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Battle of the titans: Top ball heads tested

By dpreview staff on Jan 13, 2014 at 06:00 GMT

There is no denying the advantages of a tripod for improving your images in the studio or in the field, but a tripod is only three legs. It's the tripod ball head that lets you point it wherever you'd like. Too many are content to stick with the head that comes with their tripod, but there are a variety of head types that can improve your experience with the best set of tripod legs. We reviewed 10 similar ball heads. Find out which one best fits your needs.

Comments

Total comments: 269
123
tommy leong
By tommy leong (3 months ago)

the thing that REALLY screw up with SIRUI is they will rotate
at the BASE.
there is no proper way to fully secure it to the base....

Spend more money and get those established brands with screws at the base.

0 upvotes
jonpanoff
By jonpanoff (3 months ago)

what about including a manfrotto head?? I love mine

0 upvotes
AJB 1883
By AJB 1883 (3 months ago)

Initially I too felt like areas of the review were inconsequential to the average photographer. However, after having purchased and extensively used a Markins M20 and M10, I find the review methods quite pertinent and accurate. Every photographer will eventually shoot some macro, landscape, and travel. While you read the article, it is easy to assume you'll likely not need such accuracy, but stability, reliability, and ease of use are essential to all photographers. So we all owe a big thanks to the article writer, and while you may not need to mount a huge camera and lens, we all now know what manufacturers' provide good quality and which one's are yesterdays news.

3 upvotes
JPdeJ
By JPdeJ (3 months ago)

Not so practical, I would say. What use cases do you chose ball heads for? Personally, for medium fast studio, portrait, working from tripod. Or when traveling light. (Photographers always have the wrong tripods/heads, bags, light modifiers.)
My favorite ball head is Manfrotto 054 with quick release (Q2). Only $200 (EUR 160 including 21% VAT). It is light, smooth, sturdy and precise. When you bring out the really heavy cameras, put on very heavy lenses with integrated tripod collar mounts, then I would switch to a heavy tripod with a large tripod head, not the ball type.
Testing "sag" is nice, but what is required with a full frame sensor and, say, 600mm on a longer exposure and how do you isolate testing the ball head's vibration damping capacity from that of the tripod? When vibration likely stems from moving parts in the camera that we can bypass with live view.
Just remember to carry a (hex) screw driver to fix the QR lever's screw that might loosen after a while (Loctite?)

0 upvotes
Michael Deeley
By Michael Deeley (3 months ago)

This is an excellent, detailed, balanced & practical review of a large number of heavy duty ball heads as stated in the introduction. The reviewer covers all of the important points related to fit and finish and ease of use with heavy loads when working out in the field in often extreme conditions as I do, including the recent sub-zero conditions. A review of so many ball-heads at the same time represents a substantial amount of time and effort and is likely to improve it's accuracy and be helpful to prospective purchasers.

1 upvote
rodney007
By rodney007 (3 months ago)

The best is Gitzo series ball heads, they are many times better than any of this junk.

1 upvote
turbsy
By turbsy (3 months ago)

You really have no idea what your talking about. Gitzo makes some of the worst heads out there.

5 upvotes
Derick59
By Derick59 (3 months ago)

What a load of rubbish. Use what's available at your camera store that will suit your pocket and gear.

All these heads are designed to do the same thing. a milli-micron this way or that won't change your photo.

Stop reading. Go out and take photos.

5 upvotes
Dan_168
By Dan_168 (2 months ago)

Yeah, Iphone and 1Dx doesn't make any different either, both can take some picture.

2 upvotes
Avoden
By Avoden (3 months ago)

I too would love to see a test of the lighter heads, including Acratech.

2 upvotes
Press Correspondent
By Press Correspondent (3 months ago)

A wasted effort with misguided conclusions. By load to weight and price, the "left-handed" ArcaSwiss Z1 with the Kirk release is the only head worth having (with Markins being the only alternative and the only worthy option for lighter tripods).

0 upvotes
Avoden
By Avoden (3 months ago)

This is a great test! Thank you dpreview!

