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If you watch the videos by Induro on their PHQ panheads here, they sound pretty awesome. They really seem a lot more flexible than the standard ball heads that many people really push. However, I understand that they are going to speak very highly about their own products, so I am hoping to get a less biased perspective on this match-up. Also they don't much compare the head to Gimbal heads.

Since I have yet to buy my first tripod head, but that day is approaching, I wonder:

What are the main pros and cons to these panheads in comparison to top of the line ballheads. In particular, that video does a nice job of showing the pros, what are some of the cons?

and

The same comparison for Gimbal heads.

I know that this question could devolve into arguments, so let's just skip all that and be realistic about the good and bad. In the past we have had great luck with not letting these sorts of questions implode.

Thanks a lot in advance

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1 Answer 1

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I recently did a lot of research on tripod heads, which included Gitzo, Manfrotto, Arca-Swiss, Wimberley, Custom Brackets and Induro.

The Induro heads are built pretty well, however in my experimentation in stores (which included the PQH line), they felt cumbersome from a usage perspective. Lots of knobs and locks and whatnot seemed to make things much too complicated and slow for my tastes. The Manfrotto heads also seemed similar, although not as complicated. One thing I will say for the Induro PQH heads is they are quite precise. If you really need extreme precision panning, in both the horizontal plane as well as the vertical plane and 45 degree planes, the Induro PQH is fairly unique. As a landscape photographer, I couldn't figure out any way to use that precision, and I certainly did not need it.

I ended up getting a Gitzo ball head for now, as it had only two controls: a knob to loosen the ball, and a flip screw to loosen panning. It is extremely nice, simple to use, and very light weight. It is a good head for basic photography, and the independent panning is very handy. The Gitzo head is also amazingly smooth in every respect, which was something I didn't feel in all but maybe Arca-Swiss heads.

When it comes to gimbal heads, I've only played with two. When it comes to freedom of movement, nothing is quite like a gimbal head. They are fantastic! The Wimberley head is very, very fluid, but very large and fairly heavy. It is not the best choice if you need to hike around with it and your gear. An alternative I came across on The Digital Picture was Custom Brackets. Seems CB is well-known for their flash brackets, and their gimbal head is somewhat unique. CB makes a modular gimbal head that, while when assembled is only slightly smaller than the Wimberley, is very compact when disassembled and packed away. Like the Wimberley, it is a very smooth, fluidly moving head. The CB gimbal also has numerous scale and guide markings on it, as well as a leveling bubble, which are all nice features (the Wimberley head is very simple and basic, lacking anything but the gravity-balanced mount and joint.) Since the CB gimbal is modular, it offers a variety of mounting options as well. You can attach the mounting base plate in a variety of ways with partial assembly, making it very flexible. There are several knobs that you use to lock or unlock degreed of panning and angling freedom, but unlike the Induro PQH head, there is plenty of room to use them.

I have not purchased one yet, but the Custom Brackets CB Gimbal is near the top of my list of camera gear, and will probably be one of my first purchases of 2011.

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Great answer: little bias, good coverage, excellent explanations. Again, this site impresses me in particular on these "dangerous" questions. –  BBischof Nov 5 '10 at 14:49
    
@BBischof: Aye, these questions are challenging. :) But we like a good challenge (or at least, I do.) I want to reiterate, the Induro head has a degree of fine precision adjustments that nothing else really has, in multiple planes of freedom. If you want that precision, there really isn't anything else like it. However, if you want fluid freedom and ease of use, A Wimberley or Custom Brackets gimbal head would be a better choice. –  jrista Nov 5 '10 at 16:36

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