Search This Blog

Friday, February 24, 2012

The perfect(?) tripod head and amazing customer service.

Recently I dropped a rather hefty sum of money (Comparatively speaking) on a Gitzo Traveller carbon fiber tripod. Why? Simply put- Weight. I wanted to carry less.

Since there was no lightweight ball head in Gitzo's lineup that I was really impressed by, I began my search for what I considered to be the perfect tripod head for me. I already had a quick release system, made by Novoflex. Their plate, which is round and about the same circumference as a US Quarter Dollar and about as thick as two stacked together (Or a couple of Euros') is part of an extremely secure system. I'm still not sure if I'm going to stick with the mount, as I may finally decide on an "Arca-Swiss" type mount and plate. Yes, this is a little taste of hell.

A number of weeks ago I met a fellow shooter who had a very unique tripod head. Made from finely milled aircraft aluminum, black, lightweight and seriously cool looking (To me). It was made by a  company called Acratech, out of Pomona, California (Links at end of this posting). This thing looked otherworldly in its visual style, like out of an old black and white Sci-Fi movie. Better yet, the head weighed around one pound and was rated to hold 25 POUNDS! Yes, 25.

I ordered their "Ultimate Ballhead" from their website (They have no dealers in Illinois.) and it arrived in a timely manner thanks to UPS. I took it out of the box, mounted the quick release, then mounted it all on the tripod. Next, I mounted my D3 with the 24-70 f2.8 on it which weighs just short of 6 pounds and locked the head. In order to move the camera with the head locked, it would take a great deal of effort to move the camera. In other words, its held securely without a doubt.

I was finally able to get out and test it one evening and I discovered something. The controls were on the right. Why is that a problem? I use my right hand to control/move the camera. That meant that I'd have to hold the camera with my left hand and work the tripod controls with my right (Awkward!). The next day I sent an email to Acratech to inquire about the same tripod with left-handed controls. They had stopped making that particular model (Left handed) but they had the parts to assemble one for me so while it would take a few days, they were happy to do so, so I should let them know what I wanted to do. Wow. Very nice of them, don't you agree? I then looked at their other heads on their site and realized that there was another model The GV2) that would suit my needs even better so I sent another email asking if I could just exchange the original for the the other, and pay for the difference. I was assured that it was no problem at all and was told how much the difference would be.

All the way though, the people at Acratech were pleasant, fun to talk to and highly professional. They have a comprehensive lineup of products to help out anybody interested in their exemplarily level of quality.

I have the GV2 head now and I can't wait to actually use it.

Here are the relevant links: