View Full Version : ball head or pan/tilt
Yaakov Asher Sinclair
I'm presently using a pan/tilt head, but notice that most people use a ball head . Would there be a reason for me to change? Thanks in advance. Yaakov Asher Sinclair
Well, it depends on what kind of LF camera you are using. People do seem to love their A/S B1 ballhead. While some use a ballhead for a 4x5 field, that seems to be a rare pick for a monorail, particularly with anything larger than 4x5. I use a Manfrotto 410/Bogen 3275 Jr. Geared Head with my 4x5 A/S monorail. I sometimes use an old Linhof ballhead with my Technika III. As many say, your mileage may vary -- this is one of those personal comfort, personal style kind of things. Check one out in your local photo emporium. If you're happy with the pan/tilt, and it works with your shooting style, stay with it and save the dough for another great piece of glass. That's my two cents anyway.
Personally, I'm not into ball heads when it comes to 4x5. I use the Bogen 410 mini geared head. The weight of it turned me off, but when I tried it, it was love at first sight. Actually, its the lightest head to hold my camera. A plus with this head over pan/ tilt is no knobs stick out.
Robert A. Zeichner
I think one of the objections of many pan/tilt heads for LF is that the handles tend to get in the way when you are under the focusing cloth. There are a number of models with short handles which might be less cumbersome. I use both a ball head and a mini gear head from Bogen (model 410). The gear head is great for architectural work where you need to do critical adjusting to keep verticals vertical, etc. The ball head is faster and I like it for general landscape work where absolute verticality or parallelism is less critical. Also, geared heads tend to be lubricated. This goo can pick up sand and other debris one comes in contact with out in the wilderness. In the final analysis, it's really a matter of personal preference. Use what feels comfortable to you is the rule of thumb I follow. Good luck.
I use the Arca Swiss B1 exclusively for 35mm work. however, for 4x5 with my Linhof Technikardan, I fell in love with the Bogen 410 gear head that the previous posters have mentioned. I cannot speak highly enough as to how useful this jewell is, and how well it performs. architecture, landscape, still-life .. it nails it all. $139 at CameraWorld and one of the best performance/dollar buys I have made. anything else on LF makes little sense. I am looking for a lighter tripod/head combination for travel work, and the Ries tripod and head might be a good alternative. I will miss the gearing however .. without a doubt.
The principal advantage of pan tilt heads is that you can make horizontal and vertical adjustments independently of each other. So you can get the horizontal right, lock it, and then get the vertical right. This is often important with subjects like architecture. With ball heads it can be difficult to adjust one way without also making a slight change the other way. Also, with a ball head in larger formats it can be difficult to make very subtle adjustments because of the weight of the camera. OTOH, if you do mostly landscape and similar subjects where very fine adjustments usually aren't critical, a ball head works great and I find them more convenient. With my Bogen 3037 pan tilt head I'm always forgetting which handle controls which function.
My all time favorite head for large format cameras is the Arca Swiss B2. This is a pantilt head in ball head clothing but offers a feature no other pan/ double tilt design has: the pivot points are directly aligned with each other , not off set. and there is absolutely no creep as with every other pan/ double tilt head I've tried (I haven't tried the Linhof. Foba or Ries heads). My second favorite is th e Bogen 410 and my third favorite (and my #2 choice if I used Sinar) is the Sinar pan/ single tilt head.
I have tried pan-tilts, but now use exclusively a A/S B-1 ball-head for both 4X5 and 8X10. Works great for all subjects if your bubble- levels on your camera are set up so you can see the horizontal and vertical level at the same time. Both od my cameras are. There is no doubt about the ability of this head to render even very heavy/large view cameras stable, and I like the small size and ease of use.
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