My only ‘real’ tripod is the little Leica tabletop tripod. Not cheap, but consistently gets great reviews as one of the better table top tripods. The design has barely changed for decades, so one can pick it up relatively cheap used. I bought mine ten years ago, and as I also needed a small ballhead to level the camera, I also bought a little Novoflex ballhead. Leica makes one as well, but it’s also pricey1 and a bit larger. It’s supposed to be a great unit, but for reasons I have forgotten, I didn’t buy it.
Long story short, the little Novoflex ballhead gave up the ghost earlier in the year, so I had to get a replacement. After a bit of research, I got the Really Right Stuff BC-18 Micro Ball. Really Right Stuff (RRS) also makes a small panning ballhead, the BPC-16, but this page convinced me to go with the BC-18 instead.
This is a very brief review. This ballhead is great. The BC-18 is very easy to adjust and is very steady. Combined with my table top tripod, it’s still compact enough to fit in the front pocket of my smallish camera bag (Think Tank Photo Retrospective 5). Possibly one of the better photographic purchases I’ve made. I should note I’ve never owned a ‘real’ or full-sized ballhead.
Two caveats for its use:
- You need a quick release plate. For my digital M, I bought the RRS M10 modular plate with the handgrip. If you want a handgrip (or not), this is a good option. For film Ms, as RRS no longer makes plates for those, I am using the much cheaper Acratech 2048. The Sony is just getting a generic $10 plate from Amazon.
- Unlike the BPC-16, the BC-18 comes with a non-removable 1/4"-20 male stud on the bottom. The Leica tripod has the same. I bought a 0.7" inch tall female-female adapter to solve this problem. I am happy to report that this works great.
RRS also makes table top tripod that has the appropriate tapped hole for the BC-18. Someday I might pick it up; it’s probably pretty good as well.
These are also available used for much cheaper as they have been made for decades as well. ↩︎