I have an older (10+ years) Kirk BH-1 with a 54mm ball (the newer models are apparently 53mm). I have never tested it like this, but it locks solidly. Where I have a complaint is in the tension knob. It turns and turns and turns (multiple revolutions) and stays 100% loose for a very long time and then suddenly in a very short time turns very hard. I have never been able to set a 'sweet spot'. Further, when I have a decent tension set, I've noticed that locking the main knob will cause the ball to shift quite noticeably. This does not happen so obviously when the tension is loose. Further, the direction of the shift varies depending on where I point the camera. To the right of the notch, it pulls down, to the left of the notch it pulls left! I use it without tension. I've found that if I use the main knob slowly, I can lock the composition very precisely (I do a lot of closeups). Once locked I have not noticed any sag with any lens.

0 upvotes
JoePhoto
By JoePhoto (3 months ago)

I also would like to see a separate review for LIGHTER WEIGHT CAMERAS.

The new super-zooms need tripods, (and ball heads), just as much as a heaver camera/lens, (and maybe more with their 1200/1500 tele).

So I want to know which is best-for-the-money in the lower price range.

2 upvotes
lac111
By lac111 (3 months ago)

Very unfortunate not to have Markins in here for comparison.

0 upvotes
David Vanderlip
By David Vanderlip (3 months ago)

It's unfortunate and a blatant error and a shame that the comparison did not included the Acratech ball heads. They are, in most photographer's opinion, the best ball heads by far. The author is a bit misguided by the size of the ball. Tisk, Tisk. As a professional photography trainer and consultant, I always recommend the Acratech products amongst the list of top possibilities for serious photographers. And to leave out Manfrotto & Kirk...??? An article like this should not been written and released in such an incomplete state and should have been researched a lot more. These 3 missing brands are among the top 4 most used heads (RRS being the 4th).

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
1 upvote
turbsy
By turbsy (3 months ago)

Acratech is not the best ball head by far. There good heads but dont make yourself look stupid by saying there the best by far

1 upvote
Alex-A
By Alex-A (3 months ago)

Where does the Acratech GP Ballhead fit in among all this? That's the one I have my eyes on, including the -S and -SS variants.

1 upvote
Neroon
By Neroon (3 months ago)

I am really not sure why Bogen and Gitzo both keep going their own way on the design of quick release plates. Does anyone know why?

2 upvotes
vw98133
By vw98133 (3 months ago)

Manfrotto started making Arca- style quick release system Q6 last year.

0 upvotes
Neroon
By Neroon (3 months ago)

I really like the look and feel of Gitzo's heads but the lack of arca-swiss plates is a killer for me. The head I have used for the last 6 years is an Acratech Ultimate. It is simply amazing, locks in place, is compact and extremely light. I can not more highly recommend them. The company also has excellent customer service.

1 upvote
rodney007
By rodney007 (3 months ago)

I purchased the Extension plate for my Gitzo ball head and works great for Panoramas. Is this the kind of plate you are needing?

0 upvotes
RussellInCincinnati
By RussellInCincinnati (3 months ago)

Congratulations on a pretty extensive piece of work, in a fairly mundane and thankless area.

One could argue pros and cons for any choice of what level of ball head to review, and of how many to include, but can see the point of choosing to compare just the top-of-the-line gear. Because those are the no-excuses products from each manufacturer. If these biggest ballheads are not smooth, or shift a bunch as you stop them down, or are hard to control, or are missing controls, the smaller ones from the same manufacturer are certainly not going to be any better.

Anyone can complain about what ball heads are missing. Would offer a slightly more creative suggestion, that you do a similarly exacting and well-written review of a bunch of different clamping and plate systems. For example some Arca-Swiss clamps of varying degrees of safety and convenience, some wonderfully small KPS and Velbon QB3 clamp/plates, some real quick and convenient Manfrotto clamps, etc.

5 upvotes
RodKlukas
By RodKlukas (3 months ago)

Furthur comment: In respect to the plate issue, it is the Arca-Swiss style. It would be no less sturdy to continue the standard size, than for other manufacturers to make their plates wider. By the way several other manufacturers, make their QR's not able to lock down on our plates, yet accepting of their wider plates only.
The monoballfix plates, the smaller series, are designed to allow use of very sturdy plates in a much more compact size than has been available in the past. We can even accomodate cameras such as Sony Nex, and similar cameras without the bulk of the classic Arca-Swiss style plates.

