I'm just getting into photography I purchased a D70 my first camera so i am as beginner as beginner gets. even so It did not take long to figure out that a tripod is a must have item. I know the rule of thumb is buy the best you can afford but after the camera thats not much. Im going with Bogen 3021b for the legs.It seems heads go from low to hi end with not much in the midle. any suggestions would be a great help in my serch
Bob is right, a good (if not excellent) ball head is expensive. I went the inexpensive route and use the Bogen 488RC2. It is an okay ball head with a fairly decent load rating. It has a separate pan control.
I'm saving money, my next upgrade will be a Markins ball head (sold through the Nikonians Proshop. Pricey but worth it. If I had sprung for this ball head earlier, I'm sure I would have saved more money in the long run.
It is definitely true that investing in a "pro quality" ballhead like the Markins that the Nikonians Shop sells, or those from Kirk or Arca-Swiss, will usually be a good idea in the long run.
Having said that, my first "serious" ballhead was a Manfrotto/Bogen 488, and for the money I found it to be pretty good. If you're not using heavy bodies and lenses it will probably do the business for you.
I keep thinking about getting the Markins, but honestly, I really like the 488. I was shooting with a 300 f2.8 EDIF on an F5 this week. I used a Gitzo 2220 and Bogen 3021 both with 488rc2's and they were really solid. The head was easy to manipulate, and locked down very securely. I am able to use the locking knob very effectively as a tension control. I'd really like a Markins, but unless I get a larger lens, I really don't think I have an immediate need.
I have a Bogen, an Acratech and now a Markins (Christmas gift from my wife and mother in law)and if you plan on doing anything that requires precision of focusing/placement such as macro WAIT and save up!! Be patient and save yourself money, time and aggravation galore and buy just one ballhead that works right--stays EXACTLY where you left it when you let go of it. Guessing on repostioning multiple times really takes the "fun" out of macro work with flowers, insects, etc. All of that said, it is not nearly as critical a decision if you plan on doing mostly landscapes as a little creep doesn't make as big a difference in the "final" framing of the shot. Needless to say---I wasn't patient---a virtue I am still learning at 51! Take your time deciding and save your money along the way!
Mike (and others), I have to ask, what exactly will the Markins give me that the 488 doesn't? I do a ton of macro at 1:1 and greater and I never have any of the problems that you mentioned. Ok, I do occasionally have to tighten the QR plates on the bodies or lenses, but not enough to be a pain. I use a focusing rail sometimes and the 488 at other times and this head stays exactly where I lock it. I'm not being argumentative, I really want to know because I have been considering the investment in the Markins. If I switch I will need plates for everything and it is quite a bit of money with all that considered. I believe all of you with the experience who say that it is a great product, but if what I have is doing the job well, I'm reluctant to "fix it if it ain't broke." Right now I am looking at a more stable tripod (due to the acquisition of a 300 f2.8...which the 488 handles just fine) rather than a new ballhead. I do fine art nature photography of all types and ultimate image quality (and enlarging) is my overiding goal at all times, so the "if your just taking snapshots of the family or 5x7's", and "you don't need the best equipment if your only..." isn't valid in my case. Am I just lucky? Delusional? Crazy? Whadaya think folks?
J- No problem--I teach high school--"arguing" is what I do for a living But seriously, this is the place for 2 sided discussions on the pro's and con's of all things photographic and Nikon! I shoot (when I can!) telephoto as well as macro. If you are all zoomed in waiting for that heron shot and you let go of the camera for a second and the bird has moved or the camera has dropped---what a pain. And it did with my other 2 ballheads-- more with one than the other. The second thing is being able to set the tension so that when I let go of the rig and the "object" moves the camera hasn't dropped or is locked down tight and unmovable. Then I can easily/quickly reposition the rig for the shot or pan after a flying bird without it flopping all over the place. I just got the Markins yesterday and I haven't had a chance to test it fully---if it doesn't do all these things well I will send it back. However, based on everyone's comments I believe it will--also based on some pre-lim "messing" around last night. Sorry so wordy.
jbear, I agree, if you aren't having problems, then no need to fix it, regardless of what you are using or what its reputation is. If its doing the job, the name, price and reputation don't matter.
