The unusual off-centre ball positioning allows for a much greater range of movement than a conventional ball head, especially if you want to shoot straight up or down. border-radius: 5px; Build quality also feels reassuringly robust, although on close inspection we did spot they grey finish wearing slightly thin around the friction knob of our test sample. Vanguard’s chunky, rubber covered locking knobs are all very easy to grip, though the conventional friction adjustment dial isn’t quite as tactile as Manfrotto’s clicky design. You also have to figure out if you need a tilted head (Pan), Ball head Gimbal or a Fluid head, depending on the type of camera that you have. To get truly great photos, smooth video, and versatile scoping you need to ensure that your tripod head is up to the task. Depending on the price point and how you think you’ll be using your tripod you may not want to splurge on the most expensive option. With low friction, the relatively large, polished blue ball moves very smoothly, but up the friction and the ball’s glossy surface can cause it to stick slightly when attempting to make small compositional adjustments. If you put care and thought into your decision, then you’ll find satisfaction in knowing you made a knowledgeable and informed choice. With built-in bubble levels, you can easily square up your shot with the confidence that it’s straight. Instead, do a bit of your own research, read other peoples’ perspectives on each tripod head and make an informed decision when it’s ready for you to buy one for yourself. Digital Camera World is part of Future US Inc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. At the base of the handle is a 2.5mm socket, which can link the trigger to your camera's remote shutter input (Nikon N1 and Canon N3 cables are supplied). Cheaper ball heads can present other problems too, they may have fiddly or unreliable controls and mechanisms that slow you down or represent a hazard to your gear. However, a tripod head’s quick-release mechanism shouldn’t be so good that you risk dropping your camera. Thankfully, the tripod heads in this article are all great in their own right. .wp-classic-pros-cons .wppc-verdict-wrapper { By adding a handle you get significantly more leverage and control when adjusting your camera, compared to holding it directly. Fancy ball heads also tend to offer smoother panning movement, and will likely also have better quick-release mechanisms on their tops, often based on the universal Arca-Swiss mount standard. It comes with an integrated 360-degree clamp that allows for smooth panning even on bumpy terrain, and its quick-release plate is Arca-Swiss compatible. The following tripod heads will work best for these criteria: This is perhaps the best Manfrotto head for birding from a manufacturer that makes the best tripods for bird watching in general. Versatile, compact, and flexible, ball heads deliver a unique combination of seamless control and convenience. NIKON D800E + 70-200mm f/4 @ 100mm, ISO 100, 1/100, f/8.0 I took this photo under extremely heavy wind, and I was using a telephoto lens. When choosing a good tripod for a spotting scope, be sure to check on the type of head offered by the manufacturer. We'd say the trick is to pick a head with a larger ball diameter: around 40-50mm is a sweet spot for providing extra stability while maintaining portability. If you're not careful, your whole setup could come tumbling down and risk breaking your camera or lens! Birding often requires a lot of movement, be it for a heavy scope or your still and/or film camera. Great for maximum movement, and a biceps workout, Max load: 12kg | Weight: 1000g | QR plate: proprietary. Capture amazing quality photos and videos anywhere with a tripod. The XPRO ball head can be specced with several mounting plate designs. The best gimbal head on the market is undoubtedly the Wimberley Head Mk II. But what you lose in portability, you gain in usability. You’ve got three adjustment knobs, a quick-release plate (though not Arca-compatible) and vertical/horizontal spirit levels for accurate setup an shooting. A cheap tripod head on a premium tripod is like having a lawnmower engine in a Ferrari. The size of the tilt knob also helps you to dial in just the right amount of friction. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Benro makes the second entry on our list of the best tripod ball heads. Get the best camera deals, reviews, product advice, competitions, unmissable photography news and more! It doesn’t even stand close to the shots I took with the geared head. The head feels strong for the price - far from the kind of plasticky rubbish you might expect. So what to look for in a ball head? If you’re looking for a real budget alternative, the Manfrotto 393 head is not a true gimbal, but does a similar job. • Best panoramic tripod heads This will provide you with maximum versatility for the perfect shot. The oversized quick release mounting plate and release lever offer unmatched ease of use, as do the large diameter pan and tilt locking knobs, both of which exude luxury. However, wildlife photography, in particular, birding, is one of the best ways to find peace amid nature while exercising an artistic hobby. color: #fff; The best advice I can give you is to save if you need to and buy the best tripod and gimbal head for your current gear and the equipment you expect to mount to it in the years to come. A winning tripod ball head that nails the basics, Max load: 10kg | Weight: 520g | QR plate: Arca-compatible. The top plate is surrounded by three individual bubble levels for precision camera levelling, and they’re all viewable with your camera mounted. They will give you greater range of motion, enabling you to rotate at 360°. And now for something a little different. A seamless shooting process is guaranteed with the best geared tripod head. The Slik 504 QF-II Fluid Effect Video Head is an excellent example of an affordable fluid head for tripods. 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