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07-29-2009, 11:34 AM   #1
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Ball Head, Biggest bang for the buck

I'm sure that this may have been talked about at length before, but I hope you don't mind if we do it again.

I have two Bogen/Manfrotto ball heads both are very stout and will carry any of the lens and body sets that I have, I have QR plates for all of my gear the RC2. But what I don't like about them is they are some times a challenge to set the frame, lots of fine tuning required so some times frustrating to use.

I'm kind of a hands on guy, I like to go to a shop and try the equipment before I buy. That is a challenge around here. so I need to rely on people like yourself to help me make informed decisions. If I knew then what I know now I probably would have gone in a different direction.

One of the manufacturers that I am looking at is Acratech the GP ball head that's 400$ plus plates. Ouch!! not sure I can swing this but I don't want to change systems again next year. So what I am looking for is your recommendation biggest bang for the buck, something that in two years I won't go, why did I buy this?

Your help would be greatly appreciated.

John

Thanks Marc, I did forget to mention that I would like the quick release plates in the Acra-swiss compatible


Last edited by skinja; 07-29-2009 at 03:36 PM. Reason: Add info
07-29-2009, 11:55 AM   #2
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Check out the Feisol ball heads.
The CB-50 in particular is very good.
07-29-2009, 01:13 PM   #3
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I was all set to buy a B/M, but got a Giottos instead after comparing the the B/M to both the Giottos and Acratech in the store.

Steve
07-29-2009, 01:44 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
I was all set to buy a B/M, but got a Giottos instead after comparing the the B/M to both the Giottos and Acratech in the store.

Steve

Thanks steve, which one did you buy?

I know you were going to talk to Marc about the work shop, are you going to make it?

07-29-2009, 02:18 PM   #5
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I was able to snag a new Markins Q3 delivered for about $200 (grey market off the famous auction site). It comes with a quick-release bracket. I haven't tried it out yet (awaiting an L bracket), but it seems to move my hand around smoothly.
07-29-2009, 02:24 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by skinja Quote
Thanks steve, which one did you buy?

I know you were going to talk to Marc about the work shop, are you going to make it?
I got this one:
Giottos | MH-1301 Pro Series II Medium Ballhead | MH1301-656
As for the workshop...I will make a decision this evening. It sounds like a lot of fun, but I have a potential conflict.

Steve
07-29-2009, 02:38 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
I got this one:
Giottos | MH-1301 Pro Series II Medium Ballhead | MH1301-656
As for the workshop...I will make a decision this evening. It sounds like a lot of fun, but I have a potential conflict.

Steve
Hey I appreciate the input on the ball head. The trip should be a great time, hope you can make it.
07-29-2009, 02:41 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by DavidWasch Quote
I was able to snag a new Markins Q3 delivered for about $200 (grey market off the famous auction site). It comes with a quick-release bracket. I haven't tried it out yet (awaiting an L bracket), but it seems to move my hand around smoothly.
Thanks David, I will take a look. keep me informed on how you like it.

QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
Check out the Feisol ball heads.
The CB-50 in particular is very good.
Thank you, this will also be in my Q to do research on

07-29-2009, 03:20 PM   #9
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A possible consideration

Hi John,

Just remember the Wimberley plates I should be able to procure are Arca-Swiss compatible. That's a fairly common standard, so that might be a consideration in your purchase. The main benefit is that it's a very solid interlocking system between the plate and the head and there is less chance of "buying into one system" since more than a few manufacturers offer Arca-Swiss compatible heads. Otherwise it's their plate and nothing else.

They also have these clamps for some heads: Wimberley Professional Photo Gear - Quick Release Clamps. Here is the lens plate design: Wimberley Professional Photo Gear - Quick-Release Plates

For example, here are the specs on the Markins Q3 head: Markins: Home of Markins Q-Balls >> Q3LK. Of note in the description: "All-in-one type ballhead with a quick release clamp compatible with dovetail style plates from other major manufacturers such as Arca-Swiss, Kirk, Wimberley. "

You may also wish to contact Feisol on their compatiblity with Wimberley lens plates. Perhaps the Markin is a good choice at $269 or so, but obviously the bottom line is the cost = what works for you when all aspects are tallied up.

