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rugenius
20-Dec-2009, 14:24
Anyone have comments on the Photo Clam ball head products compared to Acratech, Feisol, RRS, Arca B1/Z1, etc...

Why is it that the Photo Clam PC33-NS has a payload rated at 66 lbs versus 25 lbs for any of the well made Acratech models?
What do I sacrifice by using a 33mm ball with 66 lbs of payload versus a 50mm ball that only supports/ rated to hold 40 lbs?? (Ex: Feisol CB-50DC)
I would think the precision machining, Ra finish, and design determines the smoothness. Quality is a concern for me, but that doesn't mean it has to be made in Europe or the USA to achieve exceptional quality. Hence the Chamonix camera to start with.

Anyway, I have taken a look at ten or so makes of various ball heads and read through numerous forums to get a good feel for a product I could purchase for an upcoming trip to the South Yucatan coast. There's a lot to like about many of these competing products but the payload ratings just don't make sense to me. And in the end, it might just be a non-issue anyway.
The more products I look at, the more confused I get.

So,... I'm looking at a lightweight stup for our Chamonix 045N with 6x12 roll back and lenses up to Schneider 210mm. I also like macro work so I envision difficult positioning for the tripod. Probably looking at a horizontal adapter from Feisol to accommodate this. The Photo Clam products have pricing and specs that seem too good to be true and I'd like to get forum advice before making any decisions.

Thanks,
Bill

Bob Salomon - HP Marketing
20-Dec-2009, 15:53
Have you gone to a really good camera store with a wide range of heads like K&S or Samy's to compare them all at once?

Bob Salomon - HP Marketing
20-Dec-2009, 15:57
Have you gone to a really good camera store with a wide range of heads like K&S or Samy's to compare them all at once?

There are other features that you also want to know. Like will the camera shift as a lock or tension is applied? If so, which direction? How much deflection? How useable with gloves, if used in cold climates? Is there lubrication? Is it wet or dry? (wet will attract dirt. dust, etc. Is the maximum weight rating given at the most extreme camera angle or dead top center? How was it determined?

rugenius
20-Dec-2009, 20:08
Bob,
The points about working in the cold/ rain/ sandy-windy, positional shift, lubrication, etc,... are good. I've looked at the design characteristics and pondered these items...
Especially since I will be around lots of wet and sandy conditions (including salt water).

I believe the spherical contact for these heads investigated so far is "dry".
Also, I have not been to a "really good" camera store and we live somewhat remotely so a quick trip to downtown SF or Monterey is more like a 3 hour trip.
That said,... I don't think the products that Kerry sells at ReallyBigCameras will be at Calumet Photo or other store. He seems like such a knowledgeable person in terms of photography in general and this lends to me assuming he believes in what he sells.
But I wanted to hear the un-biased points from the forum.

Thx.

Bob Salomon - HP Marketing
21-Dec-2009, 03:35
Bob,
The points about working in the cold/ rain/ sandy-windy, positional shift, lubrication, etc,... are good. I've looked at the design characteristics and pondered these items...
Especially since I will be around lots of wet and sandy conditions (including salt water).

I believe the spherical contact for these heads investigated so far is "dry".
Also, I have not been to a "really good" camera store and we live somewhat remotely so a quick trip to downtown SF or Monterey is more like a 3 hour trip.
That said,... I don't think the products that Kerry sells at ReallyBigCameras will be at Calumet Photo or other store. He seems like such a knowledgeable person in terms of photography in general and this lends to me assuming he believes in what he sells.
But I wanted to hear the un-biased points from the forum.

Thx.

Make the 3 hour trip and play to your heart's content. It is a lot coser then makinig the wrong choice. and you only have to go to Palo Alto or Walnut Creek. as K&S is in PA and Cameras West is in both Monterey and Walnut Creek,

Frank Petronio
21-Dec-2009, 05:28
It's really the good old battle between buying something relatively inexpensive like the Photo Clam, which can be "sacrificed" to the windy sandy conditions versus buying a top-of-line ball head (like a Linhof!) that might survive the poor conditions better.

Larry Gebhardt
21-Dec-2009, 06:11
I like the Photo Clam head (I forget the model, but it's the one Kerry recommends) better than my Acratech head. I see no issues with it as far as quality goes. And I use a Chamonix 045N on it.

DJGainer
21-Dec-2009, 11:19
Larry, why do you prefer the Photo Clam over the Acratech?

rugenius
26-Dec-2009, 18:02
All,
Thanks for the advice/ feedback.
IMHO, one ball head and tripod cannot cover all use cases, and I wanted to go minimalist field 4x5,... I ordered a Feisol CT-3441S Traveler series tripod and PhotoClam PC-33NS ball head. The combo was approx $480 + shipping.

BTW: I paid on a Saturday, the day after Christmas... and Kerry Thalmann of ReallyBigCameras was out the door 10 minutes before the post office was closing to finish the order. That is truly dedicated service IMHO!!!... and I've heard nothing but the same from numerous LF inmates...

Kerry stocked the complete setup in anodized BLUE. :cool:
Note: actually, he had all three colors available "in stock"
Not that nice colors makes it anything but a magnet for getting scratched up,...
But for the time being the pair will add something that "plain Jane" couldn't...

Based on advice from Bob Solomon, I tried out some nice Acratech and Arca heads in K&S Palo Alto,... but alas, couldn't get a grip on one of these PhotoClam models... no pun intended, So after a series of email conversation with Kerry, I pulled the trigger.

I've been using a less than optimal older 3-way Manfrotto head and psuedo beefy Manfrotto 3221 tripod. The latter is a PITA to carry around in dense forest/ varying terrain, and set up quickly. So,... I'm expecting an improvement all the way around.
User feedback pending...(damned excited about the purchase):D

http://reallybigcameras.com/Feisol/CT-3441S_Blue_Mainframe.JPG
http://reallybigcameras.com/Feisol/CT-3441S_Blue.JPG
http://reallybigcameras.com/PhotoClam/PC-33NS%20series.JPG

community1313
27-Dec-2009, 12:52
Hello, I have an arca swiss ball head, goes with my arca swiss camera! anyway it has zero tolerance for water, I will not recommand to use it even under a light rain, and I speak from experience, the arca people serviced it for free and it's very good but it's not for outdoor use! I will definitely look for a more "opened" design like acratech for outdoor, something that can be cleaned and dried!