This is a “reprint” that I had posted last fall... just got an inquiry on tripods and tripod heads and this was/is apropos. My tripod of choice is the Really Right Stuff TFC-24L now.
I spent about $1600 on the Arca Swiss Cube about 12 years ago. It has given me years of service, but after three replacement/repairs of the gears at $400+ each time, a 4th time at $400+ is getting ridiculous. As a head designed for studio use, it is not at home in the outdoors. Plus, in sub-freezing temps, the gears get so stiff I can hardly operate it. Enough is enough—a damage-prone design means it has been a $2800 experience and I am not going to make it a $3200 experience.
Accordingly, I have now switched to the Acratech Panoramic Head (AKA “Long Lens Head”), a feat of outstanding engineering (and a jaw-dropping value at about $417). It is is now my "go to" tripod head, along with its optional and very lightweight leveling base (10° of leveling, the video incorrectly states 15°).
Don’t let the “panoramic” part fool you—it is an outstanding general-purpose head, and is very lightweight. Acratech also has several other heads which are all outstanding in design, and exceptionally light and compact compared to most ballheads.
I use the leveling base that has a 60mm top, but there is a larger leveling base with 74mm top for larger heads, should you be using something other than the Acratech heads.
The two videos below discussthe Acratech Panoramic Head and why I like it. The head shown is an 8-year-old model; I now have the updated one with engraved markings. Lovin' it.
In 7 weeks of use, the Acratech Panoramic Head performed flawlessly. I don’t see how its design could be easily damaged (unlike the Cube), and it works just as well at 25°F as at 90°F.
Feedback welcome on this and other videos.
Shot in 4K, YouTube mangles the video quality, but given the focus problems with the iPhone 7... whatever. With all the hoopla about AI, can’t Apple get an iPhone to focus intelligently?
Wow, YouTube wiped out all my subscribers accumulated for years. And I don’t qualify for monetization. Google sucks.
This video below I shot a few weeks prior. It covers most of the same stuff, but might have a few other details., such as rotating the clamp 90°. Also, the latest clamp has laser-engraved millimeter markings on the clamp.
John N writes:
I have been using an Acratech GP ss + L bracket and Nodal rail (for panos) for quite a few years, it is simple, robust, versatile, light and it enjoys travelling, It just works.
As an engineer, I have a no BS reputation, it has therefore always amazed me why people would buy anything else or why it seems to get so little press.
DIGLLOYD: ditto. It is a brilliant piece of engineering. However, the Arca Swiss Cube (which I used for over a decade) is still better for certain precision work like fine leveling adjustments.