I have the same Acratech GP ball head above, but mounted on a Gitzo 2541EX tripod - which is of the explorer arm type. On top of the ball head I have two RRS macro rails.
That being said, the overwhelming majority of my field macro shots are hand held.
In general though when doing macro on a tripod macro rails are a must. The RRS ones are very nice for that. If I had to buy everything again, I would have bought the geared version of my tripod. While the RRS macro rails allow me to precisely move in the X and Y directions, moving in the Z direction is more difficult to do precisely.
Almost all of my macro stuff has been either handheld or with a monopod. Since getting the monopod, most shots use it in one way or another.
Been putting together tripod parts as I could, and I also have the RRS macro rails. I did find them to be almost invaluable- the small adjustments were key. I could see them being very useful with a focus stacking program.
But, it really takes a lot of time to set up everything, plus the added space requirements. It's fine when no one else is around, but some additional traffic can be an issue.
Gitzo also makes some lateral arms that are useful for macro photography..
Thanks, those look promising too.
I personally use the Manfrotto 190XPROB and think its fantastic for macro work, or any other type of situation where suspending a camera over a (small) object is necessary. It's not horribly expensive either, If you do end up going down the purchase route, I would suggest that one.
It hasn't been ruled out. I may look for a used one, which may be easier to locate than some of the other more specialized pieces of equipment on the used market.
I do prefer twist locks for the legs over clamps or levers though, but at ~$110 USD, it might be worth a shot.
Some of the other bits and pieces, with a couple of needed other bits... it adds up quick.