Looking for a decent Ball Head with levels

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Gerhard Beulke, Aug 9, 2005.

  1. Hi,

    Could anyone please suggest a decent *light weight* Ball Head which
    would be able to turn around smoothly with a 10D and a 3Kg lens attached
    to it.
    The head should have levels and that's where it gets tricky.
    The legs are 3021BPRO (055PROB/NK25).

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


    PS: I looked at the 488RC4 Midi Ball Head. Is this piece any good?
    Gerhard Beulke, Aug 9, 2005
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  2. Gerhard Beulke

    tomm101 Guest

    Gitzo are the best, Manfrotto are OK (generally heavier than Gitzo for
    the same specs). You want the capacity to be at least double of your
    heaviest camera - lens combination. Either a Gitzo or Manfrotto ball
    head with 5kg or greater capacity should work. How light it will be is
    another question.

    tomm101, Aug 9, 2005
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  3. Gerhard Beulke

    Bob Salomon Guest

    So you have personally used Linhof, Novoflex, Kaiser, Giotto's, Arca,
    Kirk, RRS, Studio Ball, Graf, etc. and after completely testing them you
    arrived at this conclusion?

    Or you just happened to buy a Gitzo or Manfroto?
    Bob Salomon, Aug 9, 2005
  4. Gerhard Beulke

    SMS Guest

    Yes, it fits your description of "decent."

    Also look at the Velbon PH-273QL

    The Velbon is more expensive, but I believe that the ball is metal (I
    could be wrong about this), while the Manfratto has a resin ball.

    I would probably buy the 488RC0 rather than the 488RC4 as I like the
    3049 style of QR plate better than the 3271 style of QR plate.

    I have the same leg set, and I need to get a ball head for it, and am
    vacillating between the PH-273QL and the 488RC0. I like the Velbon
    better, but I'm already invested in 3049 QR plates.

    You're right, levels is where it gets tricky!
    SMS, Aug 9, 2005
  5. Gerhard Beulke

    SMS Guest

    He didn't ask for the best, he asked for a decent one with a level. In
    any case, Gitzo are not the best.

    Kirk Enterprises' BH-1 (http://www.kirkphoto.com/ballheads.html) is one
    of the best ball heads (but no level), ditto for the Graf Studioball
    (also no level).

    For "decent" with a level, the Manfratto 488RC0 or 488RC4, or the Velbon
    PH-273QL are what are available in the U.S..

    The Giottos MH 7001 is not quite as good as either of these, but it's
    still okay, and very inexpensive, see
    I almost bought one of these, but then I realized that they are
    distributed in the U.S. by HP Marketing Corp, so I didn't buy it because
    I may want to resell the ball head on eBay some day.

    SMS, Aug 9, 2005
  6. Gerhard Beulke

    PanHandler Guest

    Take a good look at the Bogen/Manfrotto 322RC2. I use it with my Bogen 3021
    and Canon 20D/100-400L IS, and it does very well.
    PanHandler, Aug 9, 2005
  7. Rita Ä Berkowitz, Aug 9, 2005
  8. Gerhard Beulke

    SMS Guest

    SMS, Aug 9, 2005
  9. Gerhard Beulke

    C Wright Guest

    C Wright, Aug 10, 2005
  10. Gerhard Beulke

    Bob Salomon Guest

    Nothing can stop you from selling on Ebay unless YOU decide not to.
    Bob Salomon, Aug 10, 2005
  11. Gerhard Beulke

    ASAAR Guest

    Also available in the US (per the 686 page B&H 35mm SLR Photo
    Sourcebook) are a couple of Manfrotto adapters.
    These two are quite something else, but both include leveling
    bases. The 303 QTVR is $324.95 and the 303 Plus is $379.95.

    There's also a 303SPH QVTR Spherical Panoramic Head Kit that's
    listed for $514.95. From the too-small photos, I imagine that it
    also has a leveling base, but the ad copy doesn't mention this.
    ASAAR, Aug 10, 2005
  12. Gerhard Beulke

    Henrik Tived Guest

    Hi Gerhard,

    To some this is a very subjective topic and is not to be taken lightly ;-)
    anyway, this is my take on it based on my experience

    I started out with the 055Pro legs and the 468RC pro head and though it was
    a nice little ball head, it just didn't cut the mustard when i wanted
    precision eg. take a pic of the full moon, it tended to give a bit. This is
    using a D60 and 70-200LIS with and without extenders and ofcourse it didn't
    help moving up in the ranks of camera to 1-series.
    I also have a little 308RC which is nice and lightweight, to on a tabletop
    tripod and monopod, it isn't bad it can hold a canon1-series body and the
    70-200LIS, untill you start to angle it beyond level :)

    since then I have had the monster GRAF StudioBall, a giant, but it doesn't
    slip and it can hold almost anything...BUT it is very heavy (and forsale
    :) ) lastly if you want the best there are two choices IMHO Arca Swiss B1
    and ReallyRightStuff's new ballhead, I have the first but would love to have
    the later :) but you will probably end up paying more for your ballhead and
    plates then you did for your camera

    When you are looking at ball heads or any other type, you should look for
    the Quick release system, which can make a huge difference when you are out
    working or just having a good time.

    bottomline, look at the type of photography you are doing and how you go
    about your photography and in the end of the day it all depends on what it
    is worth to you cos you can spend a lot of money on this.

    My current setup is like this Gitzo 1548 carbon fiber and Arca Awiss B1 and
    Gitzo 2220 Explorer with a Manfrotto 410 or the little 308RC and when all
    this isn't enough there is the ReallyRightStuff Pano kit and plates :)

    good luck and remember to have fun

    Henrik Tived, Aug 10, 2005
  13. Gerhard Beulke

    Neil Ellwood Guest

    Another solution is to use a small pocket level and level the head (I use
    a tripod with pan and tilt head) before putting the camera on it.
    Neil Ellwood, Aug 10, 2005
  14. Gerhard Beulke

    Don Guest


    I use the 486rc2 with my 20D and 400F4 L lens and it seems to do the job
    very well with one minor annoyance. It tends to sag a fraction after lock
    off. This occurs regardless of lens size but given the bucks you pay for it
    seems a pretty good all-round choice.


    Don, Aug 10, 2005
  15. Gerhard Beulke

    Don Guest

    To my last, I noticed you need levels on the head. The 486 doesn't have
    that sorry. Still a better option might be the level that you can buy to put
    into your flash bracket. No a number of photogs that use these.


    Don, Aug 10, 2005
  16. Hi Chuck,

    Thanks for the reply.
    That's exactly the issue I'm facing (light weight Ball Heads don't have
    levels built in).

    I have the hotshoe level but I'm trying to keep things simple.

    Gerhard Beulke, Aug 10, 2005
  17. The other thing is I very often use the flash in the hotshoe. Where to
    put the level now?
    Gerhard Beulke, Aug 10, 2005
  18. Thanks Tom.
    The camera and lens together weight already 5Kg.
    I would rather go for something which can hold heavier items.
    Gerhard Beulke, Aug 10, 2005
  19. Thank you.
    "5.5lb capacity when in the vertical position"
    I'm looking for something which can hold a bit heavier stuff.
    Otherwise it would be ok.

    Gerhard Beulke, Aug 10, 2005
  20. Gerhard Beulke

    PanHandler Guest

    Take another look - as I said earlier, I use a heavy combo of equipment with
    it. It is capable of easily handling 11 pounds if configured properly - and
    that's the key to this head. It can be configured and customized to do what
    is needed. I said take a look, not look up the specs. Go to a dealer and
    *look* at it.
    PanHandler, Aug 10, 2005
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