An increasingly popular brand of ballheads and tripod accessories is available from a company called Acratech Inc. in California. Made from solid stock aircraft 6061-T6 aluminum, these precision-made accessories are of the highest quality.
In addition to various brackets, including popular L brackets to retain the lens position when shifting between vertical and horizontal, of particular note are their ballheads. The newest is the Acratech GP. The head weighs less than a pound, but it can support up to 25 lbs. It’s the perfect mate to any fiber tripod to keep the weight down while keeping camera capacity weight up.
The mount itself is Acra-Swiss compatible, which will fit a wide variety of mounting plates. The head has a bullseye level at the mounting base.
An interesting feature of the Acratech GP is the two rubberized knob system for the ballhead. One knob is a tension knob. This controls the tension in the movement when you use the major release knob. This helps keep the head (especially with an attached camera) from falling abruptly.
With a long lens mounted using a lens collar ring and set to the side via the ballhead, a combination of the lens vertical movement and the rotation ring movement work as a gimbal head. A gimbal head balances the camera and lens at their natural center of gravity, thus making the lens weightless in terms of tilt. The smoothness of the adjustment is a result of setting the tension knob.
Another unique feature of the GP head is the ability to unscrew the mounting plate and mount it to the head bottom. The ballhead is then mounted to the tripod column upside down. With the mount and bullseye level on the marked rotational base, you can use the rotational marks as a guide to creating accurate panoramic images. The price for the GP ballhead, less the camera mount, is $399.95. For more information, go to www.acratech.com.