E-M5 on Sirui ball-heads and plates

Started Oct 8, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Timur Born
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E-M5 on Sirui ball-heads and plates
Oct 8, 2012

Hey everyone!

I am currently evaluating several Sirui ball-heads and plates to be used with my E-M5 and Sirui N-2004 tripod. This is still underway and just for personal use, but if anyone wants any specific questions answered, let me know.

Let's begin with some numbers of advertised (left) vs. measured (right) weight:

N-2004 tripod: 1.6 kg vs. 1680 g

K-10X ball-head: 0.35 kg vs. 335 g

K-20X ball-head: 0.4 kg vs. 380 g

K-30X ball-head: 0.5 kg vs. 495 g

My cheap kitchen weight varies by at least +-1 g, but the weights given for the plates on Siruis website seem to be correct, except that they do not include the 6 g for the screw. Said screws differ slightly between the TY-50/70 vs. TY-60/70-2. All can be screwed by hand and Allen wrench, but the latter can additionally be screwed with a coin. The number in the name corresponds to the lenght in millimeter, the TY-50 and TY-70-2 are only 39 mm in width and thus do not add any width to the Arca comp. bottom.

I'd say the 39x70 mm TY-70-2 is the perfect companion for the E-M5, albeit the less than perfect bottom plate of the camera gives any of these plates a hard time getting a perfect grip on the camera. Even worse, the screws of the E-M5 ever so slightly protrude from the body and thus scratch the black metal surface in between the rubber parts of the plate. Not the best design on Olympus' part.

The K-10X and K-20X come with a 50 mm Arca comp. head, the K-30X is 60 mm. The 50 mm variants come with one very nice advantage for E-M5 owners: When the plate is attached sideways to the camera (long side of the plate going from left to right underneath the cam) and aligned to just leave the battery compartment free then aligning the plate to the head clamp will align the E-M5's lens dead center on the ball-head.

Unfortunately all of these ball-heads show the same drawback, the ball is somewhat sticky once you use friction on it which leads to rather distinct breakaway torque when you try to move the ball-head. This can lead to problems when doing minute changes with macro and long lenses. I hoped that the bigger ball and tension knob of the K-30X would reduce the problem compared to the K-20X, but curiously my K-20X seems to work better. The latter might be due to me trying the K-20X for some days now, which in turn might have smoothed the plastic that holds the ball in place and thus allow a bit smoother movement. But the breakaway moment is still there.

One trick to get smoother movement without having to loosen the tension is to put mild down-pressure on the head. It also might to be a more pronounced issue with smaller cameras like the E-M5 where it's harder to precisely control the push and pull of your hands. Once the FL-600R is attached on top of the E-M5 things get a bit more complicated with finding a good balance between tension and movement, because the flash + batteries can weight nearly more than the camera and puts the center of gravity higher above the ball. Nevertheless there doesn't seem to be any problem holding that combination firm in place once you increase tension.

The main knob and Arca clamp on the K-30X is bigger than on the other two heads, the other knobs and mechanisms are all the same. The panorama degree numbers are printed bigger on the K-30X, too. The German distributor claimed that the tripod with head attached would not fit into the N-2004's included bag when the K-30X is used and later corrected that claim by saying that it would fit very tight against the zipper. But at least with my bag there is enough space between tripod and zipper when the combination is placed in the bag correctly. Nice enough that it all fits in there, and the bag even has a flat side pocket that is large enough to fit all four plates besides each other.

So much from me for the time being.

Pentax K-30
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