I have a Gottos tripod and MH1300-657 ball head. I've never had a problem until I got the Sigma 150-500mm lens. My ballhead can't handle that lens at all. I called B&H and asked the salesman what he recommended I get and I was shocked at what he said! He recommended an Oben OBBA2 ballhead. He said that Oben is comparable in quality to the big names, but a lot less money. That's an $89.00 ballhead - do you really think that would work? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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#1. "RE: Recommendations, please" | In response to Reply # 0ChrisPlatt Registered since 04th Jun 2011Sun 05-Aug-12 09:53 PM
I just looked at the Oben website, it may be comparable in quality to the big names, but it isn't comparable in features. It looks like a copy of one of the older Manfrotto heads.
It has a "single action" knob. That means it doesn't have separate controls for panning and drag adjustment separate from the main tension knob. At a minimum, you really want a separate panning control knob.
It only supports 26lbs. The big names are rated for far more than that and you really want a very strong locking mechanism to avoid creep - the tendency of the ball head to shift slightly under load when you remove your hand from the camera or lens even after you have tightened it down. It's a common problem in many less expensive ball heads.
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#2. "RE: Recommendations, please" | In response to Reply # 1
#3. "RE: Recommendations, please" | In response to Reply # 1prophotoman Registered since 27th Jun 2009Fri 10-Aug-12 10:13 PM
B & H is a good store to shop at online. I made my first purchase at B&H MANY years ago, from the BIG shutterug magazine years before they put up their website!... however the people you talk to probably are not professional grade photographers. They tend to go lowball with their recommendations since they get so many orders from relative beginners to photography.
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#4. "B&H Experience" | In response to Reply # 3MS Photog Nikonian since 29th Nov 2011Tue 14-Aug-12 01:06 PM | edited Tue 14-Aug-12 01:07 PM by MS Photog
I also think they are a good store. However, like all businesses they are trying to maximize their profits. I have noticed that anytime you search for anything in camera support Oben always comes up first. I suspect B&H makes more profit on this line so they push it.
I researched ball heads for about a year before I bought. I could not afford a Markins (which is no doubt the best for the money). After looking at many heads in walk-in camera stores and looking at friends' equipment I bought a Sirui K40X. I think this the best brand out there in the $100-$170 range. Get the Markins if you can afford it but look at the Sirui (pronounced Sue-Ray) if you can't afford the Markins.
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#5. "RE: B&H Experience" | In response to Reply # 4Wed 15-Aug-12 11:08 PM
Its amazing how tainted towards Markins this forum is. I am on other forums, shoot with other photographers read tons of blogs, reviews and magazines and Markins just isn't that well received. Sure it's a good ball head, but it suffers from problems just like RRS, Arca-Swiss and other top ball heads. I have read reviews of it slipping, pan knob not locking, same as things I have read about other ball heads. I know all ball heads have their loyal following but around here, it's such a sheep like, and blind flollowing it borders on ridiculous. Like there is nothing else. Did nikonians buy stock in the company? Fund it from a startup or something?
I know I'll get burned about this post. I just have never seen such a biased attitude toward any one product. anywhere.
#6. "RE: B&H Experience" | In response to Reply # 5J_Harris Nikonian since 29th Mar 2011Thu 16-Aug-12 10:14 AM
Not burned... but your statement is a little harsh. All my tripod/monopod accessories are made by "Kirk" including a Kirk BH-1 ball head and I am very happy with its performance. So, not everyone are lemmings blindly following in mass.
I have read many times were the moderators and experienced members recommend Kirk, RRS, Arca-Swiss, et al. Their level of experience is something I can only dream of so I do appreciate their recommendations and comments but always conduct additional research about a product before buying. There is nothing wrong with brand loyalty as long as the brand can live up to the honor. If Markins were not an excellent product I'm sure we would hear about that too!
The "...stock in the company" comment is funny - I have wondered about it myself sometimes.
