Best ball heads on the market

Best Tripods & Ball Heads



If you’re interested in tripods, you’ll probably like this article where I explain the pros and cons of each of the major tripod brands.


Experienced landscape and wildlife photographers know that the tripod is the #1 most essential piece of gear. Although most photographers know how important a tripod is, far too many photographers foolishly put off the purchase of a professional tripod for years and instead buy 5 junkers before finally choosing to buy something of good quality. Once you buy a professional tripod, you’ll be amazed at the difference in sharpness of your images. Trust me… the tripod is essential!

However, not every photographer needs an expensive tripod. For example, when I shoot portrait photography, I rarely shoot on a tripod. Other than portraiture, I use a tripod 100% of the time.


Beginner Hobbiest Serious Pro

Manfrotto 7322YB

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ – Improve’s Review:
This is a great tripod because of price and quality. It’s semi-stable and will do you well for the first year of intense tripod use. The recommended ball head for this isn’t as strong for bigger cameras and lenses. Entry-level cameras will do great on this tripod!

Induro AT-313

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ – Improve’s Review:
This is, by far, the best tripod I’ve used that costs anything near this price point. At $187, this tripod is an absolute steal! It’s tall, very sturdy, and durable. If you’re ready for a professional tripod, then this one has my whole-hearted recommendation

Gitzo GT2540F

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ – Improve’s Review:
For photographers, the Gitzo GT2540F is like a Ferrari. No tripod could dream of comparing to this beautiful piece of machinery. You’ll have to rob a bank to pay for it, but you’ll thank yourself for years to come. It is light weight, solid as a rock, durable, and easy to use.


Beginner Hobbiest Serious Pro

Manfrotto Ball Head

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ – Improve’s Review:
This is the suggested piece for the Manfrotto tripod above, but this will be where you see the weight of your camera become an issue. Again, entry-level cameras with kit lenses will do great with this and will last you a long time. At least as long as you have your camera.

Vanguard Ball Head

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ – Improve’s Review:
This is an INCREDIBLE ball head for the price. I used this ball head with a 600mm lens and it did a great job without any creep. I have also did exposures of several hours for night photography and still saw no creep. You will not find any ballhead that can compete with this piece of awesome.

Gitzo GT2540F

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ – Improve’s Review:
If you have the money to spend on the best ball head that money can buy, then you’ll want something from a company called Really Right Stuff. Their gear is top notch. For $500, it’s fantastic!


Created by Dustin Olsen

About the Author

Jim Harmer

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Jim Harmer is the founder of Improve Photography, and host of the popular Improve Photography Podcast. More than a million photographers follow him on social media, and he has been listed at #35 in rankings of the most popular photographers in the world. Jim travels the world to shoot with readers of Improve Photography in his series of free photography workshops. See his portfolio here.


  1. Author

    @Jane Oram – What country do you live in? Sometimes the problem is that Amazon doesn’t carry the product in your country. The links work fine for me. The name of the ballheads is clearly labeled in the title of each section, for example, Vanguard SBH-300.

  2. Rick

    Hmmm, I like my Manfrotto CR2 ballhead, but I kind of wish I would have at least checked the Vanguard you have listed here first. Oh well.

  3. jane oram

    hi – I live in Canada and Amazon is very limited here. But I am sure that i could buy the ball head somewhere else. So wahat is the name of it- is it Vanguard SBH-300?

  4. Author

    @Vernon – I honestly haven’t tried the Giottos tripods, but I have used their ballheads before. The ballheads are okay, but there are better deals out there. I can’t speak to their tripods. Maybe I’ll get in touch with Giottos and ask them to send a review unit out.

  5. Dennis

    How about the Acratech GP bullhead? It’s better than anything mentioned above.

  6. Kathleen

    What do you think of the Mafrotto 055cxpro3 carbon fiber and 322RC2 Joystick FOR Canon 7D. ? Carbon Fiber good for me because i hike.

  7. Shaun

    I just bought an Induro AT-413 and what an awsome tripod!! i love that at 6’4″ i can have my camera at eye level without the center column up and I can still go higher if needed! solid tripod that would take huricane force winds to wobble!

    thanks for the recommendation!

  8. Marina

    Thank you. I have a chap tripod and want a really good one instead. I will look at your suggestions.

  9. Jennifer

    I’m confused about the loading weight. For example – if the Manfrotto 055XPROB has a max load of 7kg does this mean camera weight or weight of chosen head plus camera?

  10. ariel

    I like the idea of a pistol grip ball head, any recommendations on a good one of those?

  11. ariel

    I like the idea of a pistol grip ball head, any recommendations on a good one of those?

  12. Eric

    Any recommendations for a good light wieght (hikeable)(~3lbs) tripod that’s under 200 dollars?

  13. Jeremiah

    Eric, try this tripod, it is found on for $130: Benro MeFoto Travel Tripod Kit. I haven’t purchased one but have been considering it and it has excellent reviews.

  14. awwwis

    great article, I was researching some tips about this, as I was only about to shoot the milkyway once. I used the stellarium app for ios/android to check the time and direction will the milky way be visible.

  15. Maria

    Looking to buy a new tripod to support at least 20 pounds. Is any tripods would you recommend a tripod with easy spring clips not rotated one you recommended above for the opening with budget up to $400

  16. Jim

    Manfrotto products are pure junk and way over priced. I use to buy that brand, for what I spent constantly replacing broken cheap parts it would be cheaper just to buy top shelf products. Manfrotto to me is equivalent to Big Lots and Dollar General store quality.

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