0 upvotes
RodKlukas
By RodKlukas (3 months ago)

In your review I would question a couple of comments: First the Arca-Swiss B1, predecessor to the Z1, was out for many years before the Kangrinpoche.
That may be where the similarity may have come from for the Chinese copy.
Secondly it is quite difficult to precisely do rotational stitching with a base pan on a head. This is, of course, due to height difference from base to nodal center of lens. As base pan has much more to do with position of vertical notch vis-a-vis the tripod legs, than accurate panning/stitiching, the need for numeric scales is much less or non existent. The head being available with top pan as well, could perhaps benefit, though people trying to pan with a zoom would still have to check and work out increment when zoomed to the focal length they wish to use. So this increment could be 3 marks or 6 marks or, as seems to be suggested, 10 degrees or 15 degrees, etc. Either way will work so this seems less of an issue than many make it out to be.

0 upvotes
photo_rb
By photo_rb (3 months ago)

I'd love to see a future review of ball heads suited for lightweight backpacking tripods.

3 upvotes
Press Correspondent
By Press Correspondent (3 months ago)

For lighter tripods Markins is the only option with a worthy load to weight ratio. No review needed.

0 upvotes
turbsy
By turbsy (3 months ago)

Do some research before making a fool out of yourself

0 upvotes
kaiser soze
By kaiser soze (3 months ago)

I glanced at a few of the reviews just to confirm my suspicion that the group test were rather expensive. I think that the readership would be far better served by a similar review of ball heads that can be bought for under $100. The cost of these ball heads is more than what the typical camera owner spent on their camera, and the reality is that only a very small percentage of camera owners would even consider buying a tripod head in this price range. There are a good many ball heads that sell for less than $100 and that easily meet the needs of the vast majority of enthusiast photographers.

1 upvote
hiro_pro
By hiro_pro (3 months ago)

first let presume you have an SLR with more than a kit lens. if you go to b&h and sort the lenses by most popular or best selling you will see that the high-end gear floats to the top so actually there are a large number of photographers working off the high end stuff. Thom Hogan wrote an essay many moons ago about the buying process of a tripod and ball head. he said most buyers go through a process where we start with the cheap stuff but as it fails we move on incrementally to the pro gear. his point was to save your money and buy the pro gear. in the long run you save money because you dont waste your time with the cheap stuff that will eventually fail you. I have high end gear and sub $100 gear i use as backup travel gear and Thom Hogan is spot on. the cheap stuff cant hold a candle to the high end gear

13 upvotes
vbpress
By vbpress (3 months ago)

I subscribe every single hiro_pro word. In my experience a good photo equipment needs a very very good tripod+ball head system. The difference is in practicality, speed of use and (obviously) stability. Pro tripod and ball head play an important role in the final image quality; at the end a correct initial choice allows us to save money!

3 upvotes
Soothsayerman
By Soothsayerman (3 months ago)

hiro_pro nails it, I followed the exact process Thom Hogan wrote about when I started out many moons ago. If I had read Thom's article waay back then, I wouldn't have believed it anyway, because I had to get there the long way. The Sirui is a great value and below that price point, I'm not sure what quality you will get.

3 upvotes
Mark den Hartog
By Mark den Hartog (3 months ago)

also missing are Markins and Kirk, which would have been better suited than some of the others in here.

Maybe next time you can ask the public what they want and let the voting decide which 10 you test. But I guess you are influenced by advertisers too.

1 upvote
Scottelly
By Scottelly (3 months ago)

This review is just incomplete without the Manfrotto 468MG hydrostatic ball head with the 625 (3296) quick release adapter set. Maybe there is no comparison, and THAT is why there was no Manfrotto hydrostatic ball head included in this article.

2 upvotes
digiroc
By digiroc (3 months ago)

Manfrotto's hydrostatic ball head is an awesome product, super smooth with welded on holding power in a very compact package. Converting to an Arca-Swiss style dovetail quick release platform is trivial. I use RRS clamps on all my 468MGs because I like the RRS lever release system.

1 upvote
turbsy
By turbsy (3 months ago)

any of these heads would beat the Manfrotto 468MG.

0 upvotes
tommo13
By tommo13 (3 months ago)

Where do you think an old Studioball would score in light of this new competition?

1 upvote
digiroc
By digiroc (3 months ago)

I have a Studioball and it's unique feature is a ball bering base which makes panning on any other system seem primitive.
I use the Studioball on my fast action rig with a Wimberley "short arm" to keep the pivot point at or near the cg of the camera lens combination.

0 upvotes
digiroc
By digiroc (3 months ago)

err ... thats "ball bearing base" and "Sidekick" support arm. Noticed typos after edit not available.

