Right up front, this is not a complaint about the price of Really Right Stuff (RRS) products. Yes, RRS gear can be expensive. It is also quality gear and most likely will last you a lifetime of photography.
My grandfather often said that you have to pay for an education. And it's natural for new photographers after spending a significant amount of money on a camera and lens, to look for a bargain on accessories, normally tripods and camera bags. Only after purchasing those bargain accessories do they realize that they have to now spend more money buying what they should have considered in the first place.
Which brings me to point of this blog. I've used several ball heads on my Gitzo Mountaineer series 0 tripod in the past, starting with the Arca Swiss Monoball B1. That is an expensive ball head, so it isn't always about the bargain for me, sometimes I just need to do more research. That ball head was also overkill for that tripod, especially when I switched to using the Fujifilm X-Pro2. In an initial effort to go lighter and smaller, I then purchased the Demon DB-46 Tripod Ball Head. At around that same time, I purchased my first universal quick release L-Bracket. Both the ball head and the L-bracket worked, and for a total investment at the time of around $60, I guess it worked well enough for me to get by for two years. But my grandfather's advice would come back to haunt me.
Then I was reading the new RRS magazine, Light & Shadow, and was intrigued enough to visit their website and check out some gear. The first thing that caught my attention was the RRS BXPro2-L Set L-Plate. The difference between this and the knock-off I owned is night and day. Sure, the other L-Plate worked, but it always felt like it was an accessory and somewhat in the way. The RRS L-Plates are custom made for the camera and in this case, fits the X-Pro2 perfectly. I can access the battery compartment and the connections on the side without having to remove or loosen it and after several weeks of use, it has become part of the camera.
Then during my recent trip to the Smoky Mountains, I started to become frustrated with the Demon ball head. It wasn't smooth and I was never quite sure when turning the locking knob if I was tightening or loosening the ball head. So, when I returned home, I was right back on the RRS website researching ball heads and ended up purchasing the RRS BH-30 Ball Head with Mini Screw-Knob Clamp. I thought a bit about the cost, $260.00, but again, after using this ball head for several weeks now, I'm glad I did.
The ball head is smooth, light and just right for my camera. A feature I really appreciate is the oversized spring-loaded locking T-lever that can be pulled out and repositioned. A nice bit of attention to detail. Even in the dark, with gloves on, there is no fumbling around when making adjustments.
I was lucky to get great advice from a mentor when I was purchasing my first professional camera gear in 1985. At the time I wasn't sure I really wanted to spend around $250 for a tripod, but guess what, I still have that Bogan 3020 Series tripod today. It's a little heavy and only gets used if I'm working out of the car, but the point is that it was money well spent.
So my advice is to do the research, buy quality gear and only buy it once.