Ball head for large format? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I recently bought a Linhof III 4 x 5 camera and am using it on a Bogen tripod with a 3 way pan/tilt head. (The one with 3 handles). I am photographing mostly landscapes and am wondering if anyone can offer opinions/advice regarding using a large ball head with an anotomical grip. Thanks ..... Jack

-- J. L. Frost (, October 03, 2000


I have the Tech III also and wouldn't recommend the head that you are referring to. Get their Ball Head. It is easy, fast and sturdy. It has a QR plate and two locking levers. One lever is just for panning and the other one is for the ball action. VERY convenient! I have heard from friend shooters that when they put a 35mm and a long lens on (80-200 and up) the grip your talking about would tend to slip... not a good thing when you've set up your III for the perfect shot. Cheers

-- Scott Walton (, October 03, 2000.

I have tried using a ball head with my Wisner 8x10. It was terrible. I could hardly control the positioning of the camera. Forget about fine adjustments.

-- William Marderness (, October 03, 2000.

I have used an Araca Swiss ballhead (B-1) with a pretty heavy 8 X 10 outfit exclusively for some time with no problem. It is very stable and extremely easy to adjust, even to the level of fine adjustments. The trick to being able to do this is that you have to be able to see both the vertical and the horizontal spirit level at the same time to use a ballhead. This is easy on a Linhof (at least my Super V), as there is a single circular spirit level. The 8 X 10 I have (an Ebony) also permits this easily. Wisners are very poorly set up to do this, as the vertical and horizontal levels are on different faces of the camera, which is probably why the above user found it a frustrating experience (which it is, having tried a Wisner on a ballhead in the past). From a stability and reliability standpoint, however, I have found no problem at all with the B-1 and quite large camera/lens combos.

Good luck and good shooting, Nathan

-- Nathan Congdon (, October 03, 2000.

How much do you want to spend? I have a heavy Gitzo 410 with an excellent Linhof Pro III ball head costing $300 and for hiking, a Gitzo 3xx with a Manfrotto 168 costing $ 45. The only problem I have with the 168 is that it is inexpensive and as such, misregarded by most photographers. But I have used it for many years and find it excellent too! It's light (770g), strong, very stable and not too fluid. It works nicely with a Technika, you simply grab the camera by the frame while loosening the two levers and making adjustments. I will buy a new 168 shortly but that's only because the new one has a an additional quick release safety lever. You should forget about the anatomical grip design. This places the center of gravity too high and stabillity will not be good.

-- Paul Schilliger (, October 03, 2000.

The problem with ball heads and heavier cameras is that it becomes difficult to adjust one way (e.g. left to right) without also moving the other way (e.g. front to back). The heavier the camera, the greater the problem. The big advantage of pan/tilt and similar heads is that one direction can be locked down while you adjust the other.

Having said that, if you do primarily landscape work then critical adjustments often aren't necessary as they are in architecture, for example. So if the whole setup is sturdy enough, the ball head is probably doable though personally for an 8x10 camera I prefer and pan/tilt. I did use an Arca Swiss B 1 very easilty when I had a Tachihara 4x5 but it weighed less than 4 lbs.

-- Brian Ellis (, October 03, 2000.

A ball head without a tension adjustment option bugs many people including me. But one with an easy tension adjustment, e.g. Arca Swiss B1, is fast and easy. The bottom line may be that if you're on a budget, forget ball heads as the good ones are expensive and the others hard to use with any precision.

A good thing about a three way head is that is slows you down a bit and gives you time to think about other issues while you fiddle with one axis and then the other.

-- John Hennessy (, October 03, 2000.

I recently switched to a Bogen 410 (I think it is actually a 3275) mini geared head. Great for fine adjustments, and B&H list for $136. It was used by Dennis Halkides on a photo workshop he lead at Yosemite, and can attest to its ease of use. He had adapted his with a RRS clamp for a rock solid suport. Not a ball head, but fast and infinitly easier to use for fine adjustments than either a pan or ball head. Easy to shift from vertical to horizontal with a little practice. Jeff

-- Jeff Thompson (, October 03, 2000.

I am a bit confused by your question: are you asking about a ball head that has an anatomical grip or are you asking about using a ball head (like the ArcaSwiss B1, etc) with a view camera that has an anatomical grip attachment?

If you have a chance you should check out the ArcaSwiss B2 head. It looks like a ball head but really is a two way tilt plus pan head. I t is one of the two best heads for a large format camera I've ever used. The other being the single tilt plus pan head made by Sinar. That head only tilts in one direction so if you arenot using a Sinar camera you need to level the legs side to side. Absolutely no creep with either unit.

Linhof also makes some very fine heads as does Foba and Ries but I've never tried any of the heads from those companies.

-- Ellis Vener (, October 04, 2000.

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