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Thread: Confusion with Manufacturers Rated Load Capacity for their Ballheads

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    Still in the Circle of Confusion Cage's Avatar
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    Talking Confusion with Manufacturers Rated Load Capacity for their Ballheads

    I'm in the process of selecting a ballhead for my Manfrotto 055CXPRO3. I have researched every ballhead known to modern man, even those way beyond my means, so this is not a request for possible alternatives.

    I was interested in the Markins Q3, small, light, stated carrying capacity of 30Kgs.

    To be doubly sure I emailed Markins, and asked their opinion of the suitability of their Q3 Emille to hold my K20D and a 300mm f4 lens, all up total weight of less than 2.5Kgs.

    Surprisingly, to me, Markins replied suggesting their Q10, their next size up.

    Huh? A 30Kg load rated ballhead not happy with a 2.5Kgs load?
    I would have thought that there was a reasonable safety margin between 2.5Kgs and 30Kgs.

    Markins did say that it would handle the load, providing I used the tripod mount on the lens, which to me is a given anyway.

    So what does a rated load capacity indicate? The weight carrying ability of the centre of the ballhead with no inclination? I have no idea.

    Can anyone enlighten me ?

    It was suggested that I look at the Feisol CB-50D. I did. Rated to carry 19Kgs.
    And only $159.00. Have a look at their website. http://www.feisol.net/feisol-ball-he...44750-p-9.html

    See the photo of the CB-50D holding 38Kgs. Trick shot? Ball welded to casing?
    Buggered if I know. Sheeesshh, I just want a lightweight ballhead to hold less than 3Kgs without drooping. At my age I don't need to be reminded of the effects of gravitational force every time I use my camera.

    All I really want is a lightweight set-up so I can get out there and take photos.
    And I do need the tripod to do that. I do not want to make excuses not to, because the bloody support system, over 5Kgs of it, is shortening my time in the field.

    Any help much appreciated.

    Kevin
    Cheers
    Kev

    D800 & GAS

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    I'm as knowledgeable on rated load weights as you are Kev.. basically I ignore them.
    They don't really seem to mean much.. and just more padding to write about in the marketing guff.

    What I'm assuming tho, is that exceeding a load rating may be where the ball doesn't operate as well as it otherwise would with lower weight.

    I'm not sure if you've ever seen them or not, but many civil engineer types also use tripods for things other than photography. I see many road type workers have them set up in a manner where they appear to be measuring something(no idea on what) where there may be multiple tripods with equipment set up in close proximity to each other. The setup tho, is not standard fare photography style. The tripod column is inverted ballhead facing the ground and this disk like equipment hanging upside down. These guys usually set themselves up at or near traffic lights. i see them all the time. And one day if I'm stopped nearby, as opposed to driving by, I'll try to remember to ask them what it is they're doing.
    The point is that they're hanging much heavier looking stuff off them than your standard everyday photo equipment(unless you're heavily into very fast lenses of 500mm or more!).

    The reason for manufacturers recommending a bigger(hence more expensive ballhead) is that with photography.. vibrations are far more effective at destroying the image quality when the lens gets longer in focal length.
    you really want to have a tripod head type that doesn't force you to use mirror lockup for just about all of your images.. and the basic truth is that you want a bigger ball in your ballhead. The purpose of the bigger ball is not to hold the equipment more securely in pure anti gravitational terms, but more secure in terms of rigidity for minimising vibrations.
    i've lost the lighting now, but I've seen mirror slap affect images captured at 1/60s with my 300mm lens. The reason I knwo it;s mirror slap is that it's random.. I may get 5 shots in 10 sharp as a pin, and then 5 others with obvious signs of shake induced blur. The ratio of hits to misses is variable too. This is caused by either the tripod itself, or the ballhead. (of course I'm referring to low end pro tripod gear like manfrotto 055's and suchlike.. even my 3531 carbon Gitzo is a low end pro tripod).
    Ballhead(quality and size) makes more of a difference than the choice of tripod(at this level), but tripod can also affect the rigidity too.
    cheap lower quality ballhead on a fantastic tripod will usually yield worse results than a better ballhead on a cheaper tripod... but better to get as high a quality in both items to reduce the problem even more(hopefully eliminate the probelsm alltogether)

