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Hi-Tech Studio: Inside Ballheads

Manfrotto‘s 057 Magnesium Ball Head with Q5 Quick Release ($259, www.manfrotto.us) weighs three pounds and can support 33 pounds. It features lever locks, a 90º to 105º Portrait Angle Selector, a QS quick-release system and three bubble levels.

The Novoflex MagicBall ($539, www.hpmarketingcorp.com) features a unique design in which it can be positioned up to 120º in virtually any plane, then locked there with the same large grip-and-fix handle. The MagicBall has a distinctive shape because the ball is locked down and the camera platform moves around it. It weighs two pounds and can support up to 22 pounds.

Really Right Stuff‘s recently improved BH-40 LR ($375, www.reallyrightstuff.com) weighs 11.9 ounces and can support 18 pounds. The low-profile unit features a compact release-lever clamp (requires a Really Right Stuff quick-release plate) and separate knobs for locking/unlocking the ball, tension adjustment and panning. There’s a degree scale for precise pan control.

The Redged RT-3 ($110.70, www.redged.com) is the company’s strongest RT-series head, weighing 15.2 ounces and able to support 22 pounds. It features smooth operation, a 360º
ruler for panning and a lever-action quick release.

The 10.7-ounce Sirui G-10X ballhead ($94.95, www.siruicanada.com) can support up to 40 pounds. It features aluminum-alloy construction, an Arca-type quick-release, and separate knobs for main lock, pan lock and friction control. A safety butt
on prevents the quick-release plate from slipping out accidentally.

Featuring anodized aluminum construction and single-knob operation, the Slik SBH-550 Pro Ball Head ($189.95, www.kenkotokinausa.com) weighs 20.8 ounces and can support up to 22 pounds. It features a panning base with degree markings, and is available in black or gun metallic.

Smith-Victor‘s economy-priced BH2 ballhead ($44.95, www.smithvictor.com) weighs 14.4 ounces and can support 18 pounds. It features separate knobs for ball lock, pan lock and tension adjustment, and a quick-release system.

The Evolution 2 AirHed 1 (AH1) from 3 Legged Thing ($80, www.3leggedthing.com) weighs just 11.8 ounces, yet can support up to 77 pounds. The magnesium unit is available in sharp blue with copper-colored quick-release plate (also magnesium), as well as basic black. It features a dual control knob, separate pan lock and triple bubble levels.

Vanguard‘s BBH-300 ($169.95, www.vanguardworld.com) weighs 23.3 ounces and can support 66 pounds. It features a rapid-leveling system and two bubble levels, and comes with a quick-release plate.

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