I’ve owned and used the Acratech Ultimate Ballhead for almost 5 years. I think I’ve probably got enough experience with it now to write a fairly qualified and informed product review. Here goes…
The simple fact that I’m still using the Acratech Ultimate Ballhead after 5 years probably says more than anything I’m about to write. I’m a gear junkie and I’m very hard on every piece of equipment I own. That my Acratech Ultimate Ballhead is still going strong is either a fluke or it’s just one hell of a solid piece of equipment. I’m of the firm belief that it’s the latter.
What I like:
- The open ball design requires no lubrication or cleaning. Get it sandy, wet or muddy and it still operates smoothly.
- Made of CNC aluminum, the Ultimate Ballhead weighs less than a pound. Mated to my carbon fiber tripod, the whole thing weighs in just under 4 pounds. My back likes that a whole lot.
- Despite the flyweight, it’s about as durable as anything on the market. Mine has clawed it’s way through slot canyons, been dropped on granite and dunked in lakes, rivers and creeks. It’s beat to hell, but it just keeps working.
- Super easy to use. No complicated mechanisms – just a couple knobs covered in a pliable rubber that don’t hurt your fingers when it’s cold.
- Even with a pro camera and 100-400mm lens attached, the ballhead locks down tight and won’t budge until you need it to.
- Top notch customer service. This is huge to me, since most companies couldn’t care less about your business. Acratech likes their customers and have always treated me well. I have several friends who use Acratech products and they’ve all consistently received fantastic customer service. Sooooo refreshing.
What I don’t like:
- The quick release mechanism is comprised of two tiny springs that push the clamp open as you loosen the knob. If the clamp isn’t kept closed when not in use it is possible for the springs to pop out. The ballhead still works, but requires a little extra effort to open the clamp. When this happens Acratech will send you new springs at no charge. I know this because in 5 years I’ve had to replace the springs 5 times.
- The main knob is larger than the other two. This is good. What isn’t good is that the other two knobs are the same size. One operates the quick release while the other controls the horizontal axis movement. If you aren’t careful it is possible to loosen the QR when you intend to turn the other knob, which could result in your camera going skydiving.
As you can see, there isn’t much about the Acratech Ultimate Ballhead I don’t like. It’s just a good piece of kit that I highly recommend for nature photography. If and when mine ever dies I will replace it with another Ultimate Ballhead.
Do you use the Acratech Ultimate Ballhead? What are your thought on it? Leave a comment with your likes and dislikes.