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Markins M10 Ball Head

Intro: The Markins M10 Ball Head is reputedly one of the best heads on the market given its extreme weight capability, weight, and looks. I tend to agree. The M10 comes in a fairly small box wrapped in a grey foam. There is also a small instruction booklet. The instructions are concise and to the point and easy to understand. I believe older instructions (I got my head in late 2006) were directly translated from one of the Oriental languages and were terrible to understand.

Build: The head is quite small for something that does so important a job. The hard anodized finish is absolutely perfect and the head itself is a work of art. Because of the anodized surface, the ball head is extremely durable and will not scratch from use. Years down the road it will still look good.

Attaching bodies and lenses to the ball head does require specific plates which should be ordered from Markins. The Markins plates all have an anti-twist lip that prevents the body or lens mount from spinning on the plate. All plates that I have are made from high quality duralumin and are bi-directional which is a huge bonus. None of the plates have that annoying layer of cork on them which introduces some possible movement and slippage during use.

Use: Connecting the camera to the head is a simple procedure. Just set the camera with the attached plate in the quick-release shoe on the ball head and a couple of turns of the tightening knob and you're done. Quick and easy and super secure. The quick release plate on the ball head includes a small spring pin which prevents the camera from sliding off the head should the locking knob be loosened. Personally I find it easiest to set up the quick-release shoe so that the locking knob faces towards the front of the camera (under the lens). This way it is out of the way while using the camera, yet still relatively easy to reach. If it is underneath the camera body either to the left or to the right then it is hard to rotate due to the interference of the body itself while having it face you means that it will poke you in the chin more often than not when you are looking through the viewfinder.

The head has a panoramic base which allows the entire ball head to be rotated as a unit, allowing for pans on the horizontal. It is also quite useful to rotate the drop notch to a different side as opposed to moving your entire tripod.

Locking and unlocking the ball is very easy. If you followed the instructions and set you tension control correctly then a simple half turn is all you need between movement and rock solid lock. The motion is super smooth with no rough spots and is a joy to use. Most heads that I have used experience some sort of movement at the point when the ball is tightened. This does not happen with the M10.

There is a small thumbscrew located on the main locking knob. This lets you set the tension of the ball head to correspond with the weight of your equipment. Having this tension preset means that you will not be able to loosen the main locking knob past this point, hence you camera won't flop when you let go of it even at the loosest setting.

Another interesting feature is the fact that the locking knob is can be used as a neutral grey card when needed. Pretty handy for setting white balance when shooting jpegs.

Summary: This is the best ball head that I have ever used and is now permanently attached to my tripod. If you are serious about getting sharp photos and having a ball head that will last a lifetime, then look no further. It is super smooth and precise, self-cleaning and self-lubricating, maintenance free, built like a tank yet light, and looks great. My advice? Get one!


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