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Thread: Recommend a Ball Head

  1. #1
    vince123123
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    Default Recommend a Ball Head

    Hi there,

    I'm looking to buy a professional ballhead. I realise that the defacto best ballhead of choice is the Arca Swiss.

    I did notice however that the new kangrinpoche heads are cheap and seem to function as well. I'm particularly interested in the SD-3A as it is small and light, and yet is able to hold around 16kgs (which appears to be more than I ever need).

    A search on the web shows that the Arca Swiss has incorporated a new fliplock type of head, which appears to make mounting easier (and more used to the Manfrotto quick releases that I'm used to). One problem of arca swiss style plates is that the screw in and out seems to be slow (never actually used one though).

    http://www.liaoyusheng.com/arca/

    Just wondering if this flip head thing can be fitted onto a kangrinpoche head - then I'd have the best of both worlds...

    Lastly, is warranty an issue with the Kangrinpoche heads? Getting from China seems cheaper but no warranty.

    Would appreciate any thoughts or comments.

  2. #2
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    Default clamp

    consider both arcaswiss and kanrinpoche ball heads.
    reject the PLASTIC control lever arca quick release clamp.
    read all the problems down the page in the review. why buy an expensive headache. worst, the clamp screw slowly loosens without warning with usage and you have to check 3 times a day to make sure your expensive camera and lens does not crash to the ground. all the time you are worrying.
    knowing S'porean's kiasuness, multiply the number checks by 3. That's 9 per day. If you use it every alternate day, (if you are not just hobbyist) that's 182 days (say 180 days) in a year. Say you own it for 10 years. The number of checks you will make are 180 x 10 x 9 = 16,200 times. Photography should not be such mindless, menial drudgery.


    to me, a product like this goes straight to the rubbish bin.

    the arca/kangrinpoche/3rd party metal screw clamp is still the best and most sensible engineering.
    Last edited by ricohflex; 10th July 2005 at 11:43 AM.

  3. #3
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    Frankly I'd never trust any quick release system that uses a plastic locking system. The old style Arca Swiss clamping mechanism whereby you turn a knob and screw the jaw shut on the plate is both quick to operate and extremely reliable especially under heavy loads.

    Before you rush out and buy a head, take some time to consider what lenses you are likely to be using, along with the total weight of the body, lens, flash and accessories you will be using. Once you have that determined I'd suggest you go and try a few heads before settling down to purchase a head. Why? A ballhead is like a wife in many ways, pick the right one and you'll be rewarded with a faithful companion who won't let you down, pick the wrong one and the problems will drive you nuts. Never cut costs on a head, it's a decision you will rue at your leisure.

    As for the brand of ballhead, I use two ballheads for most of my work a Burzynski Protec (German) and a Graf StudioBall. (Switzerland)

    The Graf is my mainstay head, it gets used every day and has at least a couple of dozen plate changes per day at a minimum. I've been using this head for 4 years now so it's seen at least 28,000 plate changes and never a single failure. It sports a massive genuine load carrying capacity and regularly sees 25kg plus loads (Medium and large format view cameras with all the trimmings) as well as fully laden SLR's and DSLR's sporting long lenses eg: 800 and 1200mm primes, dual flash heads etc. It's never once given me any problems.

    The Graf is a clone of the old Arca ballhead, and does not have the elliptical ball that the newer heads have. This gives rise to some interesting problems with lateral flop with larger lenses in 35mm, however it also means that the head won't lock up and require servicing to sort out, unlike the current Arca Swiss heads. The Graf also has a full bearing race in the pan base, making it a particularly smooth panning head.

    On the downside the Graf is heavy at 1.75kg, large, and has a unique locking pin mechanism at the back of the Arca Style release that provides a margin of safety when using genuine Graf plates. This pin also interfaces nicely with most Kirk and RRS plates. The flip lever is aluminum and takes some getting used to however I find it's advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

    The other main ballhead I use is the Burzynski Protec which is a true beast of a head. It's designed to fit 100mm bowl type video tripods (known as 'sticks' in the trade) or atop regular legs. I use it with Sachtler CF legsets and it's rigid to a level I've not seen before in a head which is in part due to its extremely short spigot between the ball and plate. It also locks down solid as a rock. I've used this head in 100km/h winds without problem with an F5 and 17-35 AFS atop it. (using Manfrotto 058 legset).

    The main drawback to this head is it's limited movement, it can only cover +/- 45 degrees from the vertical and there is no provision for vertical camera orientation like the Graf, so it's main uses are for long glass and lenses which have their own tripod collar.


    Other fine head manufacturers:

    Foba (Superball is the only one I'd recommend)
    Kirk (Good quality heads, reasonable prices)
    Arcatech (sp) Good head for lighter loads
    Markins - Entry level heads IMHO, but good quality and nicely built.
    Last edited by Ian; 10th July 2005 at 03:23 PM.
    The Ang Moh from Hell
    Professional Photography - many are called, few are chosen!

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    Hi Ian,
    Rarely see you online nowadays Anyway, question: what is your opinion on the new RRS heads? Any comment?

  5. #5
    vince123123
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    Well, I doubt I'd have anything bigger than a 70-200VR or a 50-500 Sigma, so I'm looking more for something small and light as possible yet being able to take this weight. I kinda like the look on the SD-3A as well as its size.

    Does anyone know however whether the top clamp mechanism is changeable? Ie can I switch out the Kangrinpoche clamp for something better or longer if I need to do it?

  6. #6
    vince123123
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    How about the Really Right Stuff quick release clamps? It looks metal.

    http://www.reallyrightstuff.com/clamps/index.html

    I realised that the KRPC ballheads can't remove the platform to change clamps and stuffs. This appears to be a disadvantage as I can't swap with other platforms (e.g. those made by RRS - some of which look nice).

    However, I dont think I need something as big and heavy duty as an Arca Swiss...any smaller but good ballheads to recommend?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian
    Frankly I'd never trust any quick release system that uses a plastic locking system. The old style Arca Swiss clamping mechanism whereby you turn a knob and screw the jaw shut on the plate is both quick to operate and extremely reliable especially under heavy loads.

  7. #7
    vince123123
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    Another question - anyone knows what is the official website of Arca Swiss? Tried looking around but can't find.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Watcher
    Hi Ian,
    Rarely see you online nowadays Anyway, question: what is your opinion on the new RRS heads? Any comment?
    Hey Watcher, long time no chat! Yeah I'm seldom on IRC these days due to work being so heavily booked up.

    No comments on the RRS heads, haven't had the pleasure of seeing one here in Perth yet.
    The Ang Moh from Hell
    Professional Photography - many are called, few are chosen!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by vince123123
    Another question - anyone knows what is the official website of Arca Swiss? Tried looking around but can't find.
    They don't have one, but you can look at this one from an Arca agent in the US:

    http://precisioncameraworks.com/Pages/arca_core.html

    At the bottom right of the page there is a link to the ballheads section with tips on how to correctly use them.......

    HS

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian
    Hey Watcher, long time no chat! Yeah I'm seldom on IRC these days due to work being so heavily booked up.

    No comments on the RRS heads, haven't had the pleasure of seeing one here in Perth yet.
    Ha ha no worries mate... good on yah

  11. #11
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    Thom Hogan has some views and recommendation. Read them here

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