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Kirk Ballhead
Apr 6, 2021 16:24:24   #
Drbobcameraguy Loc: Eaton Ohio
 
I have owned a couple inexpensive Ballheads in the last 2 years. Never really thought much about them they worked ok. Vanguard is the name brand. Bh-100 and I can't remember the other. I purchased a Kirk Bh-1 used here for 90.00. It is AMAZING. I thought I had a quality Ballheads in the Vanguard but omg. The Kirk is unbelievable. I could not afford a new one at almost 400.00 but darn. I never thought there could be so much difference.

Apr 6, 2021 16:37:43   #
Gene51 Loc: Yonkers, NY, now in LSD (LowerSlowerDelaware)
 
Drbobcameraguy wrote:
I have owned a couple inexpensive Ballheads in the last 2 years. Never really thought much about them they worked ok. Vanguard is the name brand. Bh-100 and I can't remember the other. I purchased a Kirk Bh-1 used here for 90.00. It is AMAZING. I thought I had a quality Ballheads in the Vanguard but omg. The Kirk is unbelievable. I could not afford a new one at almost 400.00 but darn. I never thought there could be so much difference.


The sad thing is that your story is common. One buys something - anything - and they are thrilled because it meets their needs. Until they see what a quality piece really looks like and how it performs. Tripods and heads are notorious, as are wide range superzooms.

You will get lots of years of excellent service - and the price you paid was most reasonable. Enjoy!

Apr 6, 2021 18:20:24   #
Drbobcameraguy Loc: Eaton Ohio
 
Gene51 wrote:
The sad thing is that your story is common. One buys something - anything - and they are thrilled because it meets their needs. Until they see what a quality piece really looks like and how it performs. Tripods and heads are notorious, as are wide range superzooms.

You will get lots of years of excellent service - and the price you paid was most reasonable. Enjoy!


Thanks. I thought the price was excellent. Now I have to find myself a swinging deal on a real tripod. Lol. I thought I had a good one. Get my second shot the 20th. Off to the camera store instead of online lol.

 
 
Apr 7, 2021 06:54:45   #
ClarkJohnson Loc: Fort Myers, FL and Cohasset, MA
 
If you are patient, you can get excellent buys on eBay. Set yourself a limit (I target 50% of list price) and just keep checking. Use the usual due diligence, of course. I have picked up both large and small Gitzo tripods at considerable savings. And yes, the quality difference is amazing.

Apr 7, 2021 07:45:09   #
Drbobcameraguy Loc: Eaton Ohio
 
ClarkJohnson wrote:
If you are patient, you can get excellent buys on eBay. Set yourself a limit (I target 50% of list price) and just keep checking. Use the usual due diligence, of course. I have picked up both large and small Gitzo tripods at considerable savings. And yes, the quality difference is amazing.


Thanks I was looking at ebay this morning. Long time ebay shopper. Lol. I need to educate myself as to exactly what I need. I shoot wildlife most and don't care about weight that much or size collapsed. I don't hike that far and am still basically healthy at 61. I use large lenses of course and am looking at a 400f2.8 or a 600f4 so I need a substantial tripod. Suggestions are welcome. I have some research to do. I'm thinking 500.00 for used should get me something decent if I'm patient and fast on the draw. Lol

Apr 7, 2021 10:31:32   #
photoman43
 
I have been using my Kirk BH-1 since about 1999. I used it so much I bought a second one on ebay. And once I got it, I sent the first one back to Kirk and they refurbished it for free. One of the secondary lock down screws had gotten too tight to use correctly.

I also have a Kirk BH-3 that I use for travel and when I am using my smaller/lighter lenses. It is a joy to use.

Kirk makes very good products. You cannot go wrong with any of them.

This link appeared about when I bought mine. A trip down memory lane!

http://www.naturephotographers.net/je0901-1.html

Apr 7, 2021 11:39:05   #
wdross Loc: Castle Rock, Colorado
 
Gene51 wrote:
The sad thing is that your story is common. One buys something - anything - and they are thrilled because it meets their needs. Until they see what a quality piece really looks like and how it performs. Tripods and heads are notorious, as are wide range superzooms.

You will get lots of years of excellent service - and the price you paid was most reasonable. Enjoy!


Unfortunately you are right about some equipment. There are items one can buy where the cheap product can work as good as the expensive brand name product. Tripods and the heads for the tripods are not in that category. Filters also fall in this "quality needed" category.

