Beginner Which head for tripod

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#1
Hi,
I have just ordered a new Manfrotto T055CXPRO4 carbon fibre tripod and there is a free head offer on at the moment by redemption.
I thought that there was only choice, but looking on the Manfrotto website it appears I have a choice of 5.
I am still learning about equipment and I am unsure what would be the best option for me.
I would like to get the best value for money as they differ in price from £129-£195, but equally do not want to get the wrong one.
The choices are
MHXPRO-2W - XPRO Fluid tripod Head with fluidity selector
MHXPRO-3W - X-PRO 3-Way tripod head with retractable levers
MHXPRO-BHQ2 - XPRO Ball Head in magnesium with 200PL plate
MHXPRO-BHQ6 - XPRO Magnesium Ball Head with Top Lock plate
MHXPRO-3WG - XPRO Geared Three-way pan/tilt tripod head
I have no particular genre and like to shoot anything, wildlife, stars, landscapes etc.
Video is not important.
My equipment is Nikon D500, 16-85mm, 50mm, 70-300mm, Tokina 11-16mm and hopefully soon 200-500mm.
I may eventually get a gimbal head for the 200-500mm.
My only experience is a basic ball head with one knob on a lightweight travel tripod.
Thanks for any input.
 
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#3
Thanks Wookie,
After doing more research, the fluid head is for video, the three way head whilst good for landscapes, seems a lot of hassle for wildlife, which leaves the ball head versions.
One has the quick release 200pl plate which looks good but is not compatible with a Swiss arca plate I have brought for my peak design strap which has hole to prevent the strap attachment being trapped between the plate and the body.
I have seen bad reports about the arca plate version, which says that it doesn’t lock in properly sometimes and is not compatible with all arca Swiss plates and there is no soft padding on the supplied plate.
 
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Simon
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#4
Not sure what you mean about soft padding. All my arca plates are solid aluminium. I looked at a good few reviews just now and it seems to be a decent head. I have a Markins which has been brilliant. There are loads of ballheads that are cheaper and better than the manfrottos so you could always get one and sell it on
 
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#5
I use a ball head, a gimble, a three way head and a geared head.

I use them for different things because no one head does everything.

But I find I use the geared head mostly. Because it is precise, I found all the other heads move in some way when locking them, in particular when using telephoto lenses.That causes lost time and furstration by continually having to lock and unlock and reposistion due to the weight of the camera and lens.

I would say start from a default point of the geared head and then if you know that you need to be able to alter the head quickly consider another type of head.

A geared head does the job exactly but not quickly. Other heads are faster but not as precise.

I don't like swiss arca. I prefer manfroto(or the likes) with the plate that locks and unlocks with a very positive lever. It is far better when I have cold hands than trying to lock a little knob tight (swiss Arca).
 

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Krispy and Kremey
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#6
As a single head option to cover wildlife and landscapes, I'd go for a ball head over a geared one, purely because a geared head will make it all but impossible to track a moving subject. A good ball head should lock solidly enough to cover landscape and basic astro use, although a geared head will be easier to aim accurately and will be more stable than most balls. IIRC the older 410 Mafrotto geared head is better than the current XPro version.
 
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Mike
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#7
Gear heads are great for macro, and can be used in other roles IF you have loads of time.
Fluid heads as you say are for video but may also be the best of these options for very long focal length lenses (Gimbals are much better for long lenses)
Some people like 3 way heads - I don't
That leaves the 2 ball heads. I've not checked their specs but assume there are differences...

Unlike @shapeshifter I'd definitely recommend Arca swiss style QR over any of the other types (most of which are highly propriety) The ability to slide the camera along the mount can be very useful & there are a wide range of mounts that are compatible,
In general the larger the Ball the better it will hold.
Some ball heads have a second control for horizontal panning (allowing the whole ball head to rotate)

One of my favorite heads is a pistol grip style ball head, when the trigger is pulled you can move the camera with the same freedom as normal ball heads (& you have a nice handle for doing so) release the trigger & it locks the camera in place. I deal for fast moving work as long as the lens isn't too big.
 
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#9
Thanks for the replies snappers,
I now have more understanding of heads and there appropriate uses.
I have also spent a few hours on YouTube until my head is spinning.
The 055 arrived this morning and it looks and feels an awesome bit of kit, my other tripod is a Vanguard Veo 204ab, which was brought for my old mirrorless bridge camera and it did feel like it was going to topple over when my D500 was mounted in it, side by side it is like little and large.
After analysing your answers and other sources it looks like sticking with a ballhead will be the best option as I favour wildlife and fast moving over static shots.
I believe the two offered are the same apart that one has Manfrottos 200pl quick fit plate and the other is Swiss arca compatible.
I like the fact that the 200pl plate can be fitted one handed and is very secure, but limited compatibility.
The Swiss arca version is more universal and compatible with my peak design slide plate which has a whole to mount the anchor rather than trapping between plate and body, but I have seen one video where the screw was a notch off tight and camera/lens fell off the head, this is making me twitch a bit about getting the Swiss version, so still sat on fence at the moment.
A big thanks to Wex for a great price and quick delivery, tripod has now gone to Santa to be wrapped for the big day...........
 
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#12
The MHXPRO-BHQ6 is good. I bought one last year to replace a 3LT ballhead that was hopeless.

I've found the XPRO to be solid and it doesn't shift when locking off, which is the reason I hated the 3LT head. The locking handles are easy to operate in cold weather/wearing gloves due to being lever shaped rather than the typical round knobs that most ballheads tend to have. I went for the Arca Swiss top plate so that it would be compatible with an L bracket.
 
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