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Thread started 30 May 2012 (Wednesday) 18:55
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How "Max Load" of a ballhead was measured

 
cntangcn
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May 30, 2012 18:55 |  #1

Does anyone know how the max load of a ballhead was measured?

I am in the market for a ballhead. I have done some research online, and noticed that every ballhead manufacturer will indicate "Max Load".

It appears this is an important indicator for a ballhead but no manufacturer mentioned how it is measured.

back to basic, Law of the lever told us distances is an important factor here. In a perfect world, a ballhead with the diameter of 44mm should be able to hold 10% more than the one with the diameter of 40mm. (44-40) / 40 = 10%. am I correct?

I would imagine the max load would be measured in this way: put the ballhead at horizontal position, given a specified distance from center of the ball to the point where a vertical force is applied, and measure the maximum force when the ball start to move.

If there is no standard on measuring "Max Load", what is the point for us to consider that other than taking it as a marketing pitch?

Thanks in advance for your help!

PS. I am not a native English speaker but I hope you get my question. thanks.


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SkipD
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May 30, 2012 19:01 |  #2

To the best of my knowledge, there is no standard test procedure used by the industry as a whole. Thus, there could be all sorts of numbers applied to the very same ball head if it were tested by all of the manufacturers.

Even if there were a standardized test for "max load", the results would tell us absolutely nothing about how rigid a given ball head is in service. All it would tell is is how much weight it could support without falling apart.

As a practical guide, I and others here often suggest that folks pick a ball head rated at least three times the maximum weight of the equipment to be used on it.


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Jon
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May 30, 2012 19:09 |  #3

As Skip says, the maximum load for a tripod or head is a variable, depending on the conditions. How would you rate this?

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cntangcn
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May 30, 2012 19:13 |  #4

SkipD wrote in post #14508395 (external link)
To the best of my knowledge, there is no standard test procedure used by the industry as a whole. Thus, there could be all sorts of numbers applied to the very same ball head if it were tested by all of the manufacturers.

Even if there were a standardized test for "max load", the results would tell us absolutely nothing about how rigid a given ball head is in service. All it would tell is is how much weight it could support without falling apart.

As a practical guide, I and others here often suggest that folks pick a ball head rated at least three times the maximum weight of the equipment to be used on it.

Thank you SkipD!

I was actually ready to use the rule you suggested. what disturbing me though, is that if the "max load" number cannot be trusted, three times or four times does not really make me safe...what if the ballhead's "standard max load" is 20kg and the manufacturer state it is 40kg? :(

I have looked the brands like Markins, Photo Clam, RRS, Kirk, Sunwayfoto, Induro...etc. I feel like they just "put" a number there and let you to guess what it is. to me it appears the ball diameter is the only objective number. However, some vendor like Induro doesn't even provide that information. all i have is "max load" ...

Thanks again!


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cntangcn
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May 30, 2012 19:16 |  #5

Jon wrote in post #14508435 (external link)
As Skip says, the maximum load for a tripod or head is a variable, depending on the conditions. How would you rate this?
QUOTED IMAGE

correct me if I am wrong, I would think the max load can be measured in this way: put the ballhead at horizontal position, given a specified distance from center of the ball to the point where a vertical force is applied, and measure the maximum force when the ball start to move.

yes, the result of this measurement has no practical usage, but it will be a helpful indicator for us to decide which ball head can hold better.

Thanks!


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cacawcacaw
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May 30, 2012 19:22 as a reply to  @ Jon's post |  #6

Is that a photo of Max Load, the comedian?

New to photography, I set out to test a couple of tripod/ballhead combinations and couldn't find any standard test. So, I made up my own test by setting the camera to the maximum magnification Live View and then noting the displacement when a weight was hung from the lens, and then the amount and duration of vibration when the lens was given a sharp knock.

Nothing remarkable came out of my tests but it did get me thinking about how people gravitate towards the most expensive equipment and how lighter weight tripods and smoother ballheads account for much of the cost, whereas stability seems to almost be a secondary consideration. In fact, I'm surprised by the number of photographers who are enamored by tripods/ballheads but don't give much consideration to shooting technique and/or improvised stabilizers like bean bags or string tripods. And I'm surprised that nobody seems to be concerned with how grips might affect tripod stability. The extra height and additional attachment must make a difference.

If you can come up with a standardized testing method, it would be interesting to have other POTN forum members all perform the tests on their equipment and share their results. I'd do it!


Replacing my Canon 7D, Tokina 12-24mm, Canon 17-55mm, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.4, and 150-500mm with a Panasonic Lumix FZ1000. I still have the 17-55 and the 30 available for sale.

