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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Ballheads? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Ballheads!

Ballheads are not the universal answer. The entire point of a ballhead is to let you use a tripod-mounted camera (or camera-long-lens combination) with something like the body language you would use while hand-holding the same rig.

For work with a fully adjustable view camera, the ballhead is a disaster. To use a view camera efficiently, first you need to set up the sticks with the yoke perfectly leveled. Good tripods like Ries and Gitzo have a bubble level on the yoke for just this purpose. Next you level the camera platform side-to-side and front-to-back. Having two distinct axes instead of general flopping around is a feature, not a bug. Nothing is more frustrating than getting a big heavy camera perfectly level on a ballhead (except for then finding you need to make a minor framing adjustment). Nothing is easier than achieving this with a double-axis head. My nomination for best tripod head for view cameras is the classic and funky Ries double axis. The absence of handles and control arms makes you position the camera directly (I suspect this is why ballheads appeal to small camera users). I find this preferable to positioning the camera by moving little sticks protruding from the tripod head. On the rare occasions when I want to put a small camera on a tripod, my venerable Leitz Tiltall does the job admirably.

Posted by CARL WEESE


Blogger Paul Watson said...

It reminds me of a sundial.

3:55 PM  

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