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Tripod heads

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Camera Basics #21: Getting started with sports photography

We confidently say that this article is one of the best ever for sports photography. In the guide, we also try to cover the various equipment decisions and how to find the perfect settings.

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Wide range of tripod heads

An important piece of equipment for amateur and professional photography, is the connection between camera and stand: the tripod head. Every photo requires different camera positions and angles. In order to be flexible as a photographer, it is recommended to use movable stands that meet all requirements. The choice of the right stand depends, of course, on the camera and the stand, but also on personal preferences in terms of handling. The range includes 3-way tilting heads, ball heads and video heads. Variants with spirit levels and detailed measuring scales are available for precise adjustments. All offered tripod heads meet the highest demands and incomparable quality level. Made of robust materials, such as aluminum and magnesium, the heads grant an amazingly high load-bearing capacity and provide a secure hold for the precious cameras. A guarantee for this are brands like Benro, Berlebach or Gitzo.

Which tripod head suits me best?

Many photographers use a tripod for their work, but most only use it with a standard tripod head. This is because there are countless variants of tripod heads and many do not yet know the differences between them. The manufacturers sell the tripods partly on purpose without tripod heads, so that the customer can choose his suitable tripod head.

But which tripod head do you need for which application? We will introduce you to a few different variants of tripod heads from the individual manufacturers.

With an ordinary tripod head, the camera is fixed firmly on the tripod, so you can't move it. In some situations, it can be quite disadvantageous when it comes to capturing a subject that is moving and not fixed on the spot. For this problem there are so called ball heads. They allow you to rotate your camera almost 360? degrees, so you can move it quickly when you need to.

Ball heads

Ball heads for tripods are the most common when it comes to tripod upgrade. They can be used to align the camera very quickly, as they can be adjusted quickly with the help of only one screw, or a few handles. When the screw is loosened, you can turn and tilt it in all directions. If you like to shoot landscapes, it is recommended to work with a ball head that has a separate panoramic axis. It is helpful because this way you don't always have to adjust the whole ball joint, but only the horizontal plane, which has a separate locking screw. This allows one to take beautiful panoramic shots despite the ball head. One model that encompasses all of this is the Sirui Video Panhead BCH-30 Fluid 100 mm Half Ball.

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Advantage: Simply loosening the screw ensures that you can quickly point your camera in different directions on the tripod. Many tripod heads have a panorama plate, which ensures that you do not necessarily have to adjust the ball head.

Disadvantage: The camera cannot be adjusted very finely, since there is no resistance when loosening the adjusting screw. So it is difficult to make fine changes. So if you want higher precision, we recommend a three - way tilt.

In summary, the tripod heads are well suited for situations when you want your camera to stand comfortably on a tripod, but at the same time you want to be relatively free in movement. In fact, thanks to the ball head, a camera can be moved in all directions with
the loosening of just one set screw. This makes it possible to capture subjects that do not stay in one place, such as animals or the sun.

Pistol grip (ball head modification)

The pistol grip is a modification of the ball head. By pressing a button on the handle, you can easily move your camera in all directions. As soon as you release the handle, the mechanism closes automatically and the tripod head holds the camera securely in the desired position. They are usually built very lightly by all manufacturers, so they are almost unnoticeable in a jacket pocket when you are on the go.

Advantage: The camera can be easily adjusted in all directions thanks to the handy pistol grip.
Manfrotto: It is very light and compact, making it hardly noticeable in the backpack.
Slik: Thanks to the inclined handle to the ground, it can be comfortably adjusted at shoulder height.

Panorama head

This tripod head is ideal for taking panoramic pictures. It can be adjusted horizontally in predefined steps, which means that you always have the same distance to the previous image. With the help of image editing software, the individual images can then be stitched together to create a panoramic image of perfect quality. More sophisticated panorama heads include a mechanism to adjust the optical center of the camera exactly to the rotation axis of the panorama head.

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With the help of a gimbal, the combination of a camera and a heavy lens can be perfectly balanced. It was designed especially for this application, so that even long and heavy lenses are suitable for a tripod and do not tip over together with the tripod.
With a gimbal, it always comes down to the question of how high the permitted weight is. You have to make this very dependent on how heavy the system camera is in combination with the lens that will be used to take the pictures in the end. However, we can reassure you. There is a suitable gimbal for almost every heavy camera.

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