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Which Ball Head? Quick-Release NO LONGER an option.

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by RKStarr, Jan 6, 2015.

  1. RKStarr

    RKStarr Mu-43 Regular

    Allow me to start by saying I am DONE with quick-release heads. It's not for lack of trying: I have a drawer full of large to small manfrotto QR heads, photo plates, video plates, and arca-swiss doodads of all makes and all sorts. It's just that I've come to the realization that yes my style of photography occasionally needs a tripod, but never needs the ability to snap into a head. In fact I am just delighted to screw the camera or lens onto a 1/4"/20 stud when needed. Far too many times I have been taking a night photo and loosened the wrong knob to adjust the camera angle, only realizing my mistake at the last second. Additionally, the QR heads and rails add unnecessary weight, flex, and complexity to what should be as simple a connection as possible. Weight and size were driving factors in my adoption of m43, so adding unnecessary bits of aluminum, no matter how elegant they are, is counter-productive.

    I have recently settled on the meFoto carbon travel tripod and it has proven to be a delight ( and I have never said that about a tripod before). But it comes with a (very nice, admittedly ) panning ball head with an arca swiss type rail plate which I would like to replace. While I can remove the QR plate from the ball stem, I cannot easily devise a way to machine a simple old-school mounting plate for it with 1/4" stud.

    So does anyone make an elegant sturdy head withOUT a QR system any more? Surely I am not alone in my quest for simplicity. Manfrotto offers a 494 old-school ball head with 1/4" stud, which will fit both the tripod and my needs, but it isn't load-rated quite as highly, nor is it a panning head. And it isn't nearly as elegant as the tripod it would be mounted to. Manfrotto castings and machining are not pretty.
     
  2. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    There are plenty of ball heads etc that don't come standard with a QR plate, but a simple 1/4" threaded screw, such as the Velbon QHD-71 ball head. I might disagree with your synopsis, but if it works (or not) for you, then that's all that matters.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 5, 2013
    Dan
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    You didn't mention a budget, but take a look at the Arca Swiss p0: http://www.adorama.com/AWMBP0.html
    You'd think an Arca of all things would come with an integrated QR, but nope. Convertible screw between 1/4" and 3/8", sturdy but compact, and no chance of confusing knobs.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    You may be able to put together what you want at Really Right Stuff since they sell components.

    --Ken
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I dont recall which model I have but mine snapped just under the platform that holds the camera. I ended up drilling and tapping whats left and screwing on a Manfrotto QR plate receiver. The rubber around the tension knob also degraded over time and fell off. I still use it.... its proabably closing up on ten years so perhaps they have improved. I can post pictures of mine if requested.

    I like Manfrotto heads... plenty models that dont have a QR plate. I find they have a good balance between quality and price at a range of prices. On the higher end, really right stuff and arca swiss.

    Proabably should start with what type of head... 3 way pan or ball..... fluid or not.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. RKStarr

    RKStarr Mu-43 Regular

    Thank you OzRay, that is nearly perfect for what I need. The ideal Velbon head in size and capacity for me is the QHD-53, but it seems to be unavailable anywhere I know to search, except from a costly, distant, and possibly sketchy Amazon seller. The QR variants of that model seem to be everywhere, though.

    My synopsis might have had a tinge of tantrum about it owing to the fact I had just come in from a night's shooting after having, once again, nearly dropped the camera off the head for having loosened the wrong knob again. The head has 4 knobs, three of which are indistinguishable in the dark. Still, for my needs, the simplicity of a simple stud head (does that arrangement even have a name???) addresses my needs most directly, in the areas of weight, simplicity, rigidity, and convenience.

    I should also add that I fell head over heels in love with my first QR, a manfrotto with the snap latch mechanism. But the climate where I live soon reduced that collection of dissimilar metals to a frozen lump of white powdery oxidation.

    Thank you all for the suggestions. Most of them I had not seen before.

    Unless anyone can direct me to one of these at a good price, I will probably settle for the Manfrotto or Giottos.

    p732160093-2.
     
  8. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    You do know that many A/S plates have safety stops to help prevent cameras or lenses from fully sliding out of the clamp. These will not prevent all accidents, but they do give you a buffer if you accidentially open the clamp and the camera or lens starts to slide.

    --Ken
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. zathras

    zathras Mu-43 Regular

    161
    Jul 13, 2014
    Waikato, New Zealand
    Chris Nielsen
    I don't understand how it would not drive you insane having to screw it on each time. I have the RRS BH-55 with a lever clamp plate. There is absolutely no mistaking that lever for anything else. Yes the BH-55 is overkill for m43 but I like overkill.
     
  10. RKStarr

    RKStarr Mu-43 Regular

    Zathras, (love that character) it IS an annoyance, but since I don't use a tripod terribly often, it is a far bigger annoyance to:

    -screw on and off the QR plate (and hence locate whatever tool is required to do so) whenever I don't need it, or...

    -leave the plate on and watch my camera tip over in some ungainly way every. single. time. I set it down on a flat surface, in a different way with each lens, or...

    -leave the plate on and have its dovetail edges snag on the seams on each of my otherwise perfectly fitted camera bags every. single. time. I put it in or take it out.

    Taken together, those factors push me far beyond bonkers.
     
  11. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    My older head has QR and it's loosing with time and not comfortable to use in wet or cold weather, so I picked Acratech GP-ss head with screw option and so far I like it.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    That's why I bought an RRS plate for my E-M1, it conforms to the full base of the camera and is barely noticeable (it gives the camera better handling as well); however, it also has a built-in dovetail to fit my quick release mounts. But then, I find QR mounts/plates invaluable, as I need them for my longer lenses.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Judging from the Velbon QHD-53 specs the Manfrotto equivalent is this:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/660318-REG/Manfrotto_494_494_Mini_Ball_Head.html

    Just something to consider. Most people I know are happy with their products.


    For me, I prefer something that has tension control... but that bumps up the cost a bit:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...8MG_468MG_Magnesium_Hydrostatic_Ballhead.html

    for landscape... I much prefer the ability to adjust the each axis individually. So I generally prefer the 3 way... but I haven't seen any without a QR plate.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. zathras

    zathras Mu-43 Regular

    161
    Jul 13, 2014
    Waikato, New Zealand
    Chris Nielsen
    leave QR plate on, annoying for Zathras. take QR plate off, annoying for Zathras. either way, is bad for Zathras.

    :)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    • Like Like x 1
  16. Dave in Wales

    Dave in Wales Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 5, 2011
    West Wales
    Manfrotto 494 Ball Head with Friction Control....Excellent IMVHO
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. RKStarr

    RKStarr Mu-43 Regular

    Well to my very great surprise, the Velbon QHD 53 arrived today from Tokyo Camera, with perhaps the best and most thoughtful packaging I have ever seen. Everything about this head answers the concerns I mentioned above. I particularly like the threading mechanism which allows the surface to stay stationary while spinning the stud via a dial. Since I mostly use my tripod after dark, there is no longer any possibility of mistaking one knob for another. It is entirely machined--no castings to decay. It is simple and elegant, and relatively inexpensive, and I am very, very pleased. It fits my meFoto tripod perfectly. In fact it fits and stows much better than the meFoto head that shipped with the tripod. It is also much more rigid.
    p1026407378-3.

    Thanks to OzRay for steering me in this direction. I had overlooked Velbon in the past.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  18. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    The Velbon ball head is surprisingly robust considering it's style and size. I've had some big lenses on it and the mini tripod, but that has been in very benign conditions. Glad that it worked out.