months.
I currently need to look at camera bags next time I'm there.

Another option if you were looking at really heavy lenses (250-600, you wish) would be gimbal (Wimberley) tripod heads, but that's not the ideal everyday head.
10-27-2015, 12:38 PM   #10
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I won't be getting extremely heavy (costly) lenses, but probably down the road, a little heavier than the 55-300.
10-27-2015, 12:46 PM   #11
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Any setup of your current gear won't make anymore than 3.5 lbs, and any lens in your budget probably won't make a setup more than 8 lbs.
You would want a 25% weight allowance, so anything rated more than 10 lbs (4.5 kg) should work for you. I would get a head rated for 15 lbs or more just to be on the safe side :-)
10-27-2015, 12:55 PM   #12
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Thanks for that information; it will make it easier for me to choose!
10-27-2015, 12:56 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by csa Quote
Thanks for that information; it will make it easier for me to choose!
No problem!
I like helping people out
10-27-2015, 03:04 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
I started with a pan/tilt (because I did not know any different) but once I moved to a ball head I won't go back.
That assumes a few things:
1) You do not do video. Pan/tilt is better for video I am told
2) You get a good ball head. A cheap one is an exercise in frustration. A good one is a pleasure to use.
3) You get one that is rated for your gear. Take the manufacturers ratings and discount by half at least. A good ball head should lock with zero movement or droop when using your heaviest gear. If it shows any droop, don't bother get one with a higher weight rating.

Either will work, so maybe go to a store and actually play with some different ones. I prefer ball heads (I use the acratech GP) but others might prefer the pan/tilt.
I would echo all of this. I didn't understand why anyone would want a ball head until I discovered the key feature it must have. A friction control. Now I have no desire to use anything else. This gives you the ability to set the friction on the ball so that you can position your camera any which way you like, then just let go and it stays right where you put it. Need to move it again? Just do it, no need to touch any of the controls. It just doesn't get any simpler than that.
10-27-2015, 04:53 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by pepperberry farm Quote
I moved from a ball-head to a geared head because of heavy lenses....


heavy lenses caused 'droop' whenever I would mount them on the head.....
I am also partial to anything with gears:
Manfroto Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head reviews - Pentax Camera Accessory Review Database
or
Kenko KDS Mount II reviews - Pentax Camera Accessory Review Database

YMMV, especially if you overload it.

Also, bubble levels built in and a panorama base could be useful in the future if you go in that direction.
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