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Ball head for an ED50?

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Old Monday 9th March 2009, 23:47   #1
MacGee
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Ball head for an ED50?

I'm about to buy this Opticron Traveller carbon fibre tripod to use with my ED50, but I'm not going to get any of the heavy heads that come with it. I've sort of settled on the Velbon QHD-41Q, just because it's one of the ones Velbon recommends for their carbon fibre tripods. Another one I looked at is the Manfrotto 484RC2. It seems stronger and heavier, but I'm thinking I don't need that for the ED50.

I'd welcome opinions. I've painfully acquired a little knowledge about tripods of late, but I'm completely clueless about ball heads.

Michael
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Old Tuesday 10th March 2009, 00:17   #2
Alexis Powell
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Personally, I much prefer using a scope with a fluid head like the Manfrotto 700RC2 which complements a tripod of that weight nicely. I'm very picky about ballheads, and if I were going to use one all the time with a scope I'd use one of the much better (and more expensive) heads from Arca-Swiss, Kirk, Really Right Stuff or similar. I'd pick one of those not for their load bearing ability, but for their smooth panning, though since I'd only use a ballhead (rather than a fluid head) in the case of multi-purpose use of the tripod for camera and/or scope, I'd also want one of those heads (rather than a cheapie that might be OK for the ED50) for precise camera work anyway. All this said, when I take my ED50 out and am traveling super-light, I do use a ballhead on my Velbon Ultra-Luxi. I like the RRS BH-25 Pro.

http://reallyrightstuff.com/rrs/item...atus=0&Tp=&Bc=

--AP
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Old Tuesday 10th March 2009, 00:21   #3
RJM
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I use the Velbon QHD41Q ball head with quick release on my Gorillapod SLR Zoom tripod and the Nikon 50ED/A. Really don't need more than that.

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Old Tuesday 10th March 2009, 05:51   #4
Kevin Conville
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Small - medium sized ballheads work great with the ED50 and I think you're on the right page. Ballheads do not work worth a #@*% with a larger scope however and one of the commonly used fluid heads are in order here.

I happen to use a Benro ballhead with an Arca type clamp and plate mounted on a Benro C-028 carbon tripod with my angled ED50 and the set up leaves nothing to be desired at about the same weight as what you're looking at.
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Old Tuesday 10th March 2009, 07:44   #5
Birdbrain
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Talking Manfrotto

I have never used a ballhead so cant comment but use this, its a Manfrotto MN 701RC2 head, i know it is a bit big but you can leave the head open and the weight of the scope does not move the head at all, really works well with this little scope.
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Old Tuesday 10th March 2009, 10:46   #6
John Russell
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You don't say whether you are using the straight or angled version of the ED50. Judging by the height of the tripod, I assume it's the angled one and the unavoidable lateral tilt you get with a ballhead is likely to prove much more irritating than with a straight scope. In this case a pan and tilt head would probably be the better solution.

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Old Tuesday 10th March 2009, 12:12   #7
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Ball head

Balls heads are not that great for tracking birds in flight.
Not even the RRS BH-50, which I use for photography.

The Gitzo GT 2180 fluid head works great with the 50ED.
Weight is 570 g.

cheers

Tom
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Old Tuesday 10th March 2009, 23:44   #8
MacGee
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Thank you all for all your replies; you've given me a lot to think about. RRS isn't available in this country, Alexis. The Arca and Kirk heads are, but the prices are breathtaking. The Kirk BH-1, for example costs £339 ($466). My ED50 and 27xw MC only cost £300 in total and I'm not looking to spend more than about £150 on the tripod and head combined. Also I want to keep the weight of the whole ensemble down to around the 2kg that it is at the moment: ED50 500g; new tripod 1300g; new head 200g. Ish. My ED50 is the angled version, John. I realise now that it would have been helpful to mention these things at the start. Sorry.

When I was looking into tripods and heads, 'not available in this country' became the theme. Your Benro C-028, Kevin, is one of several available at Photomart, but when I go to the Benro site to check them out, I find that all the tripods there are different from all the tripods at Photomart. I looked at Benro, DigiPod, Giotto, Feisol and some others I've forgotten, but whenever I found something suitable it wasn't avaiable. It's much the same with heads. But this time I'm not looking at what would suit and then seeing if it's available, I'm looking at what's available and seeing if it will suit.

