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Thread: ADVICE re NEW HEAD

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    Still in the Circle of Confusion Cage's Avatar
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    ADVICE re NEW HEAD

    OK, so the one I was issued with was not too flash. Damn genetics.

    I have just hit the 'Buy Now" button on a Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 tripod.

    It is about 1/3 the weight of my current rock-solid tripod.

    To keep the ball (?) rolling in the right direction I'm looking for a lightweight ballhead.

    Unless I come into unforeseen riches, my maximum load will be about 2.5 Kgs.

    I've looked at Arca Swiss, Acratech, Kirk, RRS, PhotoClam, Manfrotto & Markins.

    I have Manfrotto gear, so the plates are a plus. I just don't like them. They don't inspire me to hang a couple of thousand bucks worth of gear off them.
    I'm leaning towards those manufacturers who do a dedicated camera and lens plate. Some of the aforementioned mgfrs don't seem to have a 'mid-range' set-up, which is where I seem to sit.

    I guess I'm seriously looking at the Markins Q10, seems to meet all my requirements. I emailed them re the Q3 Emille, but the feedback was that it would do the job with my 300f4, if using the collar mount, but the Q10 would do it better.

    Does anyone have the Markins Q10, and would like to comment on it?

    Cheers

    Kevin
    Cheers
    Kev

    D600 : D7200 and too much stuff to list

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    The manfrotto RC5 plates(system) is the most solid you can ask for. Tiring to use(as they're not ergonomically designed, and the corner of the one I have on the D300 digs into my palm leaving a severe dint and pain after a short while.. but I believe it's not only BIG BANG proof(outlasting the end of the universe) .. it affords some pretty good protection form knocks and stuff.
    Compared to arca plates this thing(the RC5 type plates) is like a 4 trailer road train compared to a Suziki Alto... freaking solid!

    as for the ball itself. if you can afford it, from both what i've seen of it and by the looks of it's user friendliness I say the RRS BH-55 is the best. James Axford has one. pretty expensive tho, and as a very decent.. or much better value for money variant the Benro J3(Etherial has one of them) is better. It's not as user friendly, but it's as good as a head(for holding heavy equipment!!) for about 1/3rd of the price. I like user freindliness more than ultimate value for money so given enough $ I'd go with the RRS BH55.
    I think in the coming years, I'll end up with both ... for various reasons(i have three tripods mind you) so I may get the Benro just to start with and eventually end up with a BH-55 as well.

    if you do go with a manfrotto head of any kind.. be sure to get the RC5 plate system... if you want solid... now! if only they'd make a ballhead as solid as their plates can be!
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
    {Sigma}; ->10-20/4-5.6 : 50/1.4 : 12-24/4.5-5.6II : 150-600mm|S
    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC


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    Account Closed Wayne's Avatar
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    Acratech Ultimate, doubles as gimbal, and pano leveling base. Super light, engraved degree markers, rock solid and built tough. It aint cheap, but my bet is you will only ever need to buy it once. I am very please with mine.

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    Hi

    I have a Markins M10 (now the Q10), and would thoroughly recommend it! I also have a Kirk L-Bracket for my camera, and an RRS nodal plate, they are all compatible (Arca Swiss).

    The quality on all this equipment is outstanding, and well worth the money.
    David

    Nikon D810
    Nikkor AF-S 24-120VR, Nikkor AF-S 16-35VR, Nikkor AF-S 70-300VR, Nikkor AF 50 f1.8
    Tamron 90mm Macro

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    Arthur, I was looking at a Hydrostatic 468MGRC2 for a very tempting $270.00 and thought of maybe swapping the plate holder to an Arca Swiss compatible set-up.
    Any thoughts on the 468 series? Thanks for the input.

    Wayne, the Ultimate is on my shortlist. Interesting looking head. What weight are you using on it without droop?

    I guess Markins threw me into a state of confusion when they advised me their Q3 head, rated to hold 30Kgs, would be up to the task of holding my 2.5Kgs of gear providing I used my 300mm f4 with the tripod collar. Are they kidding? There is a fair safety margin between 30Kgs and 2.5Kgs, so I am left wondering about how the various manufacturers conjure up their rated weights.

    My Manfrotto 3 way will do the job till I find some answers, even thought it is 3 times the weight of the ballheads I'm looking at.

    Thanks again for the input.

    Cheers

    Kevin

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    Hi David,

    Thanks for that. The Q10 (M10) seems to be highly regarded on the various forums I've checked. Don't know that I've seen a serious complaint about it.

