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Author Topic: Ballhead recommendations  (Read 3648 times)

Mary K

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Re: Ballhead recommendations
« Reply #20 on: March 25, 2019, 04:20:56 pm »

Several years ago I had the RRS BH40 & BH55. I really disliked the dual drop down notches, and precision focusing for macro work was not fun. I sold them both and went for the Arca-Swiss D4, and I'd never go back. If you do not need precision focusing the D4 is certainly overkill, but it is a dream head for some of my work. Sure, it's pricy, but it cost less than most of my lenses, and I expect it to last many years. I have a RRS gimbal head for my 600mm f4, and for multi-row stitching, but I go to the D4 for everything else. Horses for courses.

Mary
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Mary Konchar

leuallen

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Re: Ballhead recommendations
« Reply #21 on: March 25, 2019, 06:21:07 pm »

Yeah, I got the thing. I just forget the price and use it with a great big smile on my face.

Larry
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muntanela

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Re: Ballhead recommendations
« Reply #22 on: March 26, 2019, 09:32:36 am »

I'd like it for close-ups/macros. Unfortunately, even if I could forget the price, I (and maybe my very young mitral prosthesis) couldn't forget the weight.

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kers

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Re: Ballhead recommendations
« Reply #23 on: March 26, 2019, 02:14:06 pm »

This D4 has a lot of knobs; is that not a problem to use it in a quick way? i guess it is more for slow precise work than for quick action?
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Jeremy Roussak

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Re: Ballhead recommendations
« Reply #24 on: March 26, 2019, 05:59:48 pm »

I tried a D4 (belonging to someone else); I didn't like it. I'm fully prepared to accept that the fault is mine.

Anyway, I have bought another BH-40. Thanks for all the suggestions.

Jeremy
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NancyP

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Re: Ballhead recommendations
« Reply #25 on: March 26, 2019, 06:35:45 pm »

Geared heads are a "love them or hate them" proposition. That's why one can always get a cheap used Manfrotto 410 (and soon to come, Benro) - someone has a product-shot project, uses it, hates it, sells it at next opportunity.
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Chairman Bill

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Re: Ballhead recommendations
« Reply #26 on: March 27, 2019, 01:09:49 pm »

Arca Swiss P0.

I'll second that. A great bit of kit.

Jonathan Cross

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Re: Ballhead recommendations
« Reply #27 on: March 27, 2019, 02:16:33 pm »

Re Nancy's comment.  I've had a Manfrotto 410 for a long time having not go on with ballheads.  It is quite heavy but I love the control, particularly for macros and for a sculpture project.  That said, in many other cases I am using a tripod less and less.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

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Jonathan in UK

kers

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Re: Ballhead recommendations
« Reply #28 on: March 27, 2019, 05:36:54 pm »

I love a simple ballhead; strong and not many knobs for swift action- The BH-40 has 3 knobs - for me two would be enough.
It is used with a panning clamp  (http://www.reallyrightstuff.com/BH-40-Ballhead?quantity=1&custcol31=4) so one knob more , but almost fit for anything and not too heavy.
The Arca Swiss P0 seems an even more elegant design that has the same features.
Geared heads i would prefer for very precise work when I do not have to carry the tripod around.
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g_wittigmd@yahoo.com

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Re: Ballhead recommendations
« Reply #29 on: April 16, 2019, 06:37:09 am »

Sorry, but MOST people aren't carrying $1100 tripods, let alone those tripods with an $1100 head.  Yes, I know that a few are, but I think a very small fraction of even very serious photographers have gone that far.  Those pieces of kit are way, way out there on the price/benefit curve.

Brad

I used to think that way. I mean, it's just a tripod and head, right? Not like it's a new lens, all that cool shiny glass. Most of us drop a lot more money on lenses than on tripods. $2,000 for a 70-200 f2.8 or $12,000+ (yikes!) for a 600 mm f4 is seen as just the price of entry.

But if you're putting serious effort into your landscape photography, you're interacting with the tripod and head on every single shot. It's amazing how much impact it has on the results. When I finally got a tripod that was tall enough, I stopped seeing all my horizons sloping down to the right, and my back stopped aching from bending over. A rock-solid tripod added more sharpness than a higher resolution sensor or a better lens. And that Arca Swiss D4 head is worth every penny. Micro-adjusting the composition in elevation, azimuth and yaw, with zero drift...once you've tried it, you never want to go back.
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Rand47

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Re: Ballhead recommendations
« Reply #30 on: April 16, 2019, 10:46:59 am »

I used to think that way. I mean, it's just a tripod and head, right? Not like it's a new lens, all that cool shiny glass. Most of us drop a lot more money on lenses than on tripods. $2,000 for a 70-200 f2.8 or $12,000+ (yikes!) for a 600 mm f4 is seen as just the price of entry.

