Choosing a tripod head (Manfrotto?) - too many choices

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Sn00bies, Jul 19, 2009.

  1. Sn00bies

    Sn00bies TPF Noob!

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    So I've pretty well decided on the 190XPROB legs I think, but I'm mystified by how many heads there are that all seem so similar.

    I started looking at the 484RC2 package at B&H, but then read that it doesn't have good panning ability at all, which is important to me. The review said the 486RC2 had a separate locking lever JUST for horizontal panning, but after reading info on the 486 it doesn't seem so... so I'm now moving up to the 488 models and possibly the 322 horizontal grip model...

    Could someone with more knowledge of these heads shed some light on this? I am very much into landscape and would like having versatility in camera positioning... but having one knob to move in all directions doesn't fit for me.

    What are your guys' views and recommendations? I'm not completely stuck on Manfrotto either, but it seems like a well respected and quality brand.
     
  2. Bravotwofive

    Bravotwofive TPF Noob!

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    I use Manfrotto, and I have a couple of different heads. Most of which do not get used. Reason...vibration. I bought the tripod for stability. I find I get the best stability by using a step down adpater, and mounting the camera to it. No moving parts, no room for vibration. (I also hang a sandbag from the center post, and place a smaller one on top of the camera body, and lens. Shoot with mirror lockup enabled.) There is one knob that allows for turning of the center post. Other than that I adjust comp by using the legs.

    I use the heads occasionally for fast action shoots, but find it allows for vibration. I am bad enough without outside interfrence that I can eliminate.

    One tric that I learned from a pro is to use a monopod with a ball head. Even if you don't engage the ball completely they will help with camera shake, and allow for more freedom of movement of fast action shots.

    JMHO
    Chuck
     
  3. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Based on my experience, a ball head is the wrong head type for shooting landscape.

    IMO, you should be looking at Tilt/Pan heads.
     
  4. epp_b

    epp_b No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well, I like ball heads. Three-way heads do nothing but frustrate me.

    I like my 486RC2 head and it probably pans OK if you have the tension set correctly (I haven't tried it yet). The 488RC2 is probably the way to go if you want separate panning control (and if you're OK with a ball head).
     
  5. benhasajeep

    benhasajeep TPF Noob!

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    I have a 3-way, the vertical quick grip, and several ball heads from the juniors to a very large ball head for my LF camera from Manfrotto. I would say for general shooting with a tripod I like the standard ball heads the least. They are not a good sports / wildlife support. I like my vertical quick grip for general use (now the 222 model).

    The 3-way head is very good for the big lens, but its a pain for fast moving tracking. Although lately I have combined the 3 way and a remote release. And using the remote release in my right hand with the 3way. It makes it easier to use the head and not have to have a thrid hand to take the shot.

    The problem with the quick grip is it allows any directional movement when you release it. Just like any of the other ball heads. For someone who wants to pan with their pics, a three way head would be the best option. With the 3 way heads, the longer handles allows smoother tracking and easier positioning. Especially with heavy lenses.

    About the only thing I like a standard ball head on is my monopods. I have Manfrotto's junior ball head on mine. They work well on monopods where your not doing alot of head adjustments.
     
  6. Honu

    Honu TPF Noob!

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    The 488RC2 has a seperate panning lock that works great.
     
  7. Sn00bies

    Sn00bies TPF Noob!

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    I was kind of thinking the same thing, but I don't just shoot landscape. I would be using this for portrait as well. I also shoot wildlife but don't see myself doing much wildlife shooting from a tripod.

    What type of shooting would you actually want a ball head for? To me, the ball head idea just seems like a looser, less dependable to stay where you put it 3-way tilt/pan head... unless it's all in the name of speed since you can adjust them faster. Maybe that's the only key?

    As far as a 3-way head... any recommendations to go with the 190XPROB legs?
     
  8. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Personally I would pass on the manfrotto ball heads you are talking about. The 484 & 486 do not fit you needs in handling weight or panning ability. The 488 does, but lacks something that I will not do without, being a separate friction control knob. The lack of a separate friction control knob means that will just a little turning to loosen the ball lock knob the head flops over if you are not holding that body.

    With a separate friction control knob you can adjust the friction to allow this the ball to move but the camera will not flop over. This lets you do two things. Better control small movements and helps eliminate that slight bit of droop cheaper ball heads tend to have when tightened.

    Here are a couple of nice head in the same price range that is well built that has all the feature of the 488 with a friction control knob.
    Vanguard SBH-200 Welcome to Vanguard USA

    Giottos MH 100 is in the same range I believe.
    MH-3 Professional Heads

    Giottos | MH-1000 Large Ballhead with MH-652 Q.R. | MH1000-652

    One of the nice things about either of these ball heads is the ability to change the entire quick release later if you choose. I have seen some of them with arca-swiss Quick Release heads attached from companies like Kirk or Really Right Stuff. Arca-swiss if by far the best QR system, at of course a cost.
     
  9. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    That depends on what you are willing to spend on a ball head. My every day choice is this head.
    Really Right Stuff - BH-55 Pro: Full-sized ballhead with Pro - Kit Configuration Page

    This will do pano like no bodies business as it allows you to make sure that the camera base itself is dead on level, even if the tripod is not. No more messing with legs to get a head level or using a leveling column if you don't have one. Expensive, but works like a charm.
    Really Right Stuff - BH-55 PCL: Full-sized ballhead with PCL - Kit Configuration Page

    p.s. I don't have this one, I have used it before. I don't have enough use for one to have a pair of BH-55's at these prices.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2009
  10. Joves

    Joves No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I never use my ballhead on my tripods. They have pan tilts, I use the ballhead on my monopod, just personal preference. Besides the ball head allows me to set the monopod against something to support it more and, then adjust as needed, where a pan/tilt would be more of a pain. I have the 3047 Manfrotto PT head for one tripod and, my other is a cheap one I use for my flash.
     
  11. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    We are just the opposite then. :D

    I have 4 heads that I use on tripods. General use is the BH-55 listed above. It is probably the most used head.

    For product macro type stuff I have a pan tilt with a focusing rail system on it. There is no need for speed here so it does the job.

    Portrait studio work I love my modified manfrotto 322 side grip head. It had been modified with an arca swiss QR head. Fast and accurate for portratit work

    My specialty head for nature is a Wimberely II.

    On a monopod I detest ball heads. Mostly because many new users don't understand the purpose of the monopod as the third leg of a tripod system consisting of the photographer and the monopod. They want to shoot in portrait mode what do they do???? Flop the ballhead to the side putting the weight on the side of the monopod completely throwing off the balance.

    Instead I use a RRS tilt head again with an Arca-swiss QR head and and L bracket on my camera body. I can tilt forward and backwards and shoot in landscape or portrait mode with the body directly over the monopod.

    The setup I would like to have if I was shooting a lot of fashion, portraits, weddings etc would be one that I learned from an LA fashion photographer which consists of the RRS tilt head and a Custom Bracket camera rotater. It allows for any angle of shooting imaginable. But pricey. :D
     
  12. Joves

    Joves No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    For me and the monopod I stick it in rock creavices and piles or against a leaning tree as well as using it for a third leg. I use it as my back country support. My tripods are too heavy for repelling and, scurrying around some of the canyons. My tripod is for nicer areas and, when I can setup for wildlife shots.
     

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