1. rob-nikon

    rob-nikon

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    I guess you the front knob issue is probably lens specific. I have the Kirk replacement foot for the Nikon 200-400 and 300 f2.8 and don’t find it much of an issue personally.

    Regarding derating I mean the uniqball ubh45 was rated at 40kg load capacity. The flex line pro which as far as I can see is same physical size and design to the ubh45 but rated at 10kg (same as the smaller uniqball ubh35). With the bigger flex line extreme being rated at 20kg but larger and heavier than the uniqbslls at 1.1kg it makes me wonder if the balancing spring mechanism is the deciding factor on load capacity. There was a specific lens guide for the uniqball 35 and 45, just wondering if the same idea should be applied to the flex line pro and extreme.
     
  2. RedRobin

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    ....Hi Richard,

    I shall certainly post my 'review' or findings (nothing technical but simply how I personally experience using it) in due course. As posted earlier, I was lent one by a friend for an afternoon earlier this week and he has told me he will be posting a review at the end of this month (Guy Edwardes, professional wildlife and landscape photographer) < I can post a link here when he has done it.

    If balanced well, a gimbal does maintain a lens in a static position but in practice I will mount an Extender on and off while my 500mm is on the gimbal and there is often no time to rebalance without missing the shot which needed the Extender in the first place! Any slight change of balance is much less of a problem on my Gitzo Fluid Gimbal because it has good resistance but my Jobu Jr-3 Deluxe is loose like a Wimberley.

    Both Richard Steel (the linked reviewer), Guy Edwardes and Andy Rouse, say that for a typical D-SLR plus 600mm plus pro body combo, a Flexline Pro is sufficient < Richard Steel's only regret was that he didn't get the Pro version instead. Andy has photographed Hares in the Arctic(?) with the Pro on the same Gitzo Traveller tripod as mine and also even the double weight of a Twin Shooter in a hide on the Pro. This does lead me to wonder what market the Extreme version is intended for.

    The Jobu Jr-3 might pack flat (-ish) but it's not as easy to carry or slip into the side pocket of a back pack when it's mounted ready to use on a Traveller tripod. I guess it comes down to how you individually carry and use your camera gear combinations and I am buying my Flexline Pro to replace my RRS ballhead and not my Jobu gimbal (which works really well on a Skimmer on the shelf of a hide).

    Even with me only using a friend's Flexline Pro for an afternoon, I have discovered that I like how it works but, as I am keen on emphasising, as a superior ballhead and not as a gimbal. I do not agree with anyone claiming that it's an all-in-one ballhead and gimbal - There is some overlap but they feel different. Horses-for-Courses again!
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018
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  3. sk66

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    A gimbal only works *properly* when the camera/lens' CG is exactly inline with the upper pivot point. If the CG is offset at all it will want to swing on the arm/offset to the bottom of the radius due to gravity... for minor offsets this can be mitigated with adding friction/resistance. Or just make sure the GC is below the pivot point so that it wants to return to level (rather than "flip").

    I think it must be... as I noted earlier a fixed counterbalance is designed to work properly only with a specific weight on it. In order to extend/fine tune the weight range/balance most (video) heads of this type use a sliding top plate so you can offset the CG as/when needed (helps on one side, hurts on the other). The same can be done with any Arca Swiss head/rail.

    At least they are advertising an accurate (?) functional load rating as opposed to some structural failure rating... the UniqBall weight ratings are well beyond where I feel they function well; i.e. the UBH35 is rated for 10kg but I feel it is struggling to function well with 5-7kg on it (this is more the norm IMO).
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018
  4. HoppyUK

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    Good comments re balance, and that prompts another problem with extending tele-zooms like the popular 150-600s and 100-400mm etc. You can only balance them optimally at one focal length and it changes as the lens is zoomed (unlike a tele-prime). So another question is, how much does that matter in practise, and how easy is it to readjust balance quickly in the field?
     
  5. sk66

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    I have a few index marks on my lens foot for aligning the CG w/wo different TCs. This makes the adjustment rather quick, but about 1.5 times longer than just adding/removing the TC alone. The same would/could apply to extending a zoom lens.

    A lot is being made of the "hold any position," and IMO that is much less significant in practice.
    If I don't have time to recenter the CG it's because I'm "hands on" and shooting... I don't want/need it to *hold* any position.
    If it's long periods of waiting and you don't know where the action will be, then it doesn't really matter where the camera is pointed while you are hands off, just so long as it doesn't want to fall over pulling the tripod with it (or flop sideways).
    If it's long periods of waiting and you do know where the action is going to (hopefully) be, then you have the time to offset the CG and friction for the situation. I do this quite often with the UniqBall (i.e. "hide" use with a perch/hummingbirds at feeders/etc). This is also sometimes required with video heads, and it will be with the FlexLine as well.

    And if you really want to ensure you get the shot, then you shouldn't be "hands off" at all...

    That said, having the "hold any position" behavior *is* a nice benefit and I'm happy to have it with my fluid gimbal... but it's not why I bought it.

    Edit: less weight/less arm (CG offset) results in a lower moment (leverage/kinetic energy) and will be less of an issue. And you don't really need "perfect," you just need it to not be "problematic"... if you do need "perfect," then that's going to be a very specific solution for a very specific situation...
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018
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  6. RedRobin

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    .... With the Flexline Pro mounted on my Gitzo GT2545 tripod, I anticipate using my Canon 100-400mm L II (often with 1.4x III Extender) on my 1DX-2 quite a bit for dragonflies and other small subjects. The change of balance due to zooming is highly unlikely to be a problem in practice because I hold the camera body (with my right hand) nearly all the time in readiness to shoot.

    I shall also be using it with my Canon 100mm F/2.8L Macro + Kenko 1.4x on the very lightweight EOS M5 body, mounted via Arca-Swiss plate on lensfoot < Now that is a much lighter weight combo but macro work is all about critical positioning and maintaining it and often with a cable release or remote. Balancing it is less of a consideration but having the levelling ball on the Pro should be an important bonus as the M5 mirrorless body only has a separately viewable horizon level indicator. Trying to get level for macro shots on even a RRS ballhead can be tricky and unreliable.

    We shall see how my different combos perform.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018
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  7. sk66

    sk66

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    Well hell then, that certainly justifies the price premium... ;)

    Having a leveling base integrated in a relatively lightweight head is definitely nice. But IMO/E perfect leveling isn't critical with most wildlife/action/macro photography... most things in nature do not conform to perfectly level/vertical. And if you are composing that tightly, you are usually taking a major risk. I do it sometimes and I ruin a lot of images by clipping wings/tails/etc, or by not having the canvas available to refine the composition in post...

    Like I said, if I didn't already have a good/workable solution I might consider a FlexLine... I've got no real problem with them. But I've rather given up on the one-head-do-it-all idea.
    My Gitzo GHFG1 sits on a leveling base on my RRS TVC-33 (wildlife), my Arca Swiss P-0 sits on my CF Benro tripod (general purpose/macro), my Manfrotto 405 geared head sits on my giant Benbo (studio), my UniqBall UBH-45 sits on my RRS TP-243 (ground level/tabletop), and my Sirui L-10 sits on my Sirui monopod (wildlife/sports)... I almost never change them even though I do have more than a few other heads available (and another tripod or two).
    But I still do the vast majority of my photography *handheld! :eek:

    This hobby/business is a money sucker... especially if you are easily lured by "the latest greatest" (and I'm sometimes guilty of that).
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018
  8. footman

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    Mine arrived today and it really is a whole new ball game (sorry). The leap in understanding from using friction heads to this has made my afternoon quite interesting.
    The "gimbal feature" for my Sony 100-400 is very useful and probably the easiest to set up. I think it will work perfectly for me. One surprising thing is the spring reaction when using a small body/lens combination.

