Many professional and beginner photographers alike enjoy the use of a tripod to hold their camera or camcorder completely steady during use. Like many photography devices, there are accessories that can be added on to enhance your tripod or give it extra features. One type of tripod accessory that some people prefer above others is a ball head. A ball head is a gadget that is attached to the top of the tripod—it’s an encased metal ball with a stem that attaches to a camera’s lens mount. They help to further secure the camera or camcorder. Even more than stability, a ball head allows the photographer to swivel and rotate the camera faster, smoother, and more accurately while providing a greater range of motion than a standard three-way tilt or pan tripod head. Some photographers also prefer ball heads because they are compact and lightweight with a simple mechanism, and almost all will have a quick-release feature. This makes them easier to use than other similar devices. If any of those are features you’re looking for in a tripod, then a ball head may be a worthwhile investment.
Choosing a Tripod Ball Head
If you’re a photographer looking to purchase a good tripod ball head, here’s what you should consider:
- Compatibility: A good number of ball heads will be compatible with most cameras, but it’s worth checking that the ball head you’re eyeing is compatible with your camera before you buy it. Some may also work with all types of cameras but be better suited specifically for DSLR or mirrorless cameras than others. You’ll want to check that the ball head’s mounting will fit onto your tripod as well.
- Support: If you’re someone who uses a big DSLR camera, large lenses, or a lot of accessories (or some combination), you’ll want to make sure you buy a ball head that can support the weight you need. A ball head’s load-bearing abilities will vary by brand, size, material, and other factors. There are plenty of ball heads for loads of all sizes and weights, so don’t be afraid to shop around for just the right support for your personal needs.
Top Choice: Pergear TH3 Pro DSLR Camera Tripod Ball Head
A highly adjustable and durable tripod ball head for your photography needs. Made of high-quality aluminum alloy, it weighs a mere 14 ounces yet is capable of supporting 17.6 pounds of camera and equipment weight. It comes equipped with fine-tuned damping to hold your device steady, as well as three knobs for horizontal, vertical, and side adjustments. The U-shaped groove design also allows you to switch between vertical and horizontal shooting modes with ease. The base is marked with an index to give you more precise control when adjusting. The screw mount at the bottom is compatible with most tripods, and the lightweight camera stand with a quick-release button means that assembly and disassembly take only a few seconds.
Pergear Heavy Duty Photography Camera Tripod Ball Head 360 Degree Fluid Rotation Tripod Ballhead
A lightweight yet durable tripod ball head that is also highly adjustable.
Best for Budget: AKOAK 1/4″ Swivel Mini Ball Head Tripod Mount
If you’re in the market for a small and inexpensive tripod ball head, this may be the perfect option for you. Despite its small size, the ball still swivels at the requisite 360-degrees to offer the maximum range of motion. The body is made of aluminum alloy, so you know you’re buying a durable product that still maintains near-weightlessness and easy portability. Lock your camera or camcorder into place with a quick twist of one control. The ball head has a 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch screw mount, making it compatible with most tripods and camera stands. The 1/4-inch screw base will also fit with most DSLR cameras and camcorders.
AKOAK 1/4" Swivel Mini Ball Head Screw Tripod Mount for DSLR Camera Camcorder Light Bracket, Pack of 1
A small and portable tripod ball head with an easily lockable, firm grip.
Best for DSLR Cameras: Neewer Camera Video Tripod Ball Head
Here’s a tripod ball head that was designed specifically with DSLR cameras and camcorders in mind. The 1/4-inch quick shoe plate will fit almost any DSLR camera or camcorder, no matter if it’s a Canon, Nikon, Sony, or any other brand. It’s easy to set up and take down thanks to the quick-release plate, and the solid ball head weighs 0.4 pounds and can bear a maximum load of 11 pounds. The 360-degree panoramic base has two twist locks, allowing you to adjust and lock in your desired angle with ease. The matte black finish and the red ball make the design look sleek and high-quality.
NEEWER Camera Tripod Head Ball Head 360° Rotating Panoramic with 1/4" Arca Type Quick Plate and Bubble Level for DSLR Camera Camcorder Tripod Monopod, Max Load: 11lb/5kg
A tripod ball head specifically designed to fit all brands of DSLR cameras and camcorders.
Also Consider: Neewer Professional Metal 360 Degree Rotating Panoramic Ball Head
Support up to 17.6 pounds of camera, accessories, and equipment with this panoramic tripod ball head. The included 3/8-inch bottom screw thread will attach to almost any tripod, monopod, or camera slider while the quick shoe plate lets you set up your camera as quickly and efficiently as possible. It provides you with both horizontal and vertical bubble levels to enhance your perception and position, further assisted by the index-marked base for more precise control. Three knobs give you additional adjustment options. The fine-tuning damping and locking knobs will keep your camera or camcorder secured to the ball head no matter how sharp or steep your shooting angle.
NEEWER Tripod Ball Head 360° Panoramic All Metal with Arca Type Quick Release Plate, 1/4" Screw 3/8" Thread Mount, Max Load 17.6lb/8kg, Tripod Head for Monopod, Slider, DSLR Camera, Camcorder (Red)
A tripod ball head with two bubble levels to enhance your position and perception while shooting or filming.