Every good photographer knows that stability is key to achieving top-notch images. Because of this, tripods have become an essential part of every good photography kit bag.
But did you know that you can upgrade the tripod head to increase the quality of your photographs even further? In fact, the best ball heads allow for greater stability and adjustment than what usually comes standard from the factory.
- 1 Top 7 Best Ball Heads For Tripods On The Market 2021 Reviews
- 1.1 1 Manfrotto XPRO Magnesium Ball Head with Top Lock Plate (MHXPRO-BHQ6) – Best Triple Lock Tripod Ball Head
- 1.2 2 Benro B2 Double Action Ballhead – Best Amateur Ball Head for Tripod
- 1.3 3 Vanguard Alta BH-300 Ball Head – Best Professional Tripod Head
- 1.4 4 Gitzo GH1382TQD Center Ball Head Series 1 Traveler with Quick Release D – Most Compact Tripod Ball Head
- 1.5 5 3 Legged Thing Eclipse AirHed Switch Aluminum ballhead – Highest Payload Tripod Ball Head
- 1.6 6 Induro BHD2 Ballhead – Best Cold Weather Ball Head for Tripod
- 1.7 7 Fancierstudio 6664H Quick Release Tripod Grip Action Ball Head – Best Budget Ball Head for Tripod
- 2 Before We Announce Our Winner
- 3 Final Thoughts On The Best Ball Heads For Tripods
But, how do you choose the best ball heads for tripods from the seemingly countless options?
By using our reviews of our favorite options, of course. We’ve done the research for you already, so keep reading to find the perfect ball head for tripods for your needs…
Top 7 Best Ball Heads For Tripods On The Market 2021 Reviews
1 Manfrotto XPRO Magnesium Ball Head with Top Lock Plate (MHXPRO-BHQ6) – Best Triple Lock Tripod Ball Head
Tripod ball heads are the preferred option for most photographers. They are easy and quick to adjust, making them ideal for regular changes to your shooting angle. The first of these that we looked at comes from Manfrotto.
The XPRO model #MHXPRO-BHQ6 is ideal for traveling photographers…
This is due to the lightweight design, which makes it ideal for portrait, wedding, and landscape photography. It’s made from a magnesium alloy, and the sphere is hollow. This provides a lightweight unit that can perform well even with a payload of up to 22lbs. (or 10Kg).
Do you like to use large, heavy lenses for that perfect shot?
If so, then performance under heavy camera and lens weight is essential. It’s also important that you can shoot in any condition, which is why this might be the best ball head tripod for shooting landscapes. It’s rated to function without issue in temps anywhere from -22 to 140°F.
How much stability does it provide?
This ball head features a triple locking system. There are polymer rings to help keep the position completely stable by eliminating drifting movements. We really like that you also get a choice between a top lock plate or a 200PL plate. This allows you to personalize things even further.
With its triple-lock system, is it the most stable ball head for tripods?
We appreciate that there are multiple bubble levelers, and the ergonomic locking levers and friction dial are super simple to use. However, we should note that the locking mechanism has been known to loosen with time. We didn’t experience any issues; however, multiple reports suggest a growing amount of slack with use.
- Supports up to 22 lbs.
- Weighs only 1.15 lb.
- Temp range from -22 to 140°F.
- Triple locking system minimizes drifting.
- Top lock & 200PL plate options available.
- Strong hollow magnesium alloy.
- Acra compatible quick release plate.
- Plastic parts can easily break, which can make the whole unit useless.
- Doesn’t hold tight with heavy use.
- Slightly bulkier than some rival options.
2 Benro B2 Double Action Ballhead – Best Amateur Ball Head for Tripod
Benro makes the second entry on our list of the best tripod ball heads. Their B2 is a double-action ball head, making it another great option for the budding photographer.
Is this the best ball head for both amateurs and professionals?
Yes, and no. It’s certainly one of the best options for those looking to use large, heavy telephoto lenses. This is because it can hold a load of up to 35 pounds, which should cover any photography setup you might come across.
Plus, it weighs less than a pound. This makes it ideal for taking with you no matter how far you plan to walk to capture that perfect shot. Even better, if you like shooting panoramas, this head is equipped with a graduated panning scale. This will help you achieve accurate image alignment.
What about the locking features?
