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Acratech ballhead

57ballhead_1_
Review Date: Jan 20, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $229.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: light, strong
Cons:
none yet

I am a newbie to tripod shooting, so this is my first real tripod. I researched quite a few heads. I borrowed a Velbon tripod for a two week trip to Costa Rico, and discovered lots of things that are NOT good. The article at http://bythom.com/support.htm was very helpful for me.

My heaviest setup is a Drebel with 70-200/4, so I didn't need to hold any really heavy artillery. My primary need was lightweight for hiking. I mounted it on Gitzo 1228 legs, and mounted a Really Right Stuff panaroma clamp on top, instead of the Acratech clamp. The camera has a RRS L-clamp. Just over $1000 for the setup.

This setup locks very tight. Everything is easy to adjust. You can keep some resistance on the ball by not unscrewing the clamp all the way, which is convenient. The rubber knob is an extra $10. Even with the rubber knob, the grip is a little small, so you definitely want it.

When I had the 70-200/4 with Kenko macro extension tubes mounted in portrait, I though there was too much drop. Actually, the ball was tight, it was the L-clamp was slightly rotating on the screw. The ball was not moving at all. Calling RRS, they gave me a gasket that seems to have solved the problem.

While the ball is rated for very heavy loads, I do not know how it would do with really heavy lens. Pushing on the ball I haven't seen any creep or drop at all, but I still would be cautious.

So far I am very happy. About to take off for a month in the Far East, will update then.

Followup 3/2/2014: Still have the Acratech ball head, still totally satisfied after nine years. The RRS panorama head got a little loose, so I have replaced it with a RRS snap clamp.

I use this regularly with my 100-400 (semi-big artillery?) on a 50D and 6D. Very stable.