Lightweight ball head suggestions

Joined
Jun 15, 2008
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Bellingham, WA
A very nice person on here is giving me this:
http://www.feisol.net/feisol-classic-tripod-ct3401-rapid-p-26.html

Due to my physical limitations (congestive heart failure), I need to find a ball head that will support my D300. With the battery grip and heaviest lens I have (70-300VR), the total weight is 4.5 lbs.

I want a ball head that will be sturdy, but also needs to be lightweight. I also have to be respectful of my budget and need to keep it under $200. Social security doesn't pay that well :)

I am considering this one -
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/848860-REG/FEISOL_CB_50DC_CB_40D_Ballhead_With_QP_1444750.html

Suggestions are appreciated :smile:

Carole
 
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Carole, if your budget allows, the RRS BH-25 looks like a good bet; it's rated to 8.8 lbs. RRS components are very well regarded.

http://reallyrightstuff.com/Product...c=BH-25-no-clamp:-Ultra-light-ballhead&key=it

Thanks, Chris. I was looking at that one also. I'm just trying to figure out what the differences are on the different models, and their website is not functioning properly.

They have the ball head, the ball head with LR, ball head with PRO, and ball head with platform. Since I know very little about ball heads, I don't understand the differences, and I'm not sure what I need. I guess if I could get their pages to work, I could find out more :smile: I've emailed the webmaster, so I hope they get it fixed.

Carole
 
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I believe the differences in the BH-25 are which particular type of Arca-Swiss Quick Release platform they have. One thing to consider if buying an RRS ballhead with the Lever Release (LR), they are not guaranteed to work with other manufactures lens and camera plates. The Pro version, screw clamp, works fine.

My preference, and the one I have, is the:
Acratech GV-2

Not much difference in weight, the Acratech is more expensive, but holds a lot more.

If I were looking at the RRS line, I would probably look at the BH-30, for the bit of added capacity.

I'm not sure, however, if either of these are going to serve your purposes any better than the Feisol.

Here is a Good Review of the Feisol head you are looking at. Scroll to the bottom where the reviewer tested for "ball creep". This is, in my opinion, one of the most important things to look for. You do not want the head slipping.

The only downside I see to the Feisol is the multiple knobs, not a big deal, just a difference.
 
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Thanks, Bill.

The Acratech is way out of my price range for now. If I become a famous photographer and start making some money from all of this, then it might be possible down the line.

I was looking at the RRS line, but I don't like the fact that I'd have to purchase additional things to be able to use it.

Thanks so much for the Feisol review. There were excellent reviews of it on B&H, but this one is the clincher. I think it would certainly handle what I need at this point, since the camera with grip and heaviest lens I own weighs in at 4.5 lbs. The lenses I use for landscape photography weigh a lot less than the 70-300VR. So I think the Feisol will be the one. And since the legs are Feisol, I don't have to worry about compatibility issues :)

Carole
 
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Carole,

I think the BH-25 is a fine ballhead to use with a mirrorless system or even a small DSLR with a well balanced lens. But if this is primarily for your D300 and any kind of zoom lens, I'd look to at least the BH-30.

Another consideration is the Photoclam line-up, which I really like. A PC-36NS is in your budget and would be better matched to your gear. It has a main locking knob, friction control, and independent panning base. It weighs in at 350gm. You can save a little weight with the PC-33NS at 310gm, but you give up smoothness as the ballhead diameter goes down. For what it's worth, I don't find the BH-25 from RRS to be very smooth....

Regarding L-brackets, look at Hejnar Photo. You can get a custom fit D300 L-bracket for $90. And it's 2-part, so you can remove the vertical component to save weight and bulk if you choose. I have one for my D600, and have used Kirk products in the past. I prefer the Hejnar design. He also makes clamps, so you could buy a ballhead without clamp from RRS, and then use one of his more reasonable or custom clamps. He has answered the phone every time I've called for questions.
 