0 upvotes
Lawrence33
By Lawrence33 (3 months ago)

Confucius sayings for photogs,
- Tripod never fall on soft rock.
- Why pay for cheap tripod if camera not cheap ?
- For free take for buy waste time.
- Have head, should use it.

2 upvotes
Alegre
By Alegre (3 months ago)

II have the RRS and Arca Z1 heads, use them both frequently with a Canon 300mm f/2.8 lens, and love them both. I think personal preference and ease of use make these heads great. Sure there are many other choices. It boils down to what works best for you.

0 upvotes
plevyadophy
By plevyadophy (3 months ago)

Would have been great to have had the totally unconventional Acratech GP Ballheads tested here as well. Ironically, in the write-up of Induro BHL3 ballhead, Acratech were mentioned so clearly the reviewers are aware of the brand which makes it odd that they didn't test there unique product.

4 upvotes
calking
By calking (3 months ago)

agreed. acratech gp is excellent.

3 upvotes
vw98133
By vw98133 (3 months ago)

I don't know it is just me or not that an Arca-Swiss Style Lens plate has to come with a D-ring screw. Without a D-ring, a tool is required to either mount and dismount a plate. Most of those expensive ballheads don't have a D-ring screw.

0 upvotes
newtoy
By newtoy (3 months ago)

Plates are not included with most A-S style head. Most people use custom plates that install permanently on the cameras and lenses.

1 upvote
vw98133
By vw98133 (3 months ago)

Using a custom plate will add the cost up. I guess people don't mind spending money once they get into the ballhead world. The cheapest Arca-Swiss style plate is about US$25 on B&H Photo. With the same amount of money, I just bought a good quality ballhead with the an Arca-Swiss style plate in China Last month. I possibly should setup an online business to sell the China made high quality ballheads. :)

1 upvote
turbsy
By turbsy (3 months ago)

Sorry but anyone with an SLR would be stupid to trust a $25 ball head. I had an old Dynatran head and it was a joke compared to my Linhof profi 2. oh and it fell apart 6 months after i bought it.

0 upvotes
johndill
By johndill (3 months ago)

Thanks for this review. I'm shopping for a tripod and ball head and this has really helped. Sorry Kirk din't show up and Martins wasn't included. I do like some of those German heads but the price point is just too high. Sirui is now on the short list. Can it really compete at that price?

1 upvote
Peter K Burian
By Peter K Burian (3 months ago)

These ARE all important brands but what about Vanguard? They also make some very good heads (NOT just pistol grip type heads).

Their BBH Series is excellent. Its Rapid Level System enables photographers to guide their camera to be perfectly level with the base, quickly and efficiently.

AND a lot of nature photographers buy Kirk Enterprises tripods, heads and accessories; they also make their own ball head (just as RRS does).

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
Mark Banas
By Mark Banas (3 months ago)

I contacted the nice folks at Vanguard, and was told that none of their current ball heads have a ball diameter larger than 40mm (BBH-300). We will definitely include them in future accessory reviews, and not just for ball heads!

Next, the reason Kirk is listed as a "no show" was due to a lack of response to multiple queries for a review unit. This was dissapointing,

4 upvotes
Alex Guzun
By Alex Guzun (3 months ago)

Why no Giottos MH 1300, it has 60mm ball

1 upvote
DPReview Staff
By DPReview Staff (3 months ago)

Peter, we did just review the Vanguard Abeo Pro tripod with the grip/ball head. http://www.dpreview.com/articles/8202649496/vanguard-abeo-pro-tripod-kit

1 upvote
Al Valentino
By Al Valentino (3 months ago)

I have owned several heads and tripods over the years including the RRS BH55. Sold the big stuff when I switched to mirrorless.

Now i own the Induro BHL2 head and Their CT213 tripod. Love the tripod and liek the head. My only nit with the head is I wish the knobs were on the other side or the drop notch was on the other side as I orefer to tighten with my left hand as I position camera with my right. So I just simply use with the notch on my side unless. I need it for macro.

My Induro head was a bit defective but I called induro and they swapped out for a new one within 24 hours of return. That is great service. Also, a 10 year warranty on both is outstanding.

0 upvotes
maljo@inreach.com
By maljo@inreach.com (3 months ago)

Shocking that three of these high end ball heads were defective.

