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Accessories Reviews

Which ball head? A comparison

J. Ramon Palacios (jrp)


Keywords: markins, ballhead, non_nikon

Show pages (7 Pages)

Introduction to the Markins ball heads

The absolute sharpness of the landscapes and architectural images we admire, has a lot to do with the rock steadiness of the camera while shooting. To obtain it, a sturdy tripod and an unmovable tripod head are a must.

Having a ball head therefore meant to be at least halfway towards the professionals level in terms of camera support, adding to vibration reduction, ease of use in the field and equipment safety.  However, these most ingenious devices came not in comfortable sizes, nor weights and definitively not prices. 

Arca Swiss and Kirk ballheads

So while I upgraded tripods, kept on using various 3-way heads, but dedicated long hours to study the structural, mechanical and operational characteristics of the top ball heads ... and to yearning. 

 

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It soon became very evident the superiority and ease of use of the top brands. One single partial twist of a knob (or none!) and the camera could be tilted, inclined, in fact rotated. And most made panning a cinch. Locking capacity was comparatively huge, making the camera almost impossible to move after setting.

The questions "Do I really need one?", "Can it really make my images better?" and "Can I justify it?", had different answers depending on the mood and the budget at the time. One good night, very late, after reading John Shaw's "Close ups in Nature" and "Landscape Photography" for the nth time, the answers to the three questions above were simply: "Yes", "Yes" and "I don't have to" respectively. I must have been running a fever since I also remember the thought: "Ok, I have the F4 and the 24mm f/2.8 AF like he does, all I need now is the ball head". Yeah, right!

Anyway, I took upon serious consideration Shaw's recommendation for a Bogen 3038 (Manfrotto 268) and decided against their lever design. These are now discontinued so the market has spoken. But the decision to go into a ball head was made.

After the good experience with Manfrotto tripods (then Bogen in the USA) and John Shaw's admonition "Generally speaking, the larger the ball, the sturdier the head", I kept on looking into their products and bought the knob design Manfrotto 468RC (later updated as a 468MGRC2 Hydrostatic). The then existing 469RC just seemed unnecessarily massive.

Well, my camera was finally rock steady, it never vibrated, slipped or twist, once I had the 200PLARCH-14 (then Bogen 3157NR) "architectural" plates on and the ball head fully locked before shooting. 

I have no complaints, only praise for this ball head, even when it made my carbon fiber tripod top-heavy.

 
Manfrotto 468RC ball head

 

Ballheads may creep

So I was in ball head heaven for no less than three years, until I started to buy fast lenses and do serious macro work. "Creeping" (unwanted movement of the ball) was a malady present on all the ball heads I tried. That was also the collective experience of many Nikonians members.

Then, Nikonian BJ Nicholls posted a message to say: "Have you seen the Markins ball head?"  I've seen it and it had caught my attention but couldn't get my hands on one, so I went back for a fourth and fifth closer look.

That was the beginning of the end of the intensity of my love affair with the 3435QR. Deep affection and gratefulness remain. No regrets. But as soon as I saw the Markins, read its specs, made an objective comparative analysis over its metrics and listen to the impressions of its users, I knew what I wanted now.

Interestingly, Markins was the only one publishing its rated torque. With Its revolutionary design, demolishing the rigidity principles of a vise under which most ball heads are built to this date, I just had to have one.


From any ball head, you want to have the peace of mind of knowing your gear will not vibrate nor move at all out of its own volition. This saves from blurred images and potential costly repairs from nasty falls. It should stay put exactly where you set it. That is why one should avoid as much as possible any mini or midi-ball.

Markins Products lineup

Markins fine products lineup

 

Ball head comparison: Arca Swiss, Kirk, RRS and Markins

The Arca Swiss Monoballs soon after introduction became the dream of many amateurs and pros, at the forefront of quality and performance. Even today, after some 30 years of its introduction into the market, the unique ball shape (an ellipse rather than a sphere) still distinguishes it from all others. The heavier your gear, the more the advantages of the Arca Swiss become evident. This design promotes complete lock of the ball head; nevertheless, endorsement was always wide. 