  
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May 30, 2012 19:23 |  #7

It "can". But, like card speed, it often isn't; the manufacturer (or reseller) will set the conditions that will make their product sound the best. Unfortunately, there isn't an ISO standard for tripods. So take anything you haven't tested yourself with a grain of salt. We've had people claim that the Manfrotto 492RC2, with a (manufacturer's) load rating of 4.4 lb. is just fine, however you want to use it, with a 300 f/2.8 and 1D2. cum granum salis.


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cacawcacaw
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May 30, 2012 19:27 |  #8

cntangcn wrote in post #14508472 (external link)
correct me if I am wrong, I would think the max load can be measured in this way: put the ballhead at horizontal position, given a specified distance from center of the ball to the point where a vertical force is applied, and measure the maximum force when the ball start to move....

They way I measured deflection, with a zoom lens and Live View, even the most rigid setup "bent" a little tiny bit at very low weights, probably just within the camera and lens. (Of course, that's before I got my 7D, with it's magnesium body.)


Replacing my Canon 7D, Tokina 12-24mm, Canon 17-55mm, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.4, and 150-500mm with a Panasonic Lumix FZ1000. I still have the 17-55 and the 30 available for sale.

  
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cntangcn
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May 30, 2012 19:56 |  #9

cacawcacaw wrote in post #14508509 (external link)
Is that a photo of Max Load, the comedian?

New to photography, I set out to test a couple of tripod/ballhead combinations and couldn't find any standard test. So, I made up my own test by setting the camera to the maximum magnification Live View and then noting the displacement when a weight was hung from the lens, and then the amount and duration of vibration when the lens was given a sharp knock.

Nothing remarkable came out of my tests but it did get me thinking about how people gravitate towards the most expensive equipment and how lighter weight tripods and smoother ballheads account for much of the cost, whereas stability seems to almost be a secondary consideration. In fact, I'm surprised by the number of photographers who are enamored by tripods/ballheads but don't give much consideration to shooting technique and/or improvised stabilizers like bean bags or string tripods. And I'm surprised that nobody seems to be concerned with how grips might affect tripod stability. The extra height and additional attachment must make a difference.

If you can come up with a standardized testing method, it would be interesting to have other POTN forum members all perform the tests on their equipment and share their results. I'd do it!

I would think any kind "max load" testing will end up damage the ballhead. so don't do it on your own ballhead!:)

there are two reasons triggered my question when i was looking for a ballhead in the market. If I have no constrains on budget and weight, i will just go for the most famous brand (read: expensive), and the largest ballhead (read:heavy). Unfortunately that is not the case for me, and I believe that will not be the case for most of us.

if you look at ballhead product line (regardless the brand), you will see the bigger the diameter, the higher "max load", and the higher "price tag", and the higher "weight".

I need one for travel purpose. I want it to be light and hold more, and price lower. So where should I go?

36mm will be lighter than 44mm than 55mm , in general, and cheaper, and lighter. I also noticed most of 36mm ballheads have the "max load" that at least 10 times of the weight of my equipment (my heaviest combination is 5D MARK II + 70 200MM F4, 760g+950g = 1710g based on Canon data, ignore the plate as it is usually around or less than 50g if it is not a L plate).

i would be happy to go for 36mm ballhead but then, if you read enough, you will see people usually suggest a 44mm ballhead for that kind of combination.

That let me suspect there is a sort of standard for "max load". and, if you look through the numbers, they are quite close. for example,

Markins Q10, 44mm, 45kg
Photo Clam 44ns, 44mm, 50kg
Sunwayfoto XB44, 44mm, 40kg

should i read it as a coincidence? or there is a sort of "standard" at somewhere...


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May 30, 2012 21:14 |  #10

cntangcn wrote in post #14508690 (external link)
I would think any kind "max load" testing will end up damage the ballhead. so don't do it on your own ballhead!:)...

Right, I'd only enlist for vibration testing, not destructive failure point!

My $100 Vanguard SBH-300 has a 70 pound capacity. I can't find specs that show the ballhead size, but it's beefy.


Replacing my Canon 7D, Tokina 12-24mm, Canon 17-55mm, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.4, and 150-500mm with a Panasonic Lumix FZ1000. I still have the 17-55 and the 30 available for sale.

