The FlexShooter Pro is a dual-ball tripod head designed for use with telephoto lenses. I’d virtually say, the longer the telephoto lens you load on it, the higher! At 680 grams (1.5 kilos), it’s heavier than an on a regular basis ballhead, however nonetheless transportable sufficient to make use of with shorter lenses, too. I’ve been testing this tripod head extensively, largely for wildlife pictures. Right here’s the way it performs.
- Materials: Anodized aircraft-grade aluminum alloy
- Inside ball diameter: 45 mm
- Outer ball diameter: 66 mm
- Base diameter: 63 mm
- Tripod thread: 3/8″
- Most load: 45 kg (100 lbs)
- Weight: 680g
- Different Options
- Arca-Swiss type two-way clamp
- Adjustable friction for each balls
- Precision bubble stage
- Constructed-in spring stability for tilt motion
The FlexShooter Pro was designed with the aim of offering a tripod head for capturing with supertelephoto and customary size lenses in a single package deal. Tripod heads for supertelephoto lenses will be difficult. In spite of everything, the pinnacle doesn’t simply want to hold extra weight, but in addition permit clean and exact actions when monitoring shifting topics.
The 2 most typical tripod heads for supertelephoto lenses are gimbal and video heads. Each sorts can deal with the heavy weight of telephoto lenses in their very own approach. Nonetheless, even the lightest gimbal heads are nonetheless fairly huge, like this ultra-high-end head from Zenelli. Don’t even get me began on video tripod heads, that are even larger and heavier nonetheless.
Other than the problem of dimension, video and gimbal heads have another drawbacks, too. They’re very clumsy when making changes alongside the horizontal airplane, and so they normally make it a lot tougher to do nice changes typically. The most well-liked various is a ballhead, nevertheless it’s not a common answer, since ballheads have horrible stability for lengthy, heavy lenses.
The one answer I’ve come to simply accept is to take two heads on expeditions. I carry a gimbal for telephoto/supertelephoto pictures, and I take advantage of a ballhead for all the pieces else. However the drawback is apparent: bulk and weight.
The Hungarian firm FlexShooter has picked up the gauntlet and tried to give you an answer that mixes some great benefits of a gimbal and a ballhead. They solved it by designing a head that consists of, basically, two ballheads – one throughout the different.
The bigger of the 2 balls (66mm) works as you’re used to. When it’s loosened, it strikes in all instructions. The smaller, internal ball (45mm) solely permits panoramic rotation and ahead/backward tilt. That is extra just like the standard perform of a gimbal head.
When it comes to stability management (to keep away from unintentional ahead or backward tilt), the FlexShooter Pro head is fairly just like the video heads I discussed above. That’s, it homes polyurethane blocks (elastomers) that act as springs. When the pinnacle is balanced, the springs are in equilibrium, and when the pinnacle is tilted, they work gently however successfully as a counterbalance. This prevents the collapse that may occur with a totally loosened ballhead.
As for the tripod plate, the more and more well-liked Arca-Swiss customary was employed. It’s as much as you whether or not you need to use a lever or a twist-lock to safe the plate. A lever is a faster answer, whereas a twist lock will be turned tighter for very heavy tools.
FlexShooter just isn’t the one firm to make a ball-within-a-ball head, however they’re one of many highest-end variations of this design. The FlexShooter Pro can be one of the vital refined twin ballheads available on the market as a result of spring system.
Weight and Measurement
Despite the fact that the FlexShooter Pro is bigger than most ballheads, weight and dimension are however a few of the essential causes to get one! To start with, it’s changing two sorts of heads should you’re the kind of photographer who carries each a ballhead and a gimbal head. Second, it’s a great deal lighter than most gimbal heads anyway.
That mentioned, there are nonetheless (basically) two ballheads right here. This does give the FlexShooter Pro some girth. On the desk, it appears a bit like a sumo wrestler. Nonetheless, this has a constructive impact on its stability. The peak of the pinnacle from the bottom is simply 93mm, which mounts the camera nearer to the axis of rotation and makes it extra secure than a taller ballhead.
Construct High quality
The FlexShooter Pro head is machined from top quality aluminum alloy. For the value of $600, you’d anticipate a well-built head, and it actually is. Even after utilizing it in dusty environments, there was no degradation within the high quality of the pinnacle or smoothness of actions.
Since this tripod head is fairly well-liked amongst sure crowds, I obtained to check 4 separate copies from completely different individuals on my South America workshop earlier this year. All copies appeared well-built and didn’t run into points in the course of the journey.