I get that opinions are divided on ballheads, but I carry my scope around a lot and it needs to be light and serviceable rather than ultra smooth. Now that I realise that ease of use might be an issue, I guess I should find one to try out. I did have a look for one at a reserve last week but they had none. Since then I've been confined to the house with raging flu—or as my wife callously puts it, 'a bit of a cough'—but after I get out and after I've done some birding, I'll try and find a ballhead to try out. (I didn't realise till now how addictive birding is. Scopes should have health warnings on them: 'This device may seriously damage your normality.')

Michael
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Old Wednesday 11th March 2009, 14:39   #9
Alexis Powell
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Michael,

Some quick replies/clarifications:

Really Right Stuff, though very important to many professional photographers (and anyone else seeking perfect solutions to complicated yet everyday camera mounting problems that the rest of the industry inexplicably ignores), is a small manufacturer. They are not available in stores anywhere as far as I know. They do direct sales worldwide--here's a page to learn more about international shipping if you are interested.
http://reallyrightstuff.com/rrs/websiteinfo.asp?fc=9

I entirely understand your concern about the price of the products I mentioned. I agree they make no sense for use solely with an ED50. They only make sense if the tripod is being used alternately for camera and scope, in which case the quality of the heads almost makes using a ballhead with a scope bearable, and the quality is "necessary" for camera work anyway.

I can't resist putting in aother plug for the RRS BH-25 (especially the Pro version since it allows for use with a nonrotating AS type QR plate) for anyone looking for a small ballhead. That little head is a bargain in my opinion (and the price is relatively low compared to other RRS heads). It works flawlessly and bears more load than heads that weigh 4+ times as much from other manufacturers. I wasted a lot of money on a progression of little ballheads over the years that were expensive and unsatisfactory (e.g. some from Manfrotto, Gitzo that cost 1/2 the price of the RRS BH-25 but are really only suited to such tasks as aiming off-camera flash units, not camera or scope support) until RRS released the BH-25. It is, by far, the best mini-ballhead ever made.

So again, I'm of the opinion that a lightweight fluid head is a better choice for scope work than a ballhead, and a good one can be much cheaper than a good ball head. Actually, for the ED50, I'd look into finding an old scope head from the days before fluid heads took over the market, you know--the sort that have a single handle for panning and up-down movements and which locks the movements when you twist the handle. That's what I'd use except that I need the ballhead for the camera. These sort of heads can be of very good quality, very light weight and compact, and very very cheap. The place to look for them is a used camera shop that has bins of "junk" tripod accessories etc in the dark corners. These sort of heads are unpopular now because people prefer fluid movement for video and heavy scopes, and they're no good for 35 mm type cameras because they don't allow for turning the camera to the vertical. I have a beautiful one from Slik and another from Bushnell, but I doubt they still make these. Modern ones are likely to be found primarily on very cheap tripods and to be of inferior flimsy plastic design (and probably incorporate a crummy QR-plate and maybe an unnecessary poorly-executed provision for vertical tilt).

--AP
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Old Wednesday 11th March 2009, 19:26   #10
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Michael, you could consider one of these:

http://www.speedgraphic.co.uk/prod.a...D652+Ball+Head

I bought one a couple of months ago and have been pleased with it. I paid £60 for mine, so you might find one cheaper if you look around. There were a couple of mid-sized Manfrotto ball heads in the shop, but this one was smoother and had a better tensioning adjustment. Weight is quite light, and I reckon you could get away with a smaller model if absolute light weight is a priority.

I bought mine as a second head to use on a light tripod, for photography and occasional scope use with my ED50. There is a tiny bit of movement of the scope/camera when you tighten the locking knob (not the tensioner knob) which I can live with, but that wouldn't do for precise work such as macro photography. I've tried it with my larger Swaro 80, and it works ok, but I prefer that on a 128 fluid head.

If absolute light weight is a priority, a Manfrotto monopod head mounted on your tripod could work, but horizontal movement could only be achieved by rotating the centre column (if possible).

