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Looking for the Appropriate Tripod Head

Binoculars Equipment Tripod Visual
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#1 SomeonePOG

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Posted 28 May 2024 - 04:44 AM

Hi, so I recently bought a Manfrotto 055 (Aluminum, 3 Section) tripod and have been using it with a ball head for the past week. But as expected, it hasn't been a smooth experience for astronomy but works good enough for terrestrial objects. 

 

I looked into different tripod heads and 2 types really stood out for me and I would like to know your experiences with these.
One was a Fluid Video Head, specifically the Manfrotto 500ah/502ah. The other was a Geared Head, there are options from K&F and Benro. (Budget is around 150-200$s and I would prefer to buy new)

 

I use a 10x50 binocular and plan on buying a 20x80 later this year or maybe a small refractor. As per my research, the geared head has knobs that resemble slow motion controls on some telescope mounts, but I am not sure as to how comfortable will it be for visual astronomy. The 20$ tripod that I upgraded from used to have a head that resembled a fluid video head and was really comfortable to use when it actually worked.

 

What are your thoughts, appreciate any inputs.

 

Thanks, Clear Skies.



#2 steveward53

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Posted 28 May 2024 - 05:13 AM

I looked at both options last year and went with the geared head option , this one in particular ... https://www.manfrott...omic-knobs-410/

 

I got mine from MPB as a pre-loved item in perfect condition , I'd highly recommend them or similar outfits like Park Cameras.

 

I can't see a location in your avatar but if you're in the U.S. I'm sure there are similar reputable dealers , the turnover rate with photographic kit is pretty large with folks chasing the latest gadget constantly so there are plenty of bargains to be found.

 

As for the geared head , it's exactly what I needed for solar and lunar ISS transit captures and such like , very sturdy but allows easy smooth one handed adjustment in all axes without fear of even my 150-600mm needing a second hand to steady whilst adjusting.



#3 SomeonePOG

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Posted 28 May 2024 - 06:51 AM

I looked at both options last year and went with the geared head option , this one in particular ... https://www.manfrott...omic-knobs-410/

I was told that the Manfrotto geared heads aren't as good as Benro/K&F.

 

I got mine from MPB as a pre-loved item in perfect condition , I'd highly recommend them or similar outfits like Park Cameras.

 

I can't see a location in your avatar but if you're in the U.S. I'm sure there are similar reputable dealers , the turnover rate with photographic kit is pretty large with folks chasing the latest gadget constantly so there are plenty of bargains to be found.

I don't live in the US but I might be able to have a friend bring one from there, and I dont want to have him deal with delayed shipping and what not so I preferred new.

 

As for the geared head , it's exactly what I needed for solar and lunar ISS transit captures and such like , very sturdy but allows easy smooth one handed adjustment in all axes without fear of even my 150-600mm needing a second hand to steady whilst adjusting.

Thats good, but is it a similar experience with visual? I will be doing little to no astrophotography work...



#4 artik

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Posted 28 May 2024 - 11:26 AM

Hi, so I recently bought a Manfrotto 055 (Aluminum, 3 Section) tripod and have been using it with a ball head for the past week. But as expected, it hasn't been a smooth experience for astronomy but works good enough for terrestrial objects. 

 

What is your scope? How much does it weight?

 

Just to make sure - do you use your ballhead on a side - something I do very often since it gives lightweight alt-az mount. One thing that helped me a lot is to add a long arca-swiss plate to ballance the scope accuratly - this way the movement is smooth and no "clutch" is needed.

 

Other than that you can buy a small specialized alt-az mount for astronomy something like Omegon Baby Az or its clones on Ali-Express like this https://www.aliexpre...0794087951.html



#5 SomeonePOG

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Posted 28 May 2024 - 11:34 AM

What is your scope? How much does it weight?

Just to make sure - do you use your ballhead on a side - something I do very often since it gives lightweight alt-az mount. One thing that helped me a lot is to add a long arca-swiss plate to ballance the scope accuratly - this way the movement is smooth and no "clutch" is needed.

