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Acratech ballhead

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Reviews Views Date of last review
29 73595 May 13, 2013
Recommended By Average Price
76% of reviewers $276.83
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.19
8.70
8.2
57ballhead_1_

Specifications:
Weighs less than 1 lb (.45kg) with quick release clamp.
Easily holds over 25 lbs (11.4kg) at any angle.
Full movements allow any camera position.
Precision C.N.C. machined.
Shown with left side controls (right side available).
Compatible with Kirk, Arca, R.R.S., and many other QR plates.
Beautiful satin black anodized finish.
Fits all standard tripods (1/4-20 and 3/8-16 threads).
Engraved degree markings.
Solid precision feel.
Made in U.S.A.
Ball will not shift when tightened.
Oilless and greaseless ball will not attract or hold dirt and debris.
All knobs are secured so they cannot vibrate loose and fall off.
Patent pending.


 


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beyondland
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Registered: May 13, 2013
Location: N/A
Posts: 0
Review Date: May 13, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $289.50 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sturdy, simple, lightweight
Cons:
None, although some may need to learn how to use the product optimally.

This is a fantastic head. I've had an Acratech Ultimate Ballhead for five years and loved it the whole time. The novel design means that it is more maneuverable than a typical ball head and that it basically never needs cleaning. It's true that certain positions require swiveling the head, but it allows for so much more movement than a typical ballhead that I don't see it as a problem.

Some reviewers have mentioned that it experiences creep, but I've never had that problem. It's always been rock solid for me.

I've started doing video work in the last year, and the design works really well for panning and other camera movements. Just loosen the ball to the desired tension and you're ready to go.

Highly recommended.


May 13, 2013
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Johnny Bravo
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Registered: May 2, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 8864
Review Date: May 31, 2011 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Light weight
Cons:
Fussy to use, compared to Markins

I got one of these in a trade. I've used the Markins ballhead for years. I've used this one for travel since it's light and I don't use a ballhead much (I use a gimbal for most of my shooting).

So, compared to the markins:

Much lighter--a joy to travel with.

Much more challenging to operate. It's not nearly as smooth as the markins in operation and it will creep after I think it's chinched down, while the markins won't move an iota.

Conclusion: Great little travel ballhead--but I I could have only one, it wouldn't be this one.


May 31, 2011
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Jred
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Registered: Dec 13, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 1467
Review Date: Mar 12, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Strength, adjustability
Cons:
None

I have the GP ballhead and it is rock solid. No complaints and I have used it extensively with a 7D + Grip + 70-200 2.8 IS MK II. Highly recommend!

Mar 12, 2011
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Scubatography
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Registered: Aug 17, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 276
Review Date: Dec 7, 2010 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 1 

 
Pros: Compact, lightweight, and not ridiculously priced.
Cons:
Closure failed and dropped my 1Ds MkIII destroying the 16-35 lens and lens mount.

The negative says it all. A screw gate on this type of head makes no sense at all, particularly one without any kind of lock or secondary closure. I've always known the head was sketchy so I always double check my tighteners. On this particular instance I specifically remember checking all of the tighteners on my rig before picking it up, this was clearly a failure of the closure.

In the future I will avoid any ballhead with a screw gate closure.


Dec 7, 2010
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trigrad
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Registered: Jan 26, 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 4
Review Date: Sep 13, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $250.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Solid construction, lightweight.
Cons:
Can be awkward at times, due to the design. A bit bulky compared with a more conventional ballhead design.

As long as you are comfortable with the design, this is a good ballhead. It holds solidly, keeps a fairly heavy setup stable. This is a very nicely built piece of equipment.

It is light - good for travel. But bulky - not so good for travel.

I used it for a couple of years, but went back to a conventional ballhead design due to the usability issues inherent in this design. I would frequently find that I couldn't get the framing I wanted without rotating the base, which resulted in more fiddling than necessary. I'm using a Markins Q3 now, and find it's better for my purposes.