Also under the light of endorsements, the next best option was then the Kirk BH-1. The Kirk is the heaviest of those tested and the separate friction knob isn't "as clean a design as the integral tension dial that Arca and Markins use", as Nikonian BJ Nicholls has pointed out. However, like the Arca, the Kirk BH-1 got high praise from pro photographers. And there is no doubt that the RRS looks sexy with its dual open channels. As for a lever action clamp that some may prefer, it can be installed on any ball head.

The table below may shed some additional light into the why of my change of mind and sudden urge to get a Markins instead, despite prior recommendations:

 

Arca Swiss B1

Kirk BH-1

RRS_BH-55_Pro

Markins M10

Arca Swiss B1** Kirk BH-1 RRS BH-55 Pro Markins  M10***
Weight: 1.7 lbs 2 lbs 1.86 lbs

1.1 lbs

772 grams 909 grams 843 grams

498 grams

Load capacity:
90 lbs*
88 lbs* 50 lbs

88 lbs

40.9 Kg* 40 Kg* 23 Kg

40 Kg

Load/Weight ratio: 53:1
-
44:1*
-
27:1
-

80:1
.

Height: 4.5 inches 4.5 inches 3.7 inches

3.9 inches

114mm 114mm 93mm

98mm

Street Price at the time
$390
-

$355
$415

$340

100%

91%

106%

87%

* Assumed. Do not specify load capacity.
** Now discontinued
*** Now upgraded to the Q10

 

The four ball heads in the table above give you the peace of mind that your gear will stay put when fully locked. The bigger the load the ball head can handle, the easier it is, and the bigger the ratio of load capacity to the weight of the head itself, the more efficient. This means you don't have to pay a weight toll for getting such peace of mind.  

The only ball head manufacturer who publishes the torque of their products is Markins. The M10 was rated at 175 lbf-in (200 kgf-cm). This means that the maximum load rating for the M10 is measured at a 5 cm (1.97 in) displacement of the center of gravity of the load from the center of gravity of the ball head (200 kg-cm/5cm = 40 Kg).

The recommendation for professional ball heads is to have at least three times the load capacity for your heaviest camera-lens combination in order to have smooth operation at the "sweet spot". The sweet spot is the friction setting where you can still move your gear under pressure, but it will stay put, won't creep at any angle, without having to touch the controls at all, yet retaining smoothness and preventing flopping of your gear. You may want to try them all yourself as we did, you will see that only half of the above heads can do it. Is it that important? Most serious photographers and especially macro shooters will tell you that precise positioning with no creep is critical.

The Markins M10 was the lightest of all four, the smallest, capable of the same loads of the other biggies -with room to spare to ensure smoothness- and the price is most competitive (the lowest). This has been further improved by Markins with the introduction of the Q10 and Q20 ball heads. An updated comparison is at the conclusions.

So Markins shattered the old logic: "The larger the ball, the sturdier the head" with its patented unique floating bi-axial locking mechanism. When adding that materials, manufacturing and finish are at least as good as those on any other of the very few pro ball heads, not to mention easier handling, all these factors made it the clear winner and the decision to purchase and recommend it really easy. 

The Markins heads are of high quality. The design is simple, its operation even more and have proven to be reliable in the field as attested by its users. So we then turned into how to be able to share them with Nikonians around the world.

 


It then took a year, from April 2001 to October 2002, when I finally had my own Markins ballhead in my hands and then into the tripod. I have been most happy ever since.

 

Markins M10 Titanium

Markins M10 Titanium Limited Edition

 

These are the controls in detail, shown on a M20 ball head:

Markins ball head description


The Markins quick release shoe or clamp is of the pro ball heads industry standard dove-tail style, beautifully finished and now with and even rounder contour. The quick release clamp knob requires just half a turn to release the plate to slide in or out again.

The friction limit adjust dial is easy and smooth to turn with the tip of a finger. 

To set the ballhead for a given set of gear, start by mounting it into the quick release shoe (clamp); then, holding the gear in your hand so it won't drop, loose both the progressive friction control knob and the friction limit adjust dial. Then turn the progressive (big) knob clockwise only enough so one can move the mounted gear but will stay put if untouched. Then turn the friction limit adjust dial clockwise -with the tip of the finger- as far as it can go (without forcing it) to lock the ball in place and still able to move the camera into any position without having to touch the controls. With the friction limit adjust dial (small) turned in. It is now impossible to turn accidentally the clamp knob back to a position where the gear will fall. That's it. You have found its "sweet spot"  

If you still want to fully lock the gear, just turn clockwise the progressive friction control knob a little, until you cannot move your camera at all. It will take a small fraction of a turn to remain fixed and you are all set. But this is not necessary and will just slow you down when making changes in composition. This is a pro ball head, not a vise.

The friction limit adjust dial has to be re-calibrated only when and if your gear gets a lot heavier or a lot lighter.

You want to be able to smoothly move the camera into shooting position to make final composition adjustments, but without creep, slip or drop if you let go and without further unlocking and relocking the ball. This is what the extra load capacity is for.

 

Markins Products lineup


When mounting the ball head on a Bogen/Manfrotto tripod, it has been advised by previous users of other ball heads and the manufacturer to be careful not to over tighten the three screws under the tripod head mounting plate, to avoid excessive pressure on the bottom of the panoramic base, inhibiting its designed smooth glide. Others might prefer to use a "lock tite" type of semi permanent (blue, not red) plumbing glue instead of the screws.

Some users with not excessively heavy setups find unnecessary to do either and opt for simple nail polish on the threads or nothing at all; others, resort to tightening it with a rubber strap wrench.

 

 


Markins ball heads in the field

I finally had a hold of my first Markins at Moab, Utah, at the 2nd Nikonians Photo Adventure (ANPAT 2). BJ Nichols, our guide and organizer for the trip, had invited Mr. BI Mah, designer and manufacturer of the Markins ball head, to join us. It was a privilege to meet him, a true renaissance man. An added pleasant surprise was that he brought with him several ball heads to sell and delivered in person a new M10 instead of the discontinued M1-PQI I asked and paid for. We were happy of finally making direct contact, so we spent a good portion of the trip together and learned to admire him also as a highly accomplished and passionate photographer. We were most fortunate to repeat the experience at the 3rd Nikonians Photo Adventure in September, 2003.

 

Click for another recent image

Nikonian Byung-Ik Mah with his Coolpix, by Bob Tomerlin (drjimbob), at the closing dinner of the 3rd Annual Nikonians Photo Adventure Tour into Manitoba Canada

 


Finding the correct tension adjustment for the camera with lens, thought its friction limit dial was easy and fast. Never felt the need to readjust it until I began to use the rally big guns and it worked very well once reset.

The anodizing is very well done and hard, making it very tough to scratches.

My Markins ball heads have been subjected to dusty desert wind with mineral ore, both in Utah and Arizona, and could not notice a change in its performance. The finish seems to be excellent, at so small tolerances, that the Arizona desert dust did not get into the ball. Most impressive since I had to clean the contacts on body and lenses to make the auto focus function work. It stopped while using the 80-400mm VR lens on a F5 body, missing what looked like a great shot of our guide into Monument Valley, Wind-Talker Tom Philips. 

It may be advisable to get RRS or Kirk Arca-style customized replacement feet with integrated plate for big lenses, but Markins also makes specific plates for lenses, including the really big guns, like the 400mm, 500mm and 600mm Nikkors.

Even big bodies when with smaller lenses, with a lip (flange) plate, like the Markins PG-34N, will not twist even when in odd positions.

The P3U has an exquisite and specific contour design to fit the massive Pro DSLRs D6, D5, D4, D3, D3x and D3s.

 

Markins PG-34N Camera Plate

Markins P3U camera plate

 


For the really big guns

For added peace of mind and superior smoothness when handling big guns, like the 200-400mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor, the 500mm f/4D IF-ED AF-S II Nikkor, or even the 400mm f/2.8D IF-ED AF-S II Nikkor and the 600mm f/4D IF-ED AF-S II Nikkor, many Nikonians resorted to the M20 instead of the M10.

CB

Claus Brandt, European Nature Photographer of the Year 2005
With his Markins M20 with Wimberley Sidekick on a Gitzo tripod at the Florida Everglades

 

In the updated definition of a pro ball head, one important characteristic is that the controls should not be binary, i.e. locked or unlocked; but have a mid ground where the gear stays put if left alone -without slipping or creeping- and can be moved easily without having to touch the controls. The higher the load capacity in relation to the actual load -more so with heavy gear- the easier is to find and enjoy effortlessly that mid ground. This is called by many the "sweet spot"

So it is not that you needed a higher load capacity than that of the M10, but with heavier gear it adds peace of mind as it keeps the ball head silky smooth in that mentioned middle ground, even when dealing with a monster lens.

 

Comparison between Arca, Burzynski and Markins ball heads

As the table below shows, the M20 retained almost the same efficient load capacity to weight ratio of the M10, increasing it by 5Kg ~ 11lbs while only adding 70g ~ 0.26lbs of weight, 3mm of height and a very few mm of diameter. In consequence, even when handling the really big guns, with the Markins Q20 you keep the most efficient load capacity to weight ratio and smoothest operation at its sweet spot.

Arca Swiss B2

Burzynski

2004 Markins M20

2004 Markins M10

Arca Swiss B2 Burzynski Markins  M20 Markins  M10
Weight: 3.4 lbs 2.28 lbs

1.25 lbs

1.09 lbs

1,550 grams 1,035 grams

568 grams

498 grams

Load capacity:
150 lbs

110 lbs

100 lbs

88 lbs

68 Kg 50 Kg

45 Kg

40 Kg

Load/Weight ratio: 44:1 48:1

79:1

80:1

Height:
5 inches
3.78 inches

3.98 inches

3.86 inches

127mm 96mm

101mm

98mm

Street Price USD: $730 $430

$390

$340

100% 59%

53%

47%

 

And so the Markins M20 was also light and small, capable of the same loads of any other biggie and the price remains most competitive.

If one insists on the delightful handling of the gimbal-type ball heads -allowing for movement in any and all directions- and you don't want to invest in a dedicated head and tripod, all that is needed is a Wimberley Sidekick and you are ready for birding or other swift panning-demanding type of photography.

At right, Nikonian pro bobj with his then brand new 500mm f/4D IF-ED AF-S II Nikkor, aiming at me -aiming at him- in Manitoba, Canada, while at the 3th Annual Nikonians Photo Adventure Trip.

He was using the M20 with Wimberley Sidekick over a Bogen tripod leveling base on his flat-top Gitzo Syetmatic G1325 tripod.

 

bobj by jrp

 

A small note on the evolution of Markins ball head clamps. The original stop screw at the end of the clamp was replaced by an innovative spring-loaded retention or "stop pin" for hollow plates. The later newer QR-48 on the M10 and QR-60 on the M20 were lighter compared to the former models and not only they had rounder corners, they also integrated a bubble level and a captive knob.

Today, such beautiful and efficient designs have been fiurther improved and offer two options: the screw knob type clamp and the ambidextrous adjustable lever type clamp.

 

 

 


A New Ball Head by Markins

With the M10 and M20 ball heads, the medium to heavy gear segment was fully covered, however, we felt a smaller one was needed for light loads on light tripods and for use on monopods. Markins responded with the new Q3 ball head, the lightest yet, comfortably fitting our description of the ideal head for that use.

Markins Ball Heads

Markins ball heads lineup

 

 

Comparison between Linhof, NovoFlex, FLM and Markins

Our European Nikonians members have been asking for comparisons with ball heads more easily available to them. So here it is.

 

Linhof Profi III QR

Novoflex CB 5 QB

FLM 58 FT QR

Markins

Linhof Profi III QR NovoFlex CB 5 QB FLM 58 FT QR Markins  Q3
Weight: 2.82 lbs 1.89 lbs 1.94 lbs

0.85 lbs

1,280 grams 860 grams 880 grams

385 grams

Load capacity:
22 lbs
26.4 lbs 33 lbs

66 lbs

10 Kg 12 Kg 15 Kg

30 Kg

Load/Weight ratio: 7.8:1
-
14:1
-
17:1
-

78:1
.

Height: 5 inches 4.5 inches 5.2 inches

3.6 inches

127mm 114mm 132mm

91mm

Street Price USD: $740
-

$740
$350

$270

100%

100%

47%

36%

 


Although the four ballheads above are often considered "pro" ball heads, the Linhof has no progessive tension control and the clamp is of proprietary design, not for the dove tail industry standard plates.  Also, the FLM has a "tilt" function, which actually locks movement on two axis, allowing for a reduced "sweet spot" to tilt only, not on three axis, and also with proprietary plates.

In terms of finishing, the Novoflex ClassicBall 5 QBase is simply ravishing and also very good at having preset tension control levels for various gear combinations. Pricey, though.

There is much confusion, especially when doing comparisons, making people cross classes inadvertently, mixing heads with very different load capacities and capabilities, like apples with oranges. However, one thing is certain: rated load capacity published is the maximum each manufacturer is willing to accept as a limit to avoid customer complaints. Some even prefer not to publish max load capacity.

After trying many, these are our requirements for a Professional Tripod Ball Head:

 

1. Supports at least three (3) times the weight of the user's heaviest camera-lens combination. This ensures smoothness.
2. Easy to use, easy to carry, easy to operate and built for a lifetime.
3. Low in height for the lowest center of gravity, without interfering with the ball head itself or the tripod in all movements.
4. Light weight, because the heavier the tripod head the higher the center of gravity. Most important for stability and more so with the light carbon fiber tripods.
5. Accurate and dependable operation regardless of extreme weather conditions.
6. Have a progressive ball locking mechanism (not just on and off like a vise) with smoothest handling.
7. Have a "sweet spot" friction setting which allows for no-creeping and yet able to smoothly move the gear without having to touch the controls. (794Kb download windows media movie)
8. Provide sturdy support with ultra-high torque and extra-low damping factor.
9. Have a maintenance free system, except for cleaning. No need of grease for lubrication, which may contaminate the photographer's hand and even the camera equipment.
10. Have a clamp for industry standard dove tail plates, Arca Swiss style.

 

Once more, the Q3, the youngest of the Markins trio, is the lightest of all four above, the smallest, capable of the same loads and more -with room to spare to ensure smoothness- and for its price it is more than competitive. A Q3T model was developed to fit the Gitzo Traveller tripods.

If you want to learn why the Q3 is called Emille and the legend around it, go here

 

 

When on a tight budget is is best to wait until you can afford a truly pro ball head. Otherwise you will end up with frustration and spending more.

The Markins_ball heads are comparatively affordable and very high quality alternatives for a professional ball head. We, and many Nikonians members, can highly recommend them. I now have two myself.

Click for enlargement

My oldest grandson, helping me to show how easy it is to operate it, a few years back

 

Here is a complete comparative listing of the latest Markins ball heads

 

Below, a ramdon small sample of comments made by Nikonians, owners of a Markins ball head:
-----------------
... the Markins Q20's sweet spot is something one has to experience to believe. Simply amazing!
My compliments to the Nikonians team and Markins for designing this truly amazing system."

Michael, Nikonian in USA
-----------------
I just received my special order Markins M10 from the Nikonians PhotoProShop.... I opened the box and my jaw hit the floor. This may sound petty to some, but most of you will know the feeling. This thing is STUNNING. Really, truly, a thing of beauty.... use with my D200 I have had has been silky smooth all around. The "sweet spot" is really nice-- to be able to set the tension knob so that you can still reposition the camera without loosening the knob. Wow, just wow.... this Markins ball head really seems to be in another league! JRP and others here have stated this, and now I am a believer! I can't recommend Markins enough!!

Keegan, Nikonian in USA
-----------------
Thank you very much for your detailed and practical hints on the Markins M20 ballhead which convinced me - though unusual for me - ordering the M20 even without holding it in my hands. I am satisfied with the fact that it was the right decision.
The workmanship of the Markins ballhead is simply phenomenal. The ball glides smoothly and gives a convenient and safe feeling operating the head.
Both plates (PG-50 / P65L) fit perfectly into the clamp and are hold firmly.
I was surprised by the simple use of the Friction Control. Just turn the control knob until your equipment holds save and turn the limit dial as far as it will go - done!
Camera and lens are fixed now by turning the control knob just a little bit.
This is very helpful, especially when you have several camera / lens combinations.
No more fumbling.
The Markins system from my point of view cannot be recommended enough. Thank you for providing such an outstanding product.
Best regards
,
Hermann, Nikonian in Germany
-----------------
I have to share my recent experience trekking the beautiful sites of Kauai with my new M10 ballhead. My setup, similar to many Nikonians by now: Gitzo 1228, TB-20, Markins M10.... All I can say is it was worth every penny, and I'll be happy for a very long time. The M10 was a joy to use I have to admit that for a while I thought the praise for Markins was a bit of a band-wagon effect with Nikonians, but now I'm convinced, converted and very happy. Thanks again to all for your advice!!
Kevin, Nikonian in California USA
-----------------
Thank you Nikonians. I would like to say a big thank you for all your help in getting the right tripod and head setup for my D70. I am now the proud owner of a Gitzo 1227 CF tripod, a Markins M10 Ball head, and a Kirk L bracket. I am very impressed with the quality and performance of all these products. If it were not for you guys and gals then I might have bought the totally wrong thing. Thanks for all your help.
Andy, Nikonian in the UK
-----------------
The Markins head was delivered today. I must tell you that this head surely does seem like a winner. It is every bit as well made as my Arca Swiss ball and the controls and the smoothness is second to none. I might have mentioned that I sold a Kirk BH3 ball in anticipation of the Markins M10 and I am not disappointed. I think the Kirk heads are second rate compared to Arca Swiss and now the Markins. Markins is infinitely "silkier" in its ball movement and panning movement than the Kirk and I prefer the tension control inside of the main knob Arca Swiss style. It sure does look like it will hold my F5 + 70-200/2.8 with a TC without even breathing hard. I'll bet the M20 will give the AS head a run for its money. It sure does look like a winner. Looking forward to seeing what else Markins has up its corporate sleeve...
Eric, Nikonian in the US
-------------------
I just recently purchased a Markins M20 for use with my 300mm f/4 lens and my 2x tc and I just love it. David, Nikonian in the US
-------------------
Received my M20 today (the mailman missed me on Saturday). The Ball Head is simply out of this world.... I haven't taken a single picture with my D70 mounted on it but I have already fallen in love with the M20 :-)

I had heard about your fast delivery from everyone on Nikonians, so in the end it was not a surprise. What did impress me a lot, however, was your response to my e-mail. I sincerely appreciate your time and efforts to address my concern in a prompt and personal manner, that too on a Saturday!

I would also like to say thanks to everyone at Nikonians. You are a great resource for all the amatuers like me, as well as the pros. I started out to get some cheap tripod for my D70, and I ended up getting M20-NQS, RRS QR clamp, RRS L-bracket, on a Feisol 3401 tripod. I must admit that Nikonians has all the credit for helping me make my decision. Great job guys!!! Wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Best Regards,

Shailesh, Nikonian in India
--------------------
I have recently put the Markins M10 ballhead into service. It is the first true ballhead I have used and all I can say at this point is it is s-m-o-o-t-h. Appears to be a well-designed and well-executed piece of craftsmanship. 
Frank, Nikonian in the USA
---------------------
Well I have FINALLY got my ball-head.  It is pretty smooth and slick, and Mr. Mah so kindly sent me the new M10 instead of the M1-PQ head I ordered. Best of all, it is light and will complement perfectly the carbon-fibre Gitzo I intend to buy next year.
Jin, Nikonian in the UK
---------------------
The more I use my Markins head, the more I appreciate the quality and thoughtful design. It's super strong while being super light. I can put enough tension on the ball to keep the load from flopping, but still move the head with precision. And the round ball means that I can leave the tension set (using the inset tension adjustment dial) with no risk of lockup.
BJNicholls, Nikonian in the USA
----------------------
After using this head for a week in Utah and Arizona, I can say it is well worth the price. It is light weight but sturdy as a rock, and when mounted to a Gitzo Carbon Fiber tripod, it is like carrying nothing. f5fstop, Nikonian in the USA
----------------------
I've received my ball head yesterday and wooow... What a beautiful piece of technology! I'm really impressed and I can't describe the feeling you have just by touching this thing. Thank you very much.
Marc Segalla, non-Nikonian
----------------------
The M10 is one elegant piece of equipment, and it's easy and fun to use.
Sean, Nikonian in the USA
----------------------
This is to let you know that I received the ball head with camera plate in good order at the beginning of the week. Initially I was very surprised and to be honest a little sceptical about the size of the ball head ..... it's so small!!
But now that I've used extensively during the past days I must admit that it's a joy to work with. Totally accurate and rock solid! and of course,....very, VERY light!!!

Bram, Nikonian in Belgium
----------------------
The ball head works like a dream - really nice piece of equipment!
Thank you for your assistance

Anders Nielsen, Denmark
----------------------
I bought the Markins M20. This is truely a work of art. I know it has been said over and over, but if you've never held one, you should. The finish is perfect, smooth and even. All the control knobs rotate with ease and precision. Finding the 'sweet spot' is dead easy- keeping it there couldn't be simpler. I got it with the standard QR clamp and it is lovely, too. Locking and unlocking a plate is fast. Again, I'll play with it some more, but there is so much you can read about Markins on this site, I don't know what I could possibly add. Quinn, Nikonian in the USA
----------------------

More information on Markins

Here is a Technical Datasheet and Users Guide (pdf file) for Markins ballheads.

See this extensive user report on a Markins ball head by Marsel van Oosten (pdf file, 17 pages, 1.5Mb)

We have some more articles on Markins that might interest you. There is also a lot of information on ball heads in our Tripods and Camera Support forum.

 

Got a question on Markins or ballheads?

Our experienced photographers can very likely answer your question.

 

Post Question on ball heads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(4 Votes )
Show pages (7 Pages)

Originally written on June 24, 2011

Last updated on January 6, 2021

J. Ramon Palacios J. Ramon Palacios (jrp)

JRP is one of the co-founders, has in-depth knowledge in various areas. Awarded for his contributions for the Resources

San Pedro Garza García, Mexico
Admin, 46134 posts

8 comments

John Hernlund (Tokyo_John) on March 23, 2020

Based on this piece and other recommendations I bought a Q-20 a couple years ago, and it does exactly what it is supposed to do. Many ball head reviews place a lot of emphasis on whether the position slightly moves as it is locked down, and complain that the Markins has some movement. But they don't get the point of this head, which is to dial in the "sweet spot" so that one doesn't have to untighten to move and tighten to shoot each time. Instead, dial in the right tension to begin, then a firm pressure moves the rig into position, and you shoot, without any need to touch the tension knob. This is brilliant. I wish more people could understand and experience the fine tension adjustability and sweet spot of this head.

J. Ramon Palacios (jrp) on November 25, 2017

JRP is one of the co-founders, has in-depth knowledge in various areas. Awarded for his contributions for the Resources

Glad to hear you liked it, Adam

Adam Levy (ZapShot) on November 24, 2017

Excellent piece, chuck full of information. After reading this and watching a few Nikonians Youtubes with Mike, the Q10i will certainly serve me as my longest is a 70-200 with a 2.0 CTE ( many things need to go right and well if a 300mm+ is added to my arsenal!). With that said I am torn between spending the additional $50 knowing I'd never have to buy another BH again. Thanks JRP

Dale Watkins (Powerstroke2000) on January 19, 2016

I know this is more on ball heads, but so far I only have one head for my Manfrotto tripod, that being the Manfrotto 410 Geared Head, which supports 11 lbs. So far, I've found it to work beautifully, and it's steady as a rock, but it 'does' take some time getting use to the knobs on which one does which, but it's coming to me. When setting up the tripod, I have the head pointed in the correct direction, and just make my small adjustments and I'm done. I often wonder if a ball head would be faster, but being retired, I'm not in a huge hurry as of yet, and the only rush has been at sundown, to gather photo's at 'just the right time'. I'm wondering if any of you have used a geared head, and what you thought of the one you had?

J. Ramon Palacios (jrp) on February 15, 2013

JRP is one of the co-founders, has in-depth knowledge in various areas. Awarded for his contributions for the Resources

Paul, A new Markins ball head was released today. It works like the Q20 when by itself. Howeve it also includes a removable attachment for birding and video, constraining movements to two axis. I tested it last month and it works as requested. We will be posting it at the shops very soon.

J. Ramon Palacios (jrp) on February 15, 2013

JRP is one of the co-founders, has in-depth knowledge in various areas. Awarded for his contributions for the Resources

(Edited by jrp Saturday, 25 November 2017 ) Thank you, Emory. Most kind of you. The update may be coming soon.

Paul Cassidy (PCassidy) on January 22, 2013

I really enjoyed reading your report/review of ballheads. I recently completed (for now) putting together my carbon fiber tripod outfit. It is all Gitzo with a GT3541XLS tripod and a Gitzo G1377M professional ballhead. I can gladly say it meets most if not all of your guidelines including a dedicate friction knob. A Markins may be in my future because the G1377M is 5 1/2" with RRS panhead. . . but for now I'm happy with my outfit.

Emory Hall (ehall) on January 22, 2013

Great article

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