Steve

Last edited by SteveClifton : Wednesday 11th March 2009 at 19:35.
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Old Wednesday 11th March 2009, 19:44   #11
Alexis Powell
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I've found Giotto heads to be in the category of cheap until you find out that they don't do the job (at least in photography) because they slip and/or fall apart. Lots of ballheads, especially little ones are in that category, so relative to their low-priced alternatives, I don't mean to single them out for criticism, just point out that I personally don't think they distinguish themselves as being a superior product at their price point.

--AP
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Old Thursday 12th March 2009, 20:20   #12
SteveClifton
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexis Powell View Post
I've found Giotto heads to be in the category of cheap until you find out that they don't do the job (at least in photography) because they slip and/or fall apart. Lots of ballheads, especially little ones are in that category, so relative to their low-priced alternatives, I don't mean to single them out for criticism, just point out that I personally don't think they distinguish themselves as being a superior product at their price point.

--AP
Your comments are noted, and obviously you get what you pay for with photography gear. I can certainly appreciate that sentiment, and personally fancied a MarKins ball head or something of similar quality now that I'm using a DSLR camera, but remember that Michael was after a tripod and head combo costing less than £150. I'm sure if he pushed up his budget to around £700 he could afford a very nice light weight Gitzo tripod with the head you recommended.

It's always nice to hear user opinions about other high products-we can always dream can't we? but my finances just didn't stretch to anything better just at the moment which is why I bought a Giottos for £60 instead of spending £300-£400 on the Markins. It might not last a lifetime, but it seems ok for the money and will always do as a spare if and when I do splash out on something better.

Steve
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Old Thursday 12th March 2009, 22:21   #13
MacGee
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Once again, thanks to everyone who has contributed; this has been very informative for me.

I looked into the RRS BH-25 Pro, Alexis, but it would cost me $184.50 + 15% VAT + 9% duty - about $230 in all, or £165. It's more than I want to pay, especially as I've had a rush of blood to the head and sent for a 13-40 zoom for the ED50 from Adorama in the US!

I'm hoping I'll be well enough tomorrow to go into town and look at some ball heads, assuming that Jessops has any. If I don't take to ball heads in general, I've found a couple of lightweight pan and tilt heads, the Cullman 2710 Magic 2-way Video Head, and the Velbon PH-31Q revolver head, (fourth one down) though I don't know what the quality of these will be like. And though the Velbon head looks quite neat, I don't know what a revolver head is.

Michael
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Old Friday 13th March 2009, 14:06   #14
Alexis Powell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MacGee View Post
I'm hoping I'll be well enough tomorrow to go into town and look at some ball heads, assuming that Jessops has any. If I don't take to ball heads in general, I've found a couple of lightweight pan and tilt heads, the Cullman 2710 Magic 2-way Video Head, and the Velbon PH-31Q revolver head, (fourth one down) though I don't know what the quality of these will be like. And though the Velbon head looks quite neat, I don't know what a revolver head is.
I like the look of those heads. Assuming the quality is good, something like one of those is what I'd put on a tripod for dedicated ED50 use if I couldn't find a cheaper good quality older equivalent in the used tripod junk bin as described above. They look like the modern version of the old not truly fluid scope heads. They allow you to point the scope (and lock it into position) with one hand and focus with the other. Most ballheads require letting go with one hand or the other to lock the movement. Doing so is not a huge deal, but it is not as elegant and convenient as these should be.

--AP
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Old Monday 16th March 2009, 00:18   #15
MacGee
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I did try out a ball head, but it wasn't a fair test because it was obviously really bad quality—probably this one. They weren't able to mount it on a tripod so I just had to use it hand-held. Anyway, I haven't achieved anything except to prejudice myself against ball heads. I may get over this in time, but in the meantime I think I'll go with the Velbon PHD-31Q. One came up on eBay and I bid for it, thinking I might get it for a couple of pounds; it eventually went for £3 above best new price I've found on the Internet.

I've also plunged and ordered the tripod, typically changing my mind at the last minute and getting the Slik PRO 713CF II.

Michael
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