Sep 13, 2010
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Richard GT
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Registered: Feb 18, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 145
Review Date: Mar 21, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Light weight, inovative design, easy to clean, good value.
Cons:

The Acratech Ultimate is a great light weight ballhead that gets the job done. With my D300 and 105VR lens macro shots are made a lot easier to get with this ballhead than some others. I love this inovative design that makes it easy to keep the unit clean. With heavier lenses there is a slight drop as the unit is tightened. Not really a problem as I compensate for this and the camera settles where I want it. This ballhead is a great value and should last many many years.

Mar 21, 2010
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Edward Gill
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Registered: Apr 27, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 74
Review Date: Aug 2, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $275.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Weight, reliability, adjustability, construction, weight, cleaning open ball, did I say weight?
Cons:
None, nada, zip, but you have to learn your equipment!

Once you get familiar with the design, the freedom of movement is greater than it appears at first. If you put the main tension knob toward or directly away from you and the clamp ring is at a 45, you have freedom of tilt both up and down (about 20 degrees each way) plus you can still drop to 90 degrees left or right depending upon which way you orient the tension knob.. I find this more than enough in most situations. If more freedom is needed - like a gimbal mount, there are two techniques.

1. Leave the panning base loose (like any gimbal mount) and as you tilt up or down the base and clamp will rotate slightly to allow the head to tilt all the way to 90 degrees up and down.

2. If you have a leveling base you can tilt the whole head about 10 to the side - still set up like described above and get at least 45 degrees up and down and still flop to portrait - one side only.

To me this is the best design I have seen. All parts are visible to check for damage or looseness, easy to clean in the field, wont bind with dirt and sand, and extremely light for it's load capacity. Also very reasonably priced (at least compared to the competition).

A little different, which puts some people off, but when you tighten it down and can visually see all the parts are sound and solid put your $ 5000 rig on and shoot with confidence - unlike much of the big name competition and cheap Chinese knock-offs. Gets a solid 10 in my book for design and quality. - Well done Acratech!


Aug 2, 2008
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Spock lonewolf
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Registered: May 8, 2008
Location: Czech Republic
Posts: 10
Review Date: May 18, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Nice design, versatile – you can set camera to any position imaginable, holds nice with shorter lenses
Cons:
You have always one way blocked unless rotating pan base, not suitable for longer lenses and heavier equipment (200mm max)

I like how versatile this head is when you learn how to use it effectively. However due to its design, you have always blocked one direction to move (default is lens up). You have to rotate pan base to free it and I find it sometimes quite annoying. Also it does not handle longer lenses well, even with 70-200/4L I'm experiencing slight drop after tightening main knob.

May 18, 2008
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martyn.
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Registered: Jul 29, 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 324
Review Date: Dec 27, 2007 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 4 

 
Pros: Lightweight
Cons:
Does not lock securely, lens will creep which is no good for macro. Will not tilt backwards to look up with lens, you have to rotate the thing on the base, poor design.

I soon switched over to an Arca Swiss, for the same price you can get the Z1 which is what this head should have been.



Dec 27, 2007
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msandman
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Registered: Jun 13, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 14
Review Date: Dec 27, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $270.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Solid platform in a light weight, well-made package; ideal for use with up to a medium tele lens on a carbon fiber tripod
Cons:
Requires messing around when you swcth from landscape to prortrait

If you carry a 4-lb carbon fiber tripod that caost $300 or more, it's sensible to look for a light weight but solid head, and this one fits the description perfectly. You give up some ease of use, because you have to rotate the ball within the head by 90 degress in order to flop it over to portratit (vertical) mode. (Acratech has newer model that appears to solve this problem.) But otherwise, it's highly serviceable and verygood for outdoor use.

With a moderately heavy dSLR (Canon 40D) and a medium tele lens, it drops very slighty after you tighten the ball. It's probably not suitable for a heavy (> 1000 grams/2.2 lbs) tele.