    When I mount an A7R3 and 24-70GM lens it's no real problem at all. The weight of the body/lens is sufficiently adequate to counter the spring effect in up/down movement.
    I found that with my Oly E-M1 Mkii and 60mm macro lens the resistance was a bit surprising but I think in the field I simply don't angle the camera downwards very much anyway, I was probably pushing it a bit today.
    I found Andy Rouse very quick to reply to my questions.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018
  9. footman

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    Following on a discussion with Andy Rouse I've decided to use the Flexline as an ordinary ball head for macro. I find by locking the (inner) black ball and using the silver (outer) ball only I get excellent results. The progressive locking down is better than my other ball head, much smoother and zero movement even when not fully locked.
    I have a gripe about the size of plate necessary to use with the Flexline. My go to Arca Swiss plate for m4/3 bodies is a 5x4cm and is too small to fit in the proprietary clamp on the ball head, it simply slides out. Using a 10x4cm solves it.
     
  10. RedRobin

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    ....I have tried that method for close-ups/macro but I don't like losing the advantage of its integrated levelling base (silver outer ball) and as with convential ballheads it easily becomes too floppy by losing what the Flexline's uppermost inner black ball offers in tensional resistance, so your method is not for me.

    Perhaps because I tested it using a heavier Canon 100mm Macro lens on a 1DX-2 helps make it so extremely floppy! But I found it too floppy even with a small EOS M5 body with a conventional ballhead setup. If using like a conventional ballhead, I prefer my Really Right Stuff ballhead but I am replacing that with the Flexline Pro.

    ....I have a gripe about the Flexline's Arca-Swiss clamp too when mounting a camera body rather than via a lensfoot but I am literally now midst writing my report about the whole for publishing today.

    I have found Andy Rouse quick to reply as well.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
  11. sk66

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    As expected...
    Maybe they improved that characteristic as, IMO, the UniqBall is not great when used as a traditional ballhead (it is usable though). You should be able to use both features... use the ballhead function as a coarse setting and then use the pan/tilt with spring assist for fine adjustment when needed.
     
  12. footman

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    After reading this I have revised my macro method and now have adopted yours and it works better. My macro rig is really the problem, it's completely Heath Robinsonesque and ends up by revolving like a windmill!

    Edit: posted this before I saw Stevens post above.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
  13. RedRobin

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    ....By bothering with what you call a "coarse setting" I would be wasting time (important when shooting even static wildlife) and also losing the main advantages which the Flexline 'double-ballhead' has over conventional ballheads. With the Flexline you can do it all in one action including the lock down to shoot and using just one knob.
     
  14. RedRobin

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    FLEXLINE PRO

    The latest state-of-the-art ballhead is the Flexline Pro, very similar to the Uniqball but a different product from a different company and anyway improved.

    The distributor (and co-designer?), Andy Rouse, says that it’s “designed to be a jack of all trades” and to a large extent it is and it’s certainly a master of many trades, but totally replacing a high quality gimbal head is not one of them in my opinion. However, when a heavy telephoto combo is mounted its behaviour does become gimbalesque and some of the Flexline’s major advantages are that it is more compact and lighter in weight. Also, you can lock it down with just the silver knob and not have to waste time using the two knobs of a gimbal < This advantage is not to be underestimated in the field and especially for close-ups and macro. The single knob also saves valuable time when taking lens extenders on and off. Also we should not ignore the extremely useful feature of having the integrated levelling base (with spirit bubble) - I don’t want to faff around with tripod legs and I use a Really Right Stuff levelling base under my Gitzo Fluid Gimbal head. The Flexline’s integrated levelling base feature of the outer silver ball allows panning but due to any vertical movement, panoramas are not advised.

