BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Steve Warren
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/1/2007
 

Ball Head question - Markins?


Hi, I'm shopping for a good ball head. The Really Right Stuff BH-55, Kirk BH1 and Arca B1 all seem to get high marks. I've seen a few references to the Markins Ball head but all the references seem to be from vendors. Anyone have any thoughts on, or experience with, the Markins M10 or M20?
Thanks!


To love this question, log in above
10/14/2007 8:56:18 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Ballheads have been discussed with some frequency around here.

And lately, it seems there are more ball head knockoffs than you can shake a monopod at. Personally I don't know "Markins". But if you're referring to the ones on e-bay with a China shipping address, those are knockoffs of Arca Swiss w/ a similar though not nearly as sturdy receiver. I'm told the welds have a tendency to snap and the lockdown screws strip out.

If you're planning on using this often whether professionally or not, stick with checking out the more expensive models, like Gitzo, Linhof Profi, Arca and RRS. They'll last, they won't break down in the middle of a shoot, and won't frustrate you with things like jamming, slipping, or stripping out. B&H has the best prices I've seen on ball heads.
Take it light ;>)
Mark


To love this comment, log in above
10/14/2007 9:44:38 AM

 
Steve Warren
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/1/2007
  Thanks Mark! I've read most, if not all, of your posts on this subject here and appreciate your feedback.
The Markins website is here: http://www.markinsamerica.com/MA5/index.php
I heard about them on the Nikonians website here: http://www.nikonians.org/html/resources/non-nikon_articles/markins/emille.html
And a guy named Thom Hogan mentions the Markins (briefly) in a good article here: http://www.bythom.com/support.htm

It looks like Arca, RSS and Kirk are the Cadillacs of the Ball head world and I can't decide which to get although I'm beginning to think I won't go wrong with any of the three.

I bought the Gitzo 2530 tripod today.

I guess I'll look at their webpages a few more times (wish I could find a store that carried them so I could play first) and just make a decision.
Thanks again.
Steve


To love this comment, log in above
10/14/2007 7:38:13 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Hey Steve. I looked at their website and quite frankly, I'm not impressed. Their quick release plates look a lot, and I mean a LOT like those already manufactured by Hasselblad, Manfrotto and Linhof AND RRS. I'd send them an e-mail and ask them where they're made and how long they've been making them and importing them.

I don't trust my cameras to just any support manufacturer, whether a tripod, ball head or QR maker. Consider it an investment in your work and get a really good one. You won't be unhappy even years down the road. And it over ten years the cost breaks down to say 40 bucks a year, that's still less than a buck a week for support. Better than paying an ex, right?
My pleasure, btw. Any time.
Mark


To love this comment, log in above
10/14/2007 10:14:23 PM

 
William Schuette
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2006
  I believe the Markins are from South Korea and they have received some favorable reviews. Hogan is a pretty trustworthy source. However, I use a RRS B-55. Solid as a rock. Once set I could probably leave my camera and a long lens on it for weeks without it sagging. It is so weel designed and machined it is just a pleasure to use.

Bill


To love this comment, log in above
10/15/2007 4:17:46 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  My point exactly, Bill. :>) RRS, and the others I mentioned are top shelf. You get what you pay for.

BTW, doesn't S. Korea buy it's welding equipment and used scrap metal from...China???

M.


To love this comment, log in above
10/15/2007 9:16:32 AM

 
Steve Warren
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/1/2007
  LOL, I'm trying to figure out if there's anything left in my house that ISN'T from China!
Bill, you're right that Markins has a number of good reviews out there but I took them off my list because they've got such a short track record - seems like they hit the market only a few (maybe 10) years ago. I was stationed in Korea for over 5 years and I do think that Korea has it's sights set on Japan and wants to become known for quality so I don't mind buying Korean - just not Martins Ball heads and for the above reason.
I took Kirk off my list too because for every good review I read, I also found a luke warm or slightly neg review.
So I'm down to The Arca Z1 (the B1 is discontinued) and the RSS 55. I'm leaning to Arca since they've got such a solid record and so many decades of reputation built up. Only problem is BH and everyone else on the web seems out of stock!
RSS has about 90% good reviews (biggest complaint seems to be knob placement) on it's heads and 100% on it's plates and QR systems. Add that to the gushing, and I mean GUSHING, reviews of RSS's aesthetics (knob design, low profile, goodies like a neoprene bag, etc) and if I can't find a Z1 in stock someplace this week, I plan to pull the trigger on a new RSS. At this point, I think I can't go wrong with either and I'm pretty much splitting hairs. After all, I'm just a hobbiest with dreams of getting promoted to 'prosumer' some day!
Hell, my buddies who golf spend way more in a year on clubs, balls, fees, etc than I'll spend on camera, lens, tripod and head in a decade!

