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Thread started 24 Jun 2010 (Thursday) 08:30
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Knowledge on tripod-heads.

 
Jonta
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Jun 24, 2010 08:30 |  #1

So I chose a set of legs quite some time ago (six months. Slow buyer you see). Gitzo's GT2531EX

Now, I listened to the advice of virtually every sensible person on the internet, and want to buy nice instead of twice, which is why the Gitzo will be my first tripod. Having thought about getting one for the past two years, I thought I'd get cracking.

But what head to choose?

It seems that the Arca-Swiss-style ones are popular, good, and compatible, so this could narrow it down for me.

But there are so many brands and head-types. RRS, Kirk, Arca-Swiss, Acra-Tech and a whole host of ones I don't remember.

What I photograph: It's going to be used for macro. I might eventually get a focusingrail, but it's not like I have an MP-E 65.
It's going to be used for landscapey stuff.
It's going to be used in low-light situations.

A ballhead will probably be my best bet, not that this narrows it down a lot.

A criterium I've read (Thom Hogan possibly?) was that the ballhead should be easy to clean.

What I need:
Knowledge about the different brands and models, and whom they are used by (what kind of photographer).

Anything else you need to know? Feel free to ask.
Jonta




  
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crn3371
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Jun 24, 2010 13:27 |  #2

I have the original Acratech and have been quite happy with it. Their open design certainly lends itself to easy cleaning. I'm sure owners of Kirk, RSS, or Arca-Swiss will chime in as to why they favor their ballheads. Frankly, with these brands,and at their price points,I don't think you can go wrong with any of them.




  
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Jonta
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Jun 24, 2010 15:51 |  #3

crn3371 wrote in post #10419956 (external link)
Frankly, with these brands,and at their price points,I don't think you can go wrong with any of them.

Ah, but I want the one that's the righest (:

Thanks for the tip on easy cleaning.




  
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keitaro
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Jun 24, 2010 18:08 |  #4

Jonta wrote in post #10420732 (external link)
Ah, but I want the one that's the righest (:

Thanks for the tip on easy cleaning.

There is no such thing as the most right head. If there were, everyone would be buying that head. Each head has it's pros and cons. Which balances the market between brands. Most if not all tripods are designed to help shoot at night, and shoot landscape type photos. Your criteria is pretty general, except for the macro point of view.

What type of gear will you be using for your tripod? What is the longest lens that you plan on using?

Buy what best suits your needs.


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bohdank
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Jun 24, 2010 18:23 |  #5

For what you want to use your tripod I would recommend a geared head such as the Manfrotto 410. Although ballheads can work fine, a geared head is the way to go, imo. I have not used the Manfrotto so cannot comment on how well it works. I have a Markins M10 which works ok for macro but I did say "ok". A geared head would be more convenient and, if I did shoot more macro I wouldn't hesitate buying one. If it wasn't for the weight, I would have bought one instead of the M10 but I use my tripod/head also when I travel so weight is more important than convenience, to a point.


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johnf3f
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Jun 24, 2010 18:36 |  #6

bohdank wrote in post #10421434 (external link)
For what you want to use your tripod I would recommend a geared head such as the Manfrotto 410. Although ballheads can work fine, a geared head is the way to go, imo. I have not used the Manfrotto so cannot comment on how well it works. I have a Markins M10 which works ok for macro but I did say "ok". A geared head would be more convenient and, if I did shoot more macro I wouldn't hesitate buying one. If it wasn't for the weight, I would have bought one instead of the M10 but I use my tripod/head also when I travel so weight is more important than convenience, to a point.

You have hit the nail (firmly) on the head - if you don't need speed theen a geared head is the right choice - especially for precise applications such as macro (so long as the subject won't fly off!).
The geared head is the tool of choice for many (most?) closeup/macro and landscape photographers.
Try one and see if it fulfils your needs -- only you can tell , but I think you will find ballheads frustrating for what you appear to require.


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JWright
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Jun 24, 2010 20:54 as a reply to  @ johnf3f's post |  #7

Jonta wrote in post #10418370 (external link)
So I chose a set of legs quite some time ago (six months. Slow buyer you see). Gitzo's GT2531EX

Now, I listened to the advice of virtually every sensible person on the internet, and want to buy nice instead of twice, which is why the Gitzo will be my first tripod. Having thought about getting one for the past two years, I thought I'd get cracking.

But what head to choose?

It seems that the Arca-Swiss-style ones are popular, good, and compatible, so this could narrow it down for me.

