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FORUMS General Gear Talk Tripods, Monopods & Other Camera Support
Thread started 16 Oct 2017 (Monday) 17:27
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Acratech vs RRS ballhead stability?

 
mike_d
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Post has been edited 1 month ago by mike_d.
Oct 16, 2017 17:27 |  #1

I can read the claimed load capacities for the BH-40, BH-55, and Acratach GP, but how does that relate to actual stability and vibration dampening? I currently have a BH-40 but my lens collection is outgrowing it. The BH-55 would be the natural step up but its really heavy so I was considering the GP. The GP's capacity is half of the BH-55's, but I also know that vendors are prone to overstating things too. Which ballhead would you expect to hold something like a 100-400+1.4TC most stably?




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johnf3f
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Oct 16, 2017 18:02 |  #2

Sorry I have no experience of the Acratech nor RRS heads. Though I have used a couple of very expensive European ball heads that didn't impress.

Honestly I don't find a ball head to be the best solution for long focal lengths personally - I much prefer a gimbal. Having said that my Sirui K40X will easily hold your 100-400 + extender. If you really want a head with a very solid lockup then try the Triopo RS 3 (though note the single control lever and you will have to add a QR clamp).

Just food for thought?


Life is for living, cameras are to capture it (one day I will learn how!).

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SailingAway
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Oct 16, 2017 19:48 |  #3

I'm using an Acratech GP. It's a very versatile head, and I like it a lot for almost all kinds of use. The RRS I know by reputation, but haven't used them.

All of them are very stable heads. I don't expect any head to dampen vibration, or, at least not more than any chunk of metal of equivalent weight dampens vibration. It's the legs that affect dampening the most, because they are what's flexing when your rig is vibrating. Stiffness counts. Weight counts. And the dampening characteristics of the leg material count. Of course carbon fiber is at the top of the heap for leg material - stiff, and it damps really well.

But, even a big ol' aluminum tripod is going to be good if you can easily get it to where you want it to go. Not that I use alu any more...

My longer lens is a 150-600mm. I wasn't happy with a ball head under this lens. If you let go at the wrong time the lens would keep on going and maybe take the rig down. I don't think I'd be happy with any ball head, heavy duty or not. On the video side, we have counterbalance springs in heads to deal with this.

I ended up with a Wimberley Sidekick on a standard medium-weight ball head as the rig for the 150-600, and have been totally happy with it.

I'd consider the GP to be a medium-weight head in performance, even though it does weigh less than comparable medium weight heads. Putting it over on its side in quasi-gimbal mode wasn't enough for that lens. But, the Sidekick *is* great in that head, (except the GP is usually on my light-weight tripod). The bigger leg spread is important under a long lens!

GP pros: Light. Medium capacity. Good ball tension adjustment, good separate lock on the ball. Cleanable without disassembly. Quasi-gimbal mode is good for a telephoto, but maybe not a super-telephoto. Great upside-down mode for panorama work (carry an allen key). I love this head!


From the upper left corner of the U.S.
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College and workshop instructor in video and audio.
70D, Sigma 8mm, Tokina f2.8 11-16, Canon EF-S f2.8 17-55, Sigma f2.8 50-150 EX OS, Tamron 150-600VC. Gigapan Epic Pro, Nodal Ninja 5 & R10.

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Charlie
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Oct 16, 2017 23:33 |  #4

RRS underrates their heads. I seriously doubt acratech holds more than RRS bh40

at the end of the day, it's probably one of the better mid sized ballheads, no way does it touch a BH55, not even remotely close. I'de use a 100-400 max on midsized setups, 600 in an absolute pinch.


Sony A7rii x2 - FE 12-24/4 - FE 24-240 - FE 35/2.8 - CV 35/1.7 - FE 50/1.8 - FE 85/1.8 - EF 135/1.8 Art - F 600/5.6 - CZ 35-70, 100-300 - Astro Rok 14/2.8, 24/1.4 - Tamron 28-75 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8 VC

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peter_n
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Post has been edited 18 days ago by peter_n.
Oct 17, 2017 12:51 |  #5

I've owned & used all of the 38mm Acratech heads except the Nomad and my current stable consists of two GP-s heads and a GP. I also have a RRS BH-55 that I use with a heavy all-metal 617 panoramic camera. Quality vendors like Acratech and RRS don't overstate their specs.

Both heads are very stable if you use them with appropriate equipment. Acratech also have a Long Lens head that supports lenses of up to 600mm but in their posted info on the GP they include the 400mm length. Since they indicate on their web site their regular heads support a 400mm lens then they do. If you want to err on the side of caution get the BH-55. It's built like a brick.


~Peter

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Hokie ­ Jim
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Oct 19, 2017 13:53 |  #6

I have a BH-55, although the largest lens I've used it with is a 100L - I'll be getting a 70-200 2.8 II in November.

Absolutely zero issues with stability, although I ended up upgrading from the BH-40 mostly because of ergonomics; I hated the flip-lever lock on RRS' smaller heads.

To be honest, if I was ballhead shopping at the moment, I'd be giving the Acratech Nomad a close look. Unless you need the movement of a gimbal head or Sidekick kind of rig, I think that'd be all you need.


The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature but plunges him more deeply into them. - Antoine de Saint Exupéry
Canon 6D | 16-35 f/4L IS | 70-200 f/2.8L IS II | 580EXII | Gitzo 1410MK2/Really Right Stuff BH-55 | Think Tank Urban Disguise 60

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mike_d
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Oct 19, 2017 13:56 |  #7

Hokie Jim wrote in post #18476151 (external link)
I have a BH-55, although the largest lens I've used it with is a 100L - I'll be getting a 70-200 2.8 II in November.