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I've got a heavy duty Feisol tripod and two Feisol ball heads, one large, one small for travel. Don't have any of the model numbers with me right now but I've been very pleased with their stuff. Great customer service too.
 
Joined
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Carol - before you make your mind up, you do have a lot of homework to do. You apparently do not understand how the camera gets mounted to the ballhead since you are not clear about the different types of Really Right Stuff variations in their heads.

The ball that you are considering (Feisol) has an Arca Swiss style clamp on it. that means that in order to attach the camera to the head, you will need a separately sold plate to attach to the camera so that it can pair with the clamp on the head. This will add around $50 or so to the total cost of the head.

As an alternative (although not a very practical one in real world photography), you may buy a ballhead with no clamp attached. If you go that route, you can screw the ballhead directly on to the camera with no additional cost for the plate. And you pay less for the head since you are not buying the clamp. Problem is that screwing the head into the camera is time consuming and does not allow for qucik change on and off the tripod. That is why most folks buy a quick release set up which includes a clamp for the head and a plate for the camera. The gold standard is Arca Swiss type qucik releases and that is what the Feisol and the RRS head that was recommended.

The RRS 25 head mentioned above has one big drawback compared to the Feisol. The RRS25 does not have a separate panning base that will allow you to move the camera left and right on the legs. It has only one knob which releases the camera in any direction. Generally, folks prefer a separate knob to control the left/right panning and does not change the other orientations. Of course that separate base costs more - in the case of RRS, you would have to step up to the BH-30 which is here.

http://reallyrightstuff.com/Product...esc=BH-30-LR:-Compact-ballhead-with-LR&key=it

The Feisol you mention does have both the QR system and the separate panning base.

While the Arca Swiss heads like the Feisol, RRS and many others are generally considered the preferred type, if the cost is too high, you should look at the Manfrotto heads. Manfrotto makes excellent heads, but they have the Manfrotto QR system which is not compatible with the Arca Swiss style. This head, while not the ultimate head and clamp/plate system, is actually quite good for significantly less $.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/660311-REG/Manfrotto_498RC2_498RC2_Midi_Ball_Head.html

Just one word of caution. If you buy a Manfrotto style QR, then you are not able to use the other system if you buy heavier gear and need more ballhead. Only you can judge how much you can afford to invest and the prospects of upgrading your camera gear, but I can tell you that many of us here have gone with Manfrotto first, in an attempt to save money and then end up buying a better head with an Arca Swiss style QR. And - don't buy a head that is rated to closely to the actual weight of your current gear. Buy one rated for a bit higher weight just to ensure that you get the stability that you want. There is a less expensive Manfrotto head that will support your weight according to the spec sheet, but spec sheets have a bad habit of being too optimistic. Buy a head that will hold at least 8 lbs.

You have some homework to do and other decisions to make before deciding on which head you buy.

Good luck
 
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Bellingham, WA
Carole,

I think the BH-25 is a fine ballhead to use with a mirrorless system or even a small DSLR with a well balanced lens. But if this is primarily for your D300 and any kind of zoom lens, I'd look to at least the BH-30.

Another consideration is the Photoclam line-up, which I really like. A PC-36NS is in your budget and would be better matched to your gear. It has a main locking knob, friction control, and independent panning base. It weighs in at 350gm. You can save a little weight with the PC-33NS at 310gm, but you give up smoothness as the ballhead diameter goes down. For what it's worth, I don't find the BH-25 from RRS to be very smooth....

Regarding L-brackets, look at Hejnar Photo. You can get a custom fit D300 L-bracket for $90. And it's 2-part, so you can remove the vertical component to save weight and bulk if you choose. I have one for my D600, and have used Kirk products in the past. I prefer the Hejnar design. He also makes clamps, so you could buy a ballhead without clamp from RRS, and then use one of his more reasonable or custom clamps. He has answered the phone every time I've called for questions.