 
 
Apr 7, 2021 12:41:42   #
amfoto1 Loc: San Jose, Calif. USA
 
Drbobcameraguy wrote:
I have owned a couple inexpensive Ballheads in the last 2 years. Never really thought much about them they worked ok. Vanguard is the name brand. Bh-100 and I can't remember the other. I purchased a Kirk Bh-1 used here for 90.00. It is AMAZING. I thought I had a quality Ballheads in the Vanguard but omg. The Kirk is unbelievable. I could not afford a new one at almost 400.00 but darn. I never thought there could be so much difference.


If you got a Kirk BH-1 for $90, you got a steal. Even beat up and used they typically sell for a lot more than that. New it costs $385.

I've been using a BH-1 for twenty years and it IS a very good ballhead. Kirk makes a lot of really good products. I have several other items they made, too.

However, I've also got a $90 Smith-Victor BH8 ballhead that's nearly identical and works just as well.

Similarities:

- Size, weight and functionality are virtually identical.
- Both are rated to support up to around 50 lb.
- Both have Arca-compatible quick release platform.

Differences:

- Kirk BH-1 worked perfectly right out of the box and flawlessly ever since. It's on my most frequently used tripod and hasn't had an "easy" life, by any means.
- S-V BH8 had very stiff panning movement when new. I disassembled it (just a few screws in the base) and replaced the heavy axle grease on the bearings with a heavy oil (actually bicycle chain oil). Now that works just as well as the BH-1.
- S-V BH8 came with a "safety stop" in the QR platform that would have required using their proprietary QR plates on everything. It took 15 seconds to unscrew and throw that away.
- Kirk BH-1 is pretty much all metal. Even the knobs are solid metal with knurling for grip.
- S-V BH8 had little rubber grips on the all the knobs. Worked fine when new. But after some years of use those tore or stretched and loosened, eventually falling off. I simply cut some strips of thick, rubberized grip tape (as used prevent slips on steps, etc.) and wrapped that around each knob. Works fine and makes for good grips on all the knobs.
- S-V no longer offers the BH8. I don't think they offer any large ballhead now. Only smaller ones are listed on B&H (who have or can get pretty much everything).
- If ever needed, I doubt that I could get the S-V ballhead repaired. The 20 year old Kirk, on the other hand, is very probably serviceable and repairable. (Current model appears to be the same, except it uses a different QR platform. The newer one now has a built-in bubble level. My old one doesn't.) Both these ballheads are way past any original warranty period. The Kirk is now warranted for five years. While they state their products are warranted, I couldn't find a specific, set warranty term for S-V tripod heads.
- I have no idea where the S-V head was made... I would guess China or India. I'm pretty sure most or all of Kirk's stuff is made in the USA.

So, yeah, the BH-1 is a very good piece of kit. It's a solid "standard" type of ballhead (nuthin' fancy, not some newfangled design) that works very well right out of the box. Their smaller, lighter, slightly lower capacity and lower priced BH-3 is similarly excellent. Kirk makes a variety of other good photo-related stuff, too.

But, I gotta say, despite a few minor short-comings that were pretty easily fixed and while it's nothing special, the Smith-Victor BH8 also does the job quite well.

Apr 7, 2021 19:08:21   #
tcthome Loc: Keansburg , NJ
 
Drbobcameraguy wrote:
Thanks. I thought the price was excellent. Now I have to find myself a swinging deal on a real tripod. Lol. I thought I had a good one. Get my second shot the 20th. Off to the camera store instead of online lol.


Glad you like it & see the difference. I had a Vanguard tripod. Gave it away to a member here after purchasing a RRS. The difference is huge. Good luck on your search & happy shooting.

Apr 7, 2021 21:59:29   #
DaveyDitzer Loc: Western PA
 
Include Really Right Stuff (RRS) in your search. I have a RRS support system for my Nikon 200-500 zoom and it is excellent build quality. Not inexpensive but it will out last me.

Apr 9, 2021 17:30:53   #
DrPhrogg Loc: NJ
 
Drbobcameraguy wrote:
Thanks. I thought the price was excellent. Now I have to find myself a swinging deal on a real tripod. Lol. I thought I had a good one. Get my second shot the 20th. Off to the camera store instead of online lol.


Go on line for reviews. Check prices on Amazon, BHPhoto and Adorama. Then go to the store and see if they will match your best price. I will buy local for 10% difference, just to support small business, but when the price is 50% higher in the store, the 2 companies are very reliable.

 
 
Apr 9, 2021 19:29:49   #
Drbobcameraguy Loc: Eaton Ohio
 
Week I pulled the trigger. I bought a Gitzo systematic series 5 gt5561 gt. Off eBay for less than 800.00 in mint condition. So here we go. Lol should be here the 14th which is my birthday. Happy birthday to me. Lol.

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