Need advice for a sturdy tripod and head

privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
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Do you have any recommendations for geared heads? Brands/models? Links?

Thanks in advance!!

C
As far as geared heads go I have owned the Manfrotto 410, 405, used the 400 and XPRO, I also owned the Sunwayphoto GH-Pro and the Arca Swiss D4 and played with the Arca Swiss Cube. For me it depends entirely on camera load, how cumbersome the head is and the investment I am willing to make.

If I was using a crop camera or a mirrorless with a TS lens then the Sunwayphoto GH-Pro is good value and the 2017 model on is better engineered than the earlier version. For the 1DX MKII and 11-24 (or bigger and heavier) and the fact that I use geared heads a lot the Arca Swiss D4 is the one I have now and have had for the last few years and I am not looking to change it, but they are pricey. Arca Swiss now do an interesting head, the Monoball p0 Hybrid that is worth looking at too.

But I'd strongly suggest that a geared head is a very niche product that few people enjoy using, it very much suits deliberate and contemplative accurate composition. If you are the kind of person that arrives at a scene and walks around until you find your composition then sets up your tripod and camera and then uses a zoom to get the framing you want appreciating the difference between perspective and framing, then you might get on with a geared head!

For reference the only two heads I own and use for stills work are the Arca Swiss D4 and the Acratech GP.
 
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stevelee

FT-QL
Jul 6, 2017
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Davidson, NC
I think you may have just described something closer to my shooting style, at least sometimes, especially when I use a tripod. I might consider getting a geared head some day to use when the ball head is not as good a choice.
 
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Durf

Picture Taker - Image Maker
I have a couple Manfrotto 290's that take a beating and work great but the one I actually use the most and has been tossed from my truck to my van for years now is a cheap Targus I got at Walmart several years ago for 29 bucks and I put a Joby X ballhead on it....darn thing still works great. I've also got one of those Joby X ballheads on my 290 dual and it works alright. Best cheap ballhead on the market in my opinion....
 

Bennymiata

EOS 6D MK II
I have and often use a Manfrotto 410 geared head, mainly for product shots.
It's very good, but as mentioned, very heavy and certainly not something I'd take on a hike.
Then I use my Acratech.

There are some lighter and cheaper geared heads from Benro and Manfrotto also have a cheaper and lighter version of the 410.
 

Valvebounce

EOS 5D SR
Apr 3, 2013
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Isle of Wight
Hi Folks.
Another vote for the Manfrotto 410, I really like mine for the lack of sag associated with some ball heads with heavier loads. I think the 410 would be as small as I’d want to go, the safety payload is 5kg, the XPro is quite a lot lighter for the 4kg safety payload as it is made from Adapto (engineering plastic?) but I think it consumes a larger volume of storage!
A friend had the 410 and arthritic fingers and found the free positioning release knobs hard to use, he much prefers the XPro for the lever release system.
An issue I have seen with both of these (which may happen on others too) is the jump as the gear re-engages after being released for free positioning, much like a vice with a quick release, it clunks back in as you turn it, it is possible to finesse the quick release back in to gear without the jump, it just means slowing down a bit and feeling for the engagement.

Cheers, Graham.
 

Jaysheldon

EOS T7i
Dec 23, 2015
71
4
If you don't mind me slightly changing the topic, I'm also looking for a sturdy tripod and head for a heavy load (7D2 + EF400mm F5.6) , but for wildlife/aircraft. (as opposed to the OP who needs one for long exposures). Ideally it would be fast to set up, no more than three sections and (ideally) around $300. Am using a good monopod but still not steady enough. (I admit the tripod may not work with aircraft in flight).

Jay in Toronto
 

privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
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Jay, I'd suggest a Manfrotto 055 and a gimbal head.

Aluminum if you are stuck to the $300 complete https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1034139-REG/manfrotto_mt055xpro3_aluminum_tripod.html
Carbon if you have more money for the head https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1034140-REG/manfrotto_mt055cxpro3_carbon_fiber_tripod.html

 

Valvebounce

EOS 5D SR
Apr 3, 2013
4,252
189
52
Isle of Wight
Hi Jay.
The aircraft probably won’t be the issue, big, far away and requiring slow to moderate panning speed.
The wildlife, depends, birds at a hide, small, close, fast, fast panning speed, this can equate to running around the gimbal! :LOL:
Big cats, never tried but heard anything from real close to quite far! :unsure:

I have 2 gimbals,
A Benro GH2, (£350 ish), lives on my tripod.
Nice needle race thrust bearing carrying the weight and acting as partial rotational location for the swivel, the rest of the swivel location is via a brass or bronze bush. The swing is a brass or bronze bush on the camera side and a plastic bush on the knob side which also acts as part of the brake (lock) system.
A Sevenoak SK-GH01 (£70ish), for sticking on various 3/8 studs like at the local hide. (And maybe forgetting to take home with me so didn’t want an expensive one. )
Probably a needle race, same fixing pattern as the Benro, and feels the same smooth rotation. Fairly poor double plastic bearing on the swing, way too much clearance and a serrated face on the spindle and a rubber disc for the brake, it had no finesse, it was on or off, and when off it was like a stick in a bucket, no location, lots of drop on the platform, the level in the camera could be set zero, then release the clamp and 3 or 4 bars which equates to 3 or 4° of tilt!
Yes I have had both apart, a friend bought a very hard used Benro (we were told it spent its life holding up a Nikon 800mm f/5.6) for real cheap due to some play in the swivel, the thread lock had failed and the bolt that tensions the needle race had slackened.
Use steam to break down the glue holding the decorative cover and the thread lock holding it all together, if you don’t the thread lock might be strong enough to break the screws!

I improved the swing on my Benro by replacing the outer plastic with a bronze bush that I made. Probably £3 in materials and £50 labour, see below about the labour!

I improved the swing on the Sevenoak by completely reworking the swing with bronze bushes, removed the serrations on the spindle and replaced the rubber brake disc with 2mm Phenolic sheet, I now have two perfect gimbals, including my time and the materials, the Sevenoak cost me about £200 in total, so not the bargain I thought, however as the time was taken from my hobby time I like to discount it as I enjoyed the project and the materials were about a tenner! (Yes lots of time was spent fettling the original casting to align the bores in the top, one bore from each side so they were not aligned!)
I also replaced the M5 screws (just over 3/16 inch) holding the swing arm to the spindle as they were much too short, the holes were tapped 13mm deep and the screws engaged by about 2 turns, just about 1.6mm (1/16 inch), they are now in by about 8mm, (about the same as the Benro) the spindle is recessed in to the swing arm so the screws are not directly carrying the weight, but they are under some tension to hold the arm against the spindle. I’m much happier to hang heavy lenses on it now!

T.L.D.R.
You definitely get what you pay for in many cases, including these!

Cheers, Graham.


If you don't mind me slightly changing the topic, I'm also looking for a sturdy tripod and head for a heavy load (7D2 + EF400mm F5.6) , but for wildlife/aircraft. (as opposed to the OP who needs one for long exposures). Ideally it would be fast to set up, no more than three sections and (ideally) around $300. Am using a good monopod but still not steady enough. (I admit the tripod may not work with aircraft in flight).

Jay in Toronto