View Full Version : ball levelers helpful?

2-Mar-1999, 02:35
I am curious if ball levelers are, well for lack of better words, worth a damn. Particularly the 3115 bogen ball leveler but any expereince with the Brom or Bil lingham will be helpful.One more question, Would the bogen accesory arm (3059) b e able to support a cambo sc (8lbs.)and a bogen 3047 head (5lbs.)? It would be a nice accessory but the thought of hanging my cambo off it makes me nervous. Josh Simpson

Masayoshi Hayashi
15-Mar-1999, 22:54
I don't have an experience with any of the products but try L.L. Rue shop at (908) 362-6616. Check http://www.rue.com/supports.html#bogenball They sell a Bogen 3115. If you've read my Q&A post for Leveling a tripod, check it out too. I had a experience with a Gitzo G321 leveling base (it is a ball leveler) and found it is very convenient and efficient. But why not consider buying a panoramic base/plate attached on the top of a ballhead if you have one already? It saves you weight and space. I wonder why no manufacturer makes a ballhead with panning base on the top rather than on the bottom (of course I understand it's more stable to put a panning base on the bottom). Let's suppose I have a ball leveler attached on the bottom of the panning base of a ballhead. In this case, buying a ball leveler is redundant "just to level a camera" because first you level a tripod by ball leveler, then you (again) level the camera by the ballhead. But you may ask me why not just use the ballhead if I knew I wanted "just to level the camera". True, but what if I did not get the composition I wanted at the first try and I wanted to recompose laterally by using the panning base? That's probably why I would level both the ball leveler and ballhead by instinct. There are 3 steps (to level the leveler, camera and then pan) for this case. So in my opinion, it's better to follow the combination of a ballhead without a panning base and a separate panoramic/panning base attached on the top of the ballhead. In this case, there are only 2 steps (to level the ballhead and to pan). Let's hear more opinions from others.

Ellis Vener
16-Mar-1999, 01:16
RE:I wonder why no manufacturer makes a ballhead with panning base on the top rather than on the bottom(?)

Arca Swiss is now making this an option on the latest versions of the B1 & B2 heads.

Masayoshi Hayashi
16-Mar-1999, 16:02
Afterthought: one disadvantage with a combination of a ballhead with panning base on the top and a leveler is that I cannot pan along vertical axis to the horizon when the camera is tilted in any direction from the axis. This is a problem because the image is panned diagonally, which only few people want. That is I can only pan along the axis of the panning base. So if I use a conventional ballhead with the panning base on the bottom and a leveler, there is no problem with panning along the vertical axis to the horizon. In conclusion, I think a ballhead with a panning base on the bottom plus a leveler would still be the best choice. A bogen 3115 leveler is cheap ($58.95 at L.L.Rue site) so I'm going to try one. But it is ironic because the main function of a ballhead is to level the camera but I still have to use a leveler which supposedly is not as smooth as the ballhead. BTW, Ellis, do you know where and when those Arca products are available? Could you tell us the more detail? Thanks, Masayoshi

Masayoshi Hayashi
16-Oct-1999, 13:13
A Bogen 3115 ball camera leveler consists of two parts. The top part sits on the bottom ball (like magic ball). The shape of the ball is not really sphere. It looks like an orange (sphere) that the top and bottom are cut. (The Gitzo's ball is upside down hemisphere and it sits on a hole.) The leveler is smooth enough but not as smooth as the Gitzo G321. The Bogen leveler is harder to level by itself than the Gitzo. You need to mount a camera on it to add some weight. The Bogen leveler turns smooth then (Well, that's the way to level a camera using a leveler anyway; so it's not a big deal). The bogen comes with bubble, so does the Gitzo. The range of movement is limited by the hinderance of the top of the tripod; I would say 15-20&deg maximum (about the same as the Gitzo). The bogen is as heavy as Gitzo G321 for its purpose (2-3lbs). For $50-60, Bogen 3115 is good but I could not justify the weight of the leveler for a field work. A panoramic adapter atop a ballhead beats the idea of ball levelers.

Dean Chriss
13-Aug-2001, 13:53
A ball leveler is nearly essential if you're using a Wimberley tripod head or an y other gimbaled head - if you want to get consistently level shots while pannin g with a moving subject. The Bogen and Gitzo levelers both work well, but the Gi tzo takes up a little less space and keeps the center of gravity a little lower when you're using big lenses.