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Old Mar 16, 2011, 11:55 AM   #1
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Default Basalt ball head ?

Looking for opinions on using basalt for a ball head, I've never used anything made of that product.

My 2 prime candidate choices are these 2 ball heads from gitzo,
Gitzo series 3 magnesium http://vistek.ca/store/ProPhotoTripo...k-release.aspx

Gitzo series 3 basalt http://vistek.ca/store/ProPhotoTripo...-qr-black.aspx

It will most likely be attached to a
Gitzo Series 3 Systematic 6X ALR Tripod. http://vistek.ca/store/ProPhotoTripo...el-tripod.aspx

(I was originally considering a RRS BH-55, until I found I'd need to buy at least 6 different QR plates from them, each at 55$ to mount all my different gear)
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Last edited by PeterP; Mar 16, 2011 at 8:34 PM.
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Old Mar 17, 2011, 3:37 PM   #2
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I'm not really thrilled with my Gitzo G1277M head (Series 2). It works fine, easy to use and has separate panning control. It handles the weight of my camera (not one of the real heavy ones) and a heavy 300 prime lens without being torn apart and without slipping at all. I think it sits up too high, your two choices look like they aren't as tall. And it only has one drop, which I find an aggravation since I use mine for wildflowers and macro often and the drop always is on the wrong side of the tripod. Your choice looks like it would be similarly limited, if not more so as it looks like it has very limited adjustment in one direction (wouldn't be a problem for some as they wouldn't need to have as much flexibility). I bought mine because at the time Gitzo was offering $100 off if you bought both a tripod and a head, and my budget couldn't quite go far enough. I would have MUCH preferred the RRS head, which doesn't sit up as high as my Gitzo and has two drops.

I did end up buying a RRS QR set-up. I only have two items - an L-bracket for the camera and one lens plate. The L-bracket is designed for my camera, and has openings where they need to be. I figure the lens plate can be moved from lens to lens if I ever buy another one with a tripod mount. RRS equipment isn't cheap by any means, but it's well worth it in my opinion, beautifully engineered, carefully manufactured and having a number of little thoughtful features missing on lesser products. I still would like to get their macro rails one of these days, and if my Gitzo head ever dies (not that it looks like its going to any time soon), I'll replace it with one from RRS.
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Old Mar 18, 2011, 7:47 AM   #3
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RRS, Acratech, Kirk and others - all use Arca-Swiss (AS) compatible plates and clamps. RRS is somewhat expensive in terms of their gear, however there are alternatives. In that they are all Arca-Swiss compatible, then they are all interchangeable, and their prices do vary.
A lot of the plates are camera / equipment specific, however their prices do vary. I have an Acratech head, with a K20 and K100 plates from them, but a L bracket from Kirk. They all fit perfectly together and inter-operate seamlessly.

I have been dithering for a year now on what to do in terms of plates for my Nodal Ninja. I need a baseplate for the unit and then a AS clamp for the pano arm, and do I get a leveler or another ballhead for my second tripod / backup camera, so that I can use everything at the same time.

I found an older used manaffroto tripod (for a second) with a 486 ballhead and I absolutely detest the ballhead. The difference compared to my Acratech GP is like life and death. I would really like to get a second Acratech ballhead to replace it - but have not brought myself to write a check for another $400.... That is the problem. You find something that you really like and works extremely well, but it cost a mint for the functionality. Quality equipment does cost - you get what you pay for. Over the last several years I have spent a small fortune on "mechanical support" items. One thing I will say - if you buy good quality they will never - ever wear out. You just have to be happy with how they operate. They can either make the process extremely easy and enjoyable, or be an absolute $%^&#@ pain in the rear - and since they rarely fail or wear out, you are stuck with them for a very loooooooooooooong time...


Last edited by interested_observer; Mar 18, 2011 at 12:40 PM.
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Old Mar 18, 2011, 10:19 AM   #4
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Thanks for the comments!
You did add aditional things to think about I had not even considered.

The dropdowns is one that has annoyed me with my current manfrotto head.

I agree I am not fond of the current manfrotto I have, it is big and still moves down after positioning when a heavy lens is on it. And its clamps and knobs all seem to stick and get difficult to release.

I'll keep hunting, I do like the look of the RRS BH-55 with the B2-pro2 screw-knob clamp, and the Kirk B1

Wish there were stores that carried them here, so I could go handle them.
All you find in the shops are the usual stuff from Gitzo/Manfrotto/Induro/Benro/Sirui most of which I would not even want to try
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Old Mar 18, 2011, 2:14 PM   #5
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I know what you are saying about wanting to touch and feel things.

I'm very lucky in that RRS has a showroom that's not all that far away from me, so I went there and actually saw (and picked up) what I wanted to buy. The people there are wonderful, they showed me some of the features that I wasn't aware of and showed me the macro rails (that I still want!) with some info on how they were designed. They also helped me out choosing models that would fit my lens, when I finally bought one that had a tripod mount (the one I had thought would be the right one wasn't). They are a small company and I think they only sell direct through phone and internet (though I could be wrong about that). I don't suppose you have a trip to California planned any time soon, do you ( )? If you haven't already done so, you might try calling and talking to them.
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Old Mar 18, 2011, 4:24 PM   #6
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Another approach is to mail order from Amazon or B&H, both of which have fairly liberal return policies. Compare and use each for a bit and then return the items that did not meet the threshold.

Also, call the manufacturers. They love to talk about their products. Its almost the next best thing to handling them. A number of them also have videos on their products. Google is your friend here in terms of finding them. RRS, Acratech, etc. all have videos on their products...
A road trip would be ideal - SLO town is a wonderful place to visit...

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Old Apr 6, 2011, 11:05 AM   #7
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Just an update.

I ended up ordering the Gitzo GT3541xls pod
a Kirk L bracket from B&H

and will be ordering the RRS BH55 with the B2-pro2 screw-knob clamp
when some email discussion with RRS is done.
Trying to decide on the right plate for the replacement Sigma TS-41 lens collar that is on my Sigma 120-300 f/2.8.
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Old Apr 6, 2011, 2:32 PM   #8
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Sounds like an excellent set-up, you should enjoy it for many years to come. I'm envious of your RRS head!
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Old Apr 24, 2011, 11:50 AM   #9
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Just an FYI, the correct lens plate for the Sigma TS-41 lens collar is the same as for the normal collar that comes standard with the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8.
The RRS MPR-113 lens plate works and seems to give you an attach point for a flash bracket.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterP View Post
Just an update.
Trying to decide on the right plate for the replacement Sigma TS-41 lens collar that is on my Sigma 120-300 f/2.8.
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Old Apr 24, 2011, 8:43 PM   #10
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The RRS BH55 is an awesome head, they dont come any better. I have one but I opt for the lever releases instead of the screw knobs on the clamps. I even have the RRS monopod head on my Gitzo 5561T with a lever release clamp. Takes like 2 seconds to mount/dismount gear.
The RRS plates usually do come with a premium cost but I find them to be engineered better for specific purpose. Like on my Canon 400 2.8 and 200 f2 I went witht he RRS replacement feet and on the 300 2.8 and 70-200 I went with their lens plates because they are exact fits right down to the curvature of the lens foot and having a positive stop in the back so it mounts perfectly with no muss and fuss. I tried the kirk L bracket on my MKIV and the manufacture of it makes it very difficult to access the side covers for the connections there and it flexed when mounted in the potrait position, enough that after only a few times I found my horizon off and looked at the plate and had to pull it back straight....it found a new home. For the lenses for which there is no specific plate made and any general purpose rail would do any manufacturere will do but I tend to stick with RRS or Wimberley.

Last edited by JustinThyme; Apr 24, 2011 at 8:45 PM.
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