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View Full Version : Inexpensive ballhead to support Toyo field camera?



geoffsm
1-Apr-2008, 10:42
Firstly, I've been reading the site for awhile and have learned much, so thanks to everyone for all the great discussions and advice! Secondly, I need a ballhead for my Toyo 45AX. I probably won't use it that much (estimate <30% of my shooting), but there are circumstances where the practical considerations of a ballhead (bulk and weight) make it the right choice vs. a pan/tilt head. I have two lenses, a pretty hefty Fuji CMW 210 f/5.6 and a more diminutive 125 f/5.6, also a Fuji.

What would you all recommend in a decent but not "Cadillac" ballhead for under $200 (ideally in the $100-150 range)? I've read through a number of relevant threads but haven't seen much discussion about cheaper ballheads (probably with good reason). I just don't have the money to spend on a nice one from RRS, Arca, etc. and can't justify it for the level of use it will see.

Are there any that have a friction/drag control and can support at least what my tripod can (17.6 lbs., it's a CF Induro C214) and weigh around a pound (a little more is OK) that aren't junk? I will also likely shoot a Pentax 67 with 105 f/2.5 with this rig.

Alan Davenport
1-Apr-2008, 10:50
Not long ago, I needed a ballhead for a barn door tracker. I bought one of the Chinese ballheads that are so ubiquitous on that auction site, and for the money (ca. $50) and application it's a fantastic bargain. It's plenty big and heavy enough for a 4x5 field camera.

There are multiple sellers on fleabay that are selling the same products with different boxes (clever Chinese marketers!) I bought one with a part number of FT-6664H; you should be able to search for that if you want to pursue this.

geoffsm
1-Apr-2008, 11:12
That looks interesting Alan. Looks like a lot of the, uh, "fancier" ones that are about. For the money, why not? Maybe I will try this.

Any other contenders, perhaps that I can go and fondle at B&H, Adorama, Calumet? Lou at Photogizzmo is usually my go-to guy for large format stuff, but I would feel bad going there and asking him for something cheap.

Toyon
1-Apr-2008, 13:03
A ballhead under a fairly heavy 4x5 was the wrong choice for me - a toyo is bulky and when extended its center of gravity changes, making a ballhead a lot less wieldy. I switched to a panhead with big levers and a nice big QR plate. However, for smaller cameras, I like Manfrotto's inexpensive ballheads.

joolsb
1-Apr-2008, 13:15
I got by for a long while with an inexpensive Manfrotto ballhead for my Ebony. It worked OK but I recently got a Manfrotto 410 geared head and although it's heavy (about 3x heavier than the ballhead), it's worth it for the ease of use and precision. From being a sceptic, I'm now a total convert and won't be using anything else for LF - unless weight really is an overriding factor.

Jim Jirka
1-Apr-2008, 13:31
I had a Toyo 45AX that I used a Manfrotto ballhead with. I believe it was a 468r or something like that. I removed the quick release clamp that it came with and added an arca type clamp to it. Worked for me with no issues of center of gravity, etc...
I also believe it came in around a pound in weight.

anchored
1-Apr-2008, 13:58
After having two Manfrotto ballheads fail during a one week period, I personally will never have another. However, Manfrotto's panheads I've had good success. After the Manfrotto ballhead failures I replaced them with two Arca-Swiss ballheads (but both were way above your stated budget constraint).

My brother uses Giotto ballheads under his equipment (our MF cameras weigh more than 4"x5" LF cameras). Wish I had the model number, but as I recall he paid around $150-ish for it. He's been using them for about 3-years now and has not had any problems or complaints with them.

Bob Salomon - HP Marketing
1-Apr-2008, 14:00
After having two Manfrotto ballheads fail during a one week period, I personally will never have another. However, Manfrotto's panheads I've had good success. After the Manfrotto ballhead failures I replaced them with two Arca-Swiss ballheads (but both were way above your stated budget constraint).

My brother uses Giotto ballheads under his equipment (our MF cameras weigh more than 4"x5" LF cameras). Wish I had the model number, but as I recall he paid around $150-ish for it. He's been using them for about 3-years now and has not had any problems or complaints with them.

He has the MH1000 or the MH3000. There is also a newer Giottos series that is even stronger.

geoffsm
1-Apr-2008, 14:59
Thanks all for the responses. The Giottos (MH-1000) looks decent, any experiences?

anchored
1-Apr-2008, 16:20
I called my brother, who has several Giotto ballheads and has been using them for several years (he has the MH-1000, MH-2000, and the MH-3000.... thanks Bob). His opinion on them:

The MH-1000 he doesn't use under heavy cameras... uses it only with 35mm gear. Altho' Giotto claims it will support 22-lbs, he feels that's over-rated.

The MH-2000 (a dual ballhead) he also reserved to 35mm and digital cameras. Says there's too much flexure in the long extension to the camera mount plate to suit him... making it less stable in windy conditions.

The MH-3000 only costs about $20 more than the MH-1000... and this is the one he suggests under large or medium format gear. Very stable, locks up tightly, has friction control... has never had any problems with them.

He's compared his MH-3000 to my Arca-Swiss B1 and B2 heads... and thinks the Arca-Swiss heads are noticably better... but... not $300-$400 better. Main difference between my heads and his Giotto MH-3000: Friction control smoother and more easily adjusted on the Arca-Swiss, and when he tightens his Giotto down there is some drift of position.

Rick Moore
1-Apr-2008, 16:48
You might consider a Feisol ball head. They have two in your range. The CB-30C weighs 283 grams, holds up to 8 Kg, and costs $109. The CB-50D weighs 591 grams, holds up to 19 Kg, and costs $159. Both come with a quick-release clamp and a 47x50mm quick release plate. I have heard very good reviews of these heads. Since the Toyo you are using is relatively heavy, the CB-50D is probably a better fit. Check Feisol's web site, www.feisol.com, for details.

If these interest you, Kerry Thalmann is an authorized Feisol dealer. His company is ReallyBigCameras, and he has a sponsor's forum on APUG.

Preston
1-Apr-2008, 17:54
I use a Kaiser 'Medium' ball head with my Tachihara. Even with the bellows fully extended, the rig is easy to work with. I believe the head cost a smidge over $200. It is nicely made, works smoothly, has a friction adjustment, a nice pano degree scale. It is a good value, in my opinion.

-PB

geoffsm
1-Apr-2008, 21:25
I think I will investigate the Feisol. It looks to have the best combo of weight, features and price. With all the attention their tripods are getting, hopefully the heads are of similarly good quality. Thanks for the other suggestions as well, I will read up on them!