Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Gadget Bag: Ballheads Deconstructed
See how this staple of nature photography works, plus how to choose the right one for you
There are two basic types of ballheads. In the traditional type, the housing attaches to the tripod and the ball moves. In the other type, exemplified by the Novoflex MagicBall, the ball attaches to the tripod and the housing moves. The advantage of the latter is that you can position the camera anywhere within a 120° range in any direction without hunting for a notch as is generally the case with conventional ballheads.
If you frequently switch from tripod-mounted to handheld shooting, you'll want a ballhead with a head with a quick-release feature. You attach the quick-release plate to the camera's tripod socket, then just slip the plate into and out of the head's quick-release slot to lock and release the camera quickly and simply.
The Acratech Ultimate Ballhead ($289.95, www.acratech.net) weighs less than one pound, yet can support more than 25 pounds at any angle. It's available with right-side or left-side controls.
Weighing just 9.9 ounces, the Arca-Swiss Monoball P0 ($299, www.precisioncameraworks.com) can support 44.1 pounds. It features a unique knobless geared locking system, panning capability and a Slidefix QS quick-release mount.
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