Other than that you can buy a small specialized alt-az mount for astronomy something like Omegon Baby Az or its clones on Ali-Express like this https://www.aliexpre...0794087951.html

I use a 10x50 binocular not a telescope. That mount you have shared doesn’t fit my requirements as I need something specifically made for cameras and general photography that will work well with visual astronomy.

Edited by SomeonePOG, 28 May 2024 - 11:34 AM.


#6 Rich V.

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Posted 28 May 2024 - 05:03 PM

I'd just recommend a 2-way video head with a counterbalance feature for binoculars.  The counterbalance will nullify the weight of the bino when tilted upwards, avoiding having to unlock and lock it's altitude axis repeatedly.  Either of the heads you list will handle a 20x80 just fine.  The 500AH has a 5.3# CB which should be more than adequate. I used a Manfrotto 501HDV with similar counterbalance for years with a 5# 16x70 bino.  At 20x and under with binos, the viscous damped alt/az motions will work well; no need for a head with slo-mo gearing. 

 

If you upgrade your 10x50s to a 20x80 eventually, you'll be putting that 055 tripod closer to its upper limits. It has an approx. 15# working load rating realistically.   At only 67" tall, the 055 seems a bit on the short side for standing binocular use but you may be able to sit and fit your legs under it.   I would recommend for standing use that your tripod/head setup should hold the binos at least 6" taller than your are.  Your binos want to be held over your head when looking upward and a too short tripod is uncomfortable.


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#7 Steve Cox

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Posted 28 May 2024 - 06:35 PM

Hi, so I recently bought a Manfrotto 055 (Aluminum, 3 Section) tripod and have been using it with a ball head for the past week. But as expected, it hasn't been a smooth experience for astronomy but works good enough for terrestrial objects. 

 

I looked into different tripod heads and 2 types really stood out for me and I would like to know your experiences with these.
One was a Fluid Video Head, specifically the Manfrotto 500ah/502ah. The other was a Geared Head, there are options from K&F and Benro. (Budget is around 150-200$s and I would prefer to buy new)

 

I use a 10x50 binocular and plan on buying a 20x80 later this year or maybe a small refractor. As per my research, the geared head has knobs that resemble slow motion controls on some telescope mounts, but I am not sure as to how comfortable will it be for visual astronomy. The 20$ tripod that I upgraded from used to have a head that resembled a fluid video head and was really comfortable to use when it actually worked.

 

What are your thoughts, appreciate any inputs.

 

Thanks, Clear Skies.

I have this tripod and 500AH head I use for my 20x80 bino.  It works quite well for that setup. If you go this route for the larger bino, I'd recommend getting a second handle for the head, similar to what Oberwork offers on their heavier duty heads, this makes things much easier and more comfortable for me.

 

For my 9x63, I decided to go a more portable and convenient route with this pistol-grip head and a Manfrotto monopod which is essentially a single leg of the 3-leg 055.  This is a much more comfortable and fun setup for the smaller bino, and also allow use and comfort when observing lying down in a 0-gravity chaise lounge.


Edited by Steve Cox, 28 May 2024 - 06:39 PM.


#8 SomeonePOG

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Posted 28 May 2024 - 10:38 PM

I'd just recommend a 2-way video head with a counterbalance feature for binoculars.  The counterbalance will nullify the weight of the bino when tilted upwards, avoiding having to unlock and lock it's altitude axis repeatedly.  Either of the heads you list will handle a 20x80 just fine.  The 500AH has a 5.3# CB which should be more than adequate. I used a Manfrotto 501HDV with similar counterbalance for years with a 5# 16x70 bino.  At 20x and under with binos, the viscous damped alt/az motions will work well; no need for a head with slo-mo gearing. 

I see, thanks. I guess the 500ah will be enough for my needs.

