View Full Version : pan/tilt head options: looking for suggestions

Arne Norris
5-Feb-2010, 15:52
When I was using a 4x5, I had the luxury of using the Linhof pan/tilt head, which was compact, easy to use and I loved it. Unfortunately I sold it when I needed to raise some cash last year. Now I'm using a small 6x6 camera, a Mamiya 6. And I can't afford another Linhof head right now.

I still prefer a pan/tilt over a ball head. Does anyone have any suggestions for a quality, compact pan/tilt head that will support my Mamiya 6, which is quite compact itself. I'm using a Gitzo series 3 tripod, without a center column (which I will probably add at some point.) I was thinking of finding a used Gitzo p/t head, but they seem very bulky, with long handles, etc. when compared to the Linhof p/t.


Joanna Carter
5-Feb-2010, 16:46
Rather than a pan/tilt head, I would recommend the Manfrotto 410 geared head. It is quite compact and much easier to use than a pan/tilt head.

Or, even lighter and smaller is the Manfrotto 460MG.

5-Feb-2010, 16:56

I've also been looking at p&t heads to replace my Manfrotto ball & socket head to use with my Wista field camera. I'm seriously considering the Manfrotto MN804RC2 which is actually made of plastic (they call it 'technical polymer') but by all accounts is a very robust kind of plastic and the head seems to have had very good reviews. It's also quite lightweight at 0.75Kg. The other one I've looked at is the Manfrotto MN460 magnesium head which is a bit more money but is even lighter at 0.5Kg. This head has chunky, rubber knobs rather than the traditional handles so it's quite compact too.

Good luck with your search,


5-Feb-2010, 17:00
If something heavier than the 410 is of interest go up to the 229 Super Pro Head. Its a friction head and does offer 3 way control.

8-Feb-2010, 16:15
The 405 is also a much larger version of the 410. I use the 405 for MF and will also use it for LF on occasion when my camera gets here.

Frank Petronio
8-Feb-2010, 17:18
I think the Gitzo 3-way pan-tilt (+rotate) heads are quite nice and the long handles unscrew for transport, making the head easy to travel with. In use, the handles are a plus over shorter ones.

Gitzo no longer makes a 3-series #-way pan-tilt head but you can find them on eBay -- or get the 2 or 5-series heads new.

You might also consider the leveling bowl type center attachment - they are very low profile and light - they provide a fair amount of adjustment for getting horizontal in most situations. And maybe Manfroto or RRS (Monopod) gadget that can flip the camera sideways for the occasional vertical.

Jeremy Moore
8-Feb-2010, 17:21
And maybe Manfroto or RRS (Monopod) gadget that can flip the camera sideways for the occasional vertical.

Frank's right, I can't even count the number of times I've had to flip a 6x6 camera for that vertical shot :D

Frank Petronio
8-Feb-2010, 17:34
hahaha opps

Robert Hughes
8-Feb-2010, 18:39
Frank's right, I can't even count the number of times I've had to flip a 6x6 camera for that vertical shot :D

Yeah, it's either six by six of one, or a half dozen of the, err... wait that's not it. :confused: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.

My 3-series Gitzo does the trick for me. Except that bent column winding lever sometimes gets caught in the works and I've gotta shift stuff around. Used gear, huh.

Peter De Smidt
8-Feb-2010, 19:24
I have one of these: http://www.manfrotto.com/Jahia/site/manfrotto/cache/off/pid/2333?livid=80|81&idx=82.

It's $40 at BH: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/553889-REG/Manfrotto_056_056_3_D_Junior_Head.html

It's not a luxury head. The movements, while perfectly usable, aren't Arca level silky. That said, it's very light, easy to adjust, and the short handles don't catch on everything like the long ones do. I've used mine with a Rollei TLR and Fuji medium format rangefinders, and it worked very well with them. Oh yeah, and it's not expensive. Add a super clamp, and you can mount your camera most places. :)

I have a 410 as well. It's sturdier, heavier, more precise, slower to use, and more expensive than a 056. I use the 410 for macro work and 4x5 work. I use the 056 head mainly on a carbon fiber tripod for travel.

8-Feb-2010, 20:43
First pick for me is the tiltall tripod. Simple and rugged. $99.

Next on down the line, I'd see what Slik or Manfrotto might be selling.

9-Feb-2010, 05:49
Have you actually tried a ball head with your Mamiya 6? While I prefer a pan/tilt head for 4x5, I like a ball head for smaller cameras. (Also am jealous about your Linhof pan/tilt head -- I've always wanted one but never been able to afford it.)

Arne Norris
10-Feb-2010, 16:40
Bill: I really regretted having to sell the Linhof pan-tilt head. Best head I ever had. (That doesn't sound right…).

Thanks for all of the feedback!

I decided that the Gitzo 3-way head would be good with my G340. Found one at Calument used, a G1371M for an affordable price. It looks to be fairly compact and being magnesium will hopefully be lighter weight than the older versions I used 20 years ago.

Thanks again all!:)