Thanks, Matt. I have decided against the RRS as I'd have to buy too many additional things to use it and that adds to the cost.

I'll check out the Photoclam, and thanks for the tip on the L-bracket. $90 is a lot cheaper than the ones at B&H which are $179 for the D300 with grip.

Carole
 
Joined
Nov 11, 2005
Messages
3,187
Location
West coast of FL (formerly Westchester County, NY)
"And since the legs are Feisol, I don't have to worry about compatibility issues"

Actually, that is not a consideration at all. Any ballhead will fit on any tripod legs. The compatibility issue that you need to concern yourself with is that of the quick release system plates to clamps.
 
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Messages
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Location
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Thanks, Matt. I have decided against the RRS as I'd have to buy too many additional things to use it and that adds to the cost.

I'll check out the Photoclam, and thanks for the tip on the L-bracket. $90 is a lot cheaper than the ones at B&H which are $179 for the D300 with grip.

Carole

Woops, I misread your post about the grip. The listed bracket is only for the non-gripped body. Still, you could give him a call to see if he has something that would work for you. He's the only support guy I trust outside of RRS and Kirk for plates/brackets, and he's located in Illinois.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Location
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Carol - before you make your mind up, you do have a lot of homework to do. You apparently do not understand how the camera gets mounted to the ballhead since you are not clear about the different types of Really Right Stuff variations in their heads.

The ball that you are considering (Feisol) has an Arca Swiss style clamp on it. that means that in order to attach the camera to the head, you will need a separately sold plate to attach to the camera so that it can pair with the clamp on the head. This will add around $50 or so to the total cost of the head.

As an alternative (although not a very practical one in real world photography), you may buy a ballhead with no clamp attached. If you go that route, you can screw the ballhead directly on to the camera with no additional cost for the plate. And you pay less for the head since you are not buying the clamp. Problem is that screwing the head into the camera is time consuming and does not allow for qucik change on and off the tripod. That is why most folks buy a quick release set up which includes a clamp for the head and a plate for the camera. The gold standard is Arca Swiss type qucik releases and that is what the Feisol and the RRS head that was recommended.

The RRS 25 head mentioned above has one big drawback compared to the Feisol. The RRS25 does not have a separate panning base that will allow you to move the camera left and right on the legs. It has only one knob which releases the camera in any direction. Generally, folks prefer a separate knob to control the left/right panning and does not change the other orientations. Of course that separate base costs more - in the case of RRS, you would have to step up to the BH-30 which is here.

http://reallyrightstuff.com/Product...esc=BH-30-LR:-Compact-ballhead-with-LR&key=it

The Feisol you mention does have both the QR system and the separate panning base.

While the Arca Swiss heads like the Feisol, RRS and many others are generally considered the preferred type, if the cost is too high, you should look at the Manfrotto heads. Manfrotto makes excellent heads, but they have the Manfrotto QR system which is not compatible with the Arca Swiss style. This head, while not the ultimate head and clamp/plate system, is actually quite good for significantly less $.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/660311-REG/Manfrotto_498RC2_498RC2_Midi_Ball_Head.html

Just one word of caution. If you buy a Manfrotto style QR, then you are not able to use the other system if you buy heavier gear and need more ballhead. Only you can judge how much you can afford to invest and the prospects of upgrading your camera gear, but I can tell you that many of us here have gone with Manfrotto first, in an attempt to save money and then end up buying a better head with an Arca Swiss style QR. And - don't buy a head that is rated to closely to the actual weight of your current gear. Buy one rated for a bit higher weight just to ensure that you get the stability that you want. There is a less expensive Manfrotto head that will support your weight according to the spec sheet, but spec sheets have a bad habit of being too optimistic. Buy a head that will hold at least 8 lbs.

You have some homework to do and other decisions to make before deciding on which head you buy.

