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Ball head
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Jul 18, 2012 12:23:26   #
TrishV
 
Am wanting to get a new ball head for my manfrotto tripod and would appreciate any tips. I do a lot of birds in flight photos and need a ball head that will swivel in all directions quickly and with a good locking system as I use a 100 - 400mm USM lens. Am looking at Acratech GV at the moment but if anyone out there has any info that might let me know if I am on the right track that would be great. Thanks.

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Jul 18, 2012 12:34:31   #
Leicaflex (a regular here)
 
If you do a considerable amount of birds in flight, and with a 400mm lens, consider a Gimbal head, there are several on the market, Benro GH2, GH3
http://www.lensmaster.co.uk/
Avoid the ones from China.
A Gimbal head allows you to move smoothly through the shot, without jerking.

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Jul 18, 2012 12:41:42   #
BurtLehman
 
There are plenty of good ball heads out there, but none of them solves the problem of counterbalance.

If you are trying to follow anything in motion, you need a very uniform drag in all directions. Additionally you need to have the center of gravity zeroed out.

Fluid heads with counterbalance adjustments do this best. They are the head of choice in cinematography, which is essentially what you are trying to capture with wildlife in motion.

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Jul 18, 2012 12:47:57   #
snogost67
 
Hi there, I too shoot birds and wildlife and have just purchased the Cambo CBH-5 ball head with Sunwayfoto DDY-64 quick release and Desmond quick release plate, I am really happy with these as it is sturdy and holds my 5D mark II w/ 500mm lens with no problem and the panniing is really smooth. Look on Ebay and Amazon for good deals, and do lots of research and read lots of reviews before you purchase. Good luck! I will be interested to hear what you end up purchasing 8-)

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Jul 18, 2012 12:54:01   #
TrishV
 
Thanks for your suggestions. Snogost67 I looked at the Cambo CBH head and it looks good but do you find that dust, etc., gets inside the ball head as it looks like it would be hard to clean?

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Jul 18, 2012 13:04:09   #
snogost67
 
I have not had a problem with dust at all and the movement is still very smooth. I have not one complaint for this ball head at all. The ball moves freely and the panning is smooth and is easily configured without taking your eye off your subject.

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Jul 18, 2012 13:05:48   #
TrishV
 
Ok thanks for that.

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Jul 18, 2012 14:25:34   #
Festina Lente
 
TrishV wrote:
Am wanting to get a new ball head for my manfrotto tripod and would appreciate any tips. I do a lot of birds in flight photos and need a ball head that will swivel in all directions quickly and with a good locking system as I use a 100 - 400mm USM lens. Am looking at Acratech GV at the moment but if anyone out there has any info that might let me know if I am on the right track that would be great. Thanks.

Based on your lens and shooting birds in flight, you need a gimbal head instead of a ball head.

A Gimbal head offers far more control than any ball head as it remains balanced and can instantly be moved to any position and remain there without any adjustments so you can nail the shot.

Even the best ball heads ($600+) cannot offer the level of control needed while minimizing vibrations and hand shake. The Acratech ballhead you are looking at is good, but not for shooting birds. I have the largest RRS ballhead ($455) which is outstanding in every regard but it simply cannot do what a gimbal head does. Two different animals.

While Wimberly is the old gold standard for gimbals, I found that the Enduro GHB2 offers the best bang for the dollar and it works flawlessly. I have had the Enduro side-by-side with a $600 Wimberly WH-200, and the Induro was very comparable. Worth every penny.

If you shop around, you can find an Enduro GHB2 for under $400. And yes, spending more on a gimbal head than your tripod is normal. See the following link for more information:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/655340-REG/Induro_485_002_GHB2_Gimbal_Head.html

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Jul 18, 2012 14:42:55   #
TrishV
 
Thanks Festina Lente that is great info and good to hear - am definitely leaning towards the Gimbal now as it looks like it would be sturdier and not quite so top heavy as the ball head looks with the 400mm lens on it.

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Jul 18, 2012 14:52:09   #
FilmFanatic
 
Have a look at the Wimberley Sidekick, seems like the perfect application to me

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Jul 18, 2012 20:46:43   #
Festina Lente
 
FilmFanatic wrote:
Have a look at the Wimberley Sidekick, seems like the perfect application to me

I thought so too. So I tried one. Just not quite what it needs to be, and so I sent it back.
To take full advantage of the sidekick you need a stout ball head (like a RRS BH55).
Not too bad if you aleady have one. If I were traveling and already had a decent ballhead, it would save some room and weight.
But it is still not as fluid and nimble as a gimbal head.

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Jul 19, 2012 06:18:15   #
apitic
 
I agree, I've just ordered one to use it with my Nikon 200-400 lens. I my opinion it is a must.

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Jul 19, 2012 06:18:43   #
apitic
 
I agree, I've just ordered one to use it with my Nikon 200-400 lens. I my opinion it is a must.

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Jul 19, 2012 07:12:44   #
tradio (a regular here)
 
I have the Manfrotto 322 something or another, it is a pistol grip, fast but I don't think it could handle the weight.

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Jul 19, 2012 07:59:26   #
Gary Truchelut
 
A gimbal is definitely the way to go. I bought a Wimberly on ebay for 400.00 that is flawless. it does take some getting used to when trying to follow moving subjects. You get better and better images with practice. If you are using a 400mm you shouldn't have any problem but with an longer lens it is hard to locate the moving subject in your field of view. More practice. Have fun with what ever you decide on.
I find with a 400mm you should be able to hand hold and get great shots as long as you use a shutter speed of 500th or higher. Hand holding allows easier tracking of the subject especially if it is moving fast.

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