Dec 27, 2007
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mrladewig
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Registered: Dec 20, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 2593
Review Date: Aug 29, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $289.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Weight, smooth operation, unique design, quality construction, reasonable price for a quality piece of equipment.
Cons:

This head is a good value for the money. I opted for all rubberized knobs to make it easier to work with in the cold winters where I live, making the head slightly more expensive. The unique design offers a big range of motion. As others have doubtlessly mentioned, to reach some angles, the panning knob must be loosened and repositioned, but it offers a wide variety of available positions without moving the panning knob too and gives alot more flexibility in vertical framing than a traditional ballhead would offer. I would consider this a neutral issue, beacuse while it limits landscape orientation range of motion in some cases, it improves vertical orientation range of motion in all cases.

Aug 29, 2007
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ShawnMills
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Registered: Dec 24, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Dec 24, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $250.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Well made, works great if you learn to use it. It is capable of things that traditional designs cannot do!
Cons:
Some may find it's operation more problematic than necessary.

If you want to have rock-solid ball-head when you're on the go this is the only unit to consider.

I think for the money this is a superb piece. The big knocks on it seems to be the need to orient the base of the ball-head to access certain angles, and a limited amount of creep when tightening.

It can be annoying to have to rotate the base of the unit to access certain shots, but in all honesty it isn't a deal-breaker for me. It's one of those things that you just plan for when you setup your tripod. Now that I have gotten the hang of it I rarely have to reorient the base when going from landscape to portrait.

What people are forgetting is that the design actually gives you MORE freedom of movement than a traditional design will. I find it very useful for macro work.

The other knock is the creep when tightening. Now this IS an issue I suppose. The key to minimizing this is to keep a certain amount of tension on the ball as you are composing. The movement is SO buttery smooth that you can do this and there is no difficulty in framing your shots. In fact, even if you have it locked all the way down and lean on it, it's still buttery smooth. This thing is basically VERY smooth to operate.

Hey so you have to learn a little to use it, it's the most capable light ball-head on the market, and while some complain about the limited angles, you actually have MORE range than you would with other units.

Again its all about what you take pictures of how you like to take pictures that should determine whether you purchase this unit.



Dec 24, 2006
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Paul Morrison
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Registered: Nov 3, 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 0
Review Date: Nov 4, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Lightweight, compact size, good feel to main tension knob (rubberized), strong for it's size/weight
Cons:
Takes some getting used to the limitations of the design, small knob for panning is hard to tighten/loosen (my version is non rubberized)

I bought this ballhead because of its lightweight and compact size. I use it on a set of very light Manfrotto legs and mostly for hiking/backpacking. I find it to be very strong and easily capable of holding my 300 f2.8 and 1D camera, but mostly use it with a 20D/XTi and lenses in the 10-22 to 70-200 f2.8 range plus the 100mm macro. The angled design of the ball clamp does limit the tilting ability of the head and often requires loosening of the panning knob in order to get the angle you're after. My model is not equipped with the rubberized knob on the panning feature and I would definitley recommend ordering one with these superior grips. If ultimate lightweight is not important to you, I might suggest one of the other slightly heavier models for overall satisfaction. But, if weight is a major concern, I would strongly recommend this ballhead.

Nov 4, 2006
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johnhopkins
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Registered: Aug 17, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 59
Review Date: Jul 16, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Lightweight. Does the job.
Cons:
Some slight creep. Limited degree of rotation.

I use my Acratech Ultimate ballhead on two Gitzo CF tripods; the G1228 and the tiny G0027 for ultra lightweight travel. It is superb for travel easily fitting (with the G0027!) inside my Lowepro Mini Trekker AW with 6 lenses. I have however not used it to support anything heavier than the 950g of the 24-70L or longer than the 70-300 DO for which the ballhead is far more than sufficient. The light weight was a big factor in me choosing this ballhead as I have taken it places (like Himalayan hill-stations) where every gram counts.

On the G1228 it is a super stable setup with all my lenses. With the G0027 I also find it provides adequate stability for me so long as I extend the legs from the minimum position. With the legs in the minimum position it is OK for smaller lenses but I have to take care with the 24-70L. But they are issues with a very small set of legs – the Acratech ballhead is more than up to the task.

I have noticed some slight creep but you do get used to setting it up a little higher than you need knowing it will settle very slightly after you have tightened everything up.

