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Archive 2009 · Review: Photo Clam PC-44NS Ball Head

  
 
MrGreen
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Review: Photo Clam PC-44NS Ball Head


Hello, it's me again; you're friendly neighbourhood reviewer. Ok, well not really since I've only done two reviews, but still I'm here again to review the Photo Clam PC-44NS ballhead. Kerry Thalman at Really Big Cameras asked if I would be kind enough to do a review on this new ball head from Photo Clam since he really liked my previous review
on the set-up I currently own, and purchased from him earlier in the year. You can see that review here: https://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/756837/

Anyways, on to the review. Since I own another Photo Clam ball head, but one model down, I thought it would be a good idea to compare these two side-by-side. Most people are going to think about purchasing either one of these two since they are very similar, so I think it's a good fair comparison.

On the left is the Photo Clam PC-40NS ball head mounted on my Feisol CT-3442 tripod, and on the right is the PC-44NS. As you can see, the red colour of the 44NS really stands out and personally I think it makes the ball head look sweet. I really wish I had the option of ordering a colour when I bought mine.



Here I am showing just how much larger the clamping part is on the 44NS compared to the 40NS. Not needed as far as I am concerned, but it's nice to have a bit more surface area clamping down I guess. The Arca system is so good though that
there is absolutely no difference in holding power between the two. Both are amazing!



This image should illustrate the size difference not only in the mountain base, but the adjustment knobs. The panning knobs are exactly the same so far as I remember, but the ball head knob is noticeably larger on the 44NS. Does this matter? Eh, who knows really. For me I feel the 40NS' ball head knob is a good size, so any larger isn't really "needed" but if it's there then why not. I didn't notice any difference in "precision" having the larger knob - which is really the only thing you might notice since there's a larger diametre for a turning circle.



As you can see by this image, the head is fully Arca-Swiss compatible. Meaning you can use any L-bracket from Kirk, RRS, etc. This is a major feature in my opinion to look for in any professional level ball head.



Ok, so now that I've done some product shots to show how awesome this ball head looks, I'll talk a bit more about how it performs and back this up with some image crops.

So I've been using this ball head for almost two months now, switching back and forth between the 40NS and the 44NS. I wanted to see if I would miss using the 44NS since it's larger, or if I would miss my "smaller" 40NS ball head. Honestly, I did notice a difference from the first time I used the 44NS. The larger ball is a slight bit nicer to move around, but I've never had any problems with my 40NS so I don't see this as any issue that would make me buy the 44 over the 40.

I really couldn't tell much difference in vibration control between the two when I had my Tokina 11-16mm, Canon 24-105, or Canon 55-250 lens on. They both handled all those focal lengths really well and quite equally. I knew if I really wanted to push the limit and test them I needed to mount my Sigma 150-500 Bigmos! I mounted the lens to the head via the tripod collar and I did some testing.

Both ball heads held this lens VERY securely. Once the ball heads were locked down there was no droop, even when the head isn't perfectly level. This impressed me a lot.

I'm not going to post a million crops, because well frankly I don't care enough to spend that much time, but I did take a lot of comparison photos and then I took the best ones and did some crops of those.

Here they are. First image is the Sigma mounted on the PC-40NS at approximately a 30-40 degree angle looking upwards.



Next up is the Sigma again mounted exactly the same way as before on the PC-44NS.



Is there a difference? Yeah, but not much and going through all the other images I shot I can say with confidence these are basically equal ball heads. The 44NS will handle the vibrations a little better, meaning it'll kill them a bit sooner, but not enough to make me want to buy it over the 40NS.

Basically what I did was a gave the camera a light smack and looked through the viewfinder to see how long it took for the vibrations to die down. On the 40NS it took
roughly 5 seconds, whereas the 44NS it took approximately 3 seconds. This is not scientific by any means, but there was a noticeable enough difference for me to see
using this method. The images above were taken after I saw that vibrations had stopped. So, I took the first image 5 seconds after the smack, and the second image
3 seconds after the smack.

My final thoughts on this ball head are that it's a superb product and well deserving of the professional name it carries. Photo Clam make some extremely well engineered
ball heads that rival the other top ball head manufacturers.



Sep 23, 2009 at 11:39 AM
Chris Moy
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Review: Photo Clam PC-44NS Ball Head


Good review! Thanks Mr. Green!


Sep 23, 2009 at 11:59 AM
ray_stinger
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Review: Photo Clam PC-44NS Ball Head


These ballheads look really amazing and capable. I feel that they resemble the Markins by quite a bit, did anyone notice that?


Sep 24, 2009 at 11:30 PM
Scott Snyder
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Review: Photo Clam PC-44NS Ball Head


I've been using a PC-40NS with lenses up to a 70-200 for about 2 months and have no complaints. Great product, and good service too.


