I'm looking for a cheaper alternative to a markins ball head. i am on a budget. my set up will be a d40x with a 18-200VR II lense. I wanted to get a nice quality head (not super top performance and perfection) thats nice and stable, weight doesnt bother me too much. looks don't bother me either but black is perferred.
Any suggestions? price range is anything under $70 or near
Personally, I would forgo a "cheap" ball head and look at a good three way head. These can be had relatively inexpensively (Bogen Manfrotto 3029 or 3030 come to mind). In my experience, the 488RC2 is on okay ball head but above your budget, but the difference between that and my Markins is night and day.
when you say night and day difference... what differences do you mean?
I understand about the "cheap" heads. and $70 is a long way off from a markins or a kirk or RRS. since i will be using a very light set-up and more then likely never making it any heavier. the only thing i need is to make sure it stays still on the tripod. moving the camera smoothly, or bells and whistles dont matter to me.. the only time i will be using my tripod is when it needs to be perfectly still... i will not be touching the camera when it's positioned on the tripod (night photo's or low light landscapes is what i'll be using it for)
my only concern is that the center coloumn turns into a monopod..... i dont want the camera to go flying with a loose ball head. which is why i am asking.
The night and day difference is the difference between a ball head where you get the camera exactly where you want it but when you tighten it down it moves 2 centimeters and a ballhead that doesn't move when it's tightened.
The night and day difference is the difference between a ballhead that has to be tightened down for the camera to hold still and one that doesn't.
Moving the camera smoothly isn't a bell or whistle. It's a necessity for allowing accurate and easy composition of the photo. There's nothing more annoying than having to jerk the camera around, always overshooting your desired position, unless it's finally getting to the right position and having the camera sag from where you put it.
A good ballhead makes using a tripod a pleasure instead of a chore.
Andy is right on with his comment. If you purchase a Cheap BallHead, you will get frustrated the first couple times out, then you won't want to take the tripod. so what good is a tripod if you don't use it. The cheaper ballheads are very frustrating to use. Andy's comment about it moving 2mm is more like 2 cm, I really hate the Bogan/Manfrotto ballheads. If you are determined to get a cheap one, I have a Bogen 3055 heavy duty Ballhead that should fit in your price range. John (Lakota)
-When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food, and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies with yourself. - Tecumseh, Shawnee Chief
-It is not neccessary for Eagles to become Crows. - Sitting Bull, Lakota Medicine Chief
In addition to all of the above, which is good advice, consider the obvious- the longer the focal length, the more problem you will have with any ballhead creep or stick-slip. What is acceptable at 35mm may not be acceptable at 200mm.
There is also a gear safety issue. Any time you have a ballhead completely loose, which is required with cheaper heads, you run the risk of letting go and having your camera and lens flop over- hard.
It has often been suggested here that it is better to buy a cheap pan/tilt head than a cheap ballhead. I was fortunate to go to a good ballhead (Markins) from a cheap pan/tilt so I don't have a lot of experience to back up that theory, but it makes sense to me, just based on playing with some lower priced ballheads in the field.
I agree with everyone in suggesting that you look at the top three brands. But there is the Acratech Ultimate that can hold its own. But its not cheap-just cheaper and slightly at that. You really need a GOOD ball head. I learned the hard way. And to be honest, until you feel the differences its hard to grasp why its so important. A trip to a local store that has some ball heads should give you an idea of how important it is to get a quality ball head.
If budget restricts you, spend the money on a good monopod and a good mini ballhead instead. At least you'll have something that is not a throw-away.
As the others have said, don't bother to get a cheap ballhead and put it on a cheap tripod. You'll be reluctant to use it and will end up struggling with the ballhead and tripod. Then you'll end up replacing it and buying the higher quality version anyway.
Also don't forget the cost of camera plates or L brackets. You need a plate attached to your camera to use the ballhead.
> You need a plate attached to your camera to use the ballhead.
