Tripod head advice?


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Jan 28, 2012
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I have chosen the Velbon Sherpa +630 legs, which I can get for 118€ (mostly the price in shops are 140€). Should be pretty good for my entry DSLR, weighting max 1.5 kg right now.

Now, the most common Velbon head is the PH-157Q, which is a video head I think. I've tested it in the shop twice, and I'm not sure about it. I like that there's only one lever that controls everything, but I'm afraid that it isn't good for still photography. I'm not going to make videos at all. The tilt locks nicely, but to lock the panning you have to turn the handle quite hard and I'm afraid it's gonna move the camera/composition.

So can you recommend me some other good heads? I've been looking at ballheads alot, but can't seem to find any that would be perfect. I wouldn't like spending more than 50-60€ on the head, but I think it's hard to find a good ballhead for that price. There are smaller and cheaper ones, but I don't know how good they are. Of course, I'm willing to pay more if it's worth it. I've read a lot about Manfrotto 488 and 498 with RC2 etc, but they seem to be quite expensive (100€ +).

The head needs to have quick release and portrait (which all ballheads have basically).

Also, I'm concerned that if I buy a good and expensive tripod setup, then I'm not gonna use it so much. Is the difference big between hand held and tripod in normal conditions?

Can someone finally help me make a good decision?
If you're only going to have one tripod head, than I do recommend a ball head. Have a look at Manfrotto's 054 series. It's going to be a hard on your budget if you have to buy it new, but used (and tripods & heads are great things to buy used) it can be had for that price.
I agree with Tirediron in that if I could only have one head it would be a ball head. Giottos also makes some good ball heads in that price range. I have one and it works quite well.
I am probably going to buy only one head. I feel that I need a tripod (I have an small plastic old one) for making pictures in the dark or long distances (270mm with my Tamron), but I don't know if I really should spend 200€ on it. As for the 054 series, they don't have these in Estonia and it's too expensive anyway.

What about the Manfrotto 496RC2 Compact? Nothing special, will it do the job? And there are also the Velbon QHD-41Q (51Q and 61Q too), but at about the same price, the Manfrotto looks better. I feel like the 496RC2 is more worth it than the video head. I'll do my research about it.

They don't sell Giottos either, maybe I can order them somewhere, but which model would you recommend?
Do you have any other ideas too?
I have the Giottos MH-1 head on my tripod. It's a mid-range head in both price and weight but works well even with my 70-300 lens. It gets a little bouncy with my 150-500 zoomed all the way out though.

I like Manfrotto tripods. I have the model 190XB tripod and it is a very good tripod. It isn't in the class of Benro or Sachtler or Really Right Stuff but it doesn't cost as much as those either. Manfrotto is generally middle of the road, good but not great products at reasonable prices.
The 496 will do the job, but only just. It's really more suited for bridge cameras and such.
So you recommend me buying more expensive head and/or legs? I'm wondering if I really need the tripod or how much I need it, and do I really need to spend 200-300€ on a proper one, not on the one that will just do the job. I'm afraid that you recommend me too pro stuff that I won't really need, but I don't want to get it wrong either.

Well, are the legs okay? Should I just look for a bit better head? The Manfrotto 190XB is too short for me and I read that the center column can be more annoying than helpful. The Velbon legs are thick (29mm), all 3 of them have the padding, it's tall and low enough and looks good, I don't think I need something more expensive.

The bottom line is, I don't want to make a stupid purchase so I guess I'll wait until summer with it, once it's summer break and I have time to mess with photography and see where I want to go with it. Then I'll see how much I use my camera and do I need a tripod and macro lens. I don't want to feel stupid, spending 700-800€ on the macro lens and tripod and not using it. Like, when I buy them and make great pictures, what do I do with those pictures? Hehe, you can say I'm a really doubting person.
Anyway, my phone is also broken, I might get a new one, since it's a thing that I could really use every day.

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