Best ball head for heavy DSLRs: 6 top models tested and rated

    | Accessories | Reviews | 21/01/2014 00:01am

    Time for a new ball head? We reveal some of the most tempting ball-and-socket designs for use with heavy DSLRs.

    For most of us, ball heads are the way forward. Compared with clunky, conventional three-way tripod heads, they’re more compact, quicker in use and easier to set up.

    Instead of fiddling around with (typically) three separate locking arms, you can release and secure a full range of movements with a single locking screw.

    Naturally, releasing all directions of travel with a single screw can spell disaster, especially when you’re using a heavy DSLR and telephoto lens combination. Many designs therefore include an adjustable friction damper to make things safer for different kit combinations.

    Another neat twist is that some ball heads feature an additional pan-only lock. You can release this to enable horizontal panning while keeping the head’s tilt and swivel adjustments locked off.

    All of the tripod heads in this roundup use a fairly large ball of around 40mm. Having a good-sized ball helps to enable decent stability and ease of movement.

    SEE MORE: Best tripod under £150: 6 top models tested and rated

    It also means minimal sagging after tightening the locking screw and letting go of the camera, once you’ve finished making adjustments.

    Best ball head for tripods: 01 Manfrotto 498RC2 Midi

    Best ball head for tripods: 6 top models tested and rated

    Price: £80, $140
    Only slightly more expensive than the Giottos head on test, the Manfrotto feels a bit more robust, and it’s slightly heavier at 610g.

    Surprisingly, it has a smaller 8kg maximum load rating than the Giottos but feels absolutely solid, even when used with really heavy camera and lens combinations.

    The mounting plate has a 60mm diameter and the overall height of the head is unusually tall at 125mm.

    Refinements include an adjustable friction damper, panning lock and calibrated rotation scale.

    Everything is well crafted and the quick-release plate is similarly solid, enabling a particularly firm attachment direct to camera bodies or to the tripod feet of extra-large lenses.

    All that’s missing from this great head is a bubble level.

    Pros… Superbly built and has a full range of features.
    Cons… It’s a shame it doesn’t have a spirit level
    WE say… It’s a rock-solid head that’s worth the asking price

    Score: 5/5

    Click here for great deals on the Manfrotto 498RC2 Midi ball head

    Click here for great deals on the Manfrotto 498RC2 Midi ball head!

    Best ball head for tripods: 01 Manfrotto 498RC2 Midi
    Best ball head for tripods: 02 Benro BH2-M
    Best ball head for tripods: 03 Giottos MH1311-652
    Best ball head for tripods: 04 Induro BHD1
    Best ball head for tripods: 05 3 Legged Thing AirHed 2 Evolution 2
    Best ball head for tripods: 06 Vanguard GH-300T
    5 things to look for in a ball head


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    Posted on Tuesday, January 21st, 2014 at 12:01 am under Accessories, Reviews.

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