The B2 from Benro is equipped with long and precise friction adjustments and a strong locking mechanism. There are also separate drag adjustment and lock knobs for ultimate adjustability.
It’s composed of a magnesium alloy for a nice balance of durability and weight. There is also a single bubble level, which is a bit of a letdown, in our opinion. The pan lock is our favorite feature on this option, and for the price, we’d consider this one of the best tripod ball heads for amateur photographers.
- Supports up to 35 lbs.
- Weighs only 0.9 lbs.
- Vertical tilt of -45° to +90°.
- Double locking system.
- Magnesium alloy.
- Pan lock for better panoramic alignment.
- Acra/PU-60 compatible quick release plate.
- Features only one bubble level.
- Not the most secure tripod head we reviewed.
3 Vanguard Alta BH-300 Ball Head – Best Professional Tripod Head
The next option on our list is one of the ranges designed for professional photographers. There are three options, of which we focused on the Alta BH-300 from Vanguard.
Are you looking for a professional-grade tripod head at a reasonable price?
This might be designed for professionals, but it’s not any more expensive than the options already reviewed. The professional features include two precision bubble levels, four independent adjustment knobs, and a payload capacity of a whopping 66 lb.
Is this ball head easy to adjust?
Yes, the four independent knobs include an easy-to-grip primary ball lock, an ergonomic friction knob, and panning knobs for a full 360° rotation. This makes this one of the best tripod ball heads for professional photographers.
What is it made from?
This unit is constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum. This keeps the unit lightweight while maintaining a solid level of integrity and durability. It also features the Acra-Swiss quick release system, plus a built-in safety pin.
Be careful with your ordering…
Vanguard does also produce an Alta BH-100 & BH-250. These can save you some money and offer slightly different features. So, there is an option for everyone in this one listing alone.
- Supports up to 66 lbs.
- Weighs 1.4 lb.
- 4-way adjustability for ultimate control.
- Aircraft-grade aluminum.
- Professional grade at a reasonable price.
- Arca-Swiss compatible quick release plate.
- Bulkier and heavier than other options reviewed here.
4 Gitzo GH1382TQD Center Ball Head Series 1 Traveler with Quick Release D – Most Compact Tripod Ball Head
This next entry on our list has to be one of the best ball heads for tripods available if you go by price alone. At least, that’s if you go with the thinking that a higher cost means a better product. What we are talking about is the GH1382TQD from Gitzo.
Is this ball head really worth twice the price of most other options?
Many consumers will likely say no to this. Still, some advantages are hard to ignore. So, if you have the funds, keep reading, as this might be the best tripod ball head there is.
Gitzo advertises this center ball head as the slimmest in the range. It’s been designed to fit between the folded legs of the Series 0 and 1 Traveler tripods. So, if you already own either of these, then this is likely the ball head for you.
What makes this compact unit so expensive?
It’s all in the size of the design. The unit is made from aluminum, weighs 0.86 lbs. and can support up to 24 lbs. of camera/lens weight. So, nothing so special here other than being extremely lightweight and compact.
It also does not have a friction control knob. There is an independent pan lock for the 360° rotation, and you can tilt the unit from -90° to +40°. It also features an Arca-Swiss compatible plate, which also works with Gitzo’s D profile plate.
- Supports up to 24 lbs.
- Weighs only 0.86 lbs.
- Removable safety pin.
- Compatible with Arca-Swiss quick release and Gitzo’s D profile plates.
- Tilt from -90° to +40°.
- Ideal for Series 0 and 1 Traveler tripods.
- Well overpriced, in our opinion, unless size and weight are your priority.
5 3 Legged Thing Eclipse AirHed Switch Aluminum ballhead – Highest Payload Tripod Ball Head
Moving things back down to a reasonable price, next, we have the Eclipse AirHed. This is from the manufacturer known amazingly as 3 Legged Thing. Obviously, these guys focus on tripods, so you can expect the best of the best.
Do you have a super heavy-duty camera and lens setup?
If you do, this is your ball head. It can support a system weighing up to a whopping 88 pounds. Yes, we just said the weight capacity is 88 lb. (40Kg). This just leaves us wondering who can even lift a plus 80-pound camera?
With that kind of payload, what is it made from?
The unprecedented strength is born in the aircraft-grade magnesium alloy that this unit is milled from. It features a base panning function and an Arca-Swiss compatible quick release plate. There is also a security screw to keep your camera from slipping off, and a detachable switch clamp.
- Supports up to 88 lbs.
- Aircraft-grade magnesium alloy.
- Compatible with Arca-Swiss quick release plates.
- Base panning function.
- Priced competitively.
- Minimal adjustability compared with other items reviewed here.
- Only a single bubble level.
6 Induro BHD2 Ballhead – Best Cold Weather Ball Head for Tripod
Induro makes an entry on our list of the best ball head for tripod reviews with their BHD2. This is another great option for those looking to step up their photography game.
Are you looking to take the clearest pictures possible?
If you are, then you need a solid tripod, and the head should be highly adjustable and secure. Any slip, no matter how slow, will affect your images. That’s why Induro crafted this unit with oversized lock knobs.
We think this is one of the best tripod ball heads for cold weather…
These oversized lock knobs are super easy to adjust, even when you have gloves on. There is an adjustable manual drag control to compensate for those longer, heavier lenses. Plus, there is an independent 360° pan control, which is perfect for shooting those beautiful panoramic images.
What about the weight capacity?
This ball head is made from a magnesium alloy, making it lightweight and solid at the same time. This means it can support almost 40 pounds of camera and lens weight. It also features an Arca-Swiss computable, interchangeable quick release system.
If all of that isn’t enough, there is also a ten year US warranty upon registration…
This is great, but unfortunately, it might be necessary. While we didn’t experience any issues, we have heard several reports that this ball head tends to sag over time. It’s an issue with many tripod heads, though, at this price, it shouldn’t be a regular issue.
- Supports up to 39.6 lbs.
- Weighs 1.3 lbs.
- Easy to adjust oversized lock knobs.
- Removable safety pin.
- Magnesium alloy.
- Compatible with Arca-Swiss quick release plates.
- Tilt from -90° to +45°.
- 10-Year US Warranty.
- Tends to sag over time.
- Bulky compared with some other options reviewed here.
7 Fancierstudio 6664H Quick Release Tripod Grip Action Ball Head – Best Budget Ball Head for Tripod
The final option on our list of the best ball heads for photography tripods is produced by Fancierstudio. Their model #6664H is easily the least expensive option we looked at.
Is this one of the best entry-level ball heads for tripods?
Yes, for no reason other than the price. It’s stockily cheap. In fact, we had to double and then triple check this listing. If you’re looking for your first tripod head, then this might be perfect for you.
Does it still offer any usable features?
Yes, even at this ridiculously low price point, you get lock and drag controls. There is also a quick-release plate. We really can’t believe this level of adjustability is available for a fraction of the cost of any other item we reviewed.
Is it smooth?
The ball has a diameter of 1.5 inches and provides a very smooth movement. The grip is also surprisingly good for this price point.
What are the downfalls?
As you would expect with such a cheap option, this unit has a much lower weight capacity. It holds only 11 pounds of camera and lens weight, while the aluminum alloy brings the weight in at 1.25 pounds.
- Supports up to 11 lbs.
- Removable safety pin.
- Aluminum alloy.
- Quick-release plate.
- Least expensive ball head we reviewed.
- The quality is what you’d expect from this price point.
- No bubble levels to help with alignment.
Before We Announce Our Winner
There are other great photography accessory reviews you may be interested in. So, please check out our Best Tripod reviews, our Best Camera Backpack reviews, and our Best Memory Card for Camera reviews.
Looking to upgrade or expand the use of your camera? Head over to the Best Mirrorless Cameras reviews, the Best GoPro Camera reviews, the Best Camera Drones reviews, the Best Compact Cameras reviews, and the Best Waterproof Camera reviews.
Back to ball heads for tripods…
Final Thoughts On The Best Ball Heads For Tripods
The range of ball heads for tripods is rather extensive, but hopefully, our list has helped you to narrow down the options. There is certainly something for everyone, and now you need to pick the right one for you.
If Our List Left You Wanting Them All, We Completely Understand.
However, unless you are lucky enough to have that many cameras, you might as well narrow things down. If you’re stuck on this, we would recommend the…Benro B2 Double Action Ballhead
It’s a great option for most photographers, without breaking the bank.