    Both the Flexline and gimbal heads are more easily used when the mounted camera + lens combo are centrally balanced. The Flexline’s internals (I’m not interested in how it works but only what the results are in real-world use) are such that the heavier the mounted load, the more fluid and lighter any movement feels. It is mostly because of this that this double-ballhead may be compared with a gimbal but because of its fully adjustable tension resistance its closest comparison or even rival, is the Gitzo Fluid Gimbal Head or indeed other fluid heads usually primarily designed for video work.

    Because of its one-knob-adjustable tensional resistance, using a zoom lens such as in my case a 100-400mm either with or without an extender need not involve precise rebalancing - It’s up to the user to find what suits them best in the shooting circumstances. Personally I much prefer some tensional resistance which both the Flexline and Gitzo Fluid Gimbal offer although the Gitzo action feels just a tiny bit smoother < It’s a different feel and so difficult to both describe and compare. The Gitzo is bulky and heavier though and it depends what you are shooting and where you are travelling, including walking any distance. Also, the Flexline fits and works surprisingly well, dare I say perfectly, on my lighter Gitzo GT2545 tripod rather than the Systematic which my gimbal lives on. As always, it’s Horses-for-Courses and there really is no such thing as the absolutely perfect piece of camera gear as anyone who shoots seriously whether professional or amateur already knows. For a start, we each have our own individual preferences and ways of working.

    When it comes to mounting lighter weight combos the Flexline Pro’s tension resistance is very much stiffer even when the silver knob is fully open - It won’t fully unscrew and drop off by the way! At first this felt like a disadvantage but I now find that it makes it easier and faster to set up and lock down for close-ups or macro shots - You just have to use slightly more force against any resistance and then lock down, which is what you need to do for stable macro shots anyway. More downwards movement can be achieved by locking the two balls together using the silver knob and loosening the lever of the levelling base outer ball but then it behaves like a conventional ballhead and can be too floppy and it loses its valuable levelling base feature, so that method is not for me. It’s an excellent idea to have colour coded the knobs black and silver to avoid accidentally loosening the clamp!

    On the subject of the Arca-Swiss profile clamp I find it is taking time to get used to as it’s not as fast and easy to use as a clamp with a longer rail rather than just two opposite corner points. It is secure when closed but will take a little time to find your best technique to mount quickly - Thank goodness for muscle-memory! The clamp has a physical limitation regarding mounting a camera body rather than a (long enough) lensfoot plate - The Peak Design 2-directional PROplate living on my Canon 1DX-2 body is too small to fit and I don’t want to change it for very valid reasons. Although the current production version has a lens direction arrow indicating one way, it can be used with the lens facing the opposite way, not at right angles, without any functional compromise. The knobs are then forwards of the camera body rather than behind and this might even be preferred by some as it brings your fingers closer to the manual focus ring on many lenses.

    When locked down, the Flexline Pro feels extremely solid and stable, more so than any conventional ballhead - Something not just desirable but essential when shooting on any tripod.

    Summarising, strictly based on my own personal uses :

    TELEPHOTO LENSES :
    The heavier the better! Smoother action when loaded with heavier weight. But it feels different from a gimbal and I wouldn’t recommend it as a replacement.
    [Canon 500mm F/4L II with and without either 1.4x or 2x Extenders on 1DX-2]

    MEDIUM TELEPHOTO ZOOMS :
    Work extremely well even when not rebalanced precisely to allow for zooming. The silver tensional resistance knob is your friend!
    [Canon 100-400mm L II with and without 1.4x Extender on either 1DX-2 or 7D-2]

    SMALLER LENSES WITH A FOOT :
    Work extremely well but encounter more tensional resistance. Not a problem but merely a different feel.
    [Canon 100mm F/2.8L IS Macro with and without 1.4x Extender on EOS M5]

    LENSES WITHOUT A FOOT :
    Necessitating mounting via the camera body and consequently, according to specific combos, it can have its own physical limitations to overcome when a large D-SLR body such as a Canon 1DX-2 is mounted. Still much better than a conventional ballhead, even a high quality Really Right Stuff ballhead.