    that Feisol looks awesome for the money. I know of Feisol and many people recommend them, high quality.. never seen a ballhead, but their tripods look pretty good, solid and better value than manfrotto(both carbon and aluminium versions), where i always remember feisol tripods to be a lot cheaper than manfrotto gear.
    I was under the assumption that those feisol ballheads were closer to the $300 or more mark. $159!!.. sounds to me like a punt worth taking too.( I bet tho that the quality is the same as Benro's... don't laugh!.. those Benro's are pretty good quality)
    From what i have at hand(in real terms cheapo stuff compared to what a pro may have) I've seen the biggest difference in going from the smaller less rigid manfrotto ballhead(488) to the sligthtly bigger and much higher quality(compared to the 488) MG468 ballhead, than what I get in changing the tripods if I maintain the MG468 as the baseline for comparison.
    I see slight improvement in going form the manfrotto 055(aluminimum) to the gitzo 3531 (carbon) but a bigger improvement in going from the manfrotto 458 legs to either of the other two. The 458 legs are really quite bad in terms of big lens stability.. but they have to be the best tripod legs to setup(google manfrotto 458 tripod to see what I mean). I eventually got the Gitzo and they are slightly less easy to setup(in all conditions that is) but the manfortto twist lock system is a real PITA compared to Gitzo's quick twist grip system at least.

    So ballhead is all about size(for photographic use). If you find yourself shooting at anywhere near 1/60s or less with your 300/4, consider that not absolutely every shot will come out razor sharp.. and it'll be due to the vibes you get in using an inferior quality tripod head.

    Don't worry about the load ratings too much.. they could be more for the earlier reasons i explained(but I don't really known for sure.. only what I've seen out in the wild).. tripods can be used for lighting too you know!(I used to deliver them all the time in my daily job as a courier). tripods and heads can be used for all manner of purposes, not just photography.

    Does your 300mm mount via a tripod collar on the lens?

    ps, that feisol CB-50D looks like awesome value too... I may have to look at the available funds in the CC
    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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    Don't know if they are still available but have a look at the Manfrotto 488 if you can. I've found it ideal for a range of gear, usually a bit heavier than your stuff. I use those exclusively these days and I have a fair chunk of the Manfrotto line of tripod and ball heads, large small, you name it.

    Forget the ratings, who cares about that stuff except engineers, the marketing department and insurance company actuaries.

    If you can, go to a shop that has a decent range and just try a few. You'll get a better idea from doing that than any amount of research on the Internet.

    JJ

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    Arthur, we are going to have to stop meeting like this !

    The 3rd world is in crisis, insidious nuclear armament is happening, our Oz dollar is getting scary, the ozone layer is cringing, and Red Symonds is up to his old tricks on 'Hey, Hey it's Saturday".

    And what are we concerned about? Minuscule vibrations in tripods and heads that may, or may not, affect our poorly composed, ill lit attempts at photography, well mine anyway.

    And yes, my Pentax DA* 300mm f4 wonder lens does have a tripod collar. I am also willing to try all the tips and tricks, like finger on the lens, mirror lock-up, bean bag on the lens, prayer, and whatever else it takes to get that shot I'm delighted with.

    I've sort of sussed out that the size of the ballhead dictates the amount of torsional force that can be exerted on it (and don't for one second make the mistake of thinking that I know what I'm talking about 'coz I am making it up as I go) and this in turn dictates how firmly the ball can be held, but when I've spent 45 minutes crawling through snake infested, waist high grass, following that little feathered sucker that always seems to keep itself just out of my preferred focal range, I just want to know that when I do release the shutter, my efforts are not going to be compromised by a ballhead that decides to slip 1/1000" at the crucial time.