Question about this: It appears Arca-Swiss makes a ballhead that can be attached directly to a camera or lens, so you don't need a plate. (Many cheaper ballheads also are like this.)
So my question is: Can you directly attach the camera to a Markins ballhead, or is a plate required? (I've considered the Arca-Swiss for this reason, thinking I could get a plate and quick release later if I wanted one.)
The real question is... why would you want to do that?
One of the great benefits of the better ballheads is the Arca-Swiss clamp and plate system. Not only is it quicker, it holds the camera or lens very securely, without twisting or coming loose. Spending $200 to $300 on a head and settling for a lesser clamping mechanism would be self defeating IMVHO.
You can buy a Markins head without a clamp. That would give you a 3/8" stud to connect some device that included a 1/4" stud with the conventional tightening wheel. I can't think of one off the top of my head, but I would think they are around.
Having used A-S compatible clamps and plates for almost 4 years now, I could never go back...
1. Most of the time, I don't use any support under my camera, and in those cases don't want to have a bracket or plate attached to the camera and lenses.
2. When I do use support, I usually just take one lens with me, and don't find it a problem to attach the camera directly to the head without a quick release. (I use a monopod often, with a swivel head, for sports shooting. I also have a cheap tripod that I use sometimes, but not often. I have been advised that I would use a tripod more if I had a better one.)
3. I would save some money if I just bought a ball head and attached my camera/lenses directly to the head rather than buying plates for everything.
Mostly, I shoot hand-held, except when shooting sports, when I often use a monopod. (Even then, I'll shoot daylight sports like track without the monopod, and enjoy the mobility without it.) I don't envision that my shooting style would change that much if I had a good tripod... but maybe I don't realize how much a good tripod would change the way I take pictures.
I'm strictly an amateur hobbyist. I've thought about upgrading my tripod for a year but never have, because I've come to believe (as many Nikonians have said) if I don't get a top-quality tripod and ball head I'd come to regret it, but I'm not convinced it would be worthwhile for me to spend $700 or so for something really good. So, I just have a really cheap tripod. (I paid more for my Manfrotto monopod, which I find to be completely satisfactory for my sports shooting.)
Your suggestions defeat the benefits of a quick release system, the best of which is the Arca-style. That's ok for you, but the Arca system is designed for support, flexibility, and field speed effectiveness. Maximizing my chances of getting the images that I'm after requires all three of those attributes. I can only speak for myself as a nature photographer. I am 90%+ on a tripod, and I almost never have only one lens with me if I'm going out in the field. From your description of your style, this system isn't for you. Naturally, it may seem overpriced and counterintuitive to you to invest in such a system. Similarly it would seem silly to spend $5,000 on a 500mm AF-S lens if you only took family photos or to buy an 8-cylinder SUV to drive on pavement around town...oh...wait...people do that all of the time...forget that one...go back to the 500mm lens thing. Anyway, you get the point. BTW, you certainly can get acceptable support from a non-Arca system, and spending a lot is not required. I used a couple of Bogen 488rc2's on Bogen metal tripods for a long while before switching to Markins and Kirks on Gitzos. It was nowhere near as smooth or as solid as the others, but I have thousands of images in my portfolio that were captured on those rigs. There are factors that lead people to use this gear. If those factors apply to you...it only makes sense. Please don't think for a moment that you have to spend $500-1,000 on support gear for it to be worthwhile. That's like telling someone, "Oh, don't bother getting a car unless you can get a top-O' th' Line Mercedes. It is so much smoother and better made than all of the other cars, and you'll just end up selling your lesser vehicle, losing money, and getting one eventually." Now does that make any sense?
I guess I was a little confused here.. on the one hand you asked about a Markins head, which is a top of the line head, but then you came back and said you only have a "really cheap tripod" and don't want to throw much money at it.