    REAL-WORLD TEST:
    As a field test I photographed Bumble Bees being busy in my ‘BackYard’.

    Test 1 was shot on Canon 100-400mm L II on 1DX-2 mounted on Really Right Stuff ballhead on Gitzo GT2545 tripod.
    Test 2 a couple of days later in the same lighting conditions was exactly the same rig except substituting the Flexline Pro ‘double-ballhead’.

    I found that in Test 2 with my Flexline Pro I got set up and level very much faster and I was better able to nudge my camera angle from flower to flower while still remaining level. Tracking flying Bees was easier and I got more successes and keepers and in less time.

    I am extremely pleased with my Flexline Pro but shall not be replacing my Gitzo Fluid Gimbal with it - I need both! Am I a GearSlut?

    Both these images are shot on the Flexline Pro :

    [​IMG]BUMBLE BEE FINDING NECTAR by Robin Procter, on Flickr

    [​IMG]BUMBLE BEE HARVESTING NECTAR by Robin Procter, on Flickr
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
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  15. footman

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    ^ Interesting and full report that almost exactly mirrors my observations. As I no longer possess a super telephoto lens I'm happy to use the Flexline as my only gimbal-type support with my Sony 100-400. As you point out the balancing of a 100-400 type zoom is very easy. I used it this morning in my chairhide and it worked flawlessly. However the light was grim and I gave up when the rain started to come through the hide!
     
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  16. sk66

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    The suggestion was for Laurence; I understand you are more concerned with leveling. Although I really don't understand why... for instance, there is nothing in your example shots to indicate level.
    I will say that if it is set too far off from level it can become problematic, because then the panning motion introduces a roll component and it becomes harder to track some moving subjects.
     
  17. RedRobin

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    ....There may not be anything in my two example shots which show a true vertical or horizintal reference for level but, as you say in your next sentence Steven, it becomes problematic if set off level when panning. Tracking and panning birds in flight for example is why I have made it my habit to ALWAYS level my tripod heads if the option is there and I have given both my tripod rigs the levelling base option.

    Apart from making it an automatic habit to achieve a level base, unless you are intentionally seeking an off level picture for effect, it simply doesn't make sense to me not to shoot level and I would go as far as saying that it belies the truth of a wildlife picture if you don't. For example I would rather be truthful about the angle of a diving bird or the angle which a flying insect orientates itself.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
  18. sk66

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    I feel differently I guess. This image was taken level using the UniqBall. But the final composition/crop was rotated approximately 15* CCW in order for the flower stem to enter at/near the corner, and for a less central composition. That's as much/far off-level as most leveling bases can correct for...

    [​IMG]
    RTHU
    by Steven Kersting, on Flickr
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2018
  19. RedRobin

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    ....Then yes, our approach is quite different as I would never do what you have done for the sake of a composition but only as a levelling correction on an otherwise good handheld shot.

    I don't know if this is so but what if Hummingbirds always hold their bodies very vertical when hovering to drink? < Perhaps not the best example but hopefully you see my point.
     
  20. sk66

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    :)... Hummingbirds, birds, bees, wildlife, et all don't *always* do *anything*...
     
  21. RedRobin

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    ....Err, I wasn't saying that wildlife behaviour is always predictable but was just using your hummingbird photo as a hypothetical example of the importance of photographs being level (and how valuable the levelling base is on the Flexline Pro). But you don't seem to agree with that anyway and are willing to belie the reality to suit your composition etc.

    We are different in our approach to wildlife photography (as I can also see from your photo's featureless background) so enough said.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
  22. sk66

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    :D LOL! I'm almost speechless in response... I'll keep it to myself...
     
  23. RedRobin

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    For those who may be interested, I have been shooting a lot with my Canon 100-400mm L II on 1DX-2 mounted via lens collar with Arca-Swiss replacement foot on the Flexline Pro and the more I use it the more I am pleased with it.