Thanks guys for the input - always nice to connect with someone before writing that $500 check!
Take it easy,
Steve


To love this comment, log in above
10/15/2007 6:44:39 PM

 
William Schuette
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2006
  I know - I had a little trouble pulling the trigger on the B-55 thinking that I could get by with something less expensive but I am glad I didn't. After your camera and lenses, it may be the most important thing to spend money on. I don't think you will go wrong with either the Arca or RRS. I have not noticed any particular problem with the knob placement on the B-55. If you are thinking of taking panoramas, I have found that the RRS panorama heads and rails are incredibly versatile and well made. You can check my gallery to see two vertical panos of waterfalls.

Bill


To love this comment, log in above
10/16/2007 4:53:47 AM

 
Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
  Steve, I've got 2 Arca Swiss B1's and they're great!!! I've had 2 friends buy heads for a little over $100, had them both suck then they bought better ones for $200. I got 1 off EBay for $225 and it rocks!!! Just spend the money once and you can keep it forever.


To love this comment, log in above
10/16/2007 10:59:00 PM

 
Arthur Plottier   There are good and chep heads that not come from China or Korea.
If you get the Manfrotto 488RC4 you can use the top brands plates with it if you do not like the plate that comes with the head. The 488RC4 is made in Italy. I pair it with the Manfrotto 055MF3 carbon fiber tripod and is top gear for lot of less money than the Arca Swiiss Gitzo combo. Money invested in lens is a better will give you better images!


To love this comment, log in above
10/21/2007 3:19:42 AM

 
William Schuette
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2006
  I couldn't disagree with Arthur more. What good is a tack sharp lens, a great camera and good tripod if you can't trust your head to hold completely steady. Do not cheap out on your tripod head. You will come to regret it and end up spending the necessary money to get a good one later.

Bill


To love this comment, log in above
11/8/2007 11:09:10 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Sorry Arthur, wrong answer but thanks for playing. Bill is exactly right, I think. I don't see any point in putting a Linhof view camera with top glass on a tripod AND ball head that doesn't provide the maximum amount of stability and support AND safety in the mounting mechanism.

As Bill also rightly points out, what's the point in buying the same type of thing twice. I'm using the same Gitzo Studex tripod I bought 20 years ago or so and the industrial grade Linhof Profi head and quick-fix plates I bought from B&H probably 15 years ago. I have to admit though at the time I bought the head if I had the dough or if I could have found a used one I would have gone with the Arca Swiss from the design standpoint, but such is life.

Oh and Steve, if you're looking for a shopping enabler, lemme know.
Take it light. ;>)
Mark


To love this comment, log in above
11/8/2007 1:40:31 PM

 
Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
  You never want to be getting ready to shoot an amazing photo and find yourself suffering from LENS SAGGGGG. It's curable but preventable if you listening to us in the first place.


To love this comment, log in above
11/8/2007 4:53:31 PM

 
Steve Warren
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/1/2007
  My RRS B55 (with matching RRS quick release plate) showed up last week and boys, I've gotta say, it looks like heaven and it feels like clouds. I'm here to tell you they're not giving those things away (after tax, shipping, etc, just call in 500) And the Gitzo 2530 tripod (another almost 500) wasn't exactly free either but the whole rig just feels right. I told my wife that after putting that much into the stability system she'd just HAVE to finally pose nude for me. She didn't see the logic... (neither do I but it was worth a try, right?)


To love this comment, log in above
11/8/2007 6:33:02 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Steady Steve...it sounds like your glue may be melting.

Speaking of lens sag, for that there's probably some stuff called Optiagra to prevent saggage of tripod heads. Apply directly to the head and, well, you know. :>))
M.


To love this comment, log in above
11/8/2007 8:41:40 PM

 
William Schuette
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2006
  That logic didn't work on my wife either.

Bill


To love this comment, log in above
11/9/2007 3:36:01 AM

 
Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
  hmmmmmmmmm.....enough said


To love this comment, log in above
11/9/2007 8:13:44 AM

 
Log in to respond or ask your own question.