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#7. "RE: Tripod Ballheads. " | In response to Reply # 6Thu 16-Aug-12 11:22 AM
I did probably come off a bit harsh, I guess. I know there are pros on this forum, but its largely made up of enthusiasts - very serious and dedicated individuals that seem to take the word of anyone as gospel. I read and have studied photographers not on this forum that are world class and would not take everything they say as gospel. It might work for them, but certainly not for everyone. I've just never seen such blind loyalty in anything I have undertaken. Its good I guess, or not depending on your view.
I guess a horse and buggy are great transportation if you have never seen a car
I think Markins are okay but a bit pricey for what you get and where its made. Photo Clam is another Korean company which produces a Markins copy (that many have switched to claiming its more updated and better made) and its way cheaper. Margins have to be huge with this product which is why I wondered about "owning stock in the company".
I just bought a new brand, actually just to try it being somewhat curious. Its another knockoff too, I guess they all are in a way, but the original price was simply way too high. I managed to get it much much cheaper so I decided to try it. I'm sort of wondering if the premium prices are just trumped up or if there is something behind them. I aim to find out. I may find a diamond in the rough, or may going with one of the other good brands. The one thing I have seen is none of them are perfect.
#8. "RE: Tripod Ballheads. " | In response to Reply # 7nrothschild Registered since 25th Jul 2004Thu 16-Aug-12 02:22 PM | edited Thu 16-Aug-12 02:33 PM by nrothschild
I suspect a lot of complaints you've read elsewhere about Markins heads may be at least partly due to not understanding the product and how it was designed to be used, especially the idea of the "sweet spot".
For better or worse, Markins heads were designed to let the pan base slip when it is under extreme torque. They do not, by design, lock down absolutely. Some are bothered by it; I am not, at least with my M20. The smaller heads will hold progressively less panning torque which can have an effect on long telephoto lenses. But those lenses deserve a Q20/M20.
I've never heard of a Markins head "slipping", if slipping means the ball moves after being locked down. I would destroy my lens mounts before any of my Markins heads (including the little Q3) would slip.
I own 3 Markins heads and all have performed flawlessly for many years (my first bought in 2004). For that reason, and because I have never handled a head that performed better (for me, the way I use them), I highly recommend them. I also recognize that other people have different feature preferences and prefer other heads. I think we get a good mix of recommendations here, based on people that own various heads they are happy with.
I am the primary mod here. Because I own and highly recommend Markins heads that is what I personally talk about. To the best of my knowledge there is no "editorial pressure" here on anyone, and there is no one actively involved on this forum that has any financial interest in what head you buy, with the exception of Jrp (one of the site founders) who does pop in from time to time. If I preferred RRS heads then that is what I would recommend and there would be absolutely no hint of pressure on me to do otherwise.
All the mods here are unpaid volunteers. We have absolutely no skin in the money side of things.
The reason you sense a "Markins-centric" environment here is simply the momentum that a few active members, such as myself, can have on what people buy. As more people buy the product, and are *satisfied* (that is key here) more people recommend it, and etc.
On the other hand we have at least one active mod here (Eric) that shoots RRS and highly recommends that brand. I obviously spend a lot of time here yet I don't think the preponderance of the posts here are "Markins-centric". I think there is a very good mix of opinions, something I am grateful for and encourage.
(edit: oops.. forgot to add Ned. I'm actually outnumbered here )
Whatever the members recommend here is largely based on what they've read in the past, what they own, and how they feel about their products. If it leans toward Markins then that's just the way it evolved.
This forum does act as the primary support mechanism for Markins products purchased from the site shop. That is part of the reason you see so many Markins discussions here.
I have yet to see a low priced head perform comparably to the higher priced heads. All the higher priced heads are in the same general price level (high or even higher!).
My thinking on this is that if it were possible to bang out $100 heads in the Far East that perform as well, someone would be doing it. But historically that has just not happened. And that suggests that there is simply too much fine engineering and manufacturing involved. I've seen some hints, though, that some pressure is slowly getting put on the high priced spreads.
