Thursday, June 23, 2011

Giottos MH-1302 Pro Series II Ballhead

Couple of months ago I bought a ballhead for my tripod. It was the HorrusBennu LX-2T. I've used it in the studio and outdoors and never really had a problem with it, except for the usual slippage when I'm using a heavy lens. All in all I got my moneys worth for it.

Till I bought a heavier Manfrotto tripod a couple of weeks ago and installed it, I accidentally tightened the ballhead a bit more than what its supposed to be with the panning lock in the lock position...basically stripping off an internal part in my ballhead. I guess it was a sign that I basically needed a ballhead that has more stability in it and better built. So I went online to look for the best ballhead I can find for my money.

I came across, Manfrottos, Benros, Sliks, and the cheaper Vanguards, and Smith Victors. I was looking for a while till I found the Giottos ballheads which caught my attention. It came down to choosing between the Benro and the Giottos. The Benros are cheaper between 80-150 dollar price range, but I have to wait at least 2 weeks till I get it. So the Giottos was basically the best choice.

Giottos ballheads are created to be hollow inside to cut down on weight, which makes me interested in actually getting one and trying it out myself. So I decided to get it from BH photo online and it came in 3 days later.

The ballhead came in a very nice packaging. With a bag and an Arca Swiss compatible mounting plate. The ballhead had a very impressive feel to it. The ballhead has 3 controls...the ball lock, and the friction knob on the other side of the lock, and a panning knob at the bottom.

So I decided to try it out. Mounted the plate into my camera and off I went.

My positive impressions were:

The ballhead felt very well constructed. Very professional feel to it. Pretty light.
The knobs are really responsive. the locking knob bites really good to prevent slippage.
The panning is really smooth.
Includes bubble levels on the locking knob on the locking plate, on top of the locking plate itself.
The friction knob does what it's supposed to do. So you can make minor adjustments without loosening the locking knob all the way.
Holds a big 70-200 2.8 lens in place. No slippage.
The lock on the locking plate and mounting plate prevents the camera from slipping out of the mount when it is not tightened all the way.

The only thing I didn't like about it was the last thing that I mentioned. It's good if you have Giottos made plates for this ballhead. If not...the locking mechanism becomes an obstruction as it will not lock if you are using a generic mounting plate. I have 3 generic plates and one Giottos made, so the choice for me was easy...I removed the locking mechanism with an allen wrench.

Compared to cheap Chinese made ballheads, this is way better for like double the price. The panning lock seems to be tougher than those in cheaper models. I'd easily spend more money to get a higher quality ballhead. Plus you'd save yourself the headache when photographing macro, when the slightest slippage will cost you a shot.

Basically, if you can't spend money on some high end Manfrottos or Gitzos ballheads, the Giottos is a cheaper alternative that will save you a lot of money and frustration.

Get it here!

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