I'm looking to upgrade my ballhead to a full-size model. My current Manfrotto 496RC2 takes too much torque to lock down with any heavy lens at an angle, and too much droop that I have to compensate for. I'll be keeping my Manfrotto 055XB legs for now - will upgrade to Feisol/Gitzo/RRS later on - and with the full-size head, will be my big/heavy tripod (obviously).

I've been doing lots and lots of reading the last few weeks, and I've pretty much settled in on the RRS BH-55 ball. However, I'm still figuring out clamp and accessories.

I want to have a nodal slide for stitch panos, and I love the look of the Acratech nodal slide, with the rotatable clamp for fore/aft and left/right plates and the stops for most used positions.

With that said, I'm thinking that I'll be better off with the screw-type RRS clamp rather than the lever-type. Is this true? Looks like the lever-type clamps are great if you'll only be using one brand of arca-style plates and that screw types are best for using all of the arca-style derivatives?

Are the RRS nodal pieces as good or better than the Acra?

Any of your ballhead/clamp/accessories knowledge is fully welcome!

  • What is the specific question you are asking? Are you buying a Nodal slide and want help? Is that the main question?
    – dpollitt
    Oct 10, 2012 at 18:37
  • I suppose I see how that's it's not clear. My main concern is interoperability between manufacturers Arca Swiss style plates. If I'm going to be spending quite a lot (once) for a top of the line ballhead and clamp I want to be able to get the most out of it - whether that means using all RRS stuff such as nodal slides, gimble (Wimberly too, it looks like), pano bases or using an assortment of companies products such as Acratech, Nodal Ninja, Arca, Markins, etc. I don't want to invest in a lever style clamp and be stuck with RRS if the screw option is a better long-term investment.
    – camflan
    Oct 10, 2012 at 18:40
  • I was hoping at least one other person has faced this and might have something to say about it.
    – camflan
    Oct 10, 2012 at 18:41

2 Answers 2


I used an RRS lever clamp for a short while long ago (shortly after the lever design came out, if memory serves). (We needed a new support system at work for some product photography and I convinced them to get this gear.) I had heard that only certain plates were compatible, so gave it a shot. Of course, the RRS plates fit just fine. I have an old Arca-Swiss brand "universal" plate that fit just fine, too. I also had an old Kirk plate -- which had seen lots of use and some of the anodized black was wearing off -- and that plate fit differently. It didn't clamp quite as tightly, however it seemed a perfectly fine tight to me. There was no movement to it, but when pushing the lever to clamp, it closed just a little easier.

FWIW, I have an AS B1 (screw-type clamp) and I always thought I wanted a lever clamp because it would be faster and easier to use. I didn't dislike the screw system, and it really is fast to use by sliding the plate in through the side and turning screw knob about a half turn. I was wrong, in that I didn't find the lever to be any faster or easier to use, and since the screw knob doesn't leave me with the fear that I may accidentally pull the lever, it's the system I prefer.

  • Sounds like the screw type clamp isn't as fiddly or slow as I feared it might be. Thanks for your input
    – camflan
    Oct 11, 2012 at 2:18
  • Lots of the lever types also have a secondary safety lever.
    – dpollitt
    Oct 11, 2012 at 2:38

I concur with Dan. The classic knob QR, being infinitely adjustable is also the most accepting of Arca-Swiss 'style', plates from all manufacturers regardless of tolerances. Some third party plates are as much as 2mm larger and others are actually smaller. Rod Klukas US Representative Arca-Swiss Int.

  • I've been on your site a lot the last few days. I ordered a Z1 and the RRS l plate and screw type clamp. I've read that the z1 ball/stem issues are fixed, as are the b1 lockup issues - is this correct? I'm hoping the Z1 is as durable and rugged as the BH-55 for outdoor use in humid climates as well as at the beach and in the snow. Is this the case or should I return the Z1 for a BH-55? The Z1 will fit inside a Feisol with the legs reversed for travel which is super appealing to me. But I need the durability and reliability that the BH-55 is known for.
    – camflan
    Oct 16, 2012 at 14:12

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