If you do pursue the Markins route, consider that you only get a $30 credit by not buying the clamp. It may be tough to find an acceptable replacement platform with a 1/4" stud for $30 or close to it. That leaves the plates. Kirk includes a generic camera/lens plate with their ballheads, but I don't see it listed separately. You may want to contact them to see if you can buy it separately. If you don't use the tripod very often, and don't switch lenses often, then installing the plate as needed may be the least evil approach. The greater evil may be to spend time and money trying to save some money on a plate, and ending up with an expensive Markins head that does not securely hold your gear.
the problem is... I dont want to spend hundreds of dollars on a ball head... what i was asking is if there was something that was just a little less quality and cheaper, and wanted to know what was the better versions of that type.... if that makes sense... basically, the king of the cheaper ballheads.
I know if i buy cheaper stuff yes, it obviously wont be as good, but i am willing to take a hit over it... i'm ok with that... i don't need the best just yet. just something good enough to get me by. and at a good price.
promaster pro n2 will be the tripod, and i'm still deciding on the ball head.... what about gears? im not into the tripple axis "loosen one handle, move, tighten, and then go through two more..... the gears i have no problem with as long as they move fast enough and have small enough adjustments....
I have that very head and have read that very book. It is a decent enough piece of kit but it can be frustrating process to get the framing you want and it is not noticeably better than a cheap pan and tilt job.
I am looking at upgrading to a Markins M10 at some point in the near future.
I have a collection of growing cheap discarded tripods and heads.
Everybody here is giving you good advice. For the way you say you want to use your camera, I recommend that you don't purchase a ball head at all. The only ball head you can get for $70 will be a frustrating ball head.
Get a pan/tilt head for now. That will lock everything down for you. If you get to the point that you are using a tripod more frequently, you will appreciate the way a good ball head works.
Why does everyone insist on putting a Ferrari in a go-cart race? It's a D40 and a light lens, not a 1200MM f4. A Manfrotto 484 RC2 ballhead would be perfectly adequate for his needs.
Maybe you should get jobs at Ritz. They would love having people come in for a cheap tripod and walk out with 1200 dollar tripod setups. Not everyone is a freakin millionaire with unlimited bucks to spend on a hobby.
Accept the fact that the original poster is on a very limited budget and intends to go no further with photography than where he is right now. The OP could go to ebay and buy a Dynatran 858 aluminum tripod and head for his budget, and find it works perfectly.
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye." Miss Piggy
Nobody is insisting on a ferrari. Most of us have spent more money than we needed to trying to save money.
I accept the fact that he has a limited budget. I have the 484 RC2. It works ok with my lightest setups, but not better than a pan/tilt head in my opinion. There is no way it can be considered a "cheap alternative to a Markins." It doesn't provide anywhere close to the same functionality.
The way he was describing his tripod needs, I simply thought he would be better off with a pan/tilt (which can support a much greater variety of equipment that the 484). It would be inexpensive, provide great utility, and can support heavier gear, until he is ready to move onto something else - like a ball head with separate panning control, tension adjustment, etc... - all the things that make a ball head worth having.
Actually, it's not a D40 and a "light lens". It's a 200mm lens that weighs 1lb 4oz and is extremely nose heavy. That is a lot different than an 18-55 kit lens, which is what I consider "light weight". That is a recipe for framing creep, with the wrong head, and can be very frustrating. Frustration leads to upgrades.
I think the responses here are trying to prevent the OP from buying something cheap, and then going through an upgrade cycle that ends up costing a lot of money, no matter where he gets off the train.
You don't have to spend $1K+ on support, as long as you go into it with your eyes open and your expectations are realistic. Unfortunately, a lot of people go through that endless upgrade cycle because their expectations are higher than they realize. Many of us here are just trying to get those expectations in line with reality.
>Why does everyone insist on putting a Ferrari in a go-cart >race? It's a D40 and a light lens, not a 1200MM f4. A >Manfrotto 484 RC2 ballhead would be perfectly adequate for >his needs.
Maybe, maybe not. When I used a Manfrotto head (the 488 in my case) with a camera and 105mm Sigma macro lens, which is about the same size and weight as the 18-200mm Nikkor, it suffered from significant "droop". I would align the camera, tighten the head, then find that the lens had drooped a few degrees and the framing was off. The 484 that you suggest, which is tiny in comparison, would likely suffer considerably more from this problem.
No-one is trying to force anyone to spend more than they can afford; we're just trying to explain the implications so that a rational decision can be made.
Just to wax philosophical, the only difference between a D40x and a D200, in terms of support, is that the cost of the support is a larger proportion of the cost of the body. Both take essentially identical quality images, assuming decent support is used, and both need good support in many situations. It's all in the mind
Arguably it can be very difficult to spend more on a tripod than on the rest of the gear combined . The more you sink into the cameras and lenses, the easier it is to justify high end support. Unfortunately the same needs apply, though.
I've shot my monopod with just a clamp on the stud, with a Bogen 3232 swivel, and with an M10. They all have their merits depending on what you want to do. If you are primarily shooting more or less straight and level, a simple clamp or screwing the head to the stud works well. If you need to shoot at angles, up or down, some method of swiveling the camera/lens becomes increasingly more important so that you don't have to hold the monopod at an extreme angle. Sports shooters, on the sidelines, tend to avoid ballheads and swivels since they are shooting fairly level, for example.
It looks like you are pretty much shooting straight and level, except when the vehicle flies up in the air. In that case, a ballhead or swivel would not be of much use because you can't change the attitude of the head fast enough. You have to swing the monopod back anyway.
Try it without a head. If it works, it works. If not, you can add on as necesssary.
5lbs (2.49 kilos) capacity is barely enough to hold today's DSLR bodies and any decent lens. I had the Slik AF2100 Pistol Grip head and couldn't even put the camera in portrait mode because the ball couldn't hold the camera and the weight of the head combined. On top of that the quick release would start to rotate and the front of the lens would end up pointing at the ground.
I can't open the link at all though I see one is the 486 RC2.
I have one and I am in the process of upgrading mine to a Markins M10. I won't flame the 486 as it does what a $70 head should do pretty well. The 486RC2 will give you reasonably good support if you are patient but it is hard to get it pointing exactly where you want it. The pan and head adjustement is anm all in one affair so it's prone to pan when you don't want it to and someone as you tighten the head the whole thing moves... The 486RC2 does not make me want to use my tripod.
I am not going to underspec support again - good tripods and heads are expensive but it is even more expensive if you first acquire a collection of indifferent tripods.
I think another you have picked out is the 488RC2 - if you scroll up Brian Tilley gives his opinion based on his personal opinion with the 488RC2 in Post #21.
Tue 22-Jan-08 03:24 AM | edited Tue 22-Jan-08 03:29 AM by MotoMannequin
I'm personally not a fan of those manfrotto heads, and their quick release system is terrible. I think the only reason those get consideration is because they're cheap, but it shows.
Here's one you probably haven't considered: RRS BH-25. It doesn't have drag-adjust or a real panning base but the workmanship is outstanding, and this head will probably still get some camera time if you upgrade later because it's well made, and so small & light. I use it on my table-top tripod, although with a clamp, not a stud. Holding one of these in your hand next to a 488 is like comparing an All-Clad to a cast iron pan: http://www.reallyrightstuff.com/rrs/Customkititems.asp?kc=BH%2D25%2DPF&eq=
>That does sound like a great head. Any experience with it?
Yes, baised on my research it should be a pretty good ballhead. I haven't purchased one yet (still saving up my pennies), but I will be a Cullmann owner someday soon. However, I'm now leaning much more toward the 30Nm Cullmann head instead. It's more along the size of what I really need.
I know this is a Markins-heavy site, I'm sure with good reason. They look like really great heads. However, the smaller 30Nm Cullmann has even the M20 beat in off-axis holding power. All you have to do is go to the Markins website and look at the M20's Specifications page. It states a Markins M20 has a maximum torque rating of 190 lbf-in, which is easy converted to 21.46711 newton meters (Nm). The Cullmann has been certified for 35Nm or 30Nm respectively, depending on the model. This means that the 35Nm Cullmann has approximately 63% more off-axis holding capacity than the M20 and the 30Nm Cullmann has 39.7% more holding capacity than the M20.
