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06-29-2009, 10:09 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by Squier Quote
Whats the problem with the Ball head panning that is better on a P+T head ?
For clarification, by panning, I meant actively panning a moving subject. The pan/tilt head has a handle(s) so that you can easily control the camera motion. For still camera use, some sort of gimbals head is probably a better choice.

Steve

06-29-2009, 10:31 AM   #17
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Yep, see what you mean. Probably not an issue for me as i dont really do mcuch panning
06-30-2009, 02:37 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by AGW Quote
What puzzles me about all these ball head discussions is this....

I have a Bogen 3221 tripod, rated to hold about 15 pounds.

I have a Manfrotto 488rc2 ball head rated to hold 17 + pounds

Sitting on top of all this is a K200D which weighs less than 2 pounds with batteries.

A Bigma only weighs 4 pounds -

so now I have 6 pounds on top of the head rated to hold more than 3 times that weight, on top of a set of legs rated to hold more than 2 times the total weight of camera, lens, and ball head.......

So is that enough?

Is there a rule of thumb that says your ball head should support 4 times the weight of the heaviest combo you are going to put on it? Or 5 times? 6 times?

I understand "buy the best you can afford" but doesn't it make more sense to determine what your needs are, what you are going to do with your tripod legs and ball head set up, the max weight you are going to put on it, and then buy a ball head that will meet those needs?...
You are missing one VERY important point, but don't be ashamed, because most, if not all, manufacturers simply do not talk about that most important point (except Cullmann, as far as I know): torque!

The weight of the equipment is only part of the stability equation, another one is torque, especially the longer the lenses get and the less balanced the equipment is (for example the old Pentax K 300/4, which has no tripod collar for better balance).

A second important point of that stability equation is vibration dampening. No weight numbers given by the manufacturers give us the slightest indication of vibration resistance or dampening. It is clear, that for example the neck between the ball and the camera plate of a ball head is a weak point. The longer that neck (and the thinner), the more it is prone to flex and vibrations. But have you ever seen a number given by any manufacturer about these factors? I haven't.

So, if you use a 10 kgs rated ball head for 4 kgs equipment it may just have enough margin in terms of vibration dampening and enough strength to withgstand the torque excerted by a Bigma on a K-m, to be useful. Therefor the biggest ball head, that makes sense, given the tripod legs, is always the best choice.

Nevertheless there is still a wide choice on the market - but simply forget about the stated weight capacities.

Ben
06-30-2009, 03:22 PM   #19
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Buy a cheap ballhead and you'll likely find the head will droop a little when locked under load, especially when that load is at an angle (lens/camera pointing up or down). Most people can bear with it but when you want to set up for macro, or using a long lens or even in landscapes where precise composition is necessary, this is a big issue.

07-01-2009, 05:45 AM   #20
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Ah Mr. E -

I agree with you that torque is more important than the weight the ball head will hold, as is the vibration damping effects of the tripod/head set up.

It would be much more helpful to the prospective buyer if when he ask about tripods and ball head combos, if he would state up front what kind of photography he or she is going to be doing, and what kind of load or he or she plans on putting on it, and then, even more helpful if respondents would give some information on what they actually use and how it works for them.

In most of these threads, we see replies like "I use XYZ ball head and it works great for me!" or "I use XYZ Ball Head and I love it!"

That is pretty much useless information, and could lead one down a road of either overkill or poor performance.

What if we dont have the luxury of going into a camera shop and trying out several different types of ball heads and tripod combos with the equipment we are going to be using? Or if we lack the experience and knowledge of someone like yourself?

Your answer gave me a little clarity on what to really look for and ask when I next go searching for a new ball head, if I do.

Thank You.


Creampuff

That is the point of my entire question. It's not so much a matter of how much something cost, but of the performance it will provide given the parameters of it's intended use.

There are some ball heads on BH Photo that are priced at over 1000 bucks. Does that make a 300 buck RRS ball head cheap? Or not a good ball head?

Al
07-01-2009, 07:01 AM   #21
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AGW, perhaps you may not have had the opportunity to try out different ballheads or tripods where you're at. Obviously not all ballheads or tripods are made equal and even products from some well known brands are not always perfect.

However it is usually true that you get what you pay for where ballheads are concerned. I was a long time Manfrotto user but while adequate, it pales in comparison to brands like Markins or RRS. I've owned many Manfrotto ballheads and even the top of the range 468MG there is a little tension creep when locked with a heavy camera/lens combo. Even the entry level Markins Q3 is rock solid for my needs, but it is not perfect (poor placement of the bubble level, pan screw knob could be better).

So you may feel it is overkill to pay the prices for a quality ball head but they have proven to be demonstrably superior in use by many.
07-01-2009, 09:25 AM   #22
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QuoteQuote:
So you may feel it is overkill to pay the prices for a quality ball head
Don't put words in my mouth, it's not sanitary!

If you perhaps misread what I wrote, I apologize - But I never said that it was overkill to pay anything for a quality ball head.

I understand that I am not near the photographer of some, shooting a K200d and using a Manfrotto ball head.

