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Arca swiss compatible Tripod head for birding with single control for pan/tilt/locking (1 Viewer)


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I have been birding with binoculars for years, and just recently purchased my first spotting scope (Vortex Viper, 65 mm, just under 4 lbs) with a built-in Arca-swiss style plate. I have an older Velbon tripod, with a PH-157Q head. Although I am quite new to using a scope for bird-watching, I quite like the single control - I can pan/tilt, lock both pan and tilt, and adjust the friction of the pan/tilt, all with the single handle (i.e. I can use my other hand to focus...)

Given how useful this single-control feature seems to be for birding, I naively assumed that this was a common feature for tripod heads. Until I tried to find a replacement... Suggestions? I have been reading through many other posts here, and while there are lots of suggestions for using different heads/etc, I have not managed to find any comments about a head with a single/central locking mechanism on the handle (I did find a few threads related to the now-discontinued Gitzo 1720, but even with the Gitzo 1720 I think that the single/central lock was not on the handle).

Am I missing something about other tripod heads in terms of either how they function (i.e. maybe lots of them have single/central locks, and I am just missing it?) or am I missing something about how other birders use spotting scopes (i.e. why would you want to have one hand on the handle for panning/tilting, a second hand on the lock, and your third hand on the focus... :). Do most birders really like independent pan lock and tilt lock? )

(BTW - the prime reason I am trying to find a replacement head is that the one I have head is quite old and it has a bit of "play" in it, which is obvious not ideal. My reason(s) for not wanting to replace it with another Velbon PH-157Q is because the Velbon is not Arca-Swiss compatible. And while I could attach the Velbon plate to my scope, a single 1/4-20 screw is not very stable/reliable, and it is very easy to accidentally loosen the scope on that the screw - i.e. this has now happened a few times).
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Hi ibrown44. You won't find many (any) single actions heads like the PH157Q. I've used one for 30+ years and once tried switching to a Manfrotto fluid head but could not get on with all the faff of one release for up and down, one for side to side and then still needing to focus so sold it soon after. I know most birders do use those type of heads but not for me. And also I've only once had the single screw connection on the plate start to loosen regularly so just purchased a new plate which sorted it
Maybe you would like to consider the Berlebach 510 head.
A very good head for that purpose. Single locking for pan and tilt (a knob you can easily grab with gloves), sturdy, well thought out contruction and a perfect build quality. I am using mine regularily (even with a KOWA 883). And, excellent service by Berlebach, if you ever need it.
I have an old Slik head that works that way, and my Cabelas/Bushnell window mount does as well, so I feel your pain and I've wondered the same things. I have the Gitzo 1720, which I like a lot for its single lock, but I also use other heads, esp. the Sirui VH-10. You might try the Sirui VA-5 first, just to make sure that you don't like it, but my advice is to adapt your old Velbon head to being Arca compatible. Drill a hole in it so you can add another screw to prevent rotation and bolt it onto one of the plate receivers from Kirk or Really Right Stuff or from one of the (much) cheaper brands. Make sure that you find one that has a tightening clamp that doesn't interfere with the rest of your rig, and vice versa.

Here's a good cheap (<$20) one from Neewer that I've used to convert some things. It is a mini-clamp but Neewer also makes larger clamps.

As I say, use the regular mounting bolt to put this on top of your current QR, then drill another hole off-center through the QR and into the clamp so you can add another bolt to lock them together.

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