But if you're putting serious effort into your landscape photography, you're interacting with the tripod and head on every single shot. It's amazing how much impact it has on the results. When I finally got a tripod that was tall enough, I stopped seeing all my horizons sloping down to the right, and my back stopped aching from bending over. A rock-solid tripod added more sharpness than a higher resolution sensor or a better lens. And that Arca Swiss D4 head is worth every penny. Micro-adjusting the composition in elevation, azimuth and yaw, with zero drift...once you've tried it, you never want to go back.

+1   

Rand
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Eric Brody

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Re: Ballhead recommendations
« Reply #31 on: April 20, 2019, 01:31:43 pm »

Agree with the last posters. Most of us think nothing of spending $1K or even $2K for a lens. A properly purchased tripod and head are essentially lifetime investments. I smile every time I use my Arca D4, and I use it a lot. Remember, "the sharpest lens in the world is a tripod," said by someone far smarter than me. And the best tripod (and head) are even sharper :) :)
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leuallen

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Re: Ballhead recommendations
« Reply #32 on: April 20, 2019, 03:45:24 pm »

I resisted getting the D4. I had the Manfrotto 410 geared head so I was sold on geared heads. But the 410 was just to big and heavy and the D4 is much more svelt. If you don't like using something you tend not to use it. I did not like the weight of the 410. So I bit the bullet. The one thing the original D4 did not have was geared rotation. I like and need that. Shortly after I got mine they came out with a new version which had it. More money I think but if you are paying that much what's a few more shekels.

I think that Manfrotto has come out with a new geared head which is smaller and might fit the bill. I would check that out. Probably a lot cheaper.

For landscape geared head is the way to go. But I sometimes do other things so I carry in the van a good second tripod with an Acratech ball head should the need arise.

Larry
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BradSmith

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Re: Ballhead recommendations
« Reply #33 on: April 20, 2019, 09:25:50 pm »

Numerous people in this thread have extolled the better image quality with "rock solid" tripods and heavy, geared heads.  Have you ever directly compared image quality results (not framing ease) with "lesser" tripods and heads, side by side with your camera and lens.  And even go so far as doing it handheld with a good, modern body/lens that includes image stabilization? 

I just did the following test - $780 tripod/ballhead combo vs hand held.  I have an Oly, OM-D e-m1.  Mounted it on my low/mid price and sized manfrotto 055 cx3 carbon fiber tripod (approx $340) with Acratech GP Ballhead ($440).  Lens was Oly Pro 12-40 f2.8.  Sunny, late afternoon landscape shot at 25mm.  Shutter speeds from 1/500 down to ⅛ at 1 stop increments.  Used self timer on tripod and manually focused.  Then did exactly the same framing and shots handheld with image stabilization without self timer.  Compared the same exposure pairs, tripod vs handheld image in Lightroom @ 1:1.  In each pair from 1/500 f2.8 down to 1/30 f 11, the two images were identical - couldn't tell which was which.  In the 1/15th pair, the tripod image was a tiny bit sharper.  At ⅛, it was easier to see that the tripod image was sharper.  But of course these image pairs degraded because of diffraction compared to the images from 2.8 to f11.

My conclusion based on this test--- I don't need to tripod mount for image quality in reasonably bright landscape photos shot at this focal length as long as speed at 1/30 or faster.....which is the vast majority of the landscape photos I take.  And while I don't have a $2200 combo of ultra tripod and head to compare with mine, I can't believe that at the camera settings I used that I'd see any difference between my "low/mid priced" tripod-head pair vs the $2200 ultra combo. 

Image stabilization has been a wonderful advancement for image sharpness and greatly reduces the need for tripods. 
« Last Edit: April 21, 2019, 02:40:28 pm by BradSmith »
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NancyP

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Re: Ballhead recommendations
« Reply #34 on: April 22, 2019, 07:37:04 pm »

The point about geared heads is that they can be easier to use when fine control is needed. However, if you can get the control you need with a ball head, ball heads are simpler and faster to operate.

If you do macro, you pretty much need either a tripod or a flash system.
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Rand47

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Re: Ballhead recommendations
« Reply #35 on: April 24, 2019, 09:14:04 pm »

..if you can get the control you need with a ball head, ball heads are simpler and faster to operate.  . . .


