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Which tripod head?

PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:40 pm
by DrSlony

I'm getting a Manfrotto 055CXPRO4 this week and I need a head to go along with it. I chose that tripod because its very sturdy for a tripod you can take with you when you go on a long trip, and it should fit into handheld baggage hold in airplanes. I'm currently using a Panosaurus, but I'm likely to upgrade to something better (faster mounting time is most important to me) soon. I need a head for the tripod. I will either attach the panoramic head to the tripod head, or straight to the tripod if possible. I currently use a sort-of ball head (it's a pan head but controlled using one lever, which makes it like a ball head, see the Velbon Sherpa 200r) and like it very much. Naturally the new tripod + head will be used both for plain photography and for attaching the panohead to it (if the panohead cannot be attached straight to the tripod, of course).

My camera is a Pentax K10D, so that's 793g + lens. I will be upgrading to the successor of the Nikon D700 (1074g + lens) (or something similar - I read rumors I would have to wait till 2012 for a successor).

Which tripod head type and which specific make & model would you recommend?

PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:06 pm
by John_Sauter
DrSlony wrote:Which tripod head type and which specific make & model would you recommend?

I have an older model of the Manfrotto 055 legs, and I use the 303 panoramic head. Checking the Manfrotto web site, they appear to have two current models of the 303. The deluxe one looks quite interesting, see <>.

I have had no trouble using the older Manfrotto 303 with my small camera, and it is rugged enough that I expect it would work for your DSLR. The newer offering should be able to handle up to medium-format cameras.

PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:33 pm
by hankkarl
I have the Manfroto 303sph. Its big, heavy, and adds roll because the rails are not sturdy enough. Also, you can't take a nadir shot with the camera on the tripod (or more precisely, with all three of the tripod legs properly placed on the floor.)

Also, I don't know how Poland is, but you can't take a tripod in carry on luggage in the US. I guess they figure it looks too much like a club.

PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 9:33 pm
by DrSlony
John: thank you, but I'm not looking for a panoramic head, but a normal one!
hankkarl: I've been living in London since November 2009 :]

Manfrotto's website doesn't offer any real information on their ball heads. They're all "perfect for advanced amateurs and professional". Judging from their site, the 498RC4 seems better than the 498RC2 despite being a newer model - it's smaller and lighter, so why make a newer model that's worse than its predecessor? Clearly there is information missing.

PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 10:14 pm
by John_Sauter
DrSlony wrote:John: thank you, but I'm not looking for a panoramic head, but a normal one!

Sorry, I misunderstood.

The credible place to look for useful information comparing tripod heads is photography sites that do comparison testing. Unfortunately, I know of none.

When I got my Manfrotto tripod, I originally got an 804RC2 for it: <>. i removed it to mount my 303, so I haven't used it recently, but it seemed like quite a serviceable head.

PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:37 pm
by hankkarl
Pano heads are subjective, there are a lot of different versions of a ball head, all the same quality, but one has the grip horizontal, anther has it vertical, another has no handle, then there's the choice of quick release plates. Three way heads have similar issues. You have to go to a store and see how they feel to you.

BTW, check out the architectural 3way head if you do a lot of landscapes.

PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:49 pm
by leedsjoe
If it is any help is where I bought my tripod & monopod. A very comprehensive site, in the UK.

PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:52 pm
by klausesser
DrSlony wrote:Which tripod head type and which specific make & model would you recommend?

This one:

i use it for years with 35mm/DSLR, midformat Hasselblad analoge and digital and often with a
4x5" Linhof Technika LF camera.
It´s very precise, reliable and strong.

Not cheap but worth every dime!

best, Klaus

here with a Wista 4x5":

PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 9:41 pm
by DrSlony
I found this brief info about some Manfrotto ball heads:

PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 7:19 am
by tived
Hi Doctor,

if it isn't too late I will ad my $.02 I am not a big fan of the Manfrotto Ball heads, but its been a few years since I have owned one 468rc I think it couldn't hold big loads.

I use an Arca Swiss B1 at the moment, but if I were to do it again, I would buy a their large ball head, 55-BH I think its called with a Panning plate, obviously this is all Arca-swiss dove tail fittings, but on the RRS, you should be able to add your own top plate. any that would be where i'd spend my money.

The Manfrotto compare to the Arca Swiss B1, is miles apart, the B1 you can have a heavy rig hanging off to the side and it doesn't slip. The Manfrotto would, aim at the moon with a long lens, and when you let go of the knob, it would drop.

I also use a Manfrotto 410 pan and tilt head, a bit more upmarket version of the one Klaus is showing.

Good luck,

If you buy the RRS and don't like it, let me know and I will buy it off you.