However, as with all things, once you try the "better" product you discover certain positive features that you never thought about. And then you can't live without them!! This does not diminish the value of the older product but does help to understand the appeal and price of the "better" one. I believe there are limits to the old saying "you get what you pay for." Sometimes you pay a little and get a lot (I'm always looking for that deal), and sometimes you pay a lot and don't get a commensurate increase in value. I think this happens way more than many of us are willing to admit. We think the high price equals higher value but it just isn't. But the vast majority of the time you do get what you pay for and I think the Markins, or the Kirk heads for that matter, perfectly prove that old saying.
George-- No argument there--my wife and I don't "splurge" on much or very often. And there are plenty of bargains---always looking for them, too. Two areas of note--used cars and used lenses--if you can test them out first--it's the way to go.
If you are all zoomed in waiting for that heron shot and you let go of the camera for a second and the bird has moved or the camera has dropped---what a pain. And it did with my other 2 ballheads-- more with one than the other. The second thing is being able to set the tension so that when I let go of the rig and the "object" moves the camera hasn't dropped or is locked down tight and unmovable. Then I can easily/quickly reposition the rig for the shot or pan after a flying bird without it flopping all over the place.
And that is precisely why I'm saving to upgrade to a Markins.
How much do you think I would need to set aside for such a conversion if I decided to do it (have a look at my profile if you wouldn't mind)? I am looking, right now, at better tripod options for my current gear. That is actually getting complicated (what isn't?). My original thought was a Gitzo 1227, Hakuba 503,6230, Velbon EL Charmagne 630, or Feisol 3303(?). Now I'm wondering if a Gitzo aluminum such as the 410 would be a better option since I won't be hiking with the 300 2.8. Sorry that this thread is going all over the place, but you guys are being so informative that I find myself taking advantage
If you do a lot of macro and field work, and don't find weight an issue I humbly recommend the set-up I have:
Gitzo Explorer G2220 and Kirk BH-3 which comes with one generic plate. You will need a plate for each body and large lens. NewTech makes an excellent generic plate for much less than Kirk, Markins and RRS. the one on my FA/MD-15 does not twist at all and cost about $19.
Yes the Markins, et al have what are called Arca Swiss style quick release mechanisms. The Newtech machine plates are a bargain and work great--I also have a couple (1 for well over a year with no slipping or other problem encountered.) I also agree with 1 plate per body and anothet plate for each heavy lens that you would mount to the ballhead instead of the camera body. I wouldn't replace a Gitzo until I found out it didn't do something I needed it to, after I got a ballhead.
Hi Anthony, Don't get me wrong...I love my Gitzo Explorer. I was looking at something with less vibration with the legs extendeded for the 300/2.8 and 400/5.6 w/tc's. When I use the 300 on the Gitzo with the legs down, it is very stable with virually no vibration (which is why I don't think the head needs changing) I also need something that can go to the ground with a big tele on it (is there a short post for the 2220?). to answer your other question, I use a PG-2 stage and actually, it isn't as smooth as I'd lke, so I'm looking at replacement options for that too. I guess I'm just doing a lot of reevaluating in general (I don't recommend it...it is expensive ).
I'm not familiar with other Gitzo tripods but to get something with less vibration for your big lenses you are going to need something fairly beefy. I find my Explorer perfectly stable with a combined weight of over 7 pounds on it (80-200 with t/c, FA with MD-15). and I don't think its general leg design is any different from most other standard aluminum Gitzos.
Why would you want a short post for an Explorer? Are you sure we're talking about the same Explorer? It gets closer to the ground than anything out there. All you have to do is put the center column in a horizontal position, snug it all the way up to the main housing for stability and flip your ball head into a vertical position. Splay the legs out as much as you want.
If you have a big 400mm lens, the Kirk BH-3 _might_ be sufficient. I'm not sure how big the 400 5.6 is, smaller than the 300 2.8 I'm assuming. But if it is bigger than than the 300 2.8 the Markins would likely be a safer bet.
Yeah, we're talking about the same Explorer I'll try the method you've described. I guess it didn't seem like it would be stable for long focal lengths, but I haven't tried it now have I? I'm gonna go do that this weekend and see how it goes. Thanks George.