lightweight quick change ballhead wanted : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Can anyone recommend a lightweight ballhead with quick change feature?

-- Wilhelm (, September 08, 2001


Wilhelm, What camera and tripod are you planning on using?

-- paul owen (, September 08, 2001.

Good question. I'm about to take a long photo trip through the Midwest, but I'm getting frail in my dotage, mostly working less than 100 meters from the car. I recently bought a Slik Pro 700 DX (titanium, 5 lbs.) but don't like the head that came with it, and also use a modified Gitzo Totalux. Cameras are Leica M, Canon EOS, and 4x5 Linhof Super Technika.

-- Wilhelm (, September 08, 2001.

Arca B1 - Manfrotto is comparatively crude, and the QR plates don't lock positively; Gitzo is ok but quirky (best legs in the business though); Arca plates are primitive but RRS make the world's finest QR plates to fit Arca, and another US firm Kirk makes sort of RRS-rip-offs which (I gather) some people like.

-- Anthony Harrison (, September 08, 2001.

Wilhelm, Sure Arca etc are good but they are expensive. For the money you might look at the Gitzo centre ball head. It can be bought with two types of quick release system. The "quirky" Gitzo heads mentioned above are probably the off-centre ball heads. Another option might be the Giottos bal heads (not the smaller ones!). Regards Paul

-- paul owen (, September 08, 2001.

Not a very sophisticated ball head, and possibly too cheap, but I find it great for hiking and using with Pentax 67 and 4x5 camera: Manfrotto 168 with hex. release plate. Allows working vertical with reflex cameras. Weight 750g

-- Paul Schilliger (, September 08, 2001.

There is a new ball head called Areotech... looks very well made and priced can read review here...

-- Bill Glickman (, September 08, 2001.

I'll second the Manfrotto 168, it's solid, and I've used it with 35mm, medium format and now a Arca Swiss Discovery without any problems. I'd rather a 3way head for LF though - but I'm still using the 168.

-- Michael Mahoney (, September 08, 2001.

B&H doesn't list Manfratto. What is the Bogan model (if there is one)?

-- Wilhelm (, September 08, 2001.

I use a Gitzo 375 ballhead with Linhof Quickfix system-reliable sturdy and fast. For my 4x5 and 35 mm. On a Gitzo 1228 tripod.

Hans B.

-- Hans Berkhout (berkhout@cadvision.con), September 09, 2001.

Wilhelm, US number for MA 168 is BO 3055. Cost should be a little above $100. The current model has a safety lever for the quick release. Again, one of the benefits of this ball head compared to low profile ball heads is that you can turn a Pentax 67 vertical without having the tripod in the way.§ionid=2 &subsectionid=3&categoryid=8&subcategoryid=34&man_code=168&company=MNO&doc_from=gerarchia&con tatore=primo

-- Paul Schilliger (, September 09, 2001.

Novoflex has the best ball head I ever used (not cheap!), comes in two sizes, larger one fits large format just fine. alternatively, why don't you use a tripod with a buit-in ball-joint? I mean a tripod such as Berlebach which has a ball joint at he base of the column, you can fit a quick shoe (many brands available) and in so doing saving a lot of unnecessary weight. Unless you need to tilt the camera vertically the ideal solution

-- Andrea Milano (, September 09, 2001.

I use a Manfrotto Pro Ball 308, purchased at B&H. I bought it to use with an M6, but I've also used it with lightweight field cameras. It's solid, simple and inexpensive. I initially bought a Giotto but exchanged it for the Manfrotto because I didn't trust the design of the Giotto.

-- Steve Wiley (, September 09, 2001.

There is a US designed, made in China, ball head named Giottos that comes in several sizes with or without a quick change plate. I got mine, model MH-3000, from Linhof & Studio in London. I see that B&H sells it for $150 although I am not sure it is the same model. It is a very smooth item that works well for my Technika's both 6X9 and 4X5.

-- John Cooper (, September 09, 2001.

Giottos is available in 5 sizes.

MH 3000 is the same world wide. It is also the newest of the large size Giottos heads

-- Bob Salomon (, September 09, 2001.

