I wouldn't worry about the ball head, it's done up good & tight. Saying that, I really don't like the Manfrotto tripod, preferring my cheap old Velbon which is actually a much better design.
Yes, was very fortunate to happen upon this 500CM a few years ago. It's not all that far off 'as new', and had it CLA'd (along with the 2 A12's) by Classic V early last year. Very little needed doing, apart from the backs weren't synching properly which mean frame overlap. Works perfectly now, there being something rather special about firing its shutter.
I've had a D700 (aka 'The Old Clunker') for nigh on 8 years now. It doesn't get a huge amount of use these days but every time it does come out of the bag, it always delivers. And, for portraits (or just skin tones in general) its jpegs are still quite beautiful.
A 5 mins walk from our house...
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