    As a platform and when locked down it feels more sturdy and stable than any gimbal I have ever used (Sirui, Wimberley, Jobu, Gitzo). The lock down is so easily and quickly achieved with the single silver tension adjustment knob < Just one knob rather than the two which gimbal heads need.

    When the tension resistance is adjusted so it is stiff it allows reliable repositioning without any drooping or that irritating slight movement, or risk of it, when you make final adjustments with most other heads. I think you have to try one to fully appreciate its significant advantages.

    Of course to realise this double-ballhead design's fullest potential, you should level the head first - Again very easy and fast and always key to good panning results when using any tripod.

    The only criticism I have is that I haven't yet perfected being able to mount / unmount QUICKLY into its Arca-Swiss profile short corner clamp. It doesn't angle vertically as steeply as a gimbal unless you unlock the levelling base ball and use it like a conventional ballhead and then it actually offers steeper angles than a gimbal. I am still very pleased with my Gitzo Fluid Gimbal Head and it lives on my heavier duty tripod.

    This image was taken looking towards the sun and in windy conditions and I was able to quickly track and manually adjust focus from flower head to flower head very easily and reliably :

    [​IMG]NECTAR FORAGING BUMBLE BEE by Robin Procter, on Flickr
     
  24. Cheffievrs

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    Any of you users of either system do much video.? Curious to hear your thoughts.
     
  25. RedRobin

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    .... I never do any video although my Canon cameras are quite capable - It's just not something I'm interested in doing.

    However, based on owning and using both the Flexline Pro head and the Gitzo Fluid Gimbal head, I doubt that the Flexline Pro would be anything like as loosely fluid as the Gitzo for video work.

    The Flexline relies on heavier weights being mounted to become 'looser' and has more tensional resistance than the Gitzo and would be too stiff for lighter weight camera+lenses. The Gitzo would need a levelling base though.

    I'm not suggesting that video could not be shot on the Flexline Pro but only that the Gitzo Fluid Gimbal would be much easier - Afterall, its technology is derived from fluid video heads.

    I hope this helps.
     
  26. sk66

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    I would buy a proper video fluid head rather than any of the other heads mentioned here... it would likely even cost less/have more features/functionality. Actually, other than the weight I would probably buy a video fluid head over the FlexLine for most uses... after all, that's kind of what the FlexLine is trying to be.
     
  27. RedRobin

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    ....If you think that the Flexline is trying to be a fluid head you are totally missing what the Flexline has to offer and, as a Uniqball user, I would have expected you to know better.
     
  28. sk66

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    I do know better... The FlexLine and UniqBall are basically just pan tilt heads with an integrated leveling base, just like a ball base video head is. The advantage/disadvantage the FlexLine has is a fixed counterbalance spring... also just like some cheap video heads have. The only really significant advantages they have is the ability to also function as something of a ballhead and lighter weight, but those come at some costs as well IMO.

    I think you are missing what a video head has to offer... In this price range you could easily get a 75mm ball base true fluid head with variable counterbalance and independent/variable pan/tilt drag settings. Actually, you can probably get all of that in a suitable video head for about 1/2 the price, and it will even mount on your Gitzo's bowl base... Basically, a quality video head offers everything you love about the FlexLine and the Gitzo GHFG1, but even better and all in one head. Unfortunately it will probably weigh at least as much as both of them combined.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2018
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  29. RedRobin

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    ....Indeed, but as a stills photographer shooting wildlife mostly on walkabout, the weight of a high quality video head is totally impractical for me. The cost of a high quality one will be very high too - I am not a professional but one of those pesky serious amateurs.

    So, having a Gitzo Fluid Gimbal Head and a Flexline Pro results in having very practical choices - Different Horses-for-Courses. Currently I remain convinced that the FlexLine is a superior ballhead with many real-world advantages over conventional ballheads including some but not all of the behaviours of a gimbal head.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2018
  30. RedRobin

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    After another week shooting on the Flexline Pro, I find that in the real-world of shooting insects in the field, I have a couple of serious criticisms which are confirmations of my earlier comments.

