Last year Vanguard won a variety of awards and accolades, as they established themselves as a super camera accessory retailer extending their already enviable range of products with innovative ballheads and bags to rival the elite. I was excited by news of a range of new ballheads that would sidestep the notorious SBH range with further innovation while remaining affordable.
Vanguard BBH-200 Ball Head Handling
Being an avid user of the entire Vanguard system while on my travels, especially the Vanguard Alta Pro and ABH series heads, I took the new BBH-200 to Valencia to see exactly how well it would perform. In the hand it was certainly a step forwards in design and build, so I was eager to put it to the test shooting some architecture at the City of Arts and Sciences.
Firstly, it has the same livery and build as the SBH series
with some definite improvements. Action feels smooth, turning with an almost liquid latