View Full Version : Ball Head or 3-Way Head for Landscape?
2nd of March 2009 (Mon), 16:51
Which is the preferred tripod head for landscape photography: ball or 3-way?
I've never used a ball head, but would think it would be difficult to frame a shot in three axises simultaneously, especially with a heavy camera-lens combination.
All of my tripods have had 3-way heads, which I've been mostly happy with, except when trying to precisely frame a shot--it's often diffuclt to lock the head down without something slipping out of alignment.
This got me to thinking that perhaps the best solution is a geared 3-way head, such as the Manfrotto 410. Is this a reasonable solution?
2nd of March 2009 (Mon), 17:17
I use a ballhead for digital and a 3-way for Large format. Setting up the 5D on the ballhead is easy and quick - I use a bubble level in the hotshoe of the camera. The LF equipment is just too heavy to get it leveled quickly on a ballhead.
2nd of March 2009 (Mon), 18:10
I use a Manfrotto 488 ball head. I don't have a level, but I use the focus points in my 5D as a reference. After the shot, I can crop it a bit to make it level if need be.
2nd of March 2009 (Mon), 18:17
never thought of this problem because I use the three way.
I had been looking at a ball head but it is probably better for me to have the three way because I like sunrise and sunsets and it is difficult in low light to maintain a level without simply panning.
2nd of March 2009 (Mon), 21:00
I use a Markins M10 ballhead, and like other ballheads with a friction/tension adjustment, there's no need to "lock down" the ballhead. It makes minute adjustments much easier than a ballhead without the friction knob.
4th of March 2009 (Wed), 08:30
I use a 3 way gear head for my landscapes. I like ballheads for most things, but prefer to take the time and have the precision of the gear when doing landscapes.
7th of March 2009 (Sat), 12:11
2-way here (yaw/pitch, with portrait-orientation option), and I'm mostly happy with it - however, since it's a cheapy (very much so), it's far from perfect: for example, when fine-tuning the pitch by grabbing the handle, I have to over-compensate a bit because the head "flexes" slightly back after I release. That's where I wish the head had additional small knobs for all axises, for a more precise adjustment. Also, without those, you have to adjust the individual tripod legs to fix a tilted horizon, which is kind of awkward.
8th of March 2009 (Sun), 22:47
I uae a Bogen-Manfrotto 468MG Hydrostatic Ball Head with RC4 Rapid Connector with an Acratech leveling base. Rock solid combination!
9th of March 2009 (Mon), 12:47
3-head I hear is a lot better and easier to compose with than a ballhead, I use a ballhead and it's problematic, at times
9th of March 2009 (Mon), 16:20
I've used both but now I'm using ball heads more, and all the time for smaller cameras.
But quality counts. I have no problem using a view camera on a ball head, but not just any ball head. I mostly use an Arca-Swiss Monoball (pre-B1), which is bigger than the B1 and closer in size to the B1g. The Arca-Swiss ball heads are shaped to increase friction as the camera points away from horizontal, and that is supposed to prevent the camera from flopping down accidentally. I don't know how well it works, but that hasn't been a problem for me in any case.
I have not been impressed with the Manfrotto ball heads, though I do have a small one that I bought just for compact portability, but I never use it.
Good ball heads are very expensive, but so are good three-way heads. I have a Manfrotto 229 three-way head, among others, and it's more than sturdy enough for a big camera. But I find that the handles just get in the way a lot. Also, it uses the Bogen hexagonal plates, and I just got tired of those plates being mushy unless I tighten them to thread-stripping torque. That as much as anything is what finally pushed me over the edge to Arca-Swiss-style plates and the Monoball.
My wife, who's into long lenses, uses a cheapie Asian ripoff of a Kirk King Cobra. It is excellent and I find myself using it a lot also. I like it so well that I replaced flat plates with L plates on our cameras, so we could mount them on that gimbal head without having a lens with a tripod ring.
It sure is a lot easier to pack a tripod with a ball head than a tripod with a three-way head.
Rick "who found the Monoball used on ebay for less than a knockoff" Denney
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