Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Best ball head for tripods: 01 Manfrotto 498RC2 Midi

Ball heads are one of the tripod heads that are often chosen by photographers but rarely by the video crowd. You might be thinking it is time for a new tripod, I am, but actually I just need a new head (no comments).

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

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.

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read the full report here

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