What's the difference in various Tripod Heads ??

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by ottor, Aug 20, 2009.

  1. ottor

    ottor No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Whats the difference - advantage/disadvantage of the different heads you can get for your tripod??

    1. Pan Head

    2. Ball Head

    3. Fluid head (?)

    Upgrading - need to educate myself... :mrgreen: All I've ever had was a cheepo leg/head (pan) combo..

    tks,

    R
     
  2. PhotoXopher

    PhotoXopher TPF Noob!

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    Basically a ball head is just that, a ball that rotates in all directions freely (well, most all directions anyway).

    Pan head has separate adjustments for up/down and left/right for example.

    Some ball heads have pan ability in them, such as the Manfrotto 488 midi ball head. You can lock the position and still rotate it from left to right/right to left (pan).

    I have no idea what a fluid head is.
     
  3. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Pan/Tilt head: Head with two or three different planes that are adjusted one at a time usually with the assistance of a separate handle for each plane.
    Pros: Easy to adjust in small increments just where you want it, one plane at a time. Sturdy.
    Cons: Cumbersome to adjust. You are making adjustments one plane at a time. Head is cumbersome to haul around.
    Personal Recommendation: Studio work, product shoots, architectural shoot, fine detail shoots.

    Ball Head: A head based on a ball in a socket that supports the body/lens.
    Pros: Easy to adjust quickly in all planes at once. Smaller in size. Stable, low center of gravity. Compact, easy to haul around.
    Cons: Unless you are willing to pay big money for a top of the line ball head you will usually get a small amount of creep when you lock the ball. Unless you either pay attention or have one with separate friction control it is easy to loosen the ball lock too much and have camera flop unless you are supporting it with the other hand. Ball heads without a separate panning control are hard to use for panorama shots.
    Personal Recommendation: Best all around compromise for a field setup. Easier to use and carry for general field work.

    Side handle ball head: Ball head with a side handle instead of a knob for ball control
    Pros: Easy to adjust quickly and accurately. Stable with general use glass. With add on shutter release it is easy to adjust and shoot without moving your hand away.
    Cons: Not as easy to haul around as a standard ball head. Not designed for bigger glass. Usually no separate panning feature.
    Personal Recommendation: Excellent in studio for portrait type work.

    Panorama Head: Pan heads tend to be based on an L bracket type setup with the ability to raise and lower the body/lens over the head. It also allows the body and lens to be moved forward and backward so the nodal point of the lens is centered over the pivot point of the head.
    Pros: Excellent for Panorama shots. Very accurate when set up properly.
    Cons: Not much good for anything except Panorama shots. EXPENSIVE.
    Personal Recommendation: Panorama photography

    Gear Head: A gear head is usually a two plane head that adjusts up and down and side to side on a gear system.
    Pros: Very accurate for the limited amount of movement available.
    Cons: Limited amount of adjustment, very slow to operate.
    Personal Recommendation: Technical photography where accuracy is a must.

    Fluid Head: Head designed for use with video equipment. Provides very smooth fluid motion in all directions. Not really a head to be used for photography.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2009
  4. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    I thought a Gear Head was a description of some of the photographers on TPF.
     
  5. ottor

    ottor No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Geeeze Dude - MUCH more info than I expected - - GREAT info, and I think it's probably a Ball Head for me! Someone should 'sticky' this !!

    Reallllly appreciate it !:thumbup:

    r
     
  6. astrostu

    astrostu I shoot for the stars

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    I agree -- thanks so much, gryphonslair99!
     

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