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Old Jun 20, 2003, 3:27 PM   #1
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Every where I've read, people speak well of the arca-swiss style quick release plates and the arca-swiss ball head. Now that I'm thinking of a tripod and ball head, this one comes to mind.

I want a ball head because they are better for nature/bird photography (which I mostly do.) I'm leaning towards getting an arca-swiss QR system because the Wimberley sidekick uses an arca-swiss mount, and I expect I'll be getting one and either a 400 or 500mm lens in the next year. Why buy a QR system I believe I'll just replace soon (both plates and mount)?

With this logic (see any problems with it?) I had this question. Is the real Arca-Swiss B1 worth the extra cost vs. getting a clone? From what I've read, the only differences between it and the clones are:
1) Build quality. The B1 is just really well made. I assume some clones come closer (and therefor cost closer.)
2) The tensioner knobs. There is only one (some clones have two) for easier use. Also how the knobs are build (the actual parts and how well they turn/feel) is better in the B1.
3) The progressive resistance. No clone has this (that I know of.) It causes more resistance to be applied when the camera is put at an angle. This is helpful (in theory) because when the camera is tilted the center of gravity shifts and causes more weight to be put on the ball (and therefor the "right" tension when the camera is level will be too little when it's tilted.) The entire Arca-Swiss family can correct for this, no clone can. Is this really worth it, or just a gimmick which sounds good, but which doesn't really matter?

Are there any other reasons that the B1 is really just so superior that I'd be stupid not to spend the extra money to get it over a clone that takes arca-swiss plates? Even if I haven't missed something, are those reasons good enough that I should get it any ways? I've only used really cheap tripods and old 3-way pan heads. But now that I'm taking photography more seriously and have a long lens (with more in my future) I want to get the *right* setup the first time. I'm sick of hand shake even with IS!!!

Thanks for any and all help.

Eric

ps. Yes, I will get plates from RRS. I might not get all of them from there, but at least for my larger glass.
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Old Jun 20, 2003, 3:47 PM   #2
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not to sound corny--- it is the swiss watch of ball heads. it is the one by which all others are compared.

the kirk ball http://www.kirkphoto.com/ballheads.html is a almost direct clone of the B1 with some advantages such as captive screw locks. it would be the nearest competitor. and $50 less too

plates- i'm a complete believer in the RRS plates. i just got my L plate for the 1Ds and the plate for the 70-200 2.8. it is another work of art. almost organic in nature.
there isn't one for the 10D yet but it will be worth every dollar.
http://www.reallyrightstuff.com/tuto...tes/index.html
call them and find out when it will come. i have no doubt there is a waiting list already.
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Old Jun 20, 2003, 5:08 PM   #3
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Thanks for the link to the Kirk head. It doesn't specifically say on their site if they support the progressive tension. Do you know if they do? Is it a feature worth worrying about?

The other two knobs are interesting. I'll have to call ahead and see if the store I'm going to has both the Kirk and Arca-Swiss in stock. Both should be taken seriously.

Thanks for that L-plate link. It's a useful read. I had heard of their L-plate (I was reading their B1 tutorial stuff) but hadn't read that page. Very interesting. I was just doing some Heron shots today (from about 5' away.. very lucky) and I did both vertical and horizontal shots. I'll have to remember this plate for the future (when my wallet recovers.)

Eric
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Old Jun 20, 2003, 5:14 PM   #4
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the big knob is of course the ball lock.

one of the 2 smaller knobs is the ball drag (not quite progressive tension but i wouldn't make a deal about it).
pregressive tension is so you can set a drag factor per each lens. not a big thing. i would'nt miss it if it weren't there.

the other is the pan lock

kirk is sold only by kirk via the web/mail order.
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Old Jun 21, 2003, 12:28 AM   #5
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Thanks for the description and other info. This has helped me a lot. Hopefully I'll get out to the store this weekend and check some legs and heads out.

Eric
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