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Swimming upstream: FOBA Mini-Superball

olivierrychner

Boudry, CH
5255 posts

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olivierrychner Gold Member  Awarded for his long standing high level of commitment to the Nikonians community and demonstrated excellence in the art and science of photography. Nikonian since 03rd Jan 2005
Sat 26-Jan-08 01:20 PM | edited Sun 27-Jan-08 08:52 AM by olivierrychner

Hello!

This is intended as a mini-review of an old product little discussed around here (according to NikoScope): the Foba Mini-Superball... You can scroll to the bottom for a photo taken with the rig linked to my gallery, and 3 photos of the combo uploaded in the message directly!

Why that particular head?
Let me start at the beginning: last October, I got a 18-200VR for my D200, so that I could travel light, for example going to Italy with my little family (2 adults, twins of 20 months at the time). It worked ideally and I am now a big-time fan of this combo when weight is an issue... But I still found that sometimes, a tripod would have been handy.

Only problem: I own a relatively big and heavy Manfrotto 055PROB, which doesn't fit the bill of lightweight travelling... So I got a Gitzo GT1540T. Now, what head? I could have gotten a Q-3, and I already hear the voices telling me I should have

But given the exchange rate between the Swiss Franc and the Euro (I must order in the European ProShop, being in Switzerland), it was not such a good deal... So I started to search to local shops, where the staff systematically opened very charming round eyes when I told them I wanted an "arca-swiss compatible" clamp and plate. And someone here once mentioned the Foba brand. And I found this... I ordered without seeing one, thinking that I would either be happy or get a very expensive lesson.

And it arrived and I found myself a very happy camper! Review... (attached photos at the bottom of this post)

Pros


  • It has a sweetspot, at least with the 18-200VR, and I have no doubt it's the same with the 18-70, the 20/2.8 or another wide-angle to short-tele lens. Which is all I'm asking, since when I need bigger lenses, I can use a bigger tripod.

  • It is A-S compatible, at least with my RRS stuff and I have no reason to doubt it is beyond that.

  • It is not too heavy (well, heavier than a Q3, for sure, but not so much so that I won't take it on a hike or in the pram).

Cons

  • No panning base, so no "good" pano work.

  • Long lever and protruding studs, can be a nuisance in a bag.

  • Big overhang on the GT1540T, so I can't fold it backwards and shorten it. But I can strap it to the side of a bag.

  • The plate is not custom-fit and really bulky, plus it is not well-finished; I am going to replace it with a second L-bracket from RRS or Kirk. I'll have one for the grip and one for the camera alone.


Field work
I haven't taken it on a hike yet, be it shoes or snowshoes, but I have tested it a very demanding urban condition : I stood on a station platform, just above the station underpass, with the tripod fully extended, at night. I then set the camera for an exposure of four seconds and waited for the train to arrive... This allowed me to test the ease of use of the ballhead and the tripod's resistance to vibrations. It works! I can't wait for an occasion to do more in-depth testing... Focus point was on the clock, 65mm, f/8, 4 seconds.

Click on the image for a bigger version in my gallery!
Click on image to view larger version


Now, the photos of the rig (taken with my CoolPix 5400, revived for the occasion):

  • A comparison of the heights of Manfrotto 055PROB with Manfrotto MG468 ballhead and a RRS B2 Pro clamp (tall) and the Gitzo GT1540T with Foba Mini-Superball (not so tall). The Manfrotto, fully extended, puts the D200 without grip to my eye level exactly, a bit over it if I use the MF438 levelling ball.
    Click on image to view larger version


  • The D200 mounted on the Gitzo-Foba setup with the 18-200VR.
    Click on image to view larger version


  • Interoperability verified: the Foba plate on the RRS clamp.
    Click on image to view larger version



Reactions, questions, comments, critiques and doubts about my sanity are welcome!

Click on image to view larger version

Click on image to view larger version

Click on image to view larger version


Attachment#1 (jpg file)
Attachment#2 (jpg file)
Attachment#3 (jpg file)

Olivier Rychner
__________________________________________
Jetez un oeil à ma galerie if you feel like it! And it's a bit void as of now, but I also have a Nikonians blog

Auta i lomë! And my Nikon's only awaiting daylight...

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