Tripods are one of the most important tools we carry on our hunts. We use them to stabilize our spotting scopes, binoculars, and cameras. We're all looking for something lightweight, yet stable, that is easy to use for extended periods of time. Many of the heads that come on some of the more popular tripod kits are often a cheap ball head, or a cheap pan head. Sure they're light, but they can be cumbersome to use as one hand is always loosening and tightening the head, and it seems like just when you have your optics where you want it, it moves when you tighten the head and can be tough to get the exact sight picture you're looking for. I found that video pan heads were awesome to use because they controlled the pan/tilt with friction control and I could move my sight picture to where I wanted, and when it would stay right there when released. The downside was the weight. I'd spent money for a Carbon Fiber tripod that was lightweight and felt like I lost part of that advantage with a heavy pan head.
I was looking for a solution that was both lightweight, and easy to pan or tilt without always tightening or loosening the head. I found the answer in a friction control ball head. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of different models on the market, and after looking at dozens of them personally, I've narrowed down my search to the Benro B00 double action ball head.
This little ball head features a simple pan control knob, and a friction ball control knob. Many of the other ball heads have at least one more friction control knob that I find adds unneeded redundancy and added weight. The Benro B00 only weighs about 9 oz. and will support optics up to 13 lbs. I've found it works great with any spotter tested up to 90mm objective diameter models.
This little ball head is very easy to use. The quick release plate slides forward or backward and the rail style quick release plate will fit a lot of my other quick release plates so it's very adaptable. After I've put my optic or camera on the head, I simply twist the friction control knob to tighten or loosen to the point where I can move my optic, but when I let go -- it stays right where I want it. I don't have to fight tightening and loosening a head and having my sight picture move, and I have the advantages of a lightweight and durable ball head. While this head may not be the best solution if you're doing a lot of filming and panning while filming, I find the Benro B00 to be the perfect setup for my lightweight, backcountry setup to use with my spotting scope, binoculars, or some filming (with limitations). For filming I recommend the Benro S2 Video Head.
Most tripod heads are threaded and can simply be removed and replaced. A simple upgrade, like a new head will save you cost and I think you'll be surprised at how much it can improve your glassing experience.
After almost 3 years of use, this little head is still going strong for me and we've decided to start carrying them in our gear shop. I find that after testing the Benro B00, I can recommend it to you as a great lightweight solution that will make your glassing sessions more comfortable and effective!