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01-17-2010, 11:30 PM   #1
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Good ballheads and QR plates for Gitzo GT1541T Traveler?

Hello there,

I just placed an order for Gitzo GT1541T tripod and GC-1201T traveler bag. Many people praise this tripod as one of the best light weight / travel tripods in the market. Currently BH Photo offers $75 instant rebate (which ends 1/31) on this tripod (final price of $499.90!), so I think this would be a good opportunity for someone who has been wanting to get one just like myself. Amazon also has similar price ($508.45 + Free Shipping) right now, and Adorama had a similar rebate yesterday, but I cannot find it anymore.

OK. Now going to my main concerns.
I looked over many places here in PentaxForums as well as others to find a good ballhead for this tripod. Many suggested the following heads:

1. Photo Clam PC-33NS (I am almost going with this one)
2. Markins Q3T (Would be perfect if the knobs don't prevent complete closure of the tripod legs)
3. Really Right Stuff BH-30 (Looking great, but not sure if this one interferes with the leg closure)
4. Really Right Stuff BH-25 (This one does not have the traction control knob)
5. ARCA-SWISS Monoball Z1 SP (Seems to be too big/heavy for GT1541T)

What I am expecting from the ballhead is compactness, especially allowing for complete closure of the tripod legs and nice fitting into GC-1201T bag. At the same time it should also have good functions/specifications not to compromise quality of Gitzo legs. Am I missing any other good ballheads not listed above? I would certainly like to know if ARCA-SWISS has a smaller ballhead with similar functions. How come I cannot find their official website?

In addition, which quick release plates do you recommend?

I mainly intend to use this travel tripod for K20D and K100DS with ultrawide~wide angle lenses (e.g., Sigma 10-20 and FA 31mm). Also planing to get a telephoto (e.g., DA* 300mm F4) but not in this coulple of years. Until then I use DA 50-200mm and 1.4x tamron converter...

Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

01-18-2010, 02:26 PM   #2
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Vote for the photoclam - knobs are designed to allow proper folding down of the legs, and it is a very solid head, the panning locks down fully (from what I have read markins dont completely lock) and the friction control knob works great as well.
01-18-2010, 04:43 PM   #3
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Hi pxpaulx,

Thanks a lot for sharing your positive experience with the Photo Clam ballhead!
Which quick release plate do you use with your ballhead? If I choose a Photo Clam, I may just get an universal plate (PC-52-UP2 Quick Release Plate $32.00 from ReallyBigCamera.com) as they don't have any special plates dedicated for Pentax DSLRs. It is a bit pricey in my opinion and also has rubber pads which some people relate to a shorter product life due to wear. Maybe I should spend a little more and get a Really Right Stuff plate or something similar. I am also interested in a L-plate as yourself (I saw your thread about L-plate options in the forum).
01-18-2010, 06:32 PM   #4
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I have no problem at all with the pc-52 plate, it is about as cheap as you can buy them, and it has strap lugs (if you enjoy using a hand grip, or as I do attaching your strap to one side of the camera - which I find makes it easier to wear in a sling style). I like the rubber grips, gives it some bite when attached. I wouldn't worry about the longevity of the rubber as plates shouldn't be coming on and off the camera often anyway. Any of the other brands will fit as well of course being the universal dovetail design, but unless I were to buy an L bracket I personally wouldn't see the point of getting a plate from another brand for 50% more with no benefit (i.e. those would also be a generic plate, except perhaps for the K10/20 and maybe the K7 - don't know if they make K7 plates).

I've decided to live without an L plate for the foreseeable future, I wouldn't use it enough to justify the purchase!

01-19-2010, 04:48 AM   #5
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Hi pxpaulx,

Thank you very much again for your helpful reply.
I think I will order a Photo Clam PC-33NS ballhead and a PC-52 plate later today. This combo should give me a fully functional ballead set for now. Since I haven't used dovetail plates before (my standard tripod system has a Manfrotto RC2 plate), I will play with a PC-52 for a while to find out what I really need.

Yes, L-plates are expensive. Being an engineer, I understand machining a precison piece of metal is no cheap. But paying $100+ for a small piece of metal is hard to justify for me too.
01-20-2010, 10:08 AM   #6
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Hi

Maybe I am seeing that thread a bit late, but I have the Gitzo traveller tripod. I use with it "GITZO G1178M Rotule Ball"

It's a valuable ball with a K20D and it work nicely with the tripod taking very few additional place.
01-21-2010, 06:53 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by ghelary Quote
Hi

Maybe I am seeing that thread a bit late, but I have the Gitzo traveller tripod. I use with it "GITZO G1178M Rotule Ball"

It's a valuable ball with a K20D and it work nicely with the tripod taking very few additional place.
Hi ghelary,

Thanks for your suggestions. I happened to order the Photo Clam several hours before your post. Nevertheless, good to know a happy user of a genuine Gitzo ballhead.


I will post some pics of the tripod and ballhead combo when they arrive.

01-24-2010, 03:30 AM   #8
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Both my Gitzo GT1541T traveler tripod and Photo Clam PC-33NS ballhead + PC-52-up2 plate just arrived this weekend. I must say that I am very impressed with the legs and ballhead. GT1541T is amazingly sturdy for its leg diameter (especially the lowest section) and indeed sturdier than my Manfrotto 055MF3 tripod which has much thicker legs. PC-33NS is clearly in a different (of course I mean, better) league than my Manfrotto 488RC2 ballhead in terms of smoothness of the ball operation and adjustability of the drag control. Certainly a GT1541T and a PC-33NS make an excellent travel tripod combo, but this does not make my Manfrotto combo (055MF3 + 488RC2) less than adequate for my needs at home and for day trips. Well..., I might want to replace 488RC2 for the sake of quick release plates someday.

Here are some (important) details about PC-33NS ballhead and PC-52-up2 quick release plate.
- With this ballhead, legs of GT1541T can be equally folded (image 3-A).
- However, the clamp cannot be placed sideways without interferring one of the legs in the closed position. So the clamp end of the ballhead is sticking out from the legs (image 3-A).
- Nevertheless, this setup nicely fits in the designated traveler bag GC-1201T (image 3-B and C).
- PC-52-up2 is a nicely finished solid plate and can be very firmly clamped.

Finally, I am posting several images. Hopefully this will help other potential buyers decide what to get for themselves.

1-A: K20D + AF540 mounted on GT1541T + PC-33NS + PC-52-up2
1-B: Packaging of Photo Clam ballhead and plate

2-A and 2-B: (left) PC-33NS and (right) Manfrotto 488RC2

3-A: GT1541T + PC-33NS and Gitzo GC1201T traveler bag
3-B and 3-C: The tripod leg and ballhead combination placed in the bag

4-A: (top) Manfrotto 055MF3 + 488RC2, (middle) GT1541T + PC-33NS, and (bottom) Manfrotto 709B tabletop tripod
4-B: Tripod height without extension of center columns, (left) 055MF3 + 488RC2 and (right) GT1541T + PC-33NS
4-C: Tripod height with fully extended center columns, (left) 055MF3 + 488RC2 and (right) GT1541T + PC-33NS
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