Regards,
Marc
07-29-2009, 03:39 PM   #10
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Thanks Marc, I did forget to mention that I am looking for the ball head to be compatible with the Acra-swiss style QR plates.
07-29-2009, 03:41 PM   #11
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Marc makes a very good point regarding Arca-Swiss type plate design. The dovetail itself is a defacto standard. That being said, a particular maker's implementation is not. Many designs include some sort of safety lock to avoid the plate accidentally sliding from the clamp. I use both Giottos and Smith-Victor plates with my Giottos clamp. Both Giottos and SV use a safety interlock design such that the Smith-Victor plates required a few minutes each with the Dremel tool before they would clear the safety interlock mechanism on the Giottos.

Fortunately, many ballheads allow use of other clamps/platforms so you are not locked in if you want to switch to a different maker's solution.

Steve

BTW...The SV plates are well-made and dirt cheap (about $10.00 each), though I had to order directly from SV to get them.

Last edited by stevebrot; 07-29-2009 at 03:47 PM.
07-30-2009, 08:00 AM   #12
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confused

I am not sure I understand the real problem here that the OP has raised.

It would be useful to know exactly what ball heads he has, and what he expects will get better in terms of his ability to frame his shot with a different ball head.

I personally use the monfretto 468RC2 ball head with Monfretto quick release plates attached, although as others have mentioned, youcan attach anything you want to these ball heads, as they thread onto the post of the ball head, therefore the attachment system should be kept separate from the discussion of the problem.

In terms of setting the frame, the only problem may be whether the drag on teh ball head can be adjusted such that it can provide marginal friction to hold the camera in place while still permitting the photographer to overcome this resistance to move the frame a little.

In this respect maybe the bigger issue is, is a ball head the right selection for this application, or is a pan and tilt head better, as it would allow independant adjustment of pan and tilt, where in a ball head to achieve this is difficult, at least with the Monfretto 468 head, as both the pan and release of the ball are done with the same locking lever.
07-30-2009, 08:09 AM   #13
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Ive just got this and it seems ideal for me,very well built only weighs .3kg and is rated for 10kg.
Gitzo SA | le choix des professionels
07-30-2009, 08:56 AM   #14
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Thanks for replying Lowell,

Right now I have the 322 RC2 and the 486 RC2, I like both of them, but if I had done more research and had the opportunity to spend some time with them in a good local camera store (our local camera stores suck) I probably would have gone with something else. Originally two years ago, I was looking for a stable platform with a good quick release system, this is exactly what I got. I wish I would have understood the benefit of the pan tilt head and the value of a good head that was fluid, Yes my system will do everything I need it to, but some times it can be a challenge and a little frustrating. If I have my 70-200 or the bigma on, the balance seems to be off and it can be a real flip flop adventure. when setting the frame on an object and then locking down the ball head the lens will shift, then I need to start the process over again.

So what I am looking for is a system that will allow for better balance of the lens, that is fluid and smooth, that will stay where I ask it to the first time and has pan tilt capable. I plan to add more options as time goes on, like a L bracket and a nodal bracket. with that in mind a system that provides the widest range of aftermarket accessories would be great. thats why I was leaning to wards a head with the acra-swiss QR.

If you feel that I am way off track then feel free to tell me why, Thats why I am asking. I don't want to do this again in two years.

I'm not made of money but I am willing to spend what I need to build a good system. Hence the title of the post.

Thanks for your time.
07-30-2009, 09:55 AM   #15
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John

On one of the other many what ball head should I buy Josh (heliphoto)recommended a Cullmann 40200. Cullmann | Magnesit 35 Nm Ballhead | CU 40200 | B&H Photo Video

The thread is Here

I purchased one from BH along with a Plate - 140mm and a Plate - 90mm. According to Josh they are not Arca compatible are used by Giottos, and Manfotto

Marc has a good suggestion as well. I will be looking at the Wimberley head when I get there.
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