"There is a US designed, made in China"

We appreciate that inference but we recommended and suggested but Giottos designed the heads themselves. And they did an excellent job at doing so. If you look at their other items like Q-Pods, Ball Pods, Q Pod II, Ball Pod II, I Pod, the MH 200 and MH 100 Quick Releases, etc you will see that they have a very active design group at their headquarters in Taiwan.

-- Bob Salomon (, September 09, 2001.

Arca-Swiss b1. Can't be beat for weight to strength to stability or controlability. Over the long haul, a very good value for money, biut read the instructions first. Other prime choice: Linhof. The Giottos I tested sucked for LF or medium format work.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (, September 10, 2001.

What do you mean by "lightweight" ? For sub 10oz ball heads, see:

I haven't seen one (they are a small operation and the product is new) but from the reviews the Acratech, less than 1 lb, looks like the lightest general purpose ball head suitable for LF. It was designed specifically to support a 4x5.

-- Q.-Tuan Luong (, September 10, 2001.

Thanks, everybody. I've read the posts, reviewed the specs and prices of all the recommended heads, paid me money and hope for the best. For anyone interested I settled on a #%$#%^$&! model #$%#^ (oh, damn illegible keyboard).

-- Wilhelm (, September 10, 2001.

Congratulations Wilhelm - I hope you invested in something good. I have to say it's a continual source of surprise to see people, some of whom I know for a fact use very expensive cameras, recommending second or third rate camera mounting equipment. Spending 2000 UKP / 3000 USD plus on a camera, then fitting it onto some Taiwanese item or the solid but flawed Manfrotto heads, is stupid, full stop. The Manfrotto 168? No, please! Those hex QR plates are like medieval instruments of torture and they DON'T WORK! Mounting a camera like a P67 on one of those, for vertical shots especially, is so absurd it's almost sublime... You cannot lock them tight to a camera, and if you try you will break something. Anyone who invests in a good camera, do yourself a favour and spend at least the equivalent of around 500 USD on legs plus a head. That is, if you actually want to produce critically sharp pictures rather than just flounce around showing off your fancy camera. My cameras are just regular professional workhorses, Nikon and Mamiya; my Arca ballheads, though, are the best of their type in the world. I second Ellis Vener: Arca, or Linhof.

-- Anthony Harrison (, September 11, 2001.

How does one go about "Flouncing around"?

-- Wilhelm (, September 11, 2001.

Anthony, thanks for reminding me. It's amazing how easy I tend to forget! I fully agree on me being sublimely stupid, but despite what you say, I find the hex plates are not that bad. I have used them for over ten years and preferred to fit a Manfrotto mount over my Linhof Pro III ball head instead of the original Linhof quick mount that I found really too difficult to use and too flimsy. When you have a heavy, large camera in your hands, there is no quick mount as easy to fit in as the Manfrotto. I agree, there were some flaws, in particular if you were not cautious you could think the camera was clamped when in fact it was not properly seated. But this and the risk of unwanted release has been corrected in the new generation and they are nearly 100% safe now. As for the vertical reflex and rotating plate, Manfrotto has a serie of special plates, one with a L shaped positionable slider that won't allow the camera to move from it's setting. I use one with my Nikon and it's great, even with heavy lenses. Now, if you want to make yourself a pleasure and spend more money, or get some sort of exotic design, go for it! There are better systems I'm sure. As for the MA 168, you are right, certainly not the dayly workhorse for a serious large format photographer. But as a spare or for the lighter hiking tripod, I think it is fine. In fact I am looking to replace mine right now (after ten years of hiking it has developped some play and I want the new safety release). Although I could spend a little more if I wanted, I will certainly go for the same. Stupid, I know...

-- Paul Schilliger (, September 12, 2001.

Doesn`t anyone else use the latest Hasselblad quick release? I`ve been using one mounted to a Linhof ball head for several years now and it works very well indeed with a Horseman FA. Haven`t tried this combination with the 5X7, but I imagine it`s a little too light...

-- Steve Clark (, September 12, 2001.

Lee Frost,one of the best landscape photographers around IMHO,uses the manfrotto hex system with his p67-it is excellent but the only caveat is that it is heavier than other q-r systems.

-- louis webb (, March 21, 2002.

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