There is a peculiar problem with ballheads (and tripods and other support gear) in that they are NOT readily available in local shops. Plus, local shops are disappearing quickly. Because of that, it takes years for a new head to get distributed to enough people to get a feel for the quality of the product. Few of us have experience with a number of different heads and it takes more than a 5 minute field test to understand the subtle differences that can make a head superior or near useless.
I see some indication that inroads have been made in "cheap manufacturing" but it will take years to see that pan out. And the problem with low priced products like that is that those years are longer than the life cycle of the average low end product.
Even if something were to stand the test of time, by the time that happens in many cases that exact product is no longer made and we have to start all over with the vetting process. That is one reason why the old-line (expensive) makers are successful. They don't continually change their products and therefore what they do make can stand the test of time and get vetted in the market place. The changes they do make are slow and evolutionary (such as the Markins M to Q lines).
Speaking purely personally here, I respond to requests for low priced heads as best I can. But I have never handled a head significantly cheaper that did not come with a complex set of compromises, many of which are difficult to explain to a first time ballhead user.
As a result I tend not to make specific recommendations in that area because I don't want to be responsible for a bad buy. I try to explain some of the important concepts in order to guide further research.
If I knew of good $100 heads that did not come with a list of caveats I would recommend them. But I don't. I leave that to other members who might be more comfortable recommending those specific products.
Just my own personal take on things
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#9. "RE: Tripod Ballheads. " | In response to Reply # 8Thu 16-Aug-12 04:36 PM
Neil, Markins is made in the Far East. Its Korean and widely believed to be a copy of the B1 from Arca-Swiss in function. Its "sweet spot" marketing term is not a new feature wholly developed by Markins, that is the hallmark of many heads. You are either a locked head person or a slipper. At least thats what I came away with after months of reading and studying this stuff. And I'm not talking about $100 heads here. Last I checked all the better ones were $300-$450 and that includes Far East, European and stateside products. Funny how materials, labor and tooling can be cheaper in many countries yet the price charged is the same as what the perceived market leader charges. Perception is a very powerful tool.
There is this site you might have heard of, Luminous Landscape, just some guys that shoot for a living and write about it. Am I a disciple? Hardly, but in reading about the D800 they were checking out I discovered the reviewer replaced his Markins heads with Photo Clam, another Korean company which markets an exact Markins copy except as he said, theirs worked better and it was much cheaper. Materials, fit and finish were right with Markins with the finish possibly being harder but only time would tell there.
There are other stories too which I ran across while researching. Markins didn't come across any better than anything else really, which is expected - except here. And thats where my question about biased comes in. I don't see that good mix of recommendations and in reading everything I can for the last few months I have looked. You might want to at least acknowledge that there are others making some pretty decent ballheads.
#10. "RE: Tripod Ballheads. " | In response to Reply # 9nrothschild Registered since 25th Jul 2004Thu 16-Aug-12 08:52 PM
First, I have never implied that "there are not others making pretty decent heads". Quite the contrary. The fact that I prefer Markins does not mean others are not good, it is only a matter of degree and what comes out on top for my purposes and the purposes I suspect most put their heads to use.
If I have stated that in the past I would like to see the links. Otherwise I find it impossible to even discuss vague assertions, especially those that I believe mischaracterize many years of my own discussions here.
The Markins M10 is not "a copy" of the B1. What it does share in common is the tension limiting verses a separate tension shoe. If you tore them down I think you would see other differences. The most obvious example is that the A-S has an elliptical head, where the Markins is spherical. If you understood ballheads you would understand the fundamental difference and implications. Your assertion of "widely believed" is probably easier thrown out here than proven, assuming what others believe might be important in some context.
