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sjms Jul 15, 2002 9:25 AM

acratech Ultimate ball head
i own a arca swiss ball head. been using it for about 2 yrs. excellent product. i swap it back and forth between my manfrotto 3021pro and my gitzo 1228 carbon travel legs. i'm looking at the acratech ultimate head for permanent replacement on the gitzo. weight savings a little over 0.65 lbs. i'm looking for anyone who owns/used yet one for their opinion on it.

[Edited on 7-26-2002 by sjms]

sjms Jul 15, 2002 9:53 PM

well, since i got no bites on this head i guess i'll be forced to order it tomorrow and find out for myself what its all about. i talked to the guy who build them seems to be real high on it.:o:D

[Edited on 7-16-2002 by sjms]

sjms Jul 19, 2002 8:55 PM

acratech Ultimate Ball Head
i just received it yesterday. put it on my gitzo carbon 1228 legs. togeter i think they both weigh under 5 lbs. thank god i have a hook built in the centerpost for a weight or my daypack to hold it down.

this is a fine bit of engineering with one or two minor shortcomings.
what it is not- an arca swiss b1. its good but not there.
what it is- about 1/2 lb lighter. simpler mechanism. strong. just kinda cool looking. there is no progressive drag. you set it and lock it. it's limit is claimed at 25 lbs. thank god i haven't a lens/camera combo at that weight. with my F5 and my old heavier sigma 70-210 2.8 i moved it into a 45 deg position heavy side down and then hung my lowepro backpack weighing in at about 10lbs off the camera (heavy end). went out for the after noon. came back and it was exactly where i left. no creep at all. the workmanship was clean. the qr system fits all arca , rrs, kirk plates. they are even starting to make their own which are cut out to lighten up each plate. the only thing i dislike is too many edges. in my opinion they should be radiused for a cleaner look and handling. it's a keeper for me. i wanted a second head anyway thi is it.
eagle creek makes a padded water bottle holder which makes a perfect cover when its on your tripod and not in use.

sjms Jul 26, 2002 3:08 PM

i spoke to scott at acratech the other day about the finishing edges on the ultimate. they have been working at this issue. trying to round of the edges different ways without either making it look crude or increasing the production cost and then the end cost. personally i have put this minor issue aside. i'm having a heck of a good time with it. is solid, locks perfectly, and the action is smooth. most of all it has removed a half pound from my back.

Mr. Billobaggins Jul 27, 2002 8:01 AM

Yes...I've been looking at that ballhead for about a year now. Haven't personally tried one; but, even so, I would not have hesitated to buy one off the cuff either without question. I was trying very hard to find a reason to add another ballhead to my collection, but could not justify that purchase in lieu of all the other "stuff" I'd also like to own.

I've heard rumors that Acratech has a new ballhead in the oven. Supposedly, that new ballhead was due to be released soon. At least I thought I heard that rumor somewhere?

Anyway, I've been using a fine quality Markins Q-Ball head for my main support. The Markins is another excellent choice for a lighter weight Arca Swiss compatible system. The Markins is smaller and lighter than the Arca Swiss at about a 1 lb. and sports nearly equal loading capacity at 90 lbs. The materials and workmanship that are used to build this ballhead are superb. And the best part about the Markins is the cost is lower than most of the competition. The Markins is indeed a most excellent ballhead to consider if someone is shopping for Arca Swiss compatible style. :D

sjms Jul 27, 2002 10:41 AM

yes they do. it will be a larger unit. for travel this is the one. as to the markins head it is good with minor design issues.

its pretty much a reverse engineered b1
i hope that Plate stopper is not there. that should be on the camera plates to allow it to slide for lens centering and or other longer plate uses. i'm a firm believer in the use of allen headed screws. that is easily changed.

the rrs plates are still the kings max versatility and a perfect fit per camera design. i think acratech might give them a run fo the money though.

not a bad looking product. what is the price and availability and warranty in the US?

[Edited on 7-27-2002 by sjms]

Mr. Billobaggins Jul 27, 2002 12:26 PM

I think I will keep my eyes open for any news on the new Acratech ballhead.