    This whole exercise is about reducing the weight I'm carrying from 5Kgs to around 2Kgs. The 055CXPRO3 is the first step, saving me 1.6Kgs. Just need a light ballhead now.

    Cheers

    Kevin

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trublubiker View Post
    Arthur, I was looking at a Hydrostatic 468MGRC2 for a very tempting $270.00 and thought of maybe swapping the plate holder to an Arca Swiss compatible set-up.
    Any thoughts on the 468 series? Thanks for the input.....
    LOL! I'll reserve my judgment .... after I've sold mine off!

    nah! It's an OK ballhead, but for that money the Benro J3 is definitely 100% better bet in every respect.
    Mine is the National Geographic version and has a concertina rubber sleeve over the actual ball, as I had bad experiences with my 488 ballhead getting dirty.
    Just about every tele lens will 'drop' in framing compared to what I originally planned for. That is line it all up, hands on camera/lens. hand still on camera lock the ball tight, let go of the camera and the frame drops by a few mil. Not good.
    As for replacing the plates. on an RC2 plate that is highly recommended.. but if you do go with the 468, best advice is to go with the RC5 plate system.
    It's ok for lenses say up to 100mm .. maybe 200mm, if the framing isn't critical but as it ages it'll start to work less efficiently that it did when new, despite its hydrostatic inner workings!

    I like the simplistic look of Wayne's Arcratech Ultimate too. Looks bulky but lightweight at the least. The ballhead stem looks to be a bit on the long side, and for critical vibration dampening a shorter ball stem is more of an advantage.
    I'd still say it's worth it tho.
    When compared to the 468MG head(@$270) the less than $300 Acratech ultimate(at current AUS-US exchange rates) sounds like a better long term proposition.

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    Thank you Dr. Arthur. You've cured me of the 'Manfrotto Ballhead Itch'.

    And sneaking over the $300 barrier we come to the Arca-Swiss Monoball Z1 SP at $388.99, and just a teensy bit further along Poverty Rd is the BH-55 from just $415.00.

    At my stage in life I only ever want to buy one ballhead, so I guess it's 'do it once, and do it right'.

    The Benro J3 sounds tempting, price-wise, but it doesn't have a track record for longevity yet.

    Cheers

    Kevin

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    yeah! my only concern with the Benro stuff.. but in having said that, manfrotto stuff has never been criticised for it's lack of long term heavy usage reliability(except by Bjorn Rorlsett that I know of).. and now I'm finding out the hard way.

    In some cases cheaper may in fact be better.. with the hope that it may eventually reveal a surprise.

    so.. @ close to $200 for a Benro J-3 ballhead, if you can eke out at least 2-3 years and it still in tip top shape, then I think the value for money is still quite high.
    my MG468(RC5 plates) cost me close to $450 with two QR plates.
    I've had it now for about 3 years, but in recent times(say a year or so) securely locking down the head so that the framing doesn't sag when i release the camera(only on long tele lenses) means that it hasn't lasted as long as it should have, considering the cost(back then), I probably need to pull it apart to see what's worn out, probably the same parts that wear out in Benro's too and that I'd have been better off getting a Benro to begin with.

    Saying that probably sounds like I'm criticising the MG468, which i'm not really, other than giving an honest, if unfavourable evaluation. for 99.9% of the stuff I use it for.. it's more than acceptable and even better than that. The hydrostatic adjustment allows nicely weighted fine control when over fussing over the framing I choose.. without jerking this way and that way when i use the UWA @ 10mm.

    if it came down to price as the most important factor in a series of other factors, I'd say go for the J-3, and get yerself a few good quality QR plates for it. Longer plates for long lenses with tripod collars also help with stability.

    I see that the 300/4 is a lens that's important to you. It probably has a tripod collar(??) get a long plate for this one(90m or so). One that just fits the base of the tripod collar maybe more convenient in terms of fit and may be less obstructive, but from my experience the longer QR plate on a long lens helps to keep it more stable(less vibes when the mirror is flapping about during exposure).
    My experience tho is limited to the manfrotto RC 2 and RC5 plates. The RC2 fits my 300/2.8 perfectly in terms of neatness. But I can easily see, even when the QR plate is securely mounted(as securely as the plate allows, that is), it still has a bit of play between the QR plate and the tripod collar base. The 2-3x longer, 90mm length of the standard RC5 plate is rock solid by comparison, and allows some fore aft movement for better balance(centre of gravity) ballhead.

    have to say too tho.. I had the chance to play with the MG468 in the shop where I bought it(Vanbar), and it seemed to be perfect and rock stable, even with the 80-200/2.8 hanging off the camera, and not mounted by the lens's tripod collar. There was smidge of lockdown droop, but you'd expect that with a 1.3kg lens hanging way over the COG of the tripod setup(we used an 055 manfrotto).
    So I seemed to be happy at the time, and for about a year henceforth. But as time went on, I started to realize the error I made as the ballhead started to display it's inadequacies.
    If you're the type to judge only from new experience(as we all tend to do) then the cheapest(Benro J-3) will be best. If it turns out that it's not as durable as you initially expected, the financial impact is not as great as if the gear was the more expensive brands.

