I came into contact with the Demon DB-44 ball head as the result of the ongoing search for the best budget-friendly ball head. Tripods, ball heads and filters are the 3 pieces of gear where I feel like everyone is looking to find something that is good quality within a small budget. Those are also the types of gear, I usually see people have the most trouble with and the biggest need to upgrade. Because of this, I am always on the lookout for good budget-friendly options that I can recommend as being worth the money. Everyone knows RRS ball heads are fantastic, but most aren't willing to shell out the money for them.
Why I Chose the Demon DB-44
After using the Demon DB-44 ball head for the past little while, I am confident saying it is not only worth the money, but much more. In the past few years, I have tested a handful of ball heads trying to find something I liked enough to recommend. I tried one from Sirui K-10 and one from Oben that were nearly identical. They were both great ball heads for the low price tag, but were only ideal for travel and hiking as they had a slim profile and light weight. They left a little to be desired when it came to stability with a big camera body. I tried a garbage head from Dolica and a sturdy, but annoying-to-use ball head Polaroid. Finally, I was really excited to use the more expensive Acratech Nomad for a while. It is a really cool looking ball had with a low profile and smooth use, but before long, the clamp starting sticking on me and it became pretty hazardous to use. After reading of many others with similar problems, I could no longer recommend that head. So, that left me with the Oben ball head for travelling, but I still wanted a slightly bigger, more-heavy duty ball head for doing more intense panoramas and less-than-ideal conditions. Enter the Demon DB-44.
About the Demon DB-44
The Demon DB-44 advertises a maximum load capacity of 66 pounds. The ball diameter is unsurprisingly 44 mm in diameter. I really like this size and feel like it hits the sweet spot between stability and portability. The ball head is 58 mm wide and 101 mm high. It weighs an even pound (16 ounces). The plate is Arca-Swiss compatible, which should be an absolute necessity for anyone . There is an inner blue dial for tension control that is very nice.
Without a doubt, I can say this has been my favorite ball head I have ever owned. Disclaimer: I have never owned a ball head from Really Right Stuff, Arca-Swiss, FLM or anyone else that charges $500 for a ball head. While a good ball head is absolutely essential piece of gear, it would cause me physical pain to spend that much on a ball head and I think that is probably true for anyone that spends less than thirty hours a week. Now, $80 for a fantastic ball head, that is a steal.
My first impression upon pulling this ball head out of the box was the feel of this ball head. It feels substantial in an impressive way. The ball head is all metal and does not feel cheap in any way. As I have used the ball heads, I am very impressed with how smooth everything is. The knobs all turn easily and the friction control works really well. I really like the size and grip on the knobs as they are so easy to use and will work well in cold weather when I am wearing gloves. The only trouble I had with the ball head came recently while I was shooting in Death Valley. My camera kept tilting a little after I had set it. It was an easy fix as I tightened the plate with an allen wrench and the ball head held perfectly tight from then on.
Before recommending this ball head, I read all the reviews I could find to see if others have had different experiences than I have. I was pleased to see the reviews have all been positive. The worst review I found (3 stars) loved the ball head, but complained of a shipping delay caused by the post office. People love the build quality, smoothness and stability. I saw one review where someone with an older model had some issued after the warranty period (1 year) and the company still sent him a new one, and they sent him the newer model, which that reviewer said was much better than the older model. To me, that is the customer service you might expect with a $500 ball head, not an $80 one. I really believe you are getting so much more quality than you are paying for with this ball head.
I am confidant that the Demon DB-44 is the absolute best value you can find for a good-quality ball head. The Demon DB-44 looks, feels and performs like a ball head that is 4-5 times its price point (or better in my personal experience). As of the time this article was published, the Demon DB-44 was available on Amazon for under $80.