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Best Tripod Ball Head [2021 Review]

In: 
Published: 02/03/2021

Tripod ball heads offer many features to make your real estate photography a breeze; versatility, adjustability, and smoothness. In this buying guide, we’ve selected the best tripod ball head for each budget category to get you started. We also included useful features you should consider when buying one. 

Our Top Tripod Ball Head Reviews 

After doing plenty of research and getting feedback from photography experts, we’ve found the following tripod ball heads to be the best options for a variety of camera sizes. 

Brand
Best Overall
Gitzo GH1382TQD
Best for the Money
Induro BHD2
Best Cheap Pick
Vanguard Alta BH-250
Product
Gitzo GH1382TQD Center Ball Head Series 1 Traveler...
Induro BHD2 Ballhead 39.6lb Load Capacity,Black
Vanguard Alta BH-250 Ball Head
Item Dimensions
4.3 x 3.5 x 5.1 inches
2 x 4 x 4 inches
4.2 x 4.2 x 4.6 inches
Item Weight
0.86 pounds
1.32 pounds
1.3 pounds
Rating
Best Overall
Brand
Gitzo GH1382TQD
Product
Gitzo GH1382TQD Center Ball Head Series 1 Traveler...
Item Dimensions
4.3 x 3.5 x 5.1 inches
Item Weight
0.86 pounds
Rating
Price
Best for the Money
Brand
Induro BHD2
Product
Induro BHD2 Ballhead 39.6lb Load Capacity,Black
Item Dimensions
2 x 4 x 4 inches
Item Weight
1.32 pounds
Rating
Price
Best Cheap Pick
Brand
Vanguard Alta BH-250
Product
Vanguard Alta BH-250 Ball Head
Item Dimensions
4.2 x 4.2 x 4.6 inches
Item Weight
1.3 pounds
Rating
Price

Best Overall Tripod Ball Head: Gitzo GH1382TQD

The Gitzo GH1382TQD is a compact ball head that you can carry everywhere with you. It weighs 0.86 pounds, which is lightweight enough that you can easily carry it from one place to another. 

Gitzo GH1382TQD Center Ball Head Series 1 Traveler...
  • Supports up to 24lbs. Its quick-release plate is kept locked with a screw-knob and a bubble level...
  • Built in quick release system
  • Designed to fit between the folded legs of series 1 and 2 Traveler Tripods

The tripod ball head can support up to 24 pounds and suits most cameras up to models that use up to medium-length telephoto lenses. 

When it comes to adjustability, this tripod ball head offers remarkable flexibility and versatility to allow you to capture photos from any angle.  It offers a 360° panning, while also tilting -90° to up to +40°. Another of the many Gitzo GH1382TQD attributes is the low-friction design that makes adjusting controls easy and smooth. 

The tripod ball head is not designed to be tensioned. It comes already pre-tensioned, which enhances its usability. It is also Arca-Swiss compatible, which means a higher level of versatility that allows you to use it with an array of photography gear. 

Although the Gitzo GH1382TQD is way pricier than our other reviewed products, the Induro BHD2 and the Vanguard Alta, it offers more useful features that give your photography a professional touch. It will also last long against constant use with its aluminum construction and tungsten disulfide material for the ball. 

What we Like

  • Low-friction design that offers smooth operation
  • Lightweight enough for portability, at 0.86 pounds 
  • Aluminum body for lightweight yet robust construction
  • Excellent tilt for higher flexibility

What we don’t Like

  • Price on the higher side
  • Low weight limit
Gitzo GH1382TQD Center Ball Head Series 1 Traveler...
  • Supports up to 24lbs. Its quick-release plate is kept locked with a screw-knob and a bubble level...
  • Built in quick release system
  • Designed to fit between the folded legs of series 1 and 2 Traveler Tripods

Best Tripod Ball Head for the Money: Induro BHD2 

The Induro BHD2 ball head is an excellent choice if you looking for a type that offers amazing features without denting your pocket. One of the features that stand out is the highly controllable mechanism which is no easy to find at this price point. 

Induro BHD2 Ballhead 39.6lb Load Capacity,Black

Unlike the Gitzo GH1382TQD, this tripod ball head supports a large weight of up to about 40 pounds. This allows you to use it with various camera types and sizes. 

The Induro BHD2 is not as lightweight as the Gitzo GH1382TQD, weighing around 1.3 pounds. So, if portability matters to you, you might want to consider our first option.  It also uses oversized knobs. Despite the seemingly large design, the ball head allows easier handling, especially when wearing gloves.

The construction is sturdy enough. Thanks to the magnesium alloy body. Additionally, you will find the tilt capability remarkable at -90 to +45. The adjustable ball tension allows you to secure your camera to your preference. That gives you more control when it comes to setting up the tripod ball head. 

The sturdy body combined with the large weight limit provides for versatility and durability that are rare to find in most ball heads. For this reason, you won’t have to worry about heavy cameras when using this ball head. 

What we Like

  • High load capacity of about 40 pounds
  • Highly usable with its oversized knobs
  • Great tilt capabilities
  • Strong magnesium alloy body

What we don’t Like

  • A little bit too bulky 
  • Too many controls
Induro BHD2 Ballhead 39.6lb Load Capacity,Black
  • Only products shipped from and sold by authorized resellers such as Amazon.com can ensure that you...
  • Magnesium Alloy – provides a lightweight ballhead with maximum strength
  • Adjustable Manual Drag Control – provides responsive adjustment to compensate for different...