Sep 25, 2009 at 09:41 AM
MrGreen
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Review: Photo Clam PC-44NS Ball Head


ray_stinger wrote:
These ballheads look really amazing and capable. I feel that they resemble the Markins by quite a bit, did anyone notice that?


Yeah, they're very similar to the Markins which I'd consitute as a positive since Markins make some pretty nice ball heads too!



Sep 28, 2009 at 03:24 PM
MrGreen
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Review: Photo Clam PC-44NS Ball Head


Scott Snyder wrote:
I've been using a PC-40NS with lenses up to a 70-200 for about 2 months and have no complaints. Great product, and good service too.


Cool stuff, good to hear that. I don't use my Sigma on mine very much, basically never, so that's good to know they're suitable for such uses.



Sep 28, 2009 at 03:25 PM
kevdav
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Review: Photo Clam PC-44NS Ball Head


Great reveiw MrGreen

To me the seconed shot using the PC 44NS is much sharper than the one with PC40NS. It may be worth the extra cost.



Jan 19, 2010 at 09:46 PM
E-Vener
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Review: Photo Clam PC-44NS Ball Head


Yes the resemble the Markins, and the Induro, and etc.

Which means they externally look like, more or less, the Arca-Swiss B1 of the late 1980s and 1990s.

But what about really counts, the inner workings? They still use a spherical ball.



Jan 20, 2010 at 06:20 AM
sjms
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Review: Photo Clam PC-44NS Ball Head


sorry so does everyone else thise days. the aspheric ball just doesn't seem to be a design advantage so much to the roaring crowd out here. it was less then adequately implemented in the beginning and redesigned w/o admission of an issue. how do you expect people to appreciate it in now a crowded field of reasonable well made non-aspheric ones. it seems to have turned out to be a design idea who's validity has run its course.

i do believe MrGreen's review is just a bit less technical and more emotional though.

and MrGreen, the devil is in the details. the machining/design/finishing details still go to Markins. this being said after going through both. not that PC is bad just not quite the work of art and love markins put into theirs.



Jan 20, 2010 at 06:30 AM
E-Vener
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Review: Photo Clam PC-44NS Ball Head


"it was less then adequately implemented in the beginning and redesigned w/o admission of an issue. "

Care to clarify that?

if you are referring to the problem withthe material the clamping shoes were made of , that happened briefly in either the late 1990s or early '00s and the problem was both admitted and rectified (I was told that they changed suppliers). My first B1 came from the early or mid 1990s (I bought it used in the mid 1990s) and never had the lockup problems some people had. My second B1 from 2004-2005 never has had the problem either. My B2 (which is actuall ya double tilt design, one aspheric ball for left /right tilt inside a larger aspheric shell controlling fore/aft tilt) from the late 1990s never had the problem either.

MArkins got traction in the market becasue they were the first to copy the look of a B1 at a lower price point. Now other companies are doing it too.

Kirk Enterprises first ballhead had to be withdrawn form the market because the design of their ball infringed on Arca-Swiss's patent. Until they came out with their own head Kirk was a major dealer for Arca-Swiss.

If I didn't have B1 Monoball heads I'd go with the Really Right Stuff BH-55 heads. But I really do get it and understand that Arca-Swiss and Really Right Stuff don't fit everyone's needs or budget.

I'm sure the Markins, PhotoClam, Induro, etc. heads mostly work just fine. If you buy one, and it does, enjoy it and use it in good health.


Edited on Jan 20, 2010 at 11:48 AM · View previous versions



Jan 20, 2010 at 08:59 AM
sjms
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Review: Photo Clam PC-44NS Ball Head


i too never had the jamming issue but unjammed 4 that did. and it is unnerving to do because they did lockup tight just fro vibration traveling. after being advised that certain care needed to be taken when traveling, like leaving the knob loosened should prevent it sort of turned me off. and yes it was in the early 1990's the 2004 models were redesigned to resist the lockup issue. but at no time was there an offer to resolve the issue in the original models. the resolution was recontouring the ball to make it less aspheric. thats what made me go to markins and eventually to RRS. and now today everyone in creation is copying the copies of the copies of the original.

oh i love the cube too i see that as the ultimate macro base along with the RRS rails.



Jan 20, 2010 at 09:23 AM
MrGreen
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Review: Photo Clam PC-44NS Ball Head


sjms wrote:
sorry so does everyone else thise days. the aspheric ball just doesn't seem to be a design advantage so much to the roaring crowd out here. it was less then adequately implemented in the beginning and redesigned w/o admission of an issue. how do you expect people to appreciate it in now a crowded field of reasonable well made non-aspheric ones. it seems to have turned out to be a design idea who's validity has run its course.

i do believe MrGreen's review is just a bit less technical and more emotional though.

and MrGreen, the devil is in the details.
...Show more

Well, the same could be said about you in the way you defend Markins. You seem pretty emotional about that brand, and rightfully so they're a good brand.

