Tripod heads; ball vs pan/tilt

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by zedin, Dec 19, 2005.

  1. zedin

    zedin TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    I was just wondering what are the advantages/disadvantages between these two types of heads. I currently have a pan/tilt head but was thinking of getting a ball head but not really sure if it is worth the money. Mainly do landscape and macro shots but also animal shots when the chance arises. I know the ball heads are supposed to be easier to position but its it really that much easier to work with them?
     
  2. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

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    It depends on whether you shoot planes or action I'd say. Pan tilt generally gives you a more accurate horizontal and vertical lock allowing you to compose the shot by panning or tilting. A ball allows you to quickly point the camera somewhere, but not necessarily allowing even levelling of the shot particularly easily.

    So for landscape I'd say go with pan/tilt (normal) tripods, but if you can afford it and you want the flexibility of quick movement, then consider a pistol-grip ball head from someone like Manfrotto.

    The big question is probably "are you currently limited by your equipment?" If the answer is yes, do some camera shop experimentation. If the answer's no, then don't spend cash for the sake of it.

    Rob
     
  3. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    Ball heads are free to move in any direction and so can sometimes be difficult to keep control of.
    Pan and tilt move separately in the vertical and horizontal plane. This gives more accurate positioning - and allows you to do controlled movement in just one plane without worrying about it moving in the other.
     
  4. DocFrankenstein

    DocFrankenstein Clinically Insane?

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    I've tried a dozen ballheads including Arca, AUB, Kirk and a couple of manfrottos. All of them sag and I personally prefer a 3way.

    Much more solid and easier to lock to get the framing you want.
     
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  5. MotorPsycho

    MotorPsycho TPF Noob!

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    HAWT!

    seriously though.. anyone have much experience with the ball heads that have a panning base?
     
  6. zedin

    zedin TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Well the biggest annoyance with my current pan/tilt is that its hard to 'nudge' it. If I have it too tight it doesn't nudge and if I loosen it it tends to nudge way more then I want.
     
  7. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Also consider weight.... many ball heads might not be rated for the weight of your equipment. The bogen/manfrotto pistol grips for example are only rated to 5.6 lbs.
     
  8. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

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    This is an excellent point and I can't believe I forgot to mention it. Substitute the word "digital" in digital tripod for the word "flimsy". Think of your biggest lens and heaviest body combined.

    Rob
     
  9. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    I think you'll find the same with a ball head. If you try to nudge it in just one direction, it's hard to keep the other planes just where you want it. The whole thing loosens at once. A better pan/tilt should take care of your issue.

    I bought the Manfroto pistol grip because a lot of my subjects move about, and I didn't want to have to worry about lots of levers, but I just gave up on the tripod all together. If the subject is stationary, I'd rather have a pan/tilt and more precise control. For me, the ball head turned out to be just as much a pain, just in a different way.
     
  10. Dave_D

    Dave_D TPF Noob!

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    The pistol grip type come in two forms that I have seen. Vertical, which may be a bit awkward with heavy gear and long lenses because of how far off point your center of gravity becomes when tilting. Horizontal, where the grip is down on an angle keeping your center of gravity a bit more in line. I'm considering a horizontal type myself (heavy gear).
     
  11. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If a ball head is what you want go ahead and spend the money for a pro ball. They'll have the max load close to a pan head, synthetic ball for smooth action, and good tension adjustment. Be warned.. you'll end up spending significantly more than an equally capable pan head.
     

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