Ballheads--Arca-Swiss, Kirk or Studioball?

Discussion in 'Nature' started by dick_ginkowski, Mar 23, 1998.

  1. Hi, folks. I just got a Canon EF 300 f/2.8 L and now have the problem
    of how to support it. I presently have a Gizto 1228 tripod (must have for physical reasons) for a Kaiser medium ball head (garbage, IMO).

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    With my other lenses the problems aren't so drastic but they sure are with the 300. Lots of shake and vibration. I think it's time for a new head. I read the reviews and comments here but need more insight.

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    Lots of people like the hard-to-get Kirk, but are they as good as the Arca-Swiss?

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    And what about Studioball? Seems rto be rock solid, but quite heavy.

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    Saving $50 on Kirk v. Arca isn't the issue--I want the most for my buck, period. It's no savings if it doesn't meet my needs.

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    Kirk says its ballhead is only rated for 15 pounds. (The 1n, 2X and lens come in at just under 9 lbs.) I think Arca-Swiss is rated for more weight.

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    Comments, please! (Thanks!)
     
  2. Dick,

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    Go for the Arca-Swiss. I use mine a lot with a 500 mm f/4.5 L which is about the same weight as your 300 mm f/2.8 and it works perfectly. I have been through the process of evaluating (and buying) several ballheads. We all wind up with the Arca-Swiss.

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    Enjoy your new ballhead.

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    Cheers, Hans
     
  3. I second the B1 recommendation. I've had trouble with it when I was using with a 600, but have now begun using it only with the 300 2.8 and it works great. BTW, I'd take everyones load ratings with a grain of salt. the B1 is rated at 60 lbs and locks up at half that.
     
  4. Look at the Foba ball heads also. I have a pair of Ballo's with arca quick release. They have a smaller version which may be all right for a 300/2.8. If you ever plan on going larger than 300/2.8 then get the larger version. B&H lists the large Foba at $469, the smaller at $295, the B1 at $379.95 and the B1G at $479.95. I have found the Foba to be very smooth under freezing cold (-40f)and also when hot and humid. I have had no lockup problems so far and mine are 6 years old. Another thing I like is the lever for locking the head vrs a knob on some of the others. The Ballo is 4.5 lbs. Capacity is a minimum of 30 pounds, I don't remember the exact numbers.
     
  5. We all love to save $$. I'm as guilty as the next guy at being cheap.
    However if you add the cost of a 300/2.8L, 1228, TC and camera body,
    you probably get a figure of over $5000. Now you worry about an
    extra $100 on a ball head. So do I, but it doesn't make much sense.

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    The only complaint I've ever heard about the B1 is that it sometimes
    locks up. Arca Swiss says it doesn't. Arca Swiss are wrong. However
    some people never experience the lock up problem, and it's pretty
    easy to deal with if it happens. I've never heard any complaints
    about the head itself.

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    I'm sure most small heads can handle a 300/2.8 or 500/4. They
    start to groan under a 600/4, but a lot of people use them with
    such lenses. I'd guess that the 1228 would be as limiting as
    a B1 when it comes to stability. There wouldn't be a lot of point
    putting a B1G or a B2 on 1228 legs. If you go to 1348 or 1325 legs
    (yes, it adds about 1.5 lbs and another $250-$400) then it might make sense to go
    with a bigger and heavier head - but I doubt that's really needed unless you go to a 600/4.
     
  6. I second Bob Atkins remarks. I also wish to add that if you get the B1 then get the regular one and not the economy model. Unless you NEVER shoot moving subject, the pan head on the regular B1 is worth every extra penny you pay for it. Remember, that a good ball head is a very long term investment. It will easily outlive the computer you are using to read this message. So spend less on your computer gadgets and more on your photo equipment.
     
  7. Do not get the Foba it WILL let you down. The design is poor and Sinar Bron does not stand behind thier design. Get the Arca Ball head, if I had not invested the $470 in the Foba I'd have one. Frank in earlier answer says he has had no problems but so far he is the only person I know apart from myself who has not returned it.
     
  8. I've used a Foba for several years. I did have to return one to Sinar Bron after I had owned it about a year. I included a letter explaining the reason for returning it and they sent me a brand new one within two weeks. While the initial defect was annoying, overall I've had nothing but a good experience with the Foba and think its an exceptional piece of equipment. Mine is just another opinion though...
     
  9. I am curious as to whether anyone else has experienced problems with their Foba. As I stated I have had my two for over six years(actually one for over 8 and the other over 6) and have had no problems. I do keep the ball itself very clean. They support my 600/f4 and 300/f2.8 and have been in blowing sand, rain, you name it. I have used them in extreme cold (-40f and I do consider that cold) and functioned just fine.
     
  10. I use both a B1 and a B1G. No compromises. The drag increase as the ball 'flops' is a lifesaver. When they clamp, they clamp, no B.S.. They pan as smooth as silk. I'm sure there are other heads which are acceptable, good even. But at least with Arca there's no crap shoot involved in choosing one, nor is there any need to balance positive and negative opinions about the same product (as far as I've heard personally.)
     