Still doesn't discount how well made the Photo Clam heads are though. I've been used mine hard for almost a year now and it's been flawless. I would expect most ballheads in this price range would be the same, but it just shows the PC can compete at that level.



Jan 20, 2010 at 10:09 AM
sjms
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Review: Photo Clam PC-44NS Ball Head


sir, i have had one markins head for over 9 years now. how long has PC been out? there are subtle differences in manufacturing. minor that they are it shows that markins is thinking in some of the details. also mine is pretty much retired and had to be rebuilt once due to heat damage caused by a turbine engine. it just came out recently for use with a laser measurement setup i'm using as i use the RRS ones which overall i prefer in operation. i'm a technician by trade so everything is a tool in the long run. i've got no issue at the price. in fact i most likely will pick a PC-40N or maybe the NS for a friend as thats about all they need. my only real issue with them is they have too many sizes to closely spaced. but then thats their issue not mine in reality totally unnecessary. i can probably with reasonable comfort say that my gear and i have seen more milage and use then most around. in photography i have 2 active tripods and 2 in use heads. one for travel and macro one for larger stuff.




Jan 20, 2010 at 11:40 AM
jhom
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Review: Photo Clam PC-44NS Ball Head


Given the sample shots taken with the Sigma on the 40 and 44, I think one is better off with the larger of the two. Also, 3 vs 5 seconds to damp the vibration would make me go with the 44.

For now, I am perfectly happy with my Markins. I wish the Photo Clam continued success. But, only time and experience will tell and differentiate them from the rest of the pack.




Jan 20, 2010 at 11:49 AM
howardm4
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Review: Photo Clam PC-44NS Ball Head


I'll bet the 'heat damage from a turbine' story is interesting.


Jan 20, 2010 at 11:54 AM
sjms
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Review: Photo Clam PC-44NS Ball Head


i actually wouldn't even use those images as a reference tool for choosing. i have a feeling that it wasn't exactly a controlled situation. i think the 40 will do just as well as the 44. as my BH40 with the same gear on it does as well as my BH55 in the same situation example: D700 and 24-70/2.8 on both heads on the same tripod.


Jan 20, 2010 at 11:59 AM
sjms
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Review: Photo Clam PC-44NS Ball Head


howardm4 wrote:
I'll bet the 'heat damage from a turbine' story is interesting.


photographing a GE90 engine during an engine run from a cart stand that i use that serves as a camera support. right after the engine run i removed the camera from the support with the ballhead on it. somone released the brakes on the cart to move it out of their way. it then rolled slow and quietly right up to the turbine case and the ballhead made contact and began to absorb copious amounts of heat from the case. they make nice heatsinks. in the less the 5 minutes of contact the polymer cup was goo. no discoloration of the green anodizing but it real smooth on the ball while being moved with gloves on. sort of like butter. then after cooling it got a little jumpy. sent it to Markins in Canada and they rebuilt it. the tech up there never saw this green color before and actually offered to replace it with the newer lighter model at the time so he could have it. this one has way too much use history with me.



Jan 20, 2010 at 12:14 PM
jhom
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Review: Photo Clam PC-44NS Ball Head


sjms wrote:
i actually wouldn't even use those images as a reference tool for choosing. i have a feeling that it wasn't exactly a controlled situation. i think the 40 will do just as well as the 44. as my BH40 with the same gear on it does as well as my BH55 in the same situation example: D700 and 24-70/2.8 on both heads on the same tripod.


I agree with your assumptions. Using only the current review, the evidence suggests one over the other. I would hope there is little or no difference between the two BH and certainly not as obvious as in the current review.



Jan 20, 2010 at 12:14 PM
adam613
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Review: Photo Clam PC-44NS Ball Head


sjms wrote:
photographing a GE90 engine during an engine run from a cart stand that i use that serves as a camera support. right after the engine run i removed the camera from the support with the ballhead on it. somone released the brakes on the cart to move it out of their way. it then rolled slow and quietly right up to the turbine case and the ballhead made contact and began to absorb copious amounts of heat from the case. they make nice heatsinks. in the less the 5 minutes of contact the polymer cup was goo. no discoloration of
...Show more

You are my new hero...



Jan 20, 2010 at 01:36 PM
Steezus
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Review: Photo Clam PC-44NS Ball Head


sjms wrote:
my only real issue with them is they have too many sizes to closely spaced. but then thats their issue not mine in reality totally unnecessary.


You must be real frustrated with RRS then! Every time I open their catalog it boggles my mind to see how many different support items they carry from the clamp up. It is like you have all the parts you could ever want to build either an Autobot or a Decepticon!



Jan 20, 2010 at 01:41 PM
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