Heavy D800 = I Need A New Tripod Ball Head

Started Dec 1, 2012 | Discussions
TheD70Kid Regular Member • Posts: 149
Heavy D800 = I Need A New Tripod Ball Head

Hey everyone,

I've been browsing around tonight looking for a new ball head, but still don't know what would be best for me. There're almost too many choices. I currently have the Manfrotto 3265 Grip Action Ball Head. I initially really enjoyed using it, mostly for the cool factor. The build quality is also great. Over time, the more I used it, the more I realize how impractical it is. I have to keep my left hand on the grip and can't control the focus, zoom, or other camera settings while moving/panning and shooting. Also, a 5.6 lb weight limit may seem like enough at first (was "ok" with my D300 + 16-85mm), however with my D800 and 24-70 mounted it will only stay still if balanced on top center... and barely that. The elevated stance creates a tremendous moment arm which induces way too much torque on the ball/pivot.

So I need a new ball head and I'm looking for some advice. I think I paid between $120 and $150 for the 3265 when I got it many years ago.

To keep this short, for those who used/liked the 3265, what have you replaced it with? OR even if you haven't used the 3265, what head do you like/recommend that's around $200?

Ideally, I would like to be able to have my D800 mounted with the 24-70mm, 70-200mm, or 50-500mm (Bigma) with no movement when locked at all angles. I don't think that's too unrealistic. My 70-200 and 50-500 would obviously be mounted on the lens.

I looked through some older threads on here and saw some people recommend the Really Right Stuff BH series, but I don't like the price of the BH-55 (the most recommended), I also don't think I'd like the mounting plate. I've enjoyed using the Manfrotto Rapid Connect Mounting plate, but please advise me if you think I can do better.

Of the ones I have read about here in the forums or general searches, I like the Markins M20 (Q20), but it's still a bit out of my price range at close to $400. I like the left right panning function (which the 3265 lacks).

So I want a panning function.

I'm genuinely interested to see what you guys think. I'm not locked at $200, but it would be ideal stay around that... I'm trying save up for some other gear before an upcoming trip.

Thanks for looking and any advise you have!

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Nikon D300 Nikon D800 Pentax Optio M20
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OP TheD70Kid Regular Member • Posts: 149

UGH! I was bouncing between the forums and meant to post this in the FX forum. My apologies. At the same time, please feel free to chime in if you have any advice. I'm sure I'm not the only one using DX + FX and gear is gear.

Again, sorry for my mistake!

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Ansel Spear
Ansel Spear Contributing Member • Posts: 595

Unfortunate that the Markins is out of your price range - because you've correctly identified it as being the right head ;^(

I've had a Markins for about 5 years - used frequently with my 70-200mm.  I would't be without it.  Well I would when I'm not taking photos!

My advice would be to save up.

 Ansel Spear's gear list:Ansel Spear's gear list
Sony RX100 III Nikon D850 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF DX Fisheye-Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G +8 more
Janoch Veteran Member • Posts: 3,891
Re: Heavy D800 = I Need A New Tripod Ball Head

I can only give a "highly recommended" to the Benro B3 ballhead. Bought mine for $100 from DC Stuff at eBay after testing the smaller Benro B2 for a while.

Big ball, smooth operations, strong lock, no sagging...

 Janoch's gear list:Janoch's gear list
Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G ED VR +2 more
David Lal Veteran Member • Posts: 9,964
Have Manfrotto 322rc2 - would prefer pan & tilt

I have the Manfrotto 322rc2. I am not sure where that sits in relation to the model you have, more upmarket or less. For me this works fine with D70 or D300 + 300mm/F4. I also use it with my 80mm Celestron spotting telescope (=long and heavy).

I can leave this kit set up for days and when I next look it's all still pointing where I put it. Is there perhaps a friction/tensioning screw on the model you have?

Although I like this ball head, actually I wish I'd bought a traditional pan and tilt head which would be far more suited to making panoramas - something I like doing.


marco1974 Senior Member • Posts: 1,758
Re: Heavy D800 = I Need A New Tripod Ball Head

The best tripod head I have ever used, at least for my use, is the Novoflex Classic 3 ball head.

