Review Really Right Stuff Ball Head BH-55.

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Mark
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#1
Really Right Stuff Ball Head BH-55 LR Review

I had been looking for a ball head for about 2 month's. And had used various ones from Manfrotto, Markins, Gitzo. But I had not found any of them to be the right one for me. When I came across the Really Right Stuff website, and found their range of ball heads, I tested 2 of them and made my mind up to get the BH-55 LR, as this fitted my needs just right.

Six months later here is my small review of the Really Right Stuff BH-55 LR ball head.

On taking delivery of the BH-55 you are greated with a plain white box (when taken out of its shipping container), on opening this you will find a CD and paper instructions, and a black neoprene bag which inside contains the BH-55. On removing the head the first thing you notice is its weight, for the size of the head in your hand, heavier than what you think, even though I knew how much it weighed. The next thing to strike you is how well made the head is. (I come from an Engineering background) I can say the craftmanship of this head is first rate, everthing is finished to the highest standard.

BH-55 Fig.1


The BH-55 is one of the most compact ball heads made, standing only 92.7mm high and able to easily handle 23Kg in weight. ( thats its oficial capacity but I bet it can take a lot more ).
Its Black non scratch finish is done to a very high standard and the white RRS decals look very good too.

Specs.

Height 92.7mm
Base Diameter 72.6mm
Ball Diameter 55.0mm
Tripod Mount Thread 3/8" 16
Weight 0.861Kg
Max Suggested Load 23Kg

A quick look over the instructions familiarise myself with the controls, and their is a Quicktime movie on the CD showing the correct operation of the BH-55 by the RRS owner. As you are faced with 3 Knobs and a lever. As in Fig 2.

BH-55 Fig 2.


From the back of the head you have on your Left the very large cone shaped locking knob, which is heavily groved and knurled to ensure your fingers dont slip when adjusting it, On the Right are 2 significantly smaller knobs the upper and closer knob adjusts the amount of drag the ball has on it when the large locking knob is undone, this prevents the ball becoming totally loose and flopping out of control to one side. All the control knobs are fully captive and will not fall off, Also they are revolve on their own precision bearing, offering a very smmoth operation. It has laser etched numbers on the knob to allow you to see what setting you have it on. Usefull for differing camera / lens combinations.
The lower knob on the Right controls the panning of the head, again the 360 degress of the circle are laser etched onto the base in 2.5 degree marks.
As everthing on the head is machined to such a high standard you can safely use the head to take panaramic stots for stitching.

You will notice that the 2 cutouts in the head allow the ball to drop to 90degrees but when viewed from the back the appear to be offset 45 degrees left and right, this is because the head has been designed to be turned to a 45 degree angle to allow one cut out to be at 90 degrees to the left and the other 90 degrees forward. As in Fig 3.

BH-55 Fig 3.


Now to the top plate, I opted for the Lever Release (LR) version to enable me to remove my camera quickly. To enable this you need either a Quick Release camera plate or a Quick Release L camera plate. which attetches to the body of your camera.
To operate the lever release you just pull the lever to 90 degrees, and you can slide your plate out to the left or right for adjustment, the plate will not fall out of the release due to a system called Safety stop relief grooves, which in conjunction with the plate stop the plate falling through the lever release clamp. to remove the plate you have to move the lever 180 degrees from its locked position, then the plate can be lifted clear. letting you place or remove your camera from the head in a matter of seconds.
The other think of note about the LR clamp is it has a built in circular spirit level and laser etched marks to enable you to place your camera in the correct position.

There are a variety of top release clamps available as options when you buy the BH-55 from RRS.

Price for the version reviewed here BH-55 LR is $ 455 + Shipping + any import Tax &VAT.

So the Question what do I think of the BH-55 ?.

Fantastic. Worth every penny. It has improved my technique as it is so easy to use it becomes second nature. People who see it and use it just love it.

Mark
 

CT

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#2
Superb bit of kit - as is pretty well everything that Really Right Stuff do. (y)
 

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#3
Excellent review, well written and very informative. Thanks!

I'm currently looking for a proper ballhead and that looks like a top notch piece of kit but beyond my price range at the moment unfortunately. How much are the plates for it?
 
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#6
I often browse (and drool) at the stuff on the RRS website. Shame they're not a bit cheaper and UK based to avoid the shipping charges.

Good review by the way.

Ray
 
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#7
Hi Mark,

What are you using this with? I.e Which tripod and lens combos?
did you get round to trying the Manfrotto 468MG ? not the 486!
 
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#8
Hi Mark,

What are you using this with? I.e Which tripod and lens combos?
did you get round to trying the Manfrotto 468MG ? not the 486!
I use a

Gitzo 1348mk2 Tripod
RRS Ultimate pro Omni pivot package
Canon 1dmk2n
Canon 17-40, 24-70, 70-200, etc

Looked at all the other manufacturers gear and bought the one that would mean no upgrading due to not being strong enough, and i wanted one that was built properly with bearings etc and not bushings. I also use the rrs L bracket which is a life saver and very easy to use.

I work on the adage " Buy the correct one, and buy once"

I dont take anyone's word for how good anything is I just use that as a starting point for my research to begin.

If you put the BH-55 next to a manfrotto you will see which is the best designed and easiest to use.

So for me it was no contest. I suggest that anyone tries before they buy.
 
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#9
Nice review and an opinion very much shared!

I for one won't be parting with mine. Very very pleased that I made the choice. The whole unit just exudes quality and perfection.

You really have to use one to appreciate how functional and well made it is. Absolutely precision made :)
 
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