Absolutely zero issues with stability, although I ended up upgrading from the BH-40 mostly because of ergonomics; I hated the flip-lever lock on RRS' smaller heads.

To be honest, if I was ballhead shopping at the moment, I'd be giving the Acratech Nomad a close look. Unless you need the movement of a gimbal head or Sidekick kind of rig, I think that'd be all you need.

I'm not too familiar with Gitzo's older numbering system. Is the 1410 about the size of a 3 series?




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Hokie ­ Jim
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Oct 19, 2017 13:59 |  #8

mike_d wrote in post #18476155 (external link)
I'm not too familiar with Gitzo's older numbering system. Is the 1410 about the size of a 3 series?

I think it's more a Series 4 forerunner. 3-section, no center column, big aluminum behemoth.


The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature but plunges him more deeply into them. - Antoine de Saint Exupéry
Canon 6D | 16-35 f/4L IS | 70-200 f/2.8L IS II | 580EXII | Gitzo 1410MK2/Really Right Stuff BH-55 | Think Tank Urban Disguise 60

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Phoenixkh
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Post has been edited 1 month ago by Phoenixkh.
Oct 19, 2017 18:49 |  #9

I also have the BH-55 and it's amazing. No droop after you set it. It's a joy to use.

Truth be told, I mostly use my RRS gimbal head. I don't have the full gimbal but own the side mount. I don't have a very heavy prime, just my 100-400L ii. It works like a charm. I have L brackets on my camera bodies so it works well for horizontal (edit) landscapes. If I know I'm going to be shooting mainly landscapes, I use the ball head. Doing portrait landscapes is a pain with a side mount Gimbal. (edit)


Kim (the male variety) Canon 1D IV | 6Dc | 16-35 f/4 IS | 24-105 f/4 IS |100L IS macro | 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II | 100-400Lii | 50 f/1.8 STM | Canon 1.4X III
RRS tripod and monopod | 580EXII | Cinch 1 & Loop 3 Special Edition

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Choderboy
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Oct 20, 2017 06:59 |  #10

I have an Arca-Swiss Monoball Z1 sp.

Load Capacity 130 lb (59 kg) Weight 1.3 lb (590 g)

Heavier than BH40, much lighter than BH55. The stated load capacity is "off axis"
Not that there is an agreed standard for load capacity, the off axis rating is reassuring when I use my Pro Media Gear Tomahawk gimbal attachment.

The Monoball is the head Wimberley use in their product photos of their sidekick gimbal. The two biggest lenses I have used with it are the Sigma 150-600 Sport and Canon 500 F4 IS. I am a satisfied customer.


Dave
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ShadowHillsPhoto
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Oct 25, 2017 11:38 |  #11

Can't comment on Acratech but I can throw my 1DXII and 600mm f4 IS II onto my BH-55 and you can lock it down at whatever weird angle you want and it's not going to move. Period.

That said, I see no reason to go beyond a BH-40 for shooting with a 100-400mm. You aren't even remotely close to exceeding the capabilities of that head.




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mike_d
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Oct 25, 2017 13:04 |  #12

ShadowHillsPhoto wrote in post #18480742 (external link)
Can't comment on Acratech but I can throw my 1DXII and 600mm f4 IS II onto my BH-55 and you can lock it down at whatever weird angle you want and it's not going to move. Period.

That said, I see no reason to go beyond a BH-40 for shooting with a 100-400mm. You aren't even remotely close to exceeding the capabilities of that head.

I have the BH-40 on Gitzo 2541 4 section carbon fiber legs without a center column. I know Gitzo recommends these legs up to 200mm where it works great. When I go to 560mm and magnify with live view, just trying to manually focus is a challenge since touching the focus ring introduces vibration that must dissipate before I can evaluate focus. Retracting the skinniest leg section or even all legs doesn't change this behavior very much so I thought maybe the ballhead could be the culprit. Or is this just what happens when you magnify with a long lens that's not embedded in concrete?




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Hokie ­ Jim
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Oct 25, 2017 14:52 |  #13

560mm on a non-gimbal doesn't sound like a fun time.


The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature but plunges him more deeply into them. - Antoine de Saint Exupéry
Canon 6D | 16-35 f/4L IS | 70-200 f/2.8L IS II | 580EXII | Gitzo 1410MK2/Really Right Stuff BH-55 | Think Tank Urban Disguise 60

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ShadowHillsPhoto
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Oct 26, 2017 08:39 |  #14

mike_d wrote in post #18480839 (external link)
Or is this just what happens when you magnify with a long lens that's not embedded in concrete?

Pretty much this. Even with my BH-55 on top of a RRS TVC-34L you will still see vibrations like that when you are physically touching the camera and lens. Something like the long lens support that RRS and some other manufacturers make will help somewhat but you can't really eliminate those vibrations short of placing the lens on a full-length sandbag.




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ShadowHillsPhoto
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Oct 26, 2017 08:52 |  #15

Hokie Jim wrote in post #18480925 (external link)
560mm on a non-gimbal doesn't sound like a fun time.

The advantage of a gimbal is mostly its ability to balance and provide smooth tracking with heavy lenses. A gimbal isn't going to offer any advantage at all in terms of the stability the OP is looking for.




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Acratech vs RRS ballhead stability?
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