What tripod head do I use? I get asked this all the time. Here it is: The tripod head comes in two parts:
1. Acratech Long Lens Head – part 1 of 2
This is the top component of the overall tripod head. It has just two functions: It permits the camera’s aim point to be tilted up and down, but not side to side like a standard ball head, and it rotates.
2. Acratech Leveling Base – part 2 of 2
The leveling base sits under the long lens head. This base allows the camera to tilt in any direction. This means that the tripod legs do not need to be used to level out the camera. The leveling base is used for this function. So when I set up the tripod I will plop the tripod legs down on an uneven surface and then use the leveling base and bubble to level the tripod head. Then I will rotate and tilt the top long lens head to get the right composition. When shooting a pano, the base is perfectly level so the row of photos will also be level. If I am shooting a second row of photos for a pano, I just tilt the long lens head and rotate through the second row while shooting.
The tripod – Feisol CT3441T
The tripod carbon fiber and therefore, lightweight. The T in the model name stands for the tall version. There is also a shorter version.
I can honestly tell you that I LOVE my tripod head. Yup, sounds super strange to say that, but every time I rotate the moving parts on it and feel the precision of the movement, I always tell myself, “I love my tripod head!” I feel like a team of German engineers who pride themselves on precision made it, even though it is not from Germany.
I have had this Acratech tripod head and Feisol tripod for four years now. It has traveled with me to the rice fields of China, the inside of the pyramids of Egypt, the rooftops of Dubai, the Dolomites of Italy, the Rocky Mountains of Canada, the sand dunes of Death Valley, the Tombstone mountains of the Yukon, the top of Rockefeller Center in New York, the top of Victoria Peak in Hong Kong and deep inside a glacier ice cave in British Columbia. It has been in the overhead bin of little planes, big planes and medium planes. It has been with me on dirt bikes, ATVs, helicopters, cars, trucks, buses, and taxis. It has been strapped to my small backpack and my big backpack and even carried in my hands as I hiked and camped in the pouring rain, falling snow and blistering hot sunshine. It has stood with me in deep snow, soft sand, ocean surf, and every other nasty or dangerous environment you can think of.
This tripod has been with me through thick and thin and has helped me create an award-winning body of work that I am proud of. My tripod head is as much a part of my photography as my camera is.
I love my Acratech tripod head!
Tim Shields is an award-winning landscape photographer and photography coach. He holds the designation of Master Photographer in Fine Art, from Master Photographers International, and is the founder of PhotographyAcademy.com He is the author of The Photo Cookbook and the creator of the Photography Transformation Four-Step System. Tim helps photographers take award-winning photos.