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Gear Talk: Saying Goodbye to my old Ballhead

It's time to say goodbye to a piece of my tripod hardware that I've been using for nearly a year.  When I first ordered it, the Manfrotto 498RC2 seemed to be exactly what I was looking for: a reasonably priced ball head with quick release plates and a fairly decent build quality.  But that is great on paper, not always so great in practice.  

The Manfrotto quick release plates tend to have a little bit of give in them and don't have a lock tight grip, so when shooting vertical shots they tend to droop every so slightly.  This is not always noticeable at first but when shooting architecture with a lot of leading lines, that slight droop causes major headaches in post work. The camera plate is also somewhat small and doesn't grip all that well, so unless you screw it in unreasonably tight, it will have some movement in the base, a very big negative.  Also, when stacking several shots together, there tends to be a very slight amount of movement which leads to less than tack sharp images.  So after doing the typical run through of entry level tripod gear, to the prosumer Manfrotto gear,  I've decided to retire this piece and upgrade to the Really Right Stuff BH-55 LR Ballhead.  


I spent several days researching everything on the market.  The Arca-Swiss heads looked pretty nice and have been around for quite some time, but the Really Right Stuff won me over.  Everywhere I looked for reviews the one head that kept coming up was the BH-55.  It has garnered a great deal of positive feedback from professional photographers for it's build quality and reliability.  One problem ball heads can incur is locking up in different climate situations.  I've seen a photographer use this in -45c without it locking up, that's more than enough to ease my concerns.  This head is also manufactured in the US and although the price is a little steep (see: very steep), I think this will last me for several years. I also ordered the BD-800L plate for the D800 so I can do vertical shots with more stability


Once I get this in I will do a full write-up and review or possibly a video review.  The next upgrade in sight is going from my aluminum Manfrotto tripod to a carbon fiber tripod by Really Right Stuff.  Gitzo tripods are considered by many to be the best out there, but after reading several horror stories about legs breaking and cameras falling off of the base, and seeing the amazing build quality of RRS, I've decided to go with them.   

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