Hi Nancy,

I have found this to be untrue.  I previously used a RRS BH-55.  I find my Arca-Swiss D4 geared head very much faster and more positive.  With camera/lens gear of any size on any ball head, one is constantly playing the "hold it in place" game (even w/ the friction-tension optimally adjusted) and the "how much should I aim up to compensate for post-lock-down droop."  If I had a nickel for every time I've had to unlock, tweak, lock - unlock, tweak, lock my BH-55, I'd be able to afford a Phase One.   ;D   

In my view a geared head like the D4 only "looks like/seems like" it would be more complicated and slower.  In reality, I don't futz around anywhere near as much as I did previously.  And the fact that you can level the camera body w/o regard to the tripod being level is a joy - especially if one wants to rotate.

Rand
« Last Edit: April 24, 2019, 09:20:32 pm by Rand47 »
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Rand47

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Re: Ballhead recommendations
« Reply #36 on: April 24, 2019, 09:25:23 pm »

This D4 has a lot of knobs; is that not a problem to use it in a quick way? i guess it is more for slow precise work than for quick action?

See my comment to Nancy above.  My response re "lots of knobs" is NO.  It is not a hindrance to rapid adjustment - it is  boon.
Like any new equipment, it takes a little bit of time to develop the muscle memory to do it all by feel.  In my case, about two trips out and about with it.  After using the D4, you couldn't give me a ball head for free (well you could but I'd just sell it  ;D).

Rand
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Eric Brody

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Re: Ballhead recommendations
« Reply #37 on: April 25, 2019, 01:47:31 pm »

Hi Brad Smith-You did an interesting experiment but I'd like to add a comment. When doing long exposures, eg ten seconds, three minutes, clearly there's no substitute for a solid tripod. IBIS is good, just not that good :). Also, perhaps relevant mostly to those of us who grew up with film and larger cameras, eg 4x5, there's no substitute for the contemplation possible while carefully composing an image in live view or the finder or screen of a mirrorless camera. Then film cost real money and folks did not just fire one off just to see if it might work. One of the things I love about mirrorless is the ability to use a tilt-shift lens, make careful adjustments and proceed slowly. Each of us should be able to do the kind of photography we prefer, I prefer using a tripod wherever possible, the more solid the better, for the head, the less likely to drift, the better. For the absolute best image quality, if you can use a tripod, you should, no disrespect meant to those who prefer to use IBIS and lens stabilization.
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BradSmith

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Re: Ballhead recommendations
« Reply #38 on: April 25, 2019, 06:57:54 pm »

Hello Eric,
I agree with all the points you made about the necessity of tripods for very long exposures and I also understand that some people really enjoy the slower, contemplative approach that a tripod can offer you, even in good light conditions.  I shot landscape 4x5 for 30+ years and also enjoyed that difference from the handheld 35mm film camera shooting I did back then. And I agree that Macro can be easier and give more predictable results IF (and that's a big IF) it is practical to use a tripod.  And I agree that huge, heavy, long, big aperture lenses require a tripod or monopod to keep from breaking your back in addition to eliminating motion blur.
 
But I differ with you on one account and several other statements made by others in this thread that paint the SHARPNESS benefits and the resultant "quality" of tripod photography TOO BROADLY.  I think your statement that ...."For the absolute best image quality, if you can use a tripod, you should..."  is too all-encompassing.  Based on the test I did, I'd revise your statement to be something like....   "for the absolute best image quality based on no visible motion blur with my 12-40 zoom, I should use a tripod whenever my shutter speed, using IBIS will be less than 1/30th."    Another statement in this thread that was obviously too broad was this one....."if you're putting serious effort into your landscape photography, you're interacting with the tripod and head on every single shot"   Huh!!?? 

And I also was making the point that in my opinion, given your specific body and lens, you only need the least heavy/expensive tripod and head that will eliminate motion blur on "long" exposures for that camera/lens combo.  You don't benefit any further from added weight or cost. 

My post was made because I thought that overly broad, sweeping statements were being made about big, heavy, expensive tripods and heads. That was the purpose of my post.
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kers

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Re: Ballhead recommendations
« Reply #39 on: April 26, 2019, 06:25:10 am »

...
My post was made because I thought that overly broad, sweeping statements were being made about big, heavy, expensive tripods and heads. That was the purpose of my post.
I agree- i have 5 tripods of different sizes and weights- all do fine when used at the right time.
In some cases a tripod can make you loose sharpness and is your body the ideal tripod,  absorbing micro trembling form the soil.
but one extra thing i like about using a tripod is: the TIME it gives you to think about the composition. The stability of the view and to be able to place the focus exactly were you need it, including corners shapness and DOF.
and about heads- if a head holds the weight of the camera it is good enough for a sharp photo; The rest is about easy composition and handling, certainly not unimportant in everyday use.
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