Buying a camera kit usually includes the basic accessories you need. It comes with a camera bag, some filters, memory, and a tripod. This tripod is as basic as it can get with a built-in pan-tilt tripod head and a plastic build. Despite that, it sure does a great job for beginners.
However, experienced users know when a piece of equipment is limiting their shooting abilities. This includes a tripod and in some instances, tripod heads.
There are different types of tripods and heads ranging from ball heads to gimbal heads. It all depends on what type of photography you are into.
That being said, here are the different types of tripod heads and who is it for.
Pan Tilt Head
The majority of photographers surely have owned a pan-tilt head tripod once. It is the most common among the choices due to its price. Free tripods or sub-$50 tripods often come with this type as it is the most cost-effective head available.
There are more expensive variants to the pan and tilt head. Other models come with a grip-action type. This allows one-handed control which is great for quick adjustments.
If you want an affordable option then this is the way to go. It is easy to set up and quick to work with.
The second most common type is the ball head. Photographers often recommend this type as it gives more freedom when moving. Once unlocked, a ball head can turn 360 degrees or any direction.
The problem with this type is the unavailability of true pan and tilt control. Luckily, ProMediaGear has a solution.
The ProMediaGear BH1 Professional Ball Head tripod has a separate panning knob with a 360-degree fluid panning mechanism. This is in addition to the large friction knob. It combines the best of a pan-tilt and a ball-head tripod.
The basic one like the ProMediaGear BH50C40 is fine as well. Just make sure that it can support your equipment weight when choosing a model.
If you are looking for an all-around head then this is a good choice. There is no specific usage as it is applicable to any type of photography.
This is a niche product that is often used by wildlife, sports, and bird photographers. The gimbal head supports large and heavy telephoto lenses while preventing the tripod from falling.
Basically, a gimbal head like the ProMediaGear GK Katana balances a camera setup at its center. It supports the whole tripod while maintaining the freedom to move around.
The pan and tilt tripods have a sub-category. It is called fluid-head tripods. This type works by having a small amount of liquid inside. This sealed liquid works like a small hydraulic chamber that smoothens movements.
When used, these tripods work smoothly compared to the usual pan/tilt heads. This is the main reason why videographers prefer fluid head tripods.
This tripod head is an improved version of the fluid head. It works the same as any fluid head tripod.
However, it includes extra features that benefit video shooters. Some of these features include geared adjustments, bubble levels, more lock options.
There are video cameras that are heavy as well. With a video head, counterweights may be applied to balance a setup properly.
Which one is for you?
In summary, choosing a tripod head depends on your needs. If you are a casual photographer then a pan/tilt head tripod can get the job done without breaking the bank.
However, if you want more flexibility, then it is time to get a ball-head tripod.
Now, for videographers, a fluid head tripod or a video tripod head is the one for you. This ensures that your panning and tilt shots are smooth. It also removes small jitters that a regular tripod has.
Lastly, gimbal heads meet specific needs that are not for the majority. Wildlife photographers swear by this type. But casual photographs do not need this type of tripod head.
Images used courtesy of PhotoMix, Bruno Massao/Pexels