In my private communication with the producer, I used to be instructed that cleansing directions will seem on the corporate’s web site. Plainly no particular instruments are wanted to disassemble the pinnacle. At the least on the floor, solely the hex screws are seen. However to this point, I haven’t wanted to disassemble and clear the tripod head, because of the tight constructed tolerances.
Operation and Changes
1. Use with Telephoto Lenses
One factor to remember is that not all “Arca-Swiss” suitable merchandise have precisely the identical dimensions. In my expertise with the FlexShooter Pro, just a few third-party “Arca Swiss” type plates had been barely too giant for the pinnacle. They nonetheless labored nice, however they might often get caught within the head mechanism even after releasing the lever. (That is one scenario the place the twist-lock clamp works higher than the lever-release clamp.)
When utilizing a gimbal head, the camera is mainly on a swing. By comparability, with the FlexShooter Pro, it’s above the purpose of rotation. You’ll get used to the distinction, which is extra a matter of muscle reminiscence than something – it doesn’t have a lot impact on efficiency, though the gimbal is less complicated to stage.
The function of the tripod when working with telephoto lenses just isn’t a lot to eradicate vibrations, however to offer a “weightlessness” to an in any other case heavy setup. Good gimbals are very clean and straightforward to rotate whereas monitoring a shifting topic.
I had the identical necessities for the FlexShooter Pro. And it succeeded. After leveling and balancing my setup, I used to be even happier than I’d be with a gimbal. It carried out equally however was considerably lighter.
To emphasise, it’s actually essential to stability the camera/lens setup with the FlexShooter Pro. Generally, that is simpler mentioned than executed. For instance, utilizing the Nikon Z9 and the 400mm f/4.5 package meant that the tripod plate needed to be clamped on the very again finish of the lens foot. And even then it was not fairly proper. Both the Z9 is simply too heavy or the 400/4.5 is simply too mild, the selection is yours. I had the alternative drawback attempting to make use of a light-weight camera with the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3, which was very front-heavy at 600mm. Nonetheless, when you get the stability proper, the pinnacle works very easily.
2. Use with Regular / Broad-Angle Lenses
When utilizing brief lenses, you possibly can work with the FlexShooter Pro as with a traditional ballhead. In different phrases, you retain the internal ball locked (simply tighten the silver bolt) and use solely the outer giant ball. It really works properly and has no noticeable slipping when locked, which is great. That mentioned, I discovered myself utilizing the pinnacle in an analogous method to telephoto lenses – I’d roughly place the massive ball first, then fine-tune the composition with the internal ball.
The distinction from working with a telephoto lens, nonetheless, is that you simply hardly discover a middle of gravity. It’s at all times in entrance of the camera physique. So it’s a must to preserve that in thoughts and tighten the silver bolt.
When capturing with regular lenses, I shortly obtained used to the truth that after leveling with an exterior ball, I nonetheless had a shifting horizontal and vertical axis. It additionally works as a technique to create exact multi-photo panoramas.
The FlexShooter Pro is a head that provides nice versatility. It may be used as a devoted tripod head for supertelephoto lenses, changing a gimbal or fluid video head. On the similar time, it may be used as a traditional ballhead for lenses of frequent focal lengths.
In contrast to many common options that assist you to do all the pieces however none of it correctly, the FlexShooter Pro made an excellent impression on me. Neither when working with a telephoto lens nor when capturing wide-angle landscapes did I really feel that the pinnacle was limiting me in any approach.
When taking photos, I didn’t actually discover any huge distinction between the FlexShooter Pro and a gimbal head in efficiency, as soon as I obtained used to the distinction in dealing with. The one huge distinction was the lighter weight of the FlexShooter. And in comparison with a great ballhead, the one distinction is that the FlexShooter was heavier!
That’s the place I see the most important benefit of the FlexShooter Pro. It’s not higher than a high-quality gimbal head or a high-quality ballhead, nevertheless it’s actually no worse, both. And it delivers each sorts of heads in a single package deal, smaller and lighter than virtually any gimbal head. It will get a excessive advice from me!
The place to Purchase
You should buy FlexShooter Pro in two variations from our trusted associate B&H Photograph Video. The reviewed model of FlexShooter Pro with lever prices $699. The locking knob model retails for $599.
As an adjunct, you can even order a tripod foot substitute, the so-called BigFoot, from the producer. Costs vary from €95 to €110. Having examined considered one of these within the subject, it was completely sized for the Arca-Swiss mounting plate of the FlexShooter Pro.
FlexShooter Pro Tripod Head
- Construct High quality
- Dealing with
- Measurement and Weight
Photography Life General Score
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