But there are so many brands and head-types. RRS, Kirk, Arca-Swiss, Acra-Tech and a whole host of ones I don't remember.

What I photograph: It's going to be used for macro. I might eventually get a focusingrail, but it's not like I have an MP-E 65.
It's going to be used for landscapey stuff.
It's going to be used in low-light situations.

A ballhead will probably be my best bet, not that this narrows it down a lot.

A criterium I've read (Thom Hogan possibly?) was that the ballhead should be easy to clean.

What I need:
Knowledge about the different brands and models, and whom they are used by (what kind of photographer).

Anything else you need to know? Feel free to ask.
Jonta

What I would buy if I had the money would be the Really Right Stuff BH-55 (external link). This is one of the best all-around ball heads. It's a piece of quality manufacturing, backed by an excellent customer service organization.


John

  
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keitaro
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Jun 24, 2010 22:34 |  #8

JWright wrote in post #10422122 (external link)
What I would buy if I had the money would be the Really Right Stuff BH-55 (external link). This is one of the best all-around ball heads. It's a piece of quality manufacturing, backed by an excellent customer service organization.

That would be overkill on a 2 series tripod. the BH-55 would be for a 3 Series gitzo, while the BH-40 is the right size for the 2 series Gitzos.


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klr.b
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Jun 25, 2010 00:17 |  #9

acratech has everything you're looking for. whether it be the GV2 or the GP, both are awesome heads. they have an open design that uses no lubrication. no lubrication means no dust/grime stuck on the ball. should you get it dirty, you just wash it off in the sink. they're expensive, but they're super light and well made.


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bohdank
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Jun 25, 2010 05:21 |  #10

Just what I heard, I believe on this board, from someone that has/had a GV2. They droop. Someone with one of these, is this the case ?


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jeppoy
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Jun 25, 2010 05:44 |  #11

keitaro wrote in post #10422716 (external link)
That would be overkill on a 2 series tripod. the BH-55 would be for a 3 Series gitzo, while the BH-40 is the right size for the 2 series Gitzos.

We'll see, I just bought an RRS BH-55 and will pair it with Gitzo GT2541. I have to admit that the ballhead is a lil heavy but it sure makes long exposure and landscape photography slicing through butter. I'm using the RRS BH-55 with Induro AB1 and I am loving it. It makes composition easier and less stress when recomposing specially having the L plates.


No I'm not a photographer, I just shoot with Canon DSLR with those lenses with red thingy...;)

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Jonta
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Jun 25, 2010 05:53 |  #12

keitaro wrote in post #10421376 (external link)
There is no such thing as the most right head. If there were, everyone would be buying that head. Each head has it's pros and cons. Which balances the market between brands. Most if not all tripods are designed to help shoot at night, and shoot landscape type photos. Your criteria is pretty general, except for the macro point of view. (...) Buy what best suits your needs.

Heh, first I need to know what suits different needs.

What type of gear will you be using for your tripod? What is the longest lens that you plan on using?

Ah yes, knew there was something I'd forgotten. Heaviest setup will probably be gripped APS-C-body with flash and 200 mm f/2.8.

This comes up to about 2 kg. So if I'm going to purchase a 7D in the future, let's say 2,5 kg. to give a bit of breathing room. Mustn't forget how flexible the GT2531EX can be either. Typical setup will probably be around 2 kg.

johnf3f wrote in post #10421481 (external link)
bohdank wrote in post #10421434 (external link)
For what you want to use your tripod I would recommend a geared head such as the Manfrotto 410. Although ballheads can work fine, a geared head is the way to go, imo. I have not used the Manfrotto so cannot comment on how well it works. I have a Markins M10 which works ok for macro but I did say "ok". A geared head would be more convenient and, if I did shoot more macro I wouldn't hesitate buying one. If it wasn't for the weight, I would have bought one instead of the M10 but I use my tripod/head also when I travel so weight is more important than convenience, to a point.

You have hit the nail (firmly) on the head - if you don't need speed theen a geared head is the right choice - especially for precise applications such as macro (so long as the subject won't fly off!).
The geared head is the tool of choice for many (most?) closeup/macro and landscape photographers.
Try one and see if it fulfils your needs -- only you can tell , but I think you will find ballheads frustrating for what you appear to require.

Hm, I did select the Gitzo partly for short setup-time, which reduces the cost (time) of using it.

Of course, I could use this extra time to finetune composition.

Never having used a tripod though (long enough to determine my needs that is), I don't really know what I will actually end up using it for. I might have the possibility of borrowing a head.