Best Cheap Tripod Ball Head: Vanguard Alta BH-250

The Vanguard Alta provides a choice of three models: the BH- 200, BH250, and BH- 300. We found the BH- 250 series the most affordable one This Tripod ball head packs exceptional features such as the high load capacity of a whopping 44 pounds. That means you can use it to hold a broad range of cameras, including large ones. 

Vanguard Alta BH-250 Ball Head

Despite the small price, the BH-300 allows for a higher load capacity than both the Gitzo GH1382TQD and Induro BHD2. 

The easy-to-grip knobs make using this ball head comfortable. Like the Induro BHD, it also has an aluminum body. This makes the frame to be strong enough for the large cameras yet lightweight enough to allow for great portability. 

At 1.25 pounds, the Vanguard Alta is heavier than the Gitzo GH1382TQD and slightly lighter than the Induro BHD2. The weight matches its payload capacity, though, and we suggest choosing it if portability is not an issue. You will find it great for most real estate photographing needs with its adjustability features and robustness. 

There is also a removable pin that helps prevent a slip of the plate for safer use of your tripod. Additionally, the head can rotate a full 360-degrees and tilt up to 90° vertically. That offers you great flexibility and makes your camera more versatile. That's in addition to the tight ball lock that allows you to shoot from a stable base. 

What we Like

  • High payload capacity that offers versatility
  • Highly adjustable design 
  • High-quality aluminum body for sturdiness
  • Fairly priced for the many features

What we don’t Like

  • A bit heavy 
Vanguard Alta BH-250 Ball Head
  • Never Waver – 3 independent knobs (easy-to-grip main ball lock, ergonomic friction control, and...
  • Rapid - Intuitive positioning in a matter of seconds and Robust - Aircraft aluminum for lightweight...
  • Precise: 2 Bubble levels and Smooth: Oxidization anodized surface

Features to Consider for a Tripod Ball Head

Buying a tripod ball head that clicks with your camera while giving you a blend of useful features for professional photography is not always a walk in the park. To get one that is a good fit for your real estate photography needs, we recommend you look at such features as payload limit, portability, and ease of use. 

Camera on a tripod ball head

Payload Limit

This means the amount of weight that the ball head can hold. Manufacturers usually indicate the load rating, which makes it easy for you to pick one based on the size of your camera. The weight limit is closely related to the ball diameter. Generally, the larger the diameter, the higher the weight limit.

We recommend that you choose a ball head that offers a high enough load limit for your camera. Large cameras or those with longer telephoto lenses will exert more weight on the ball head. Therefore, the camera should be easily supported, or your photography will not be smooth and comfortable.

Depending on your type of camera, choose the most appropriate weight. Do not forget, too, that weight also affects the ball head's portability. Only choose a ball head with a higher payload if you need it, such as if your camera is long and likely to tilt over. 

Size and Weight

You do not want to be carrying around several pounds of weight from one room to the next all the time. Therefore, go for a ball head that balances weight and other features such as load limit and ball size.  In some situations, you may need to choose a compact and lightweight option, even when using a smaller camera without a telephoto lens.

Other needs that would require a small-sized tripod ball head are outdoor photography or when you have a lot of camera gear to carry around and do not want to add to the weight. In all these situations, you should not overlook the aspect of camera size and payload limit. The tripod head should still be able to support the camera size. 

Locking Mechanism

The ball head that you choose should be able to lock tightly. This is important when shooting with any camera as it affects its stability. You want a ball head that offers reliable locking or one that will not let the camera shake when touched. 

You can easily tell a weak lock. It will not hold the camera securely and will have it oscillate for a few seconds upon pressing the shutter button. Most expensive cameras offer tight locking mechanisms. 

Ball Lock and Tension

Some ball heads allow the camera to move about when unlocked and cannot provide enough tension. Select a ball head that will hold your camera gear appropriately. These include those that use separate knobs to adjust the locking mechanism. 

In addition to ball tension, consider a ball lock mechanism that securely supports your camera. The lock should provide that with only a single twist of the knob. If it doesn't, you're likely to experience an oscillating and unstable camera. A loose camera cannot help you take your pictures and may even fall off the tripod. 

Sony camera on a ball head tripod

Pan Adjustment

The pan adjustment is meant to let you rotate the camera without changing the tilt angle or ball position. You want this adjustment feature to be as fluid as possible. Therefore, look for a ball head that allows that. 

Quality models offer one of the smoothest pan adjustment features. Be sure to do your homework before settling for one. 

Knob Size and Grip

When setting up the ball head or adjusting the controls, you will mostly be using knobs. These must, therefore, be easy to hold. For that, ensure that they are ergonomic enough. Size also matters. You do not want them too big and uncomfortable, or too small to be difficult to grip. The right size and shape of the knobs will make a ball head either easy or difficult to operate. 

Quick Release 

Quick releases allow you to instantly mount and un-mount the camera. These are made in different sizes and designs. Make sure yours is compatible with the type of tripod, or you will not be able to use it. One of the most common designs includes the Arca-Swiss types.

Arca-Swiss compatible ball heads also use a safety pin to prevent slipping and allow you to use the ball head safely. When checking ball head usability features, this is one of those that you want to consider. Another quick release feature that improves safety (and is worth considering) is the beveled design. 

Conclusion 

Tripod ball heads allow you to use a tripod comfortably and your camera in a more stable way. They are also among the most usable tripod heads out there. However, that's only true when you have the right ball head for your camera and other needs. The tripod ball heads reviewed here are a good start if looking for a tripod ball head. 

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