    I also don't want to fork out $400 or $500 on supposedly good gear that lets me down, or buy cheap crap that performs like cheap crap.

    Having said all that, if the $159 Feisol head is anywhere near as good as users say their tripods are, well just maybe it's worth a look. At least I won't be overly surprised if it isn't.

    Cheers

    Kevin

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    Quote Originally Posted by jjphoto View Post
    Don't know if they are still available but have a look at the Manfrotto 488 if you can. I've found it ideal for a range of gear, usually a bit heavier than your stuff. I use those exclusively these days and I have a fair chunk of the Manfrotto line of tripod and ball heads, large small, you name it.

    Forget the ratings, who cares about that stuff except engineers, the marketing department and insurance company actuaries.

    If you can, go to a shop that has a decent range and just try a few. You'll get a better idea from doing that than any amount of research on the Internet.

    JJ
    Thanks for the input JJ

    Cheers

    kevin

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    At least the Acratech website gives a more definitive assessment for their ballheads capability. The Ultimate " Easily holds over 25 lbs (11.4kg) at any angle."

    "At any angle...."

    Now that is something that needs no further explanation.

    Kevin

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    So, due to the lack of input (or interest) would I be correct in assuming that nobody knows if there is a definitive grading system for head carrying capability.

    Shame really, because I'm not prepared to hang my middle of the road set-up (MSRP of near to $4000.00) off a head that doesn't give me the confidence to do so, because there doesn't seem to be any industry guidelines about what should hold what up.

    Price doesn't seem to be an issue here. Other than Acratech and Feisol (check their websites), the other manufacturers quote a carrying capacity based on God knows what.

    Anywhere between $160 and $600 seems to get you the same ratings.

    The bottom line is that whether you spend $1K or $10K on your gear, you deserve a bit more info on the support system you are going to trust it to.

    Kevin

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    Just had a reply back from Markins.

    "That is because the 2.5kg is in reality much more than that to a ballhead. The max load is measured when the weight is right on top of a ballhead. However, the larger a camera system is, the center of the weight is much farther away from a ballhead. So, 2.5kg will be many times more load to a ballhead. It is just like a leverage principle.
    So, because you are using a large lens, we’d like to recommend the Q10 rather than the Q3."

    About what I figured, carrying capability dead centre of the ballhead.

    Just to see where the centre of weight on my camera and lens lies, I balanced them on a pencil, and the balance point was about 15mm back from the centre of the lens mount plate. I have seen the Q3 on sale for $220, so I guess I'm really trying to make it fit my requirements, and when using my 300 mounted on the tripod collar it does. There are people using this set-up with F/F cameras and 300 2.8's with no creep.

    I do appreciate Markins' honesty in not trying to oversell their products, which I suppose is why they seem to have such a good reputation.

    Well I have a few days till my tripod arrives so I can check the mounting base diameter before I make my decision.

    What to do ?????

    Cheers

    Kevin

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    It's funny what you turn up if you keep digging.

    I came across a review of the Q3 on this website...

    https://www.ppsna.com/product_info.p...roducts_id/524

    This site is run by the Nikonians group, the North American distributor for Markins.

    An extract from the review:

    "The Markins Q3 has a torque of 130 lbf-in (150 kgf-cm), which renders a load capacity of 59 kg (130lbs) with a gear load center of gravity offset of 2.54 cm (1 inch) from the center post of the ball head
    For a more conservative offset of 5cm (1.97in), the resulting rated capacity is then 30 Kg (66lbs), more than enough to recommend it for the front-heavy 70-300mm f/4-5.6 and similar lenses with no tripod collar foot, on a medium sized digital body."

    I did a balance test on my K20D + DA* 300mm, and the POB is approximately 5/8" behind the screw in point on the lens foot.

    I think it is safe to assume that my 2.5Kg load, offset 5/8", is well within the above parameters.

    Am I missing something here?

    Cheers

    Kevin

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