Who's the typical user of a ballhead then?

keitaro wrote in post #10422716 (external link)
JWright wrote in post #10422122 (external link)
What I would buy if I had the money would be the Really Right Stuff BH-55. This is one of the best all-around ball heads. It's a piece of quality manufacturing, backed by an excellent customer service organization.

That would be overkill on a 2 series tripod. the BH-55 would be for a 3 Series gitzo, while the BH-40 is the right size for the 2 series Gitzos.

keitaro is right. It seems that even the Ultra Light heads from RRS will support my setup (BH-25 up to 4 kg.).

klr.b wrote in post #10423193 (external link)
acratech has everything you're looking for. whether it be the GV2 or the GP, both are awesome heads. they have an open design that uses no lubrication. no lubrication means no dust/grime stuck on the ball. should you get it dirty, you just wash it off in the sink. they're expensive, but they're super light and well made.

Ah, thanks for the tip on cleaning.

A main problem seems to be: I don't know exactly what uses I will put the tripod to.




  
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minhi
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Jun 25, 2010 05:55 |  #13

also keep in mind that only some of the plates (the ones you put on the camera) are cross compatible between companies. so for example the RRS camera plates work with most arca-swiss style screw knob mounts but are only recommended for the RRS lever style mounts.

For simplicty i'd suggest you also look at the plate options to make sure you're ok with the whole system. As everyone says there is no "rightest" answer as it depends on your needs, but as with good glass most of the ones you list have great resale value, if you can find a used BH40 or Markins Q3(T) you'll lose very little on a resale if you change your mind. but good luck finding these used they come up for sale rarely--which i think is a testament to how well regarded they are...


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MCAsan
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Jun 25, 2010 07:44 as a reply to  @ minhi's post |  #14

I don't know exactly what uses I will put the tripod to.


Hejsan,

Any shot where you want no blur from camera movement. This can be anything indoors or out of doors. As I have heard repeatedly preached at me by folks like John Shaw...none of us can hold a camera as steady as a tripod. If you will likely only move the tripod around indoors, or maybe to the backyard, then a relatively heavy one (alumimun) will do just fine. But the more you are hiking around out of doors, the more you will hate a heavy tripod and ballhead. That is why so many folks will take the cost of a carbon fiber tripod and good light head (like RRS 40 or Arcatech GV). So knowing your type of photography, and the budget limitations, you can decide which set of tripod and ballhead best fits your requirements.

Due to budget limtations of buying two at at a time (me and wife), I went with Manfrotto trippod and ballhead. But as soon as budget allows, will get Gitzo carbon tripod and RRS 40 ballhead. The biggest lens we own is 100-400mm.




  
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Jonta
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Jun 25, 2010 07:51 |  #15

Seems that Arca-Swiss has slow and bad customer service, and prices to faint of. All in all, I don't think it's something I'll aquire any time soon (Leica anyone?)

minhi wrote in post #10423938 (external link)
also keep in mind that only some of the plates (the ones you put on the camera) are cross compatible between companies. so for example the RRS camera plates work with most arca-swiss style screw knob mounts but are only recommended for the RRS lever style mounts.

Hm, yes, I have read about this. I'm a bit worried about compatibility between different arca-swiss-style systems, such as Cottoncarrier as well.

For simplicty i'd suggest you also look at the plate options to make sure you're ok with the whole system. As everyone says there is no "rightest" answer as it depends on your needs

By "there is a rightest choice", I mean that there is the rightest choice for me. Needs, price etc. included.

but as with good glass most of the ones you list have great resale value, if you can find a used BH40 or Markins Q3(T) you'll lose very little on a resale if you change your mind. but good luck finding these used they come up for sale rarely--which i think is a testament to how well regarded they are...

This might be an option, although a timeconsuming one trying to find a seller. Maybe I could rent one, although I think my options are limited where I am.

Something I seem to be reading a bit of is that slight adjustments with ballheads are hard. A tripod is something to use for precision, so maybe I should ditch the idea of ballhead, and go for something else instead, like a geared head. Are there alternatives? Or hybrids?

And who uses a ballhead? People not too fussed about getting composition exactly right?


Edit:

MCAsan wrote in post #10424193 (external link)
[General talk about benefits of tripods and why getting CF is better than aluminium.]

Hehe, yes MCAsan, I have been shopping for a tripod for about two years now, so I think I've gotten the basics. As you can see, I'm skipping Al altogether (;

Edit2: Maybe I should've been clearer: I don't know exactly what uses I would put it to. Sorry for the lack of clarity there MCAsan.




  
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