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Old Saturday 16th September 2017, 14:00   #1
Fedster
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ball heads for a scope?

Hi, I would like to ask about ball heads for scopes. Specifically:

1) I know next to nothing about ball heads
2) My scope is a Swaro ATS 80 HD (and might move to an ATX 85)
3) My current tripod is a Sirui R-3213X with a Sirui VH-10H

While I am happy with the head, and I would use it any time I go to a hide or a specific place where there is little moving around, when I do hike I wonder whether a ball head would be substantially lighter. I do get it would be different (how much? how difficult would it be to track a flying bird?), but if a good ball head is half the weight I would be pretty happy in the tradeoff.
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Old Saturday 16th September 2017, 23:15   #2
fazalmajid
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What you want is a fluid pan-tilt head designed for video. The fluid heads allow you to pan smoothly to track a bird, without backlash as you would get from an ordinary head designed for still photography where smooth motion is not a requirement. Alternatively a gimbal head designed for long telephotos, e.g. Wimberley.

Ball heads are not optimal for scope use, even those with progressive tension and a non-spherical shape.
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Old Saturday 16th September 2017, 23:23   #3
Simon Wates
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fedster View Post
how difficult would it be to track a flying bird
Very! It would leave you distraught imo. As stated, a video head is the best and some are pretty light and compact.
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Old Saturday 16th September 2017, 23:38   #4
Fedster
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Very! It would leave you distraught imo. As stated, a video head is the best and some are pretty light and compact.
well I though light an compact video heads were not ideal for a large and heavy spotting scope?

I cannot quite say in practice what it might mean, but I noticed ball heads seem to be able to take weights about 10 times greater what can be loaded to a similarly size fluid head.
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Old Sunday 17th September 2017, 01:22   #5
mayoayo
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a large ball head would work with your scope,as it would a light fluid video..I use a large ball head,(weighting 500g. versus 950g. of my 128rc fluid head),when i want to save a little bit of weight ..It is not optimum performance,but it is usable to very reasonable ,satisfactory performance for most my needs,except for digiscoping..I use it with a Kowa 823 ,tilting the ball sideways ,sitting on the niche,and then turning the scope up via the rotatory collar..It works a little bit like an altazimuth astronomy mount ,and the performance is far from horrid.Mine is a manfrotto ,large ball,with only one control and a prisoner allen screw to adjust friction..a more modern ,better ball head,would of course work in a more pleasurable way..It is a valid option for the ultimate compactness,in my opinion
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Old Sunday 17th September 2017, 01:59   #6
Alexis Powell
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...tilting the ball sideways ,sitting on the niche,and then turning the scope up via the rotatory collar..It works a little bit like an altazimuth astronomy mount ,and the performance is far from horrid....
I agree. Drop all the way sideways into the notch. The ballhead then allows separate axes of movement in horizontal and vertical directions. Not my very favorite scope head, but it works quite well, especially if the scope is balanced.

--AP
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Old Saturday 23rd September 2017, 07:28   #7
fazalmajid
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fedster View Post
I noticed ball heads seem to be able to take weights about 10 times greater what can be loaded to a similarly size fluid head.
Well, yes. A fluid head is about dampening motion, not preventing it the way a still head is designed for. It is going to creep if the weight is not pefectly balanced.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexis Powell View Post
I agree. Drop all the way sideways into the notch. The ballhead then allows separate axes of movement in horizontal and vertical directions.
Some like the Acratech GP-SS are designed to be used as either a ball head or a gimbal head. They still lack the dampened fluid action a video head offers, and that makes spotting scope observations of birds in flight worthwhile.
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Old Monday 25th September 2017, 19:23   #8
Proterra
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I've just replaced my ball head with the Kingjoy VT-3510 Professional Lightweight Fluid Video Head . It's half the price of the Manfrotto etc but built and operates every bit as good. PLUS the mounting plate from Manfrotto fit it as well. Sold on Amazon and Ebay
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