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March 02, 2013


Does the ball head pictured have all the features you like and if yes what is the make and model.

These last two posts have been a real help to me. I have to buy a new tripod and just can't decide what's best for me. You've helped a lot. Thank-you!

If you care about precise framing and want to save time, a separate pan base above the ball is invaluable. With that, you don't have to fiddle with the length of the legs to level the base anymore: once the camera is level, you can pan it freely without having to worry that the verticals will tilt. (This is obvious when shooting multi-frame panoramas, but just in terms of working faster, it is worth it.)

I've been using the Arca-Swiss Monoball Z1 dp (Double Pan) for years and I could not go back to a head with a single pan... There are not many options for such a feature, though (I believe Really Right Stuff have one). Another way to achieve a similar result is with certain ball heads (Acratech comes to mind) that can be mounted upside down (with the clamp installed at the other end) so that the pan base becomes above the ball.

Come to think of it, I don't understand why the default position for the pan axis is not always above the ball...



The head pictured in this post is the Acratech Ultimate Ballhead (www.acratech.net). It has all the features I describe. Equally important, at least to me, is that it weighs less than one pound. You may like it too.

Keep in mind, however, that because of the 45-degree angle at which the head is supported, you have to shift the base 90-degrees if you want to shift the camera to a vertical orientation or vice-versa. Some ballheads have dual slots that eliminate this problem. This is not an issue you use an L-shaped camera plate, in which case you simply re-mount the camera, not move the head. The same applies to lens collars with a tripod mount: you loosen the collar, rotate the camera, and re-tighten. In either case, your setup is more stable when the weight of the camera and lens are entered over the vertical axis of the tripod rather than leaning to one side or the other.

I have a good travel tripod, although it certainly wasn't a bargain, but only a barely adequate ballhead. Thanks for detailing what I should look for in a better head.
The search will, however, have to wait until we return from our now annual five week cycling trip to Europe where I will be using only my "compromise" camera (a Canon G10) and a Gorillapod. Of course there will be lots of memory shots which are, in the end, the most important to me, but I would love to get one shot that nears the quality of the bench shot in your recent post about compromise—a post I really enjoyed.

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