0 upvotes
Gerard Beullac
By Gerard Beullac (3 months ago)

Interesting article.
I didn't know Novoflex brand and this product seems very attractive despite the price.
I can tell you Arca Swiss gets a site, selling orientated and only in French, maybe the reason you didn't find it ;-) http://www.arca-swiss-magasin.com/index.html
I agree with what has been said before: the Arca Swiss P1 is amazing: very intuitive usage, light, and innovative too with its "reversed" ball you lock with a metallic ring: its is my day to day head, even with a 500mm mounted on the camera.

1 upvote
Mark Banas
By Mark Banas (3 months ago)

Thank you, Gerard. The site you mention, arca-swiss-magasin.com is run by Galerie Foto in Nimes, and not the actual Arca-Swiss company. It does have plenty of useful information for those of us who speak and read la belle langue.

For anglophones who want more information, Rod Klukas has a similar (but also unofficial) site at http://rodklukas.com/arca-swiss/

1 upvote
Bervilat
By Bervilat (3 months ago)

I GOT BALLS OF ALUMINUM!

Always nice to see well done gear reviews on dpreview.

4 upvotes
babart
By babart (3 months ago)

Great project, and some useful information as well. I especially liked the cold weather evaluation, being from Maine. In the winter I switch to an older tripod with all metal screw locks to avoid breaking the plastic levers so common today. It's good to know which ballheads continue to work smoothly in that climate.

BAB

5 upvotes
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (3 months ago)

i have 3 sirui ballheads (k10, k20,k30).

on all the blue "band" with the numbers on the friction knob has gone loose after 1-2 weeks. loose means it rotates independend from the knob.
that´s a know issue with sirui and they don´t fix it.

so there is no way to see what friction you set it too.

otherwise they are nice heads.

oh and on the k20 the screw, that holds the quick release plate, was so tight that i can not remove it. i tried... and destroyed the hexagon socket.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
1 upvote
FrithjofA
By FrithjofA (3 months ago)

It is puzzling that Markins Q20 has been excluded only because of the ball diameter. The specs speak for themselves. Q20 is designed for a load of 45kg (98ld) with a weight of only 468g while the RRS BH-55 only for 23kg(50ld) we need carry 862g

Owning a M10 (now known as Q10) it is obvious that big ball diameter is not the relevant properties which warrants excellent performance. Markins ball heads are so superb that they do not need big diameter and big masses to handed big photo gear.

Why shall I carry a 900g ball head when a 570g will do the same job?

2 upvotes
Michel F
By Michel F (3 months ago)

I have a Q20 and while I agree with you in part, there's more to a ball head than the weight it can handle. I'm sure the Q20 would have fared well in this review but it might have been beaten by other ball heads in other areas of importance. I find the friction control on the Markins to be difficult to set with precision especially due to its tiny slot adjustment. Some of the ball heads here seem much more usable in this regard.

0 upvotes
canonade
By canonade (3 months ago)

I like my Markins Q20 and was disappointed to see it excluded. It must be a tough field. I wanted a pro-grade ball-head for my heavy dslr and wanted something that could easily handle that kind of weight with plenty of room to spare.
Adjusting the friction takes some finesse and the adjusting slot may be a bother for some.
As for ball diameter, I guess you have to draw the line somewhere. Overall, I'm very happy with mine.

0 upvotes
stasvolik
By stasvolik (3 months ago)

Very interesting resource, as always!

It would be very interesting for me to see also a review of tripod legs :) .

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
sugardaddy
By sugardaddy (3 months ago)

It's missing two of the four brands I actually care about when it comes to ballheads: kirk and markins. "No show" is a lame reason.

0 upvotes
BaldCol
By BaldCol (3 months ago)

Lame on the part of the companies that could not be bothered to supply equipment for review, not on the part of DPR.

8 upvotes
Vinnievinyl
By Vinnievinyl (3 months ago)

I'm surprised no mentioning of Burzynski Ballhead....It is solid like a rock...

Comment edited 37 seconds after posting
1 upvote
wfektar
By wfektar (3 months ago)

First, thanks for doing this. Ball size is a perfectly reasonable criterion for comparison, unlike, say, claimed weight ratings. It also seems churlish to to complain about one or two missed mfrs, as a good number are reviewed here.

That said, it is not clear whether the numbers are mfr claims or actually measured. You do note that the load ratings are claimed, as there is no standard for that -- in which case, what is the point of even mentioning them? They cannot be used for comparison. But how about the dimensions, which are easy enough to measure? Also, it seems that the Novoflex ball diameter was measured -- were any of the others?