 

If you upgrade your 10x50s to a 20x80 eventually, you'll be putting that 055 tripod closer to its upper limits. It has an approx. 15# working load rating realistically.   At only 67" tall, the 055 seems a bit on the short side for standing binocular use but you may be able to sit and fit your legs under it.   I would recommend for standing use that your tripod/head setup should hold the binos at least 6" taller than your are.  Your binos want to be held over your head when looking upward and a too short tripod is uncomfortable.

Oh ok, but a friend of mine has a tripod for vanguard which is rated for a lower capacity but he says that it works just fine with the 20x80 he has. I am only 5'10 so the 67 inches with the 6-7 inches the adapter and ballhead add is more than enough for me.

 

I have this tripod and 500AH head I use for my 20x80 bino.  It works quite well for that setup. If you go this route for the larger bino, I'd recommend getting a second handle for the head, similar to what Oberwork offers on their heavier duty heads, this makes things much easier and more comfortable for me.

 

For my 9x63, I decided to go a more portable and convenient route with this pistol-grip head and a Manfrotto monopod which is essentially a single leg of the 3-leg 055.  This is a much more comfortable and fun setup for the smaller bino, and also allow use and comfort when observing lying down in a 0-gravity chaise lounge.

Alright thanks.

 

Thanks everyone for the help. 
Clear Skies!



#9 jcj380

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Posted 29 May 2024 - 05:50 AM

I have an Oberwerk 5000 fluid head that’s quite smooth if gears aren’t a requirement.  Handles my Orion 15x70s quite well.



#10 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 04:58 AM

For binoculars, a parallelogram mount is a very nice thing to own. With a tripod and mounting head, you are very close to the tripod and it's awkward. With a parallelogram mount, the binoculars are separated by 2-3 feet and the height is not fixed, the binoculars are easily raised and lowered as you move about the sky or a someone else wants to look.  This is my wife viewing the Comet Neowise through a pair of Orion Resolux 15x70s.  The mount has since been modified so the binoculars are to side and balanced.

 

Francis viewing NeoWise - 1.jpg
 
Jon

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#11 SomeonePOG

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 10:07 AM

 

For binoculars, a parallelogram mount is a very nice thing to own. With a tripod and mounting head, you are very close to the tripod and it's awkward. With a parallelogram mount, the binoculars are separated by 2-3 feet and the height is not fixed, the binoculars are easily raised and lowered as you move about the sky or a someone else wants to look.  This is my wife viewing the Comet Neowise through a pair of Orion Resolux 15x70s.  The mount has since been modified so the binoculars are to side and balanced.

 

 
 
Jon

 

Yes, I did look at a few parallelogram mounts but they were all too expensive. Someone was selling a wodden one locally and even she was charging more than what it would cost me to get the video head and tripod.

Unfortunately I don't have a lot of free time to make good use of the parallelogram but the video head can still come in use for normal photography.

 

Thanks.



#12 BRCoz

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 10:00 PM

I replaced my tripod head in 2018 with a Neewer Camera Tripod Handle Ball Head on Amazon. It has a 22lbs load.  It works well with my DLSR and also 20x80 bins.  



#13 PIEJr

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Posted 01 June 2024 - 01:46 PM

When pursuing binoculars I got an Orion Monster Parallelogram.

It's a great tool to have. I think I got one of their last ones.

Now they carry a Parallelogram head without a tripod.

 

I also have a 410 geared head and it works fine for me.

My Sirui stick came with a ball head and I don't really like. When loosened it can flop all over the place. But that's my opinion on Ball heads in general.

Even if just a simple Tripod head, I prefer distinct planes of movement.

 

I got my Manfrotto 410 when I was doing macro photography. Which to me, Macro and Astronomy have a lot of similarities. Aiming at tiny stuff.

But I like how a geared head can be finely adjusted. But the quick release is handy as well.



#14 bignerdguy

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Posted 02 June 2024 - 09:26 AM

Not sure this would work for binos but for small scopes you could try this head from SVBony.  I use it for my Orion ST-80 as well as my camera when doing astrophotos of the sun and moon.

 

https://www.amazon.c...e?ie=UTF8&psc=1




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