You are correct in stating that there is a plate stopper screw is on the QR clamp, but it is easily removed if that is important to a user. In a sense, since the safety stop screw is removeble it provides for the best of both worlds because a user can opt to leave the safety stop on the QR clamp or remove it and use one on their QR plate instead. If there were not a safety stop on the QR clamp it could only be considered a one dimensional safety system, if I may dare equate such a term.

I agree with your assessment that a better fastener, such as an Allen head, could have been selected instead of the current Phillips head safety stop.

I personally like and prefer where the QR plate safety stop screw is currently located on my Markins ballhead clamp. I will try and briefly explain "my" preference to this style of QR clamp safety stop screw location and design.

I use a Wimberley Sidekick that works ideally with my Markins ballhead, spotting scope, long lens plate, QR clamp and the plate safety stop screw. If you are familar with the Sidekick setup you can almost immediately perceive the usefulness of the plate stopper screw located on the QR clamp. The Sidekick is directly inserted into the ballhead's QR clamp that is positioned perpendicular to the plane of the ground.

One nice feature of the QR clamp stopper screw is the "oops" factor is greatly reduced. It is also easier for me to balance and use my spotting scope and lens plate on a Sidekick than directly attached to a QR clamp. This becomes even more important and evident if a user is mounting a really heavy lens and using a tripod head not quite up to the task. The "creep and flop" factor is enhanced with "certain" direct long lens to ballhead QR clamp/plate setups. Although, I'm fairly certain there are others that would object and prefer to mount their long lenses and plates directly to the QR clamp and do that successfully too.

But anyway, for me, the safety stop screw is an added protection and insurance with my Sidekick setup, but for other users methods it could just as well be a minor nuisance. The QR clamps safety stop screw is not permanent and can be removed by the user from the clamp easy enough.

I haven't checked how much the Markins ballheads are going for lately. I know they are currently available in a number of "designer" colors and they have added several more models with different loading capacities. I believe I paid about $260.00 for the Markins Q-Ball M1-PQi ballhead with QR clamp. The Markins has a panning base and is etched with index marks which is the code "i" at the end of the model number. The "P" is for panning base and "Q" means it is outfitted with a QR clamp.

The Markins ballheads are also relatively new on the US market. The Markins is currently being distributed directly from the US distributer located in LA. I had a heck of a time getting mine a year ago and ended up dealing directly with the owner and then processing the transaction through the LA distributor. It now appears many of the barriers to ordering have been removed since I heard of some others successfully ordering their own Markin's ballheads.

[Edited on 7-27-2002 by Mr. Billobaggins]

sjms Jul 27, 2002 12:58 PM

i have used it. the sidekick has the stopper built in to it. the whole upper side is one. locked down in the clamp it's not moving. as long as it works for you that makes it a plus. try to get more info and post it.

[Edited on 7-27-2002 by sjms]

Mr. Billobaggins Jul 27, 2002 1:30 PM

You are right that the Sidekick has a narrow, raised lip on the top clampable portion where it would insert into the QR clamp. But, if the clamp is accidently loosened, not tightened, etc. "my" Sidekick is narrow enough to slide right through the QR clamp of my ballhead "if" I did not have the clamp tightened and set stop screw in place. It could no doubt slide over or jump over that narrow lip on the Sidekick and at least crash on top of my tripod with some of my equipment undoubtly taking the brunt of the "oops!"

Of course, I want to avoid that scenario and I prefer not to find out for sure what would happen in real life if I removed the QR clamp safety screw and did not tighten the jaws on the ballhead's clamp and let the whole rig "banzai" straight down to the ground!

So, in effect, my perception on the outcome in this matter is pure speculation , at most, and is thus determined by me to be a most disastrous event and something to be avoided!

With the Sidekick a user needs to be careful because of the units orientation to the ground and tripod, the weight of the components on the rig itself, and all the extra levers, knobs and buttons a person now has to keep track of between the ballhead and Sidekick. :(

[Edited on 7-27-2002 by Mr. Billobaggins]

sjms Jul 27, 2002 1:46 PM

on the orientation front - yes you must be aware at all times.

i like a person who looks at all the angles a worst case scenario kind of guy.

at this point i don't believe the acratech would be a good choice for a sidekick because of its ability to go negative slighty on the horizon line.

[Edited on 7-27-2002 by sjms]

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