Also, an educated guess would also tell me that the Cullmanns will have a larger sweet spot than a Markins because the Cullmann's balls are larger. (hard to say that with a straight face) According to each manufactuer's respective websites; the Cullmann 35Nm has a 70mm ball and the 30Nm has a 60mm ball, while the Markins M20 has a smaller 48mm ball.
Also, just for grins, I did the math on the Feisol CB50D based on the pic from their website and it's also holding right at 30Nm of torque as well. My calculation was made by taking the KATI measurement and converting it to gram-force centimeters (assuming 84cm lever) and then to newton-meters.
>>Also, an educated guess would also tell me that >>the Cullmanns will have a larger sweet spot than >>a Markins because the Cullmann's balls are larger.
All else equal, that is certainly true. However, all else is never equal when comparing different brands. The quality of the ball surface and related clamping parts is probably more important than the size of the ball, within reason.
For example, I recently played with a Giottos MH-1000 in the field. Compared to my Markins, the Giottos ball was very crudely finished and as a result it had no sweet spot whatsoever. The ball could have been 100mm and that head would not have provided a sweet spot. That is just an extreme example.
I'm reluctant to even do a reply here because I can't win- whatever I say sounds like I'm engaging in a ballhead war, which I do not do. The point, though, is that specs will not take you very far. That's why user reviews are so important and why I'm looking forward to your own review.
I might have some insight having gone through this a short time ago. I have a tripod that I am quite happy with, a Manfrotto 055XPRO; I use this for about 80% of my shots. While I am slowly growing a lens collection at the time that I made my tripod/head decisions I was limited to a D80 and 18-200VR. I first tried a Manrotto 486 but was very frustrated by the tendency to sag once a shot was set up. However, I was not willing to accept that the choice was between a cheap ballhead and the best ballhead so I spent some time researching the middle ground. In the end I purchased a Feisol CB50D head, it is about half the price of a Markins at $159US; this is considerably more than your stated budget of $70 but considerably less than one of the most expensive ballheads. I am very pleased with it - it is smooth, strong, and stable. It does not sag after it is tightened and, in fact, does not need to be tightened in most circumstances as it has a very nice sweet spot.
No problems so far. I was quite amazed at the difference between this and the Manfrotto head; the ability to adjust the camera without having to play around with the locking knobs is well worth the money.
Sun 17-Feb-08 11:34 PM | edited Wed 25-Mar-09 03:41 AM by jrp
I have been shooting a D200 with battery pack and a 500mm P' series lens. While waiting for a new ball head, all of this is temporarily mounted to a 486RC2 Manfrotto ball head worth about 70.00 bucks. It is doing a very commendable job. I can't get the pictures razor sharp because of the tuning fork effect of this lens but " don't ever " let anyone tell you you need more than this for a D40 and 200mm lens. This ball head sits on a manfrotto 055 classic tripod. I can tune this ballhead to allow for easy movement and still hold this lens from creeping at 45 degrees. Don't be led sideways by to much technical razzle dazzle. Good Luck.
Mon 09-Mar-09 02:28 PM | edited Wed 11-Mar-09 10:21 AM by Ramesses
Sorry for “resurrecting” this thread. I must have clicked by mistake on the “Last Updated Date” filter and had the oldest messages show first. I realized the problem when the messages on all the forums were really old. I just erased my answer.
"good" is in the eyes of the beholder . With Manfrotto, it is good value for the money, and you do get what you pay for. It will outperform a similar priced ballhead, by most assessments, but will not perform "as good" as a more expensive Manfrotto pan/tilt. IOW, for $70 or so, it is likely a very good choice.
If you have a local shop that stocks Manfrotto, check them out in person and try them with your gear. See how easy it is to aim and lock at the longest focal lengths, etc.
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