  11. Dick, I have been using the regular Arca Swiss B1 with the Canon 1n, 300/2.8, 2x or 1.4X and the power drive booster B1, all on a Gitzo 340 and with the Really Right Stuff plate, to shoot Colorado wildlife for about three months now. My experience has been that the B1 ballhead is an excellent piece of equipment and that any problems I've encountered are from "operator error." Several times, if I'm not paying enough attention to the tension, I've left the whole rig too loose and the body and lens have flopped to the side, fortunately without any damage to anything. Again, I must stress, this was due to my own negligence. I get pretty excited when there's a pair of moose calves on the other end of the lens! The above set-up provides a very secure, stable, and tight platform for me. I want a 600/4 someday and would want a heavier tripod and heavier head to handle the additional weight. Hope this helps.
     
  12. When I first started dealing with RRS, Brayn Geyer said he had heard that the Foba 'Balla model' was "mechanically flawed." But he hadn't tested it yet. I think he has since decided it is ok, but less desirable than the Arca. I agree. I found a Foba ,used, at half retail price three years ago and have had no trouble with it as an indoor, portrait support. I rather like the lever lock and its ratchet adjustment. I already replaced its dinky knob with a RRS knurled one. But when I decided to go for a lighter field weight rig on a Gitzo 224, it was clear that the Foba is too damn massive. The B-1 I now own as well has more precise control over the ball tension and is much lighter and compact. Definitely a preferred choice. I have no big tele lenses to support I hasten to add. And my Mastercard balance would not support a 300L lens, although I'd love one.
     
  13. This may be a bit off the mark as most of the guys I've seen using such long lenses are sports photographers but they ALL seem to be using video heads of one sort or another. I tried a smaller Bogen model and it works for me. I don't mind the little extra weight and the price was about $60.00.

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    As another added question: how about the big Calumet ball head?
     
  14. I was hopeful that some of the new ballheads would be
    competitive with the Arca-Swiss B1 and bought both the Kirk BH-1 and
    Arca Swiss B1. Regardless of what anyone else
    says, you have to buy both heads and do a side by side comparison. Do your own tests and
    send back the one you don't like. Kirk offers a 30 day return and I think B&H is 14 day
    return. Make sure you don't scratch up the heads when attaching the quick release plates or
    attaching the head to your tripod.

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    Anyway, here's what I found in a side by side comparison with the Kirk BH-1 and the
    Arca-Swiss B1. The Kirk is slightly bigger and heavier (2lbs vs 1.7). The Kirk comes with a
    universal plate and that's the problem; it's universal(flat top). The plate will fit camera or lens
    but doesn't have any lip and is free to rotate.

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    There were four areas of obvious difference between the Kirk and Arca:

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    1. Ball shape: Overall, both heads are very smooth but differences in the ball shape result in
    different handling characteristics. The Kirk ball is spherical and doesn't become stiffer when
    dropping into the vertical slot. The Kirk also rotates more freely in the socket so feels a bit
    smoother. The Arca is elliptical and does get stiffer further away from the centered position.
    This progressive tensioning due to the shape of the ball also makes the ball stiffer when it's
    dropped into the vertical slot. Composition for verticals isn't as smooth as I would like with
    the Arca.

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    2. Lockup: The Kirk definitely takes more turns on the lockup knob than the Arca. It takes
    2-3 half turns to go from loose to lock while the Arca is 1 turn. This is one serious
    disadvantage for the Kirk.

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    3. Vertical drop slot location. This was a shocker for me. I prefer to drop the camera to the
    left so my right hand is on top and the shutter release is on top. With the Arca, when you drop
    to the left the lockup knob is positioned towards the front under the lens. This is a
    comfortable/easy position for me to use the head. With the vertical dropout on the left, the
    Kirk lockup knob is pointed to the back, towards my body. This necessitates tucking your
    hand up close to your body and is quite awkward for me. Add in the 2-3 turns it takes to
    achieve lockup and this becomes a MAJOR problem for me.

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    4. Tensioning adjustment: No comparison, the Kirk is very rough and sticky, and the not very
    repeatable. At first I didn't appreciate this feature in the Arca, but I believe I will use it quite a
    bit.

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    Bottom line: Do your own tests. I kept the Arca-Swiss B1
     
  15. Since nobody addressed the Studioball part of the question, I will.
    Simply put, it sucks. Oh, the ball and socket are fine, though overly massive. But it was the pan-base that literally wobbled apart on me during regular use. Not once but twice. Two different heads, the second replacing the first, in less than eighteen months. The dealer, Kirk Enterprises, took excellent care of me. That was five years ago and I have loved using my Arca Swiss B1 ever since. the ergonomics and design even helped convince me to try (and eventually move to) an Arca Swiss F-Line 4x5 camera.
     
  16. I've been using a Mini Studioball mounted on a Novoflex panning plate. It's light and works great with a F-100 and Nikkor 500 mm AFS lens. I recently began using a Wimberly Sidekick (with special lens plate) and the entire setup is smooth as silk. The reason I originally purchased the Mini Studioball was because of its light weight and its large ball relative to its size. One final point, I do not intend to use this setup with anything larger than the 500. If I had planned to use a 600, I might have opted for a larger and heavier ball head but when your dealing with a 600, everthing becomes considerably heavier. Moving from a 500 to a 600 is a different ball game. (pun)
     

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