1 upvote
Mark Banas
By Mark Banas (3 months ago)

The specifications listed were provided by each manufacturer and/or their distributor (particularly for localized details like MSRP and warranty length), with the exception of the Novoflex ball diameter. Novoflex doesn't publish or provide the ball diameter, so it was measured to be sure it fit the basic criteria.

What was my point in mentioning the maximum load ratings? Well, mainly to poke a hole in the common assumption that a larger max load # means a better, or more capable head for heavy loads. Consider that the Novoflex has a listed max load of 12kg (26 lbs) and the Sunwayfoto has listed a max load of 60kg (132 lbs), but which shows less sag or post-lock shift with a 500mm prime on top? They are still very capable heads, but the Novoflex simply handles large loads better, despite a conservative max load spec.

2 upvotes
MrSkelter
By MrSkelter (3 months ago)

RRS stuff is over-rated and your money helps fund anti-human rights legislation which targets the families and rights of gay people sponsored by the owner. For those who care it's worth giving them a miss for that reason alone. I know I don't want my money going to fund hate.

12 upvotes
BartyLobethal
By BartyLobethal (3 months ago)

This may be 'common knowledge' in the 'States, but not here. Your post caused me to do a search, and I was unable to quickly find anything that supports what you say. Can you provide references please?

5 upvotes
Tonio Loewald
By Tonio Loewald (3 months ago)

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/956293/1

There are plenty of other links. Basically the "right" bit of the name appears to be political.

1 upvote
BartyLobethal
By BartyLobethal (3 months ago)

Tonio, thanks for the link. Joe Johnson's contribution to the thread was illuminating. Although I disagree to some extent with his *personal* stance on the marriage issue, he did not come across as a hard-right bigot in the way that Australia's Senator Cory Bernardi does, and I saw nothing that would prevent me from purchasing RRS products.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
Michael H
By Michael H (3 months ago)

I do not accept this nonsense that supporting genuine marriage means you fund "anti-human rights legislation". The Universal Declaration on Human Rights defines marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman, as do most people.

I do not support counterfeit marriage, nor counterfeit products.

Spend your money as you please. I am happy to buy RRS.

Have enough tolerance to allow a different view.

10 upvotes
hiro_pro
By hiro_pro (3 months ago)

For those that are interested here is the link: http://www.flickr.com/groups/865962@N20/discuss/72157612473243424/. the original poster states that

"For those who are interested...

I learned recently (and verified myself via public record) that the owners of Really Right Stuff donated $16,000 to the yes on 8 campaign. If you would like to verify this yourself, go to mormonsfor8.com/ and click on the link for the complete list of donor amounts over $1000. Scroll down to Los Osos, CA. You can cross-check that with the about us page on RRS's site: reallyrightstuff.com/contact/02.html"

I believe the OP is talking about Prop 8 against gay marriage in CA. unfortunately this was posted in January 2009 and none of the links go to where the OP says anymore.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
Wm Gardner
By Wm Gardner (3 months ago)

As a professional user of both Acratech and RRS products, after following the aforementioned path of buying lesser products and having them fail, I have a hard time agreeing with your comment of the products being over-rated. The RRS products I have purchased are absolutely top notch. Quality is exceptional. Even on my Arcatech heads I use RRS clamps and plates. They really are that good.

Now with regards to the link you shared and Joe Johnson's views, I also disagree with his viewpoint. However, what I read from Joe Johnson was a polite clarification of his position on the issue vs. a company position (yes, there is a difference in the US), and was one I feel obligated to respect if I am to be truly one who hopes and strives for a world in which differing opinions are allowed. He has his point of view, I have mine, and neither of us are hostile towards the other. You are free to vote with your pocketbook however the issue is being resolved on its own, despite the Prop 8 supporters :)

1 upvote
turbsy
By turbsy (3 months ago)

I will never buy an RRS product again because of this. My money will be spent elsewhere.

0 upvotes
Juergen
By Juergen (3 months ago)

There's so many more tripod brands than Gitzo ...

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (3 months ago)

Sachtler... Linhof... did I miss any? :9

1 upvote
Michel F
By Michel F (3 months ago)

Yes but it's still the standard. Perhaps not for long though.

1 upvote
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (3 months ago)

Here's my version, its shorter:

If you are into "big" lenses, its Gitzo series 3 or bigger, and a suitably impressive ~40-50 mm ballhead from Kirk, Markins, or RRS.

