Thursday, July 29, 2010

Induro Gear Guide Part 3 - Induro BHD3 Ballhead

Welcome to part 3 of my Induro Gear Guide. In this part we'll take a look at the Induro BHD3 ballhead. I don't know what BHD really stands for but to me it means Big Heavy Duty and that's a good thing! This ballhead is a beast and I couldn't be happier with it. According to the Induro web site it weighs 2.2 pounds and is rated for a maximum load of 55 pounds. While I doubt I'll never have any camera gear that is that heavy it's nice to know I'll not outgrow this ballhead anytime soon.
Induro BHD3 Ballhead
Mounting the ballhead to the tripod is as simple as screwing it on. One feature that I probably should have covered when writing about the tripod and is absolute genius, in my opinion, is the inclusion of set screws in the base of the tripod head. After screwing the ballhead onto the base you can tighten the set screws to securely lock the ballhead onto the tripod center column. I can't tell you how many times with my previous setup that I'd pan to the left only to have the ballhead start to come loose from the tripod center column. I probably could have fixed it with a little locktite but I didn't have any at the house and never remembered to buy any when I was shopping at the local Lowes.
Canon 7D mounted on BHD3 Ballhead
Once mounted on the tripod you can mount your camera or lens using any Arca-Swiss compatible quick release plate. I have several universal ones that I bought off of eBay that I use with various cameras and lens tripod collars. Kirk Enterprises sells universal plates for $17.00 each and I bought enough for each camera body and tripod collar that I own. This allows me to attach the plate to each camera/lens and leave it there instead of having to swap it out when I want to use a different camera/lens.
Canon EF 400 f/5.6L Lens
To facilitate with balancing your camera/lens the quick release mount on the tripod and some quick release plates come marked with a center line. By aligning these two marks the camera/lens is centered properly on the ballhead as shown below. Also notice that the plate installed is longer than the tripod mount. This allows you to either slide the plate forwards or backwards as needed to customize the balance. For example I may mount the lens centered as shown when shooting with the Rebel T2i because it's lighter than my 7D. When I shoot with the 7D I may adjust the position slightly forward or backwards to adjust for the heavier camera body.
Ballhead and Mounting Plate Alignment Marks
The beauty of using a ballhead is that you have a virtually infinite amount of positions you can use to position the camera. This takes a bit of getting used to at first but once you use one for any length of time you'll never want to go back to using a regular tilt/pan head. By adjusting the various knobs on it you can control just how much tension is required to move the camera/lens. If I'm shooting a static subject I'll often lock the ballhead in place to make sure I have the most stable platform possible. Also, notice the notch cut into the side of the ballhead. This allows you to rotate the camera/lens combination to the side. This makes it possible to shoot in either a horizontal or portrait mode without having to remove the camera. If you're shooting with a lens that thas a tripod color like the EF 400 does then you can loosen its tension knob and rotate the camera which is very handy.
Cutout on Side of Ballhead
With the ballhead adjusted over to the side as shown below you can actually use it like a Gimbal Head in a pinch but as you'll see in part 4 using a Gimbal Head is SO much nicer than trying to use this setup. Something else I would do is instead of positioning the knob down as shown below I would position it towars the top so that it doesn't hit against the ballhead body.
Lens Mounted Sideways
I have no doubt that this ballhead will exceed my needs regardless of which camera/lens I mount on it. Is there anything I don't like about it? Glad you asked I have one minor nit and I honestly shouldn't mention it because it's so trivial. The knob on the bottom left in the picture above is the knob that controls how much tension is applied when you rotate the ballhead. Despite loosening it as far as it will loosen the ballhead still requires more resistance than I would expect to rotate the camera. See, I told you I shouldn't have mentioned it. As I think about it more I really can't fault the ballhead for this. It's designed to deal with loads up to 55 pounds and I may be putting what 5 or 6 pounds of weight on it at this point in time. It's no wonder it's stiff I'm only using about 1/10th of the ballheads capacity. Something else to keep in mind is I've only had this ballhead a few weeks so it hasn't been used enough to get broken in. Check back with me in 6 months time and we'll see if this continues to be an issue for me or not. I seriously doubt that it will.

One final thought - I'll be honest and say that I was seriously considering the Really Right Stuff (RRS) BH55 Ballhead. Several big name photographers use it and rave about how great it is and I have no doubt that it's a very fine Ballhead; however when you consider the BHD3 is less than half the cost of the RRS Ballhead the decision became a non brainer for me. I went with the Induro BHD3 and I had enough $$$ left over to buy the GHBA Gimbal Head that I'll be writeing about next. Cost for the Induro BHD3 Ballhead - $228.00. The link below is for the Ballhead on Amazon. If you use it to purchase one I'll receive a little commission and you'll buy an absolutely fantastic Ballhead.

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