    Acra tech, arca swiss, RRS etc. have all had great reviews, but I still hardly ever see anyone come back after 3 or 4 years of solid use claiming that no parts have ever worn out and/or a definitive comparison with a new version. I remember seeing once a blog where the fellow posted how badly made the Benro was, and he proceeded to show images of worn mild steel(instead of high tensile) screws and suchlike. I couldn't help but think to myself with that blog, if he was adept at pulling the ballhead apart, why not replace the crappy screws with high tensile versions and see if that helps the cause a little. Sometimes people go looking for issues, just because they can.
    If it were my money, I'd gamble it on the J-3(if it were to be my only tripod mount). Seen two members with benro ballehads(and tripods) and both impressed me(compared to what I cuyrrently have tho!!). Etherial's J-3 impressed me more having seen it and briefly played with it .. it immediately feels more solid than the manfrotto I have(and lower profile too).
    Considering that I already have two tripod mounting sytems(and three tripods) I'm going to wait. I want to wait till I can afford a RRS BH-55 plus assorted paraphenalia(total cost approx $1K).
    **I may give intho ad replace the MG486 with a J-3 myself too tho.. i can be weak when i need to be **
    Had I known what i know now tho.. I'd never have bought the MG486, and I'd have persevered with something like a J-3 from Benro.. even if that meant that I'd have to replace the mild steel screws (I tinker by my very nature anyhow). reasoning is price.. I'd have saved a few hundred dollars at least(RC5 plates are not cheap! and I have 4 or 5 now).
    Also note tho. while benro's gear looks to be good value for money, I still question their QR plates. I wasn't overly impressed by them. They didn't feel like they were made of wet cardboard, or anything like that, but certainly not as solid as the RC5's. The higher quality manufacturers apparently use high quality aircraft alloys for theirs. Don't know what grade of alloy Benro use.

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    I wish I could get excited about the Benro but I can't.

    The BH-55 is overkill for what I'll put on it.

    It seems to be between the Acratech Ultimate and the Markins Q10.

    All three have great feedback and reviews. Even the Arca-Swiss B1/Z1 has had it's hiccups.

    They all have dedicated lens and camera plates available, a big plus.

    I guess I'll mull over it for a bit, change my mind six times, and then make a decision.

    Thanks all for the help.

    Kevin

    PS: I have to wait till my tripod arrives to check the base diameter before I can get serious about making my decision.
    Last edited by Cage; 15-10-2010 at 7:10pm.

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    I was talking to Scott at Mainline Photo about Novoflex heads, but they were out of my price range.

    However he recommended I have a look at the Feisol CB-50D which they used to carry till the factory started selling direct.

    Made in China, specs look OK, price is very attractive, material quality and longevity unknown.

    http://www.feisol.net/feisol-ball-he...44750-p-9.html

    Just another element to add to my ever increasing state of confussion (no, not a spelling error, it's a state of confusion approaching concussion).

    Cheers

    Kevin

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    Account Closed Wayne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trublubiker View Post
    Wayne, the Ultimate is on my shortlist. Interesting looking head. What weight are you using on it without droop?
    I use it with D3/D700+MB-D10+sometimes SB-900 and 70-200/2.8 both with and without tripod foot on the lens (not often without because I don't want to stretch the lens mount on the body) and it doesn't take much force to lock it at any angle. I have mounted 400/2.8 with D3 on it, and same, it locks up at any angle with not too much force needed and 100% nil creep. I used it in Gimbal mode with the 400/2.8+ both bodies and it was an excellent makeshift Wimberley. I paid alot more for mine than you would pay now with the AUD/USD, so it would be a great time to buy.

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    I finally made a decision and went for the Markins Q10.

    I bought it direct from Markins in Korea, and as I type this it is sitting in Customs at Mascot.

    When it arrives I'll do a quick review on it and the 'frotto 055.

    Many thanks to all those who took the time to help me in my selection.

    Cheers

    Kevin

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