Even more surprised I was, reading that it had won the 2007 Beijing Show contest for reaching a locking force of 45 Kg !
Looking for a simple light weight ball head with a good grip, I decided to order one and check it out.
After a very thorough test, I can only say that "This ball head is full of surprises!" But let's see how good or bad these surprises are...
The Ball Head
Triopo is an emerging Chinese brand of camera support systems, with quite a large number of tripods and ball heads, mostly copies of well known products, aiming to the lower-middle end of the market with low prices and big specs. (however, that has to be proved yet).
In Europe sales are handled by their distributors in Poland.
The Triopo RS-3 ball head is the largest of the Triopo RS Series and according to the manufacturer has the following specifications:
|Ball Diameter:||36 mm (1.42")|
|Base Diameter:||56 mm (2.20")|
|Height:||80 mm (3.15")|
|Bottom mounting thread:||3/8"-16 UNC|
|Top mounting stud:||1/4"-20 UNC|
|Weight:||250 gr* (0.55 lbs)|
|Max Load capacity:||20 kg (44 lbs)|
|The Triopo RS-3 ball head, came in a blue velvet drawstring bag, packaged in a retail box . And that was all , no specification sheet, no manual, no warranty card, nothing else! (Bad Surprise).|
Inspecting & Testing the head...
From the first moment I took this relatively small ball head in my hands I wanted to check the weight... maybe a hunch... and I did put it on my electronic scales which I have verified with standard weights...
|Oh yes another Big bad Surprise 306 gr (0.612 lbs) !!! checked many times...|
This is 56gr or 22.4% more than the claimed and advertised 250gr.
But let's see further...
|Turning the lever counter clockwise, at 3 o'clock, there was enough force applied to immobilize the ball and the panning base.|
|Unlocking a little the ball by turning the lever counter clockwise at 11 o'clock , we can push the ball stem halfway into the notch...|
Adding a quick release clamp...
|The easiest and cheapest solution for this ball head was to attach one of my spare Fotopro QAL-500 5cm Arca Swiss® compatible quick release clamps, which has a 3/8"-16 center hole, with the aid of a 1/4"-20 to 3/8"-16 thread converter bushing.|
|The 5cm clamp is a good match covering the round top disk completely and adds only 89gr (3.14oz) to the total weight, totaling now 395gr (0.869 lbs)|
|The thick rubber ring on the round top disk prevents the clamp from twisting, dampening also vibrations, but makes the contact a little elastic for my taste.|
So I decided to remove the round top disk...
|It is fairly easy to unscrew the round top disk gripping the 12mm nut of the 1/4"-20 stud with a pare of small pliers.|
|Focusing on the top round aluminum disk, we can see clearly the recesses for the stud nut and the rubber anti-twist ring.|
|Finally focusing on the top of the ball stem, we can see the M6 thread hole and two anti-twist islands ( bosses )...|
|... which fit under the top round plate groove on the sides of the center hole. Same grooves that exist under many Arca-Swiss® compatible quick release clamps!|
|With the top disk removed the ball head still weighs 276 gr (0.552 lbs) ...........not even close to the boasted 250 gr !!!|
|Another good match for the size of this ball head is the Hejnar Photo F012 1.5" (38 mm ) Arca Swiss® compatible Quick Release clamp. We need a flat 1" long M6 screw in order to attach the clamp on the ball stem.|
|Clamp fixed ! Total weight now 360gr (0.792 lbs)|
|If someone's intention is to use the ball head with heavier camera/lens combinations and need some space for leveling adjustment a bigger clamp like the Hejnar Photo F010 2.375" (6 cm) Arca Swiss® compatible Quick Release Clamp is more appropriate.|
Torque Test ...
The next thing I had in mind was to measure the ability of this head to handle the claimed weight of 20 Kg successfully. Therefore, I conducted a torque test according to the methodology set in my article for Benro B-2 Torque test.
The ball head was set back exactly as it came with its round top disk and the Manfrotto Super Clamp 35 was screwed directly on the ball head's 1/4"-20 stud. The same procedure as with the Benro head was followed from there.
|The Manfrotto Super Clamp 35 screwed directly on the top disk with the 1/4"-20 stud. With the ball head locking lever really pushed as far as it would go.|
|Head and clamp sitting on a Weifeng WF-595T Alu-Mag Traveller Tripod.|
|The back drop tube balanced on the Manfrotto Super clamp.|
After tightening the Manfrotto clamp jaws to a point that the tube started to deform, I started moving the sand sack outwards away from the head.
When I reached a torque of 348,4 Kgf*cm the sand sack was so out on the tube I could not believe it...
|The force applied on the tube by the Manfrotto clamp jaws was not enough...|
|The center column of the tripod was deformed from torsion...|
But BIG Surprise the ball did not move !!!
I unloaded the weight and applied more force on the Manfrotto Super Clamp jaws tightening the back drop tube more and deforming its shape even more, so it wouldn't lose it's 90degree position with the head.
In this way, I managed to move the sand sack a few cm outwards reaching a torque of 358,8 Kgf*cm !!!
|But then a "crack" was heard and the 1/4"-20 stud broke in two pieces...|
|... exactly on top of the round disk|
Very low price
Extreme locking ability
Good value for money
The declared weight of 250 gr. is deceiving.
Weak top plate stud (although pushed too much).
Poor quality control.
Yes, indeed this ball head is full of surprises, maybe it does not weigh 250 gr as advertised, maybe it is not so smooth in operation, maybe a stud broke under extreme conditions (which is my fault pushing it out of limits) but...
THIS BALL HEAD LOCKS far more load than its specification and beyond any expectation !!!
After running the above test, even if Tropo RS-3 is a very low cost ball head, I can justify the expense for a big Arca-Swiss® compatible Quick Release clamp and recommend it for use on a monopod or attach a Panorama clamp on it and use it as a leveling base for a Panorama head as I intend to do both.
Nevertheless, time will tell if that extra locking ability will be maintained after long use and I'll be back with any findings.
Update: October 2011
Triopo B-2 Quick Release Clamp Review
This review and test was run on a single product sample, using the specifically described methods. Although the findings are good in general and some overcame the expectations for the product, it can not be used as a rule, unless more samples of the same product are tested. Furthermore, similar comparison tests should be run with comparative capabilities products so as to reach a solid conclusion.
I hope you found this review useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos: © 2011 S.C.Vlachos
The Triopo RS-3 ball head is still available from eBay
If you are interested in the above product(s) or any other product please consider using the relevant link(s) to make your purchase and help support this site. Your support is needed and greatly appreciated.
Fotopro QAL-500 5cm Quick Release Clamp
Hejnar Photo F010A and F012 Quick Release Clamps
Benro PC-0 and PC-1 Panorama Clamps
Manfrotto Super Clamp 35
Weifeng WF-595T Alu-Mg Traveller Tripod with WF-595H Ball Head Review