Sheesh -


Al

07-01-2009, 09:47 AM   #23
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Interesting discussion... Depends on your needs, as already discussed. If you spend a lot of time with the lens/camera off the horizontal (say shooting macro, etc.) with a heavier combo, then it's going to be hard to keep it from creeping or actually locking in place where you set it without some droop.

That's I gave up on cheap heads or low weight rated heads for a reason - they cause more frustration than a high quality head with a higher weight rating. Besides, once I've bought it, unless it's damaged or something truly better comes along, I have it for life.

On the flip side: I've seen someone mount a Wimberley Sidekick to a ball head on a cheaper carbon fiber tripod. I recommended he consider upgrading the legs at least. They were too flimsy for an 11 pound lens. I had to dampen the lens a lot with my hands and back of the camera with my face to ensure sharp shots. At 600mm, that can be a make or break for getting a sharp shot by having second-rate legs.

Of course, I am only explaining my take = this is not needed for everyone.

Regards,
Marc
07-01-2009, 11:45 AM   #24
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What Marc wrote is very true: we should see at the whole tripod assembly as a system, thus including the legs and the head into the equation. Also, in those rare magazine tests of tripods, the results have often shown, that the joints are the weak spots: the tripod shoulder, the mounting plate for the head and the head neck. Not really a surprise for anybody who has at least a basic knowledge of mechanics, I guess.

So proven head/legs-assemblies make more sense as a guideline, than just heads on their own. It really makes no sense, to put the very best ball head onto weak legs. Indeed this may make the weak legs even worse performance-wise, as the best heads are heavier and will lead to a too high center of gravity for a weak or very lightweight tripod. Matching the legs with the head is the solution - and the problem. There are far too many choices and literally zillions of possible combinations.

Also, of course the intended use is important. If I take up Marc's example of the 600mm lens, I would say, that a ball head is really not the best choice to support such a lens, at all. A big video head or a good gimbal mount are much better suited to that task. And (in my own, limited experience) give much sharper results.

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07-01-2009, 01:00 PM   #25
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I can honestly say that my Man Pro Art 144 is pretty sturdy. Even the P+T is a solid piece of kit, but its got an awful feel compared to fluid motion mounts.

I tried searching the site for a Manfrotto 501 HDV to see if anyone maybe had one as an alternative to a Ball head. BUt it doesnt look like it.

My main concern for a head is my 3.3kg Pentacon 500mm + camera/grip. The 501 seems to be more than able to handle this weight. I think 13.5Lbs is what i read, but if you ignore any over inflated max weight limits, i still think that head would be a good buy in terms of stated price and stated spec.

I would have liked to ask the opinion of a user, but as stated, couldnt find one
07-01-2009, 01:43 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by Squier Quote
I can honestly say that my Man Pro Art 144 is pretty sturdy. Even the P+T is a solid piece of kit, but its got an awful feel compared to fluid motion mounts.

I tried searching the site for a Manfrotto 501 HDV to see if anyone maybe had one as an alternative to a Ball head. BUt it doesnt look like it.

My main concern for a head is my 3.3kg Pentacon 500mm + camera/grip. The 501 seems to be more than able to handle this weight. I think 13.5Lbs is what i read, but if you ignore any over inflated max weight limits, i still think that head would be a good buy in terms of stated price and stated spec.

I would have liked to ask the opinion of a user, but as stated, couldnt find one
I have an older Manfrotto video head, which might be a predecessor to the 501. It is quite capable and does not transmit vibrations to a disturbing level. One thing, that you should know about fluid heads is, that they do not necessarily clamp down tightly, as the video camera will stay put in any position when balanced correctly. The fluid tension also makes panning very smooth, but there can be a sticky feel to it. Certainly nothing for a rapid turn (indeed, this is exactly, what a video head of this type prevents, as the tension should smooth out any small, jaggy movements).

For your lens (I have the same combo among my equipment), I would recommend the Manfrotto MA393 gimbal mount as a better alternative.

Ben
07-01-2009, 01:52 PM   #27
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Thanks for the info Ben - this sort of user info is very helpful, as the other posts here have been too.

I'll do a little reading on the head you mention
07-01-2009, 02:02 PM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by Squier Quote
...if you ignore any over inflated max weight limits...
Therein is the crux of the matter. The weight limits assume a best case scenario where the load is well-balanced. Your setup may only weigh 5 kg, but your 10 kg-rated head may not work so well if the setup is front-heavy and mounted at the camera body. In fact, your 15 kg-rated head may not work so well either!

Steve
07-01-2009, 02:09 PM   #29
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Well, yeah i guess..but the Pent 500 has a mount collar, so even if not balanced to the miliimetre, i could probaby live with it, within those minor discrepancies.

The rest of my lenses , well i only have a 350mm Tamrom which is being sold, and 300mm Viv, which is under 2 kg, i believe, so i dont see much of a problem
07-02-2009, 01:47 AM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by Squier Quote
Thanks for the info Ben - this sort of user info is very helpful, as the other posts here have been too.

I'll do a little reading on the head you mention
There is a current thread here in the forum about it. You should find it with the Search function.

Ben
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