I still stand behind what I said before- if these products are over-priced, regardless of wage scales whereever they are made, someone would be out there by now eating their lunch. I would surely rather be buying less expensive heads but find them for me. I haven't. Same with gimbals. Lots of people think Wimberly is overpriced yet I've never found a truly comparable gimbal for significantly less money. And I have looked, and handled many other gimbals in the field. In this global economy real price/quality disparities don't tend to last. And that could change tomorrow...
I have a Markins M10 that I bought in 2004. I have beat it up as much as most people would in that time, perhaps more, but that head does not have a single scratch or mar on it. Same for the M20 and Q3, which I have now owned for years but less time than the M10. The Markins "hard anodized" process is the real deal, better than RRS for example, which is known to scratch easily (according to reports I've read).
Who do you want to believe, me with 8 years of wear and tear on that head, or someone apparently speculating on the future performance of his new head? And if your summation is accurate, that was all pure speculation and you even indicate it as such. I don't know what to make of that. And more importantly I think you have tough sledding to convince me I am wrong on that point based on some second hand review you read.
I can't compare that finish to the Photoclam I extensively tested because I never put nearly as much use on that head and was generally more careful with it. I was not tasked with destructive testing. I just know how well my Markins has stood the test of time.
Since you bring up the Photoclam as a specific example...
The Photoclam is a good head; I've spent considerable time with the (PC-44) model sized to the M10. My feeling is that the fit and finish is very good but in some ways it lacks the finish of the Markins. For example, no one except Markins makes a ball so smooth it has a permanent "wet" look. And it is the finish of that ball that matters more than anything you can see on the outside of the head. At least I've never seen a ball head with a ball finished in that way. By my way of thinking the Photoclam is a close second and smoother (looking) than, say, the RRS heads I've handled, but in my opinion they did not quite duplicate the Markins machining. That's just my personal observation and opinion, but a strong one.
In terms of performance I found the Photoclam to perform very well. The M10 sized model (PC-44) performs a hair under my M10 and a hair better than my Q3. That based on careful tests of the angles the two heads could hold at certain tension levels while supporting a wide range of lenses up to a 500/4.
I've never handled any other sizes but if the next size (48mm) model then performs about the same as an M10 then the relative value is not as distant (or perhaps non-existent) because that next size up is actually more expensive than the Markins Q10 and certainly heavier and bulkier for same or nearly same perfomance.
At best, assuming equal performance (not my experience) the PC44 is $300 verses $350 for the M10. I don't consider that "much cheaper" nor do I consider it a "better performer". In other words your assessment based on net surfing does not square with the basic specs nor is it remotely close to my actual extensive observations.
That is my "review" of the one Photoclam I have extensive experience with, verses the 3 Markins heads I've owned for many years. Were all these reviews you read based on extensive experience with one head, or both heads, or a comparison of specs?
Your research is obviously purely based on net surfing and not actual use and handling. Yet you are arguing my conclusions that are based on my own extensive exprience with these exact same products?
If you actually compared the Markins head to the Photoclam and tried to square it with what you've read, you might then come to the conclusion that to a great degree "fit and finish" and performance is in the minds of the beholder. You seem to be converting some vague unreferenced opinions into some sort of "ultimate truth" that I suspect you would find far more elusive if you did your own personal hands on testing instead.
The Luminous Landscape reviewer is entitled to his opinion (I have not even read it). But that can't change my opinion based on real world extensive use, and I find the comments about performance and finish odd because my own observations are in at least one case very different. Maybe I just prefer the "Markins Look" because I see nothing on the Photclam that is "better" in that way.
You may insist that we are "Markins dominant" here, or whatever you are implying, but the fact is that of the three most active mods here, I am the only one of the three shooting and recommending Markins.
We have a couple of active members here that shoot and recommend Photoclam, as well as a number of Kirk users. What the members at large shoot, and why they chose their products, is a matter no one can accurately even speculate on. However, I don't think your assertion would survive statistical scrutiny. If you want to insist on that you will have to do that leg work. I have lived this forum for many years and don't need to do that work. I "lived" those archives in real time.