If you just want a nice, worry free support for medium loads (<200 mm), Gitzo series 2 or equivalent, and any of the smaller (30 mm) ballheads from Kirk, Markins, or RRS.

That said, after evaluating the Markins Q3 and Kirk BH3, I've actually gone back to my Foba Superball M1 for day-to-day duty. The simplicity to the "open-set-close" single adjustment lock (no tension adjust, no panning base) works for me. The Markins felt overly fussy in comparison, while the Kirk (which I still have) is solid but heavier than I usually need.

0 upvotes
PicOne
By PicOne (3 months ago)

"Notably absent are four big names in professional ball heads: Acratech and Markins heads have smaller ball diameters (with 38mm and 48mm balls respectively), Manfrotto did not have their new Arca-Swiss compatible "Top Lock" quick release system ready for testing this past summer, and Kirk was a no-show."

So? Maybe qualify this with why ball diameter was used to exclude brands? And for Manfrotto, test their "top" offering that is in the market; why exclude the brand because an announced offering isn't sold yet? Kirk a no-show? You ordered one and it got lost in transit?

2 upvotes
Tonio Loewald
By Tonio Loewald (3 months ago)

The reason for ball head diameter is that the friction on the ball increases as the square of the diameter and the torque caused by an off-center weight distribution goes down linearly with the ball head diameter, so if you double the ball head diameter the ball head will tip over 8x slower (half the torque meeting 4x the resistance).

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
PicOne
By PicOne (3 months ago)

In the case of the Markins, the distinction was between 48mm (which caused exclusion), while 52mm was included. I understand the math (I guess), but not the criteria (I would think this should have been a review of the top brands, top offering)

2 upvotes
tlinn
By tlinn (3 months ago)

I clicked on the link to this review as soon as I saw it looking forward to seeing how the Markins and Acratech ball heads stood up to their heavier brethren. Very disappointed to see that they were not included. :( Whether or not the balls are smaller, these manufacturers are typically considered along with the others so their inclusion would have been quite useful.

Comment edited 44 seconds after posting
4 upvotes
bronxbombers4
By bronxbombers4 (3 months ago)

Arca-swiss upside down monoballs like p0 and p1 are awesome. Quick spin and flick and they are locked and they have wide tilt range.

4 upvotes
Kali108
By Kali108 (3 months ago)

Bronxbomber...oh so true. I've owned a Markins, a RRS...then got a p1, easily my favorite of the bunch.

0 upvotes
Reilly Diefenbach
By Reilly Diefenbach (3 months ago)

Fancier 6664H $39.
Holds a D800 and 14-24 with no problem.
Panos come out perfect in portrait orientation, too.

0 upvotes
Nigel Wilkins
By Nigel Wilkins (3 months ago)

14-24mm is hardly challenging though, is it?

3 upvotes
Reilly Diefenbach
By Reilly Diefenbach (3 months ago)

Tripod geeks, who knew?

0 upvotes
Nigel Wilkins
By Nigel Wilkins (3 months ago)

I am one :-)

1 upvote
Juergen
By Juergen (3 months ago)

"It's the tripod ball head that lets you point it wherever you'd like."

And all the other tripod heads don't?

2 upvotes
pkvman13
By pkvman13 (3 months ago)

I read the reasons why some of the big players were left out, but if you do another review with consumer oriented ballheads, please try to include Vanguard since they have some of the more innovative features (self-leveling, etc.). Thanks and keep up the great reviews!

2 upvotes
StevenN
By StevenN (3 months ago)

I totally agree with you. I have Vanguard SBH 250 ballhead, and it is as sturdy and versatile as anything else I've come across. It came with two quick-release plates, too.

0 upvotes
Cliff Fujii
By Cliff Fujii (3 months ago)

I agree with you on the P0. It's very simple to use, has an aspheric ball, and is light. Since most of the photographers on this site shoot 35mm or smaller formats, I'm surprised that DPR didn't review the P0. I have a tripod with the B1 and another one with the Z4. The Z4 is a geared head but not a ball head.

1 upvote
kernow
By kernow (3 months ago)

Not sure of the diameter of my Foba BALLA Superball but it has held everything up to a 8 X 10 with no complaints. I'm sure the ball is as large or larger than any mentioned in this group, and it is Swiss made.

0 upvotes
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