  
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May 31, 2012 01:34 as a reply to  @ cacawcacaw's post |  #11

Markins, which is highly regarded, rate their popular Q10 ball head at 45 kg (100 lb). Their smallest head, the Q3T, has a max load of 35 kg (65 lb). They have a pretty cool video of a demo here (external link). It makes you wonder why they set up such an elaborate test, yet only hang 6 kg (13.2 lb) of weight on the rig. :rolleyes: If you claim 100 lbs, then prove it.

Acratech, on the other hand, say their head can hold over 25 lbs. In a video, they show the head holding a 25 lb weight off to the side in a similar fashion to the Markins demo.

Markins' rating of 100 lbs is probably with the ball stem perfectly vertical with the weight perfectly distributed on top of that. That, to me, is not a realistic rating. The only way a ball head couldn't handle the weight in that manner is if it was made of weak materials or poorly designed. However, all of these top of the line $400 ball heads are made of aluminum.

I wish these manufactures would put up some realistic ratings. That will never happen though, since a lot of buyers look at specs. The one with the highest numbers looks like it's the best.


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cntangcn
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May 31, 2012 08:05 |  #12

klr.b wrote in post #14509828 (external link)
...I wish these manufactures would put up some realistic ratings. That will never happen though, since a lot of buyers look at specs. The one with the highest numbers looks like it's the best.

that's exactly the reason i started this question. I am one of those guys who will look at specifications. every ballhead will provide this "max load" information at the very beginning sounds like an important information. if this information is not reliable at all, and "could" be misleading. Then what I can use to help me to make the decision ?:o the 3-times or 4-times rule will fail if the source data is not reliable.

so now where can i start? the brand name? the "feeling"? the diameter of the ballhead? I am totally lost.

yea I know the general rule in the photography world is to buy the most expensive one that you can afford. But it is hard though because I actually is able to pay either $300 or $400, but it make sense to have something to support the additional $100 spending.

I still suspect there is a "standard" way the manufacturer measure the max load. otherwise it cannot explain why most 44mm ballheads from different brands have similar max load ...


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pwm2
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May 31, 2012 08:26 |  #13

The diameter on the ball doesn't really matter much.

You could play with formula distance times force equals torque.

But it isn't that simple.

You have raw aluminum balls. You have teflon-coated balls.
Some ball heads clamp much of the ball - some clamp just a small area of the ball.
The ball can be massive - or hollow.
The clamp can be made using different materials - and thickness of the goods.
And it makes a difference if you have an excentric lock solution that magnify the locking force, making sure there is no slip.
And it makes a difference if the surfaces are smooth, so a high locking force doesn't damages the surface when irregularities in the material bites into the ball.

In the end, you can see it in two ways.

One thing is what force is guaranteed without a mechanical failure. Few manufacturers uses such a figure to specify the max load because this figure is normally way higher than what is reasonable to hang on the tripod. And the ball head would normally deflect and/or slip at much lower forces.

So the normal "max load" is the highest weight the manufacturer thinks you can put on the head without too much deflection, and without too much wear affecting their warranty.

Next thing - you think about the diameter of the ball and think that should define the max load. But isn't it more interesting to consider what happens if the camera weight is centered above the ball head, or if there is a rather heavy lens hanging out - or maybe you even have a big flash and have the camera aimed straight down for macro photography.

In the end, the question is how much deflection will the head have when used with your specific gear performing the type of photography you do. Do you need to aim the camera way above the subject before locking the head, just so the deflection will get the camera aimed correctly after taking deflection into account?

If you look at a Manfrotto head, the max load figure is all about what they recommend - they think that for weights up to this, their customers will get the best experience from using the gear. For weights above this, the wear will be higher and the users experience will be affected by the extra deflection.

Yes, there exists heads intended for 45kg equipment. But when a tripod manufacturer gives this figure, I would look twice that they really do sell heavy and sturdy gear and haven't taken the simple route to instead specify the highest "safe" weight. Cheap brands are likely to give too high load ratings - the gear doesn't break but you will hate using it at the promised load.


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May 31, 2012 08:54 |  #14

pwm2 wrote in post #14510689 (external link)
The diameter on the ball doesn't really matter much.

??? Well, all I can say is that I use a Markins Q3T and an Arca-Swiss Z1 and there is a big difference. Very big.


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pwm2
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May 31, 2012 08:56 |  #15

peter_n wrote in post #14510804 (external link)
??? Well, all I can say is that I use a Markins Q3T and an Arca-Swiss Z1 and there is a big difference. Very big.

Yes, but a 40mm ball isn't automatically better than a 30mm ball and a 50mm ball isn't automatically better than a 40mm ball.

So what was your actual point?


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How "Max Load" of a ballhead was measured
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