Hello, it's me again; you're friendly neighbourhood reviewer. Ok, well not really since I've only done two reviews, but still I'm here again to review the Photo Clam PC-44NS ballhead. Kerry Thalman at Really Big Cameras asked if I would be kind enough to do a review on this new ball head from Photo Clam since he really liked my previous review on the set-up I currently own, and purchased from him earlier in the year. You can see that review here: http://photography-on-the.net .../showthread.php?p=7645025
Anyways, on to the review. Since I own another Photo Clam ball head, but one model down, I thought it would be a good idea to compare these two side-by-side. Most people are going to think about purchasing either one of these two since they are very similar, so I think it's a good fair comparison.
On the left is the Photo Clam PC-40NS ball head mounted on my Feisol CT-3442 tripod, and on the right is the PC-44NS. As you can see, the red colour of the 44NS really stands out and personally I think it makes the ball head look sweet. I really wish I had the option of ordering a colour when I bought mine.
Just showing off the 44NS compared to the 40NS in beautiful sunset glow!
Here I am showing just how much larger the clamping part is on the 44NS compared to the 40NS. Not needed as far as I am concerned, but it's nice to have a bit more surface area clamping down I guess. The Arca system is so good though that there is absolutely no difference in holding power between the two. Both are amazing!
This image should illustrate the size difference not only in the mountain base, but the adjustment knobs. The panning knobs are exactly the same so far as I remember, but the ball head knob is noticeably larger on the 44NS. Does this matter? Eh, who knows really. For me I feel the 40NS' ball head knob is a good size, so any larger isn't really "needed" but if it's there then why not. I didn't notice any difference in "precision" having the larger knob - which is really the only thing you might notice since there's a larger diametre for a turning circle.
As you can see by this image, the head is fully Arca-Swiss compatible. Meaning you can use any L-bracket from Kirk, RRS, etc. This is a major feature in my opinion to look for in any professional level ball head.
Ok, so now that I've done some product shots to show how awesome this ball head looks, I'll talk a bit more about how it performs and back this up with some image crops.
So I've been using this ball head for almost two months now, switching back and forth between the 40NS and the 44NS. I wanted to see
if I would miss using the 44NS since it's larger, or if I would miss my "smaller" 40NS ball head. Honestly, I did notice a difference
from the first time I used the 44NS. The larger ball is a slight bit nicer to move around, but I've never had any problems with my 40NS
so I don't see this as any issue that would make me buy the 44 over the 40.
I really couldn't tell much difference in vibration control between the two when I had my Tokina 11-16mm, Canon 24-105, or Canon 55-250 lens on.
They both handled all those focal lengths really well and quite equally. I knew if I really wanted to push the limit and test them I needed to mount my
Sigma 150-500 Bigmos! I mounted the lens to the head via the tripod collar and I did some testing.
Both ball heads held this lens VERY securely. Once the ball heads were locked down there was no droop, even when the head isn't perfectly level. This impressed
me a lot.
I'm not going to post a million crops, because well frankly I don't care enough to spend that much time, but I did take a lot of comparison photos and then I
took the best ones and did some crops of those.
Here they are. First image is the Sigma mounted on the PC-40NS at approximately a 30-40 degree angle looking upwards.
Next up is the Sigma again mounted exactly the same way as before on the PC-44NS.
Is there a difference? Yeah, but not much and going through all the other images I shot I can say with confidence these are basically equal ball heads. The 44NS
will handle the vibrations a little better, meaning it'll kill them a bit sooner, but not enough to make me want to buy it over the 40NS.
Basically what I did was a gave the camera a light smack and looked through the viewfinder to see how long it took for the vibrations to die down. On the 40NS it took
roughly 5 seconds, whereas the 44NS it took approximately 3 seconds. This is not scientific by any means, but there was a noticeable enough difference for me to see
using this method. The images above were taken after I saw that vibrations had stopped. So, I took the first image 5 seconds after the smack, and the second image
3 seconds after the smack.
My final thoughts on this ball head are that it's a superb product and well deserving of the professional name it carries. Photo Clam make some extremely well engineered
ball heads that rival the other top ball head manufacturers.