What's Your Tripod Mount Preference: Ballhead, Pan or Hybrid?

I ran across this article, Panheads Vs Ballheads, and it got me thinking about how my preferences for tripod mounts has swung back and forth over the years.

GorillaPod Focus on 1" Pole Close Up

First of all, I do use tripods. Don't necessarily love them, but they are required for many of the shots I take. I began using panhead mounts because they were easy to use. But those darn handles sticking out moved me over to ballheads for hiking and other outdoor activities. Then video came along... and panheads are so much better for movie making. Or I should say, the ability to pan is what's required.

That need led to some good moments with Joby's Ballhead X. It provides the convenience of a traditional ballhead, yet gives me a separate knob for panning control. Plus, the clamp and plate are Arca-Swiss system compatible. (You can get the Ballhead Xby itself for $47 or in combination with the Gorillapod Focusfor $113, as shown in the illustration.) Then there are other days where I go with the monster Bogen aluminum tripod with ginormous panhead. I guess I'm not a "one tripod kind of guy."

So where do you stand? Panhead, ballhead, or hybrid? This is just for fun, but it does make a difference when you have a job to do.

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I have a cheaper ball head tripod now. I love being able to walk around the tripod ant all angles to capture birds in flight. Beyond that, the idea of having some sort of HYBRID that gives me the best of two worlds. I just need to ask the basic questions like what head fits on what shaft and how do I know what I am ordering will fit my non- standard tripod. All questions I just haven't had time to get answered yet.

Thanks for the post

Since I've never really gotten much into video - ballheads all the way. I love my Acratech Ultimate ballhead.

I've used a few different panheads in the past, and it seemed like I always wanted to move the camera in exactly the direction the panhead couldn't move!

For my first serious tripod (one with a separate head) I used a Bogen 3047 3-Way Head. I had the early one with the big handles sticking out everywhere. For Medium and Large Format cameras I like to point the camera precisely. Being able to adjust each axis separately is a huge time saver.

More recently I've been using a Manfrotto Junior Geared Head. It's smaller, lighter, and even more precise. The knobs allow coarse/fast, and fine/slow adjustments.

When I really want to save weight I leave the tripod center column and head at home and attach a Manfrotto Compact Camera Leveler directly to the tripod legs. This is sort of a large ball head with limited movements. It is normally meant for leveling a video head mounted on top of it. Instead of the video head I mount a quick release plate adapter. For landscape and architecture, where the camera often at least starts level, this usually provides enough adjustment for me. If I need more I can always adjust one of the tripod legs.