Others have commented on the stylish but unorthodox design with its limited degree of rotation. The diagonal support bar looks very cool but restricts the movement of the camera. It is fine if you want to move through 90 degrees, i.e. rotate the camera from portrait mode to landscape, but will stop you continuing to rotate it further (i.e. to portrait again but upside down from the original position). Very often that is not an issue and even when it is you can simply twist the entire tripod around. But I am sure some people would not like that especially if they have a heavy setup.

It is not easy to find this ballhead in the UK. I ordered direct from the manufacturer’s website in the US but got stung an extra £50 (~US$90) for import fees.

Overall I am very happy with the Acratech Ultimate ballhead and would recommend it to others who put a premium on low weight.


Jul 16, 2006
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ragebot
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Registered: Mar 1, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 1187
Review Date: Jun 24, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Light weight, big WOW factor.
Cons:
Some creep, need to understand the limits of range of motion to use effectively.

I use mine on top of a Fesol CF tripod. It is a very inexpensive light weight solution to a field support system. Most of the time I use it with a Sidekick. On ocasion I remove the Sidekick and do close in macro work with a Sigma SD10 and 150 macro or a 1d2 with a 400 and extension tubes. Under some conditions there is down creep, especially when compared to my Gitzo 1410 and the big RRS ballhead.

The upside is I can slip one of the Feisol legs inside the belt of my Lowepro for a workable way to carry the tripod, ballhead, and Sidekick, or attach it to a pack for heavy duty hiking.

I have had this setup for a couple of years and have been very satisfied with it in the field. Does it compare to my Gitzo and RRS, no way. But there is no doubt which one I will carry on a long hike. And the rubber knob is a real lifesaver in the winter. Since I live in Florida I can only imagine what it must be like for you guys who have to deal with white stuff falling out of the sky.

I highly recomend this ballhead for field work. Matched with a CF tripod and a Wimberely it works well for me tracking birds in flight and for macro work. Even without the Wimberely I have been satisfied with it using a DSLR and a 150 macor lens.


Jun 24, 2006
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jeffbuzz
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Registered: Jan 23, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 654
Review Date: Apr 4, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $250.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Size and weight Build quality High speed clamp release Rubberized knobs keep fingers warmer in winter Open design sheds dirt and water Outstanding customer service
Cons:
Delicate and susceptible to mis-adjustment Creeps slightly even under light loads

A tripod head is not as glamorous as the gear usually clamped to it, but it is often equally important in creating a memorable image. Different heads are built for different purposes. The Acratech Ultimate Ballhead is designed for travelling light and eliminating the excuse of not having a tripod when you need one.

Backpacking into difficult terrain and extended travel have a lot in common. Both situations reward the minimalist who is prepared to deal with the unexpected. The Acratech ballhead fits this niche perfectly. For backpacking, this head takes up a minimum of precious space and adds half the weight of many Arca style heads. The open design allows the ball to shed water and dirt better than traditional bottom closed designs.

This is not a studio ballhead. Macro and architectural work is difficult as the head tends to creep slightly even under light loads. This seems to be less an issue of clamping power (as the Acratech has that to spare) and more an issue of body flex. After composing a tight tabletop shot and locking down the ball, the frame always drifts slightly down with gravity.

While the Acratech defends itself well against external dangers of mother nature, it is susceptible to self induced (or rather user induced) problems. If the ball is left tighly clamped for too long, the ball will warp. I left a camera clamped in position overnight and the next day found the ball had a distinct tight spot in its rotation. My attempt to cure the problem by adjusting the tension on the clamp only made the situation worse. I returned the ballhead to Acratech for repair. Their customer service is exceptional. I don't know if the ball itself was replaced or if other adjustments were made, but after the no-charge service and fast turn-around it worked as good as new.

The Acratech Ultimate Ballhead is not for everyone or every situation. But as a travelling companion, it is hard to beat.


Apr 4, 2006
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Acratech ballhead

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
29 73595 May 13, 2013
Recommended By Average Price
76% of reviewers $276.83
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.19
8.70
8.2
57ballhead_1_


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