I cannot and will not argue a case based on vague unlinked references to stuff you read on the internet. That because I read more than enough material that is senseless to me, in the context of statements about products with which I am quite familiar. In fact I find good reviews of support gear, by people that have actually compared enough gear to arrive at an intelligent conclusion, to be quite rare.
You may have spent a hundred hours researching this on the internet. That does not make anything in particular that you read "true" or something I might agree with, just as I do not agree with your 2nd hand summation of that Photoclam review. What is lacking in this exchange is comments from you based on real world experience. That is something we could discuss.
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#11. "RE: Tripod Ballheads. " | In response to Reply # 9Vlad_IT Nikonian since 21st Sep 2011Fri 17-Aug-12 03:50 AM | edited Fri 17-Aug-12 12:59 PM by Vlad_IT
can I ask you a rhetorical question? What make is your car? How many manufacturers you changed in your driver's life? Same thing with the ballheads, I guess.
I'm sure something new and better is being manufactured "right at this moment", but I'm not gambling with my money - whatever works for many experienced photographers should (at list hypothetically) work for me. So far this approach works wonderfully for me. I have only 3 items that I bough brand new - D7000 body, Gitzo monopod and Sigma 50-500 lens. EVERYTHING else, including 6 high-end nikon lenses, 2 markins ballhead, gitzo tripod (and more) I bough used, knowing it will work jus as good as i would buy it brand new, and I might resell that equipment later, recovering most of my money. And the only reason I can do that - because years and years of available knowledge (history if you wish) of usage. Will I resell a photoclamp item at the same price I bought it if it would be out of warranty? I don't know, but my guess would be "NO".
#12. "RE: Tripod Ballheads. " | In response to Reply # 7jacsr Registered since 08th Apr 2006Fri 17-Aug-12 10:53 PM | edited Sat 18-Aug-12 12:30 PM by jacsr
Now this is a topic I believe I can comment on.
I have owned a Photoclam PC-48NS (little over 3 years) and a Markins M20 for 4 years. I have used them both extensively in all types of environments and they are both great heads. Both are of excellent quality and workmanship. I saw little difference in the quality of the coating or operational functionality. Both lock down tight and as Neil commented you would rip the lens foot off before the heads would move. The PhotoClam’s pan base did lock down a little tighter, but as was explained the Markins base is designed not to do so. The Markins performed slightly better in the sweet spot but not by much. These are my personal hands on, over 3 years of use, experience with the two heads.
I bought my PhotoClam when they were substantially less expensive ($100+ less) than the comparable Markins. At that price point the PhotoClam was a GREAT value, 90-95% of the quality and functionality for a little less than 2/3 the cost. That was then, this is now. The PC48-NS now sells for $364 at B&H and the Q20 sells for $390 a $26 dollar difference. I do not know about you but I do not consider $26 a substantial savings.
As for the pro who switched from Markins to PhotoClam, all I have to say is if it works for him then great. Opinions like that are subjective, as are mine above. It is all based on the individual’s own bias based on what they like or dislike about a particular product.
I have also used and tested an AS Z1 and also found it to be a great head. The elliptical head has it advantages but many find it difficult to adjust to. I for one like how the head functions once you move past 20% from horizontal, if you have used a ball head you know what I am referring. At $389 it is right in the mix.
It is fortunate for us as consumers that we have so many excellent options to choose from. At this price point one would have to nit pick to really find major differences and that nit picking would be totally subjective. For what may be important to one means nothing to another.
Note: The PC48 and Feisol 3471 have been given to my son. Not due to performance or quality issues but because I was not going to give him the more expensive Markins/Gitzo combination.
Edit: I was curious so I checked, I purchased the Markins and PhotoClam 4 years ago (within months) and used them both for a little over 3 before "note" above. I have corrected the post.
As always these are my opinions and as such do with them, as you will.