I am the happy owner and heavy user of one of these beauties. It is extremely versatile, quick and easy to use, apparently still a favorite among many pros. You only have to grip the handle and you can then position your camera anywhere within the 180° sphere. It works very well, whether mounted on a tripod or on a monopod.
Manfrotto #222 Grip Action Ball Head
Known in the US as the Bogen 3265
It comes supplied with a quick release camera plate with secondary safety lock, a built-in bubble level - to which I never pay any attention - and tension adjustment for the grip handle which is very useful to control for heavier cameras, like the Nikon D5, a D850 with battery grip or the Nikon F6 with battery grip.
With a typical pan-tilt head you first have to worry about the pan angle, then the downwards or upwards tilt and finally with the side inclination. With a typical ballhead you have to set the friction knob and if not a pro ballhead, each time you need to change the angle, you need to fumble with the knobs again.
With this grip action ball head, all three adjustments are made in a single movement, that is why I don't mind repeating: "versatile, quick and easy to use".
Very light, made of cast aluminum, it does not add much to the weight of your monopod or tripod (780g, or 1.7 lbs), an important consideration in the field. I do not hesitate to recommend this nice gadget, so far proven to be ideal for 35mm cameras with short or medium focal length lenses. I used it first with the trusty Nikon F4s + 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 AF Zoom Nikkor and it is was a real pleasure to work with. Today it sees action from a F850 and several tele lenses, such as the 80-400mm VR lens (seen above) with very good results, and at times with a teleconverter. Several Nikonians use it on their tripods and seemingly love it.
Since my long lenses all have tripod collars, I have no concern for vertical shoots, but it has no problem to hold cameras at 90° with tele lenses or smaller, wider ones.
|A good friend argued that the Manfrotto standard proprietary quick release plate unit has no "lip" or edge at the rear, as both the Kirk and Really Right Stuff (Arca Swiss Style) camera plates do, to prevent camera rotation or position shift, or loosening of the screw holding the plate. Well, there is always the Manfrotto 200PLARCH-14 architectural plate (Bogen 3157NR) that works very well for me.|
Indeed the Markins, Kirk, Arca Swiss, Graf Studioball and other ballheads more commonly used by professionals, do in fact accept or can be adapted to the Arca Swiss type of plate, at a higher price. I may eventually change the head platform with a Markins / Arca Swiss type one, but it will be an added luxury to an already splendid performer.
Perhaps more important, all advanced amateurs and even some pros under a budget who have followed my recommendation to get it have come back to say: "Wow, thanks".
And I've learnt that Ben E., a paparazzo from Los Angeles, California, mounted his D1X on a 500mm f/4, on top of the 222/3265 pistol grip ballhead when on assignment. (See Popular Photography & Imaging magazine, December 2004 issue, page 98). Ask your dealer to show you where is the load strength adjustment screw; that's the trick for heavy loads.
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