Ball Head vs 3-way Pan & Tilt decison

Started Jan 7, 2013 | Discussions thread
PK24X36NOW
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Re: Ball Head vs 3-way Pan & Tilt decison
In reply to MisterBG, Jan 28, 2013

MisterBG wrote:

I have a Manfrotto 055C tripod, currently fitted with a basic (RC141) pan & tilt head.

The tripod is fine, does all I need, but I'm not happy with the head and I'd like to replace it with something better. The camera does not "grip" the cork mounting platform very well, and if I use my camera in portrait orientation with a moderate (70-200mm) telephoto lens, the weight of the lens causes the camera to slip and rotate on the mounting platform.

I'm unsure whether to go with a better 3-way head (Manfrotto 808RC4 or possibly the geared 410 Junior) or to try a ball head.
The Manfrotto ball heads don't seem to be well reviewed, so I've been looking at the Giottos range, possibly something like the MH1300-652, but I'm open to suggestions.

I've only had experience with cheap ball heads which I've found are fiddly to adjust and keep locked, but I'm presuming with the friction adjustments, more sophisticated ball heads are easier to use.

My main uses are for landscape and architecture shots, so speed of operation is not a prime requirement.
Budget runs to about £120 UK.

Pros & Cons on the choice between 3-way or ball head please?

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>To err is Human. To really foul things up you need a computer.

I find all ballheads to be "fiddly to adjust," even the "more sophisticated" ones. because all ballheads allow off-axis movement when you're trying to adjust their position. This is unavoidable given the design of ballheads in general.

If you don't have very big/heavy lenses (i.e., nothing bigger than a 300 f4), then I'd recommend the NPC Pro Head (unfortunately out of production, but used examples can be found). If you do have bigger/heavier glass, or if you want a "future proof" head that won't need to be swapped out regardless of what you add to your lens collection in the future, I'd go with the Arca-Swiss B2/Z2 heads (the Z2 is the current version in production), which provide separate movements for side-to-side, up-and-down, and panning in a package similar in appearance to (but IMO far superior to) a ballhead.

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