Another "which head" question

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I admit I'm pretty :confused: when it comes to tripod stuff. But I'm getting a Feisol CT-3371 tripod however am still undecided about a head and whatever else I need. Primarily I'll just be using the 300/4 on it as well as doing some macro. I assume a ball head will be the best option here, but where to start with the choices. What about quick release plates? I'm thoroughly confused by the choices to be honest.

I also want to do some video - is a ball head no good for this? As far as movement goes (it would not be fast action). I've looked the Manfrotto 808RC4 for the video side of things but at $160, perhaps this is considered on the cheap and nasty side. :confused:

A gimbal would be nice (and I do plan to get a 500/4 but not for a long while) but overkill for now considering my budget and lens I think. I'm certainly not looking to go cheap but money is a consideration.

So I guess the question is - which ball head does one consider? And is it necessary to spend as much on it as I have on the tripod in order to get something of acceptable quality?
 
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Would love to but they are out of budget for now. Unless one has to spend close to $300 to get something decent (consider my relatively light lens)...
 
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I think you better plan on minimum $250-$300 for a decent ball head. Feisol makes a decent head, lot's of folks like the Markins, I happen to like the Acratech GV2. Yes, it ain't cheap, but it works the same as a Wimberly Sidekick for a gimbal. While I would not recommend this, I have used my 400f2.8 on this as a test, and I was quite amazed at how stable it was. What makes this different than most heads in this regard is a pin that keeps the ball at an exact 90 degree angle. With your current lenses, no problem at all.

People often skimp on the head, not a good idea as this is what holds your camera.

You have a good tripod, don't skimp on the head. I would also recommend something with an Arca-Swiss mount, you are going to want that in the future anyway, and I find it much more stable than the Manfrotto system.
 
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Thanks Retief. I certainly don't want to skimp, I guess I have to deal with the fact that the head is going to equal or exceed the cost of the tripod ($320).

The Acratech site lists the GV2 for $369, while at b&h its $296.

Would I need to buy any plates with the GV2? And is a different plate needed for lenses without a collar? Yes, confused... other lenses to be used are Tamron 90mm and Tokina 12-24.
 
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You are most welcome. You will either need a plate/foot for each lens or you will need to swap a plate between lenses. Don't forget your camera as well, it will need one also. Kirk makes a very nice tripod collar/foot which is Arca Swiss I believe. Someone here at the Café, wish I could remember who at the moment, pointed me to http://www.hejnarphotostore.com/. I bought the universal L-Bracket and a long lens plate, and they are very well made, and at a much better price point than the "name" providers. They fit all my clamps, 2 Jobu Gimbals, the Acratech head and the Acratech Swift Clamp. For the cost, they are a great value and he is very helpful and good to work with as well.
 
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I found the plates for the 300/4 and my cameras on the Kirk website.

Acratech has 3 options for that head.
http://acratech.net/product.php?productid=9

Leveling clamp w/ detent pin
Quick release clamp w/ detent pin
No clamp

The quick release clamp option for the GV2 + a Kirk plate is all I'd need? Yes, still a little confused... :cool: :biggrin:

Thank you for your help...
 
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Thanks Mike, but $350 + $250 is way over my budget. I am leaning towards the GV2 at this point but still undecided...
 
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Well, up to you - but you mentioned the 500 f/4 in your future, and then you'll need to upgrade your support system again...

Here's a good article by Thom Hogan on tripod & ball head choices:

http://www.bythom.com/support.htm

Note that he mentions the Arcratech near the bottom of the article as a lower cost alternative to the Markins or RRS heads:

If you need a less expensive solution and know you won't be shooting with lenses over two pounds (basically under 300mm), there's another solution I can recommend that gets you almost everything the other does:

...

Acratech ball head (US$280). A strange looking head, but it is light (1 pound) and works quite well. I especially like the fact that I can keep the ball clean while traveling in hostile environments. Strongly consider getting the rubber knobs (an extra cost option), as the metal knobs are rough on the hand when you do a lot of fiddling. Now that Acratech makes four heads, which one should you get? Well, I'm a fan of the older model (Ultimate Ballhead) myself, even though it has a tendency to pinch your fingers now and then. It's just simpler and easier to clean. The V2 fixes the pinch problem, and the GV2 and AZ work better with long lenses, but frankly, if you're using long lenses, you generally aren't interested in saving weight (you don't want the mass above the head to outweigh that below it). Alternatively, the Kirk BH-3 head is a little heavier (20 ounces), but more traditional in design, as is the Really Right Stuff BH-40. Markins also makes a lighter ballhead that's acceptable.
So, if it were me I would only get the Arcratech head if your heaviest & longest lens is a 70-200...