    My primary criticism is how very awkward and fiddly it is to unmount and mount different cameras/lenses on the Flexline Pro's Arca-Swiss clamp. Those four small corner clamps are so fiddly to reliably engage an A-S plate that very valuable time is lost swopping from my 100-400mm to my 100mm Macro when shooting the same tolerant subject.

    Furthermore, the knob requires too many turns to tighten securely, or indeed to quickly loosen.

    My second criticism is that a Canon 1DX-2 body (and therefore any other body with similar size) obstructs easy access to the silver knob when a 100mm Macro with lensfoot and A-S plate is mounted.

    I have been using my Gitzo Fluid Gimbal Head recently and generally prefer it BUT the Flexline has the major advantage of compact size and weight and locks down faster. So, which I carry to use depends entirely on what I am planning to shoot and where.

    Dare I repeat myself in saying it's 'Horses for Courses'?

    Has anyone else using one got anything to add? Laurence @footman?
     
  31. footman

    footman

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    ^
    The only thing I've done with it recently was to use it at Biggin Hill as I would use a gimbal. Pointless exercise and gave up after a few minutes. That's no criticism of the Flexline since I've always found gimbals to be a pain in the proverbial at airshows.
     
  32. footman

    footman

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    I've decided not to use this for macro work and have reverted to a Manfrotto 410 geared head. This is due to the difficulty in overcoming the spring resistance using light MFT gear. If I was using my full frame gear which is a great deal heavier and bulkier for macro then it probably would have been a good choice. The smaller Flexline head would probably have worked well but you can't expect a single device to cover every aspect of photography.
    I'm very happy to continue using my Flexline head for wildlife and landscape, both modes for which it is well suited. There are of course other modes that I haven't yet explored.
     
  33. RedRobin

    RedRobin

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    ....I agree - The lighter weight the gear mounted on the Flexline, the stiffer the spring resistance. My lightest combo is a Canon 100mm F/2.8L IS Macro on EOS M5 but overcoming the resistance and locking down is still preferable to a conventional ballhead in my experience.

    ....For stills photography, the smaller Flexline Pro easily supports the weight of a Canon 1DX-2 + 500mm + 2x Extender (or a friend's 600mm) but I agree and sometimes a gimbal head is preferable.

    My recent sequence of shots of a Kingfisher benefitted greatly from being able to set my Flexline Pro horizontally level. In the sudden excitement I would not have been able to maintain such consistency if not on such an easily levelled tripod head.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2018
  34. sk66

    sk66

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    The UniqBall has the advantage/disadvantage of not having the spring... for most situations where you are actually taking pictures I think that makes it more universally functional (better all a rounder). But as I said earlier, "general purpose do-it-all" necessarily means some compromises in some aspect. For high accuracy (slow) macro I would always prefer a geared head... for lower accuracy (faster setup) just about any decent ballhead would be my preference.

    I really think you make too much of some of these things. All of those images are cropped (I would guess fairly heavily)... It is a small matter to level the horizon at the same time.

    And what does "easily leveled" really have to do with it? Setting up big kit on a big tripod is not normally a time limited thing... I did just fine for many years leveling the head by just adjusting the legs. If it is really time limited then you're not leveling anything, and you should have gotten there earlier...
    I do agree that a leveling base of some sort is nice, and I use them... but for most things they are certainly not a necessity.
     
  35. RedRobin

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    ....That's fine if your personal preference is the UniqBall. If you agree that Really Right Stuff ballheads are "decent" then I can only report that in my experience (I have several RRS products including ballhead), the Flexline Pro is far easier and faster to set up than a conventional ballhead and especially with a heavier lens mounted. I have tested this direct comparison on the same subject < See my Reply #54.