It weighs only 450g, but it is super-sturdy, smooth like butter and has a wonderfully damped movement (which can be pre-set to 5 tension levels).

Pricey, but if you can find one used...


 marco1974's gear list:marco1974's gear list
Fujifilm X20 Fujifilm X-Pro2 Voigtlander 50mm F1.1 Nokton Fujifilm XF 23mm F1.4 R XF 90mm
GPW Regular Member • Posts: 294
Re: Heavy D800 = I Need A New Tripod Ball Head

Try the Induro BHD3, it weighs 2.2lbs, load capacity is 55lbs(25kg) and it costs $229.95 +tax here in Canada. I use the Induro line of products and this stuff is top quality.

 GPW's gear list:GPW's gear list
Nikon D300 Nikon D7200 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II +3 more
OP TheD70Kid Regular Member • Posts: 149
Thanks for the input so far!

Thanks for all the suggestions. I've been looking at prices and reviews for the heads you guys suggested. I'm liking the price and design of the Induro BHD3, but know that I'll miss having a quick release plate. I'm so spoiled by the quick release plate on my Manfrotto 3265.

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Catallaxy Veteran Member • Posts: 3,724
Re: Heavy D800 = I Need A New Tripod Ball Head

The Markins M10 would also work. I have that and it is solid with the OPs gear (well, I used the D700 and Sigma 150-500 OS, but that is very similar...).

Although I agree that the OP should save up for a good ballhead. The M20 would be ideal, but the M10 should do for now.

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Chester S Parks Contributing Member • Posts: 559
Re: Heavy D800 = I Need A New Tripod Ball Head

I've got a Giottos MH7000 with the MH-631 camera mount on an MT-82 carbon fiber tripod. This combination really works great with my D-800/MB-12 camera with both the 70-200 VR and 14-24mm lens.

I'm happy with it for both landscape and arthecechual work.

Kerry Pierce
MOD Kerry Pierce Forum Pro • Posts: 19,757

I agree with Ansel.  Good heads aren't cheap. If you want a head that won't move, droop, when you set it, you need to buy a good head. Markins is certainly known as one of the better ones.

I use Acratech GP heads, found at this link. Their cheapest model is the Ultimate, at $289.  But, you'll need to buy some Arca-Swiss QR plates for your lenses and camera. Arca-Swiss are pretty much the standard QR, used by many of the top heads.   I haven't used the Ultimate, but I assume that it is as solid as the GP series heads that I do use.  Mine don't droop or move at all, once set.  Once you get a good head like that, you'll never be satisfied with another.  I replaced 2 Manfrotto 490 ballheads with the Acratechs, because I got so frustrated with the Manfrottos drooping every time I used them. IIRC, the Manfrottos cost me around $200 ea...


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my gallery of so-so photos

 Kerry Pierce's gear list:Kerry Pierce's gear list
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D Nikon AF Nikkor 105mm f/2D DC Nikon AF Nikkor 135mm f/2D DC +17 more
jkjond Veteran Member • Posts: 8,613
Here's an informative thread

Over on flickr, a few of us discussed ball heads a while ago. Most of us only had the one ball to comment on, but scroll down to see what Steve Ashton has to say, he's used a fair few. Its pretty much fair to say that you get what you pay for with ball heads (providing you kick out the fancy trick stuff)


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UK wedding photographer in the Lake District
For my landscapes and fine art photography:

afoton Senior Member • Posts: 1,416
Re: Here's an informative thread

I have used both RRS BH-40 and Markins Q3T.

BH-40 have never let me down. It has a little odd shape, so I bought the Q3T for my travel tripod. It is a little smaller, but higher than the BH-40.

Many on the net are very happy with Markins, but my head locks down when cold. Maybe the issue can be solved by tweaking the torque limit dial, but that is out of question with mittens. So in the winter it doesn't work at all for me. My BH-40 has worked without problem at least down to about -37 degree Celsius. When I will buy a bigger head, Markins is out of question because of this issue.

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