Cheers

Mike
 
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70-200 2.8 is about the same weight as the 300/4? TC adds a little extra. I've heard of people using 300 2.8 on the Acratech though I personally wouldn't.

A 500mm will be at least 2-3 years away. Then I would get a proper gimbal setup, just don't need it now. A $300 ballhead now to use for several years is not a huge loss of money in the long run. IMO. I see where you're coming from anyway so thanks.

Finding this stuff in Australia without being excessively overcharged is however another matter.
 
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I know it's not in your budget, but since you mentioned long lens usage at some point and have nothing as of now, here's an interesting alternative to a ballhead/sidekick or separate gimbal.

https://www.ppsna.com/product_info.php/cPath/21/products_id/1363?osCsid=t8pd1af0jd0hqr6shfjkibu114

I have a Photoclam PC 48-NS ballhead for my Gitzo 3-series which I like, and is more budget friendly. I don't shoot video, but from what I've heard it's not optimal to use a ballhead in that application.
 
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70-200 2.8 is about the same weight as the 300/4? TC adds a little extra. I've heard of people using 300 2.8 on the Acratech though I personally wouldn't.

A 500mm will be at least 2-3 years away. Then I would get a proper gimbal setup, just don't need it now. A $300 ballhead now to use for several years is not a huge loss of money in the long run. IMO. I see where you're coming from anyway so thanks.

Finding this stuff in Australia without being excessively overcharged is however another matter.
The 70-200 is the same, weight, yes - but this is also about the longer focal lengths which need more stability...

At least consider the Markins head vs the Acratech, it's not much more expensive but easily holds up to a 300/2.8 or 500/4. Do you really want to resell your ball head in a few years time??? This stuff is supposed to last a lifetime!

Cheers

Mike
 
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I would indeed recommend reading Thom Hogans article as mentioned. It is very good. I currently shoot with a Nikon D800 with wide lenses and now have the new 80-400 vr and also have a 500 f4. After using the smaller Kirk head I purchased the new Acratech GP ballhead. I love that head. It works great for landscapes and for the 70-200 and the 80-400. For the 500 f4 I use a full gimbal head. So down the road I would not worry that much about using the ball head as a gimbal for a big lens. I would get a gimbal. The acratech head I have can also be used for panos by turning the head upside down. Pretty cool. I think that is why my model is more expensive than the one you were looking at. Also I love the quick release clamp. I know the Markins are great as well as the Bh55 RRS head. Good luck.
 
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I admit I'm pretty :confused: when it comes to tripod stuff. But I'm getting a Feisol CT-3371 tripod . . .

So I guess the question is - which ball head does one consider? And is it necessary to spend as much on it as I have on the tripod in order to get something of acceptable quality?
Keep in mind that BOTH the tripod and the head should be able to support, as a minimum, 2-3 times the total weight of the gear you plan to put on it. Every compromise you make opens you to the risk of damage to your gear.

The Feisol tripod you've selected is a good one. I have it too though it's not my largest one. Do not now cheap out on a ballhead. There are a number of very good ones out there in a range of prices. I own and use 2 of the Kirk BH-1 (independently tested to 88lbs) but I can recommend RRS, Markins, Kirk, Arca-Swiss, Acratech. Each of these can be found used which may help better fit your budget.
 
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I ended up getting the Acratech GV2. Love it, great quality. The weak point is now the tripod collar on the 300/4 which I never believed was a problem until I actually put it on a tripod.. but can live with it. Thanks all for your advice.
 
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I ended up getting the Acratech GV2. Love it, great quality. The weak point is now the tripod collar on the 300/4 which I never believed was a problem until I actually put it on a tripod.. but can live with it. Thanks all for your advice.
That tripod collar is notoriously bad - you should get the Kirk or RRS replacement for it!

Unless you only shoot at high shutter speeds...

Mike
 
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Haven't needed their customer service but good to know.

Mike - yeah, I should have done that instead of buying the Kirk plate. Not often shooting at slow shutter speeds, I have mostly noticed the issue when composing and tightening everything up, it always drops a little so I have to aim a little higher than my intended target with the AF point. At least I'm assuming its the collar causing that little problem, and not the head.
 
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I just ordered the Induro BHL3 head. Seemed to be the best for my needs at a price point that was good compared to similar heads. I would suggest at least checking it out.
 
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