    ....I've always been told that it's better practice to avoid rearranging the pixels in an image to level the horizon < Am I wrong about this? But anyway, not all shots have a visible horizon reference - Snow scenes being just one example which you are doubtless very familiar with (in Canada?).

    ....Much of my wildlife photography is captured on 'walkabout' and only some from settling in one spot and having the luxury of more time to set up level. I find that having set up level really helps when panning to shoot birds in flight or leaping animals. I also prefer to present final pictures of wildlife in a true orientation to the gravity field of this planet.

    A good friend of mine (known as 'Pete OvenGloves' in case you know him) is expert at very quickly adjusting his tripod leg lengths on uneven or sloping ground but I am not and especially with heavy 500mm + 1DX-2 mounted, but even with the 100-400mm mounted. And so I greatly value levelling bases.

    You and I are clearly very opposite indeed in the way we shoot wildlife. I wouldn't want to work like you appear to do and it all merely goes to prove how different individual photographers can be.

    All I can do here is share my own experiences and ways of shooting and respond to other people's comments.

    :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2018
  36. footman

    footman

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    I realise it hasn't got a spring, just a senior moment of mine....happens a lot according to my wife.
     
  37. RedRobin

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    footman likes this.
  38. footman

    footman

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  39. sk66

    sk66

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    There are no issues that can arise from leveling an image... the pixels are not "rearranged" as such like fixing perspective does. You do lose some of the edges, but if you are shooting that tight to start with then you are really pushing your luck (with flying/erratic wildlife). I almost always shoot a bit loose if possible; it prevents me from clipping important things at the edges, and allows me to work more quickly.

    This is very true... in which case absolute level is much less important than composition/story (IMO). Often the ideal pose/angle occurs between frames, even when using a high frame rate... shooting a bit loose also allows me to refine the composition and get closer to that ideal (which did occur). Getting the composition absolutely perfect in camera takes a lot of time, something you don't usually have with wildlife/action.

    My preference is to shoot *handheld* if I can manage it... and I usually do even using the D5 w/ 400/2.8 (+TCs). IMO/E everything is a compromise... even using a big tripod with a fluid gimbal and leveling base. We might be different, but less than you imagine I think. My focus is on getting the shot, everything else is secondary.

    TBH, you seem to be a bit tied up on secondary aspects... kind of like the photographer who always keeps the ISO at the minimum because "that's the best." You also tend to espouse all of the good points of something, which is OK. The Flexline and GHFG1 both have plenty going for them... but it doesn't come across as being very "balanced" or well informed to me a lot of times.
     
  40. RedRobin

    RedRobin

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    ....That's good to know re pixels and levelling - Thanks.

    ....Agreed that when wildlife is on the move, final composition through the viewfinder is either difficult or not actually possible but my hard-wired ex professional Art Director's eye always has a pretty close idea about the final composition I will want. Shooting with enough space around it can often help.

    ....Shooting handheld is my preference too but there are many scenarios where a tripod achieves better results (as you already know). Also of course, holding up a heavy long lens for any length of time in anticipation becomes more than uncomfortable and often fails to capture the target.

    Yes, everything is a compromise but an enjoyable challenge. It would quickly get boring if it was all easy-peasy.

    ....Actually I shoot on Auto ISO but with an upper threshold which I sometimes vary < In Manual-mode nearly always. But I realise you were just quoting ISO as an example.

    Yes, I am a very positive person and like to share my enthusiasm but, if aspects exist which I don't like I will say so. And have done so in this very thread.

    You, on the other hand, strike me as tending to be very keen on literally dismantling products physically if you can and then leaning towards being over critical, in my honest opinion :)

    The online review by experienced professional Guy Edwardes which I posted a link to in Reply #77 is very balanced and my findings, which I posted in this thread before he published his review, happen to closely match his. Link below :

    https://www.guyedwardes.com/articles/view/flexline-pro-review
     

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