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Recommendations for a good, strong, middle of the road ball head

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by roundball, Mar 19, 2014.

  1. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    If I use any kind of support at all for most of my outdoor / wildlife photography, its a monopod and the ball head would mainly be used on it.

    My primary thinking about a ball head would be an assembly that simply screws onto the 1/4" bolt at the top of the monopod.
    I don't have any interest or need to get one with quick detachable plates for these reasons:
    1) It's already very simple to spin the monopod bolt into the tripod mount on my lenses or the FD/NEX tripod adapter foot;
    2) Not having a quick disconnect plate eliminates unnecessary weight and bulk;
    3) Not having a quick disconnect plate is one less failure point that could cause problems;

    I'm not shopping for small or cheap...but I 'won't' pay the hundreds of dollars prices I've seen for some, which, while I assume are very good, I suspect a lot of the price is for the name.

    A good quality, strong, medium size ball head should cover the lenses I'd want it for...(possibly even with a pistol grip)...because my 300mm & 400mm lenses already have their own rotating tripod collars. So the biggest / heaviest lens I would need the left & right tilting benefit of a ball head on a monopod would be a Canon FD 200/2.8 or Canon FD 80-200/4.0...pretty hefty but not so much that I'd need the biggest strongest ball head ever made.

    So any recommendations of brand names / model types anyone has actual experience with, that fits into the above criteria range would very much appreciated...thanks
     
  2. xXx1

    xXx1 TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 15, 2013
    How about Manfrotto 234RC? It is tilt head but works ok in monopod. There is also Manfrotto 234 that is without quick release plate. I have the later one.
     
  3. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    I can recommend the Sirui C-10X (http://www.sirui.de/en/produkte/stativkoepfe/cx-serie/). Yes, it has quick release plates - but they're the screw-in Arca Swiss type ones which you don't need to take out if you don't want to. Do they add weight? I doubt it with a weight of about 180 grams for the whole ball head.

    Also, with a maximum weight you can put on top of 4 kg they should support even your biggest lenses. Those ballheads may not look like it, but they're solid as hell. And most important - everything is metal, as opposed to some even cheaper heads which use plastic parts - bad idea for a tripod head.
     
  4. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Jim
    For the use you describe something like this may be what you're looking for.

    You can mount the camera so it tilts side-to-side or front-to-back as needed. And if you need to switch between the two you just loosen the mointing screw and rotate the camera.
     
  5. xXx1

    xXx1 TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 15, 2013
    I think that you can remove quick release clamp from most of ball heads. I think that most common fixing system is threaded hole in the arm of ball and conical screw but some may have 1/4" threads in the ball arm. Anyway there are male 1/4" to male 1/4" converters available.
     
  6. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    I'm not understanding this...can you put a few more words around it?
     
  7. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    Digging deeper into this, seeing the different weight limitations for different ball heads, I did something I've never done before...weighed my heaviest camera / lens combination.

    The NEX-7 + FD/NEX tripod adapter + Canon FD 400/4.5 lens weighs 4.35lbs...right at the max edge of the weight limitation for a 2kg rating.
    Seems like the ball heads switch from a 1/4" bolt attachment to 3/8" size when you step to the next higher weight carrying capacity of 4kg.
    And in double checking my large, sturdy HD Bogen monopod (from almost 30 years ago)...it has the standard 1/4" bolt.

    So I wonder if it's safe to assume there's a built in margin in actual payload carrying capacity for 1/4" bolt size accessories?
    Reason I ask is that back in film days, my Canon A1's with big Motor Drives full of 8 AA batteries and the 400mm lens installed had to weigh a lot more than the little NEX-7 & same 400mm lens combination today.

    Plus, if I bump up to a larger 3/8" bolt size ball head, then I'd need to get a new 3/8" bolt size monopod...and then it would then be too big for the built-in rotating collar sockets on the Canon FD 300 & 400mm lenses.

    Decisions...decisions...decisions
     
  8. xXx1

    xXx1 TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 15, 2013
    Situation with tripod and monopod are completely different. You can't expect that camera and monopod will stay upright if you release your grip ... .

    I refer as arm the small part sticking out of the ball where the quick release plate is fixed (and usually with countersunk screw). I have switched several quick release plates (going from Manfrotto to Arca style QR) without problems.

    I ordered 8 pieces of these a couple days ago:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/171103741398?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649

    These are used to couple 3/8" threaded hole to 1/4" threaded hole (for example in camera bottom), there are also 1/4" to 1//4" ones available (I am building a extension arm to a tabletop tripod).
     
  9. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
  10. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
  11. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    I'm going to try one of these...
     
  12. dbmiller

    dbmiller TalkEmount Top Veteran

    777
    Mar 2, 2012
    New England
    Funny. I was just looking for one as well. I ended up ordering one of these...

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/121265470733

    Might be too cheap, but it's supposed to handle 8kg, which should be more than enough.

    Will post a review when I get it.
     
  13. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    Arrived today...just mounted it on a monopod and tried it with my biggest heaviest lens...seems pretty solid.
    I'll get some live tests pretty soon, see how it does under actual shooting conditions...thanks.
     
  14. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Jim
    I hope it works out for you. I've debated getting one for years, but in the end if you're not using a lens with a tripod collar it's a bit unwieldy for my taste.
     
  15. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    Did you mean Tripod Collar.....or...Tripod Adapter?


    Actually, I don't have much use for using it to rotate a lens up or down...my interest will mainly be the ability to get some side angle rotation in to adjust between portrait / landscape tilt with an uneven rest...when using most of my lenses that do not have tripod collars.
    The couple big lenses with their own rotating collars won't need the ball-head and that's good because all the other lenses are lighter...less strain on the ball head.
     
  16. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Jim
    Tripod Collar. I've always found having only one plane of tilt control with a monopod limiting, which is why I would only use the monopod head with a lens with a rotating collar. Which is why I just use my ballhead on those rare occasions that I actually use a monopod.

    Different strokes for different folks and it sounds like it's going to work for you and that's a good thing.

    I'm glad that you find it useful.
     
  17. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    Just for some feedback, the Manfrotto Tilt Head is actually well built and strong.
    Have used it on a monopod a few times now trying to get shots at birds in the wild, but ironically, I really haven't been able to test the usefulness of the tilt head because the birds are constantly flitting from one spot to the next and there's no time, LOL.
    So at the moment, its ended up being nothing more than a 3" monopod "extension"...however, I'll start making trips to a nearby Arboretum to shoot flowers / bees on flowers, etc...and it should do well for that..thanks again.
     
  18. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Jim
    I'm actually thinking about getting one of these for my tripod for when I'm using long lenses to shoot the moon etc. Should be less fiddly than a ballhead.