What is a tripod leveling head and should you use one?

Tripods usually come with a ball-head or pan-tilt head which is more than enough for regular users. But for some, a tripod leveling head makes shooting easier.

Some photographers, especially beginners, do not use a tripod leveling head. The bubble level is often enough to make sure that the camera is at a perfect angle. However, certain photographers need a leveling head.

 

Tripod leveling head: the underappreciated tool

If you are not familiar with a leveling head, this accessory sits between the tripod and your tripod head. It is usually used alongside a ball head.
 
Once installed, a tripod head helps in leveling the ball head quickly. In comparison to a bubble level, you need to adjust the individual legs depending on the setup.
 
However, not everyone is inclined to use one on their setup. Regular photographers should be fine by adjusting the ball head alone. The tripod can stay unleveled but, you will still get shots at a perfect angle.

Are tripod leveling heads useful?

As mentioned earlier, there are instances wherein a level head is unnecessary. The ball head or the pan-tilt head should be enough when shooting.
 
But the usability of a leveling head comes in when quickly rotating the camera. If your tripod is unstable or unbalanced from the start, your camera will move up and down as you turn it around.
 
It is a problem when shooting panoramas or videos. If you are shooting a panorama, your images will go up and down. As you rotate on the panoramic rail, the photos will end up in a wavy pattern. This situation is challenging to correct when post-processing.
 
For videos, the panning motion will tilt up and down as you move from left to right.
This issue is not exclusive to ball heads and pan-tilt heads. Even gimbal heads are affected as well.

You need a stable base when shooting with a gimbal head. But if it is not level, panning around to track your subject will tilt your camera. It makes it more challenging to nail the shot.

 

What is the best tripod leveling head to get?

There are several leveling heads to choose from. However, the ProMediaGear TRBU75 Pro-Stix 75mm Half Ball leveling head is the best one to get. Whether you have a ProMediaGear tripod or not, this can get the job done excellently.
 
But how does it work?
 
Leveling heads work by keeping the whole tripod head level. If you have a ball head, then you can unlock the knob and level the clamp. But that does not solve the problem when you pan the camera. You will still encounter upward or downward changes on the angle.
 
With the Half-Ball Leveling head, you will have the whole ball head level. You will then achieve straight and level images when doing panning shots.
 
Using the TRBU75 Half-Ball leveling head is easy to understand even for first-time users. You just have to tighten the leveling head by rotating the large knob. If you are shooting down low with the tripod legs spread out, you do not have to worry about the leveling head. It made to have enough clearance even when shooting near the ground.
 
Moreover, the TRBU75 leveling head fits 75mm bowl adapters. However, these adapters are sold separately. 
 
The ProMediaGear TRB3475 adapter works with the PMG TR34 series tripods. For the larger TR42 series tripods, the ProMediaGear TRB75 adapter fits perfectly. The latter also works with tripods from other brands such as Giottos, Manfrotto, and many more.
 
Luckily, ProMediaGear tripods fit this type of adapter on the get-go. If you are not using a ProMediaGear tripod, this adapter also fits tripods from Gitzo, RRS, and Manfrotto.
 
Once attached, it will be easy to level any tripod. Besides, bringing this leveling head all the time is not a problem. 
 
This aircraft-grade aluminum head can also support up to 100-pounds of equipment. Heavy body and lenses should be no problem.
 
 

What if you do not have a compatible tripod?

There are tripods out there, whether entry-level or expensive, that does not have a slot for a leveling head. However, the ProMediaGear Hi-Hat TRHH2 75mm bowl adapter can solve your problem.
 
This Hi-Hat adapter can fit any tripod in order to attach a leveling head. It is 6-inches tall with a slot on top for a 75mm leveling head. It can carry up to 100-pounds as well. 
 
Besides attaching to a tripod, the TRHH2 adapter can be screwed on any surface. For instance, you want multiple fixed camera mounts on your studio. You may use this adapter to set specific places for your camera. 
 
The TRHH2-TRBU75 Pro-Stix can be purchased together as well. 
 

Should you get your own tripod level head?

If you love panoramas, landscapes, or outdoor photography in general, having a tripod level head is a wise investment. It makes the whole shooting experience easier while having great results. Having one also reduces the additional workload when post-processing your images.
 
Besides the scenarios mentioned earlier, if your shooting style involves having a tripod most of the time, then a tripod level head is worth getting. However, if you are shooting street photography, portraits, or action shots, then it is better to buy an accessory that will greatly aid your shooting.
 
Tripod level heads are great tools for photography. But not everyone has the need for it. Though if you think that your shooting style will benefit from it, then you cannot go wrong with getting one. In the end, it is your photography process and it is your preference that matters.

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