Good luck

Wow, thanks for all that Rick! Yes, I know I have homework to do, but at least you are all helping me to know what questions I need to ask :smile:

The Feisol I'm looking at comes with the plate, which is good, but I'm also very much considering an L-plate. I'm going on a 4 day photography workshop in October, and I want to be able to switch from horizontal to vertical quickly so I can get as many shots in as possible while I'm working with the group.

I have decided on the Arca-Swiss style as I think that is the better choice. I just read an excellent review of the Feisol ball head I'm considering so that's a plus 1 for that one. I also don't have to worry about compatibility issues as the tripod is a Feisol.

I'm still going to look around, but if nothing else lights my candle, I'll go with the Feisol for now :)

Carole
 
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"And since the legs are Feisol, I don't have to worry about compatibility issues"

Actually, that is not a consideration at all. Any ballhead will fit on any tripod legs. The compatibility issue that you need to concern yourself with is that of the quick release system plates to clamps.

When I was looking at the RRS site, it said that their screw diameter was different than most tripods, so I'd have to buy an adapter in addition to the ball head. That's an additional expense I don't want.

I have decided on the Arca Swiss quick release plate. The Feisol I'm looking at comes with the plate, and I'm also thinking about an L plate so I can switch quickly from landscape to portrait when I'm at my photography workshop in October.

Carole
 
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Matt, thanks for the info on Heljnar. I have seen his site before, it is good to get a review from someone trustworthy.

Carole, if you would like, feel free to give me a call, I can walk you through the Heljnar site for exactly the bits you need. I will send you a PM with my phone number and good times to call.

Cutting to the chase, if I were in your shoes I would:

1. Buy the Feisol head. I say that from my experience with their tripods.
2. Buy L-Plate and any Lens Plate you may need from the Heljnar site, the prices are reasonable.

Given the comments from Matt, I am going to purchase the Universal L Plate components. The reason I will do this rather than a dedicated L-bracket is so that I can use it on both my D800 and my D7100. Big advantage if you ever change camera bodies.
 
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I was just on the Hejnar site. I saw the universal bracket which is a LOT less than the one I saw elsewhere.

What is the difference between the L bracket 34 and the L bracket with clamp? I want a universal one as I can't see spending all that money and then when I get a new body, I'd have to buy another L plate.

Carole

 
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Messages
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The 34 screws into the tripod socket on the bottom of the camera/grip. The one with the clamp requires that you already have an Arca-Swiss base plate attached to the camera/grip. For your purposes, and probably mine as well, the 34 would be the way to go I think. But a call to Heljnar would anwer the question for sure.
 
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The 34 screws into the tripod socket on the bottom of the camera/grip. The one with the clamp requires that you already have an Arca-Swiss base plate attached to the camera/grip. For your purposes, and probably mine as well, the 34 would be the way to go I think. But a call to Heljnar would anwer the question for sure.

Thanks again, Bill. I emailed them so I'll see what they say. But $110 works for me :)

Carole
 
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Messages
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For anyone who is interested in this L bracket, I received this response on the difference in the two universal styles:

"L bracket 34 will work just fine. L bracket with clamp attached will let you engage and disengage L bracket quickly but you need a plate under camera with arca swiss connection. If you use L bracket occasionally this solution is very handy compare to
when L bracket is attached to camera using screw."

So I'm wondering if having the clamp is worth an extra $40? Or if I should just go with the L34 that has the screw.

Carole
 
Joined
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Messages
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For anyone who is interested in this L bracket, I received this response on the difference in the two universal styles:

"L bracket 34 will work just fine. L bracket with clamp attached will let you engage and disengage L bracket quickly but you need a plate under camera with arca swiss connection. If you use L bracket occasionally this solution is very handy compare to
when L bracket is attached to camera using screw."

So I'm wondering if having the clamp is worth an extra $40? Or if I should just go with the L34 that has the screw.

Carole

No need for the clamp, since you don't already have a plate on the bottom of your camera.
 

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