View Full Version : Accessories Aratech Ultimate Ball heaad

08-01-2006, 02:39 AM
Weight: less than a pound ~ 15 oz. (With RRS Clamp 1.1 lbs)
max weight capacity: 25+ lbs.
Height 10.3 CM
Clamp: Standard clamp with Detention Pin.
Tension control nob: None

Manufacture's site. (http://acratech.net/miva/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=AOS&Product_Code=ubh)

The Ultimate ball head is my personally favorite ball head. I have been using it for a few years now, as my primary head for my tripod. It is lightweight, and simple. It has taken my abuse over the years. When I get the ball dirty, like covered in mud I am able to easily clean it off. I would recommend this head for anyone who is on a budget but wants the ultimate in ball heads. Its simplicity is the key to this head. The Aratech also has some very nice rubber grips which are great to adjust the ball head with. I love how these feel on the hand, and would recommend them for anyone, they are also big enough to grab if you have gloves on.
You will note in the picture that I had a lever clamp from Really Right Stuff, it holds some advantages and disadvantages. First it is quick to open, and it holds well.
But the traditional clamp has many advantages first it has a detention pin which if the clamp comes loose, it will stop the lens plate from slipping off. Second it is sold with the head. Third it is built very well just like ultimate ball head.
Price: $279

If you don't need, or want a tension release noob then I would recommend this ball head. If you feel that you do, then I would go with either the V2 or the BH-40 from RRS.

Overall Feeling:
If you choose the ultimate ball head you won't go wrong.

08-01-2006, 10:40 AM
Great review Tony. I have been using this very same ballhead, along with the RRS lever release plate, for about a month. It has, I believe, two chief attributes: 1-It's relatively inexpensive, especially if you order it without the clamp ($220) and 2-It's very light, while being beautifully made. I was sniffing around over at Fred Miranda and other sites, and there are many users who dislike the fact that there is no tension adjustment, like the big and expensive models. Also, the same people don't like the fact that you often have to rotate the head around using the panning aspect in order to get the angle you need ("flop" if you will). I initially fumbled with the process, but soon learned to instinctively pivot the head around to get access to the desired angle. Finally, for extreme telephoto or macro shots, the lack of a tension adjustment means that the ballhead will settle, about an 8th of the frame, once locked into position. I have found that only the big heavy ballheads, at $400+, really get around this "settling" problem, and the obvious work around is easily learned.

IMO, the Ultimate Ballhead really is the ultimate for weight conscious backpacker types, it may not be appropriate for those who don't wander far from their cars. For me, if I rig my E-1 to its heaviest configuration, with battery grip, 50-200, 1.4 TC and an FL-50 with the associated bracketry, all is handled well and securely by this Acratech product. This ballhead makes a lot of sense if you've spent the extra bucks for a carbon fiber tripod in order to save a few ounces. If you can't live without tension adjustments and a more conventional operating mode, Acratech does offer a "V2" model that addresses those concerns, for around $50 more and not much, if any, weight penalty.