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Old Mar 19, 2006, 1:03 PM   #11
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I have my Slik Able 300DX for about 10 years. It has a 3 way pan and tilt photo head with a quick release plate, goes down to 50 cm and up to 155 cm, durable, stable, not too heavy at 2.5 kg and the central column is reversible, so you can get really close to the ground. I bought it for about $100 including a nice bag and I think it is possible to buy itnow for about the same price.
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Old Mar 19, 2006, 10:53 PM   #12
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Nagasaki wrote:
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Interseting to read about Eric's take on tripod heads. I've tried ball heads and much prefer a pan and tilt head. As for the portrait option my tripod head has an arrangement like a hinge that allows me to flip it into portrait very quickly.

My experience of a ball head is that it's not as easy to make sure it's level and the one's I've used tend to creep with heavy bodies and lenses. Maybe I've just not got a high enough quality model.
I generally agree with what you said, but this comment makes absolutely no sense to me.
A Pan-Tilt head has only 2 degrees of freedom. A ball head has 3. By its very nature a ball head is easier to make level. When I was shooting with a pan-tilt head, I often had to fiddle with a leg to control that final direction of freedom that otherwise would have been impossible (or require a tripod collar, which my long lenses have but my short ones do not.) Put a bubble level in your flash hotshoe, frame the shot then level it, fine tune the framing and then lock it down.

When you flip the hinge to portrait, does it change the view of the camera? (beyond that its portrait vs. landscape, of course.) The only two systems I've seen that don't do that is a tripod collar and an L-bracket. Personally, it doesn't bother me much 'cause I rarely shoot portrait with a lens that doesn't have a collar. But I know people who take their landscape work seriously and it drives them nuts.

Could you list which models you've used? I've only used one of the best ones on the market (the Arca Swiss B1G) and had I've put serious weight on it (Canon 100-400 + 550EX) and it locks down fine. In fact, it uses a system where as you tilt the camera down it applies more force to make up for the shift in center of gravity.

Yes, cheaper ball heads are not very good. But it if you're willing to spend a few hundred on a ball head you can get a good arca-swiss knock-off which can lock down with a 500mm lens on it and won't creep.

algold brints up a very good point.
There is another thing that matters, which is how low to the ground the camera can get. Depending on what you shoot, that is either crucial or doesn't matter much. For wildlife that is low, it can be very important. For macro is can matter for some subjects and not for others. For landscapes, it can matter... but not always.

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Old Mar 20, 2006, 4:50 AM   #13
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On the subject of getting low to the ground and working in awkward places you can't beat Benbo/Unilock tripods. It takes time to get used to settingthem up. But when you do get used to it, you can set your camera at almost any angle/position you can think of. These tripods are water/weather sealed and reasonably priced.

Just my $0.02.
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Old Mar 20, 2006, 7:35 AM   #14
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eric s wrote:
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Nagasaki wrote: A Pan-Tilt head has only 2 degrees of freedom. A ball head has 3. By its very nature a ball head is easier to make level. When I was shooting with a pan-tilt head, I often had to fiddle with a leg to control that final direction of freedom that otherwise would have been impossible (or require a tripod collar, which my long lenses have but my short ones do not.) Put a bubble level in your flash hotshoe, frame the shot then level it, fine tune the framing and then lock it down.
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Fair comment I've always worked on getting the tripod level then I can move pan or tilt the camera without having to make sure it's still level. With the ball heads I've used every time I want to pan or tilt I have to also ensure that it's still level. A spirit level on the hot shoe would certainly help.

When you flip the hinge to portrait, does it change the view of the camera? (beyond that its portrait vs. landscape, of course.) The only two systems I've seen that don't do that is a tripod collar and an L-bracket. Personally, it doesn't bother me much 'cause I rarely shoot portrait with a lens that doesn't have a collar. But I know people who take their landscape work seriously and it drives them nuts.
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Yes it does change the view slightly so I'd have to move the tripod slightly to get exactly the same centre. I've never found this a real problem but I don't use it that much and I can see where you're coming from.
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Don't know what the make was I tried, haven't got it anymore. I know I didn't spend a couple of hundred on it.
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Old Mar 20, 2006, 11:18 AM   #15
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One key point is that the head must be smooth, so dont get an "elCheapo" plastic head. If you are using macro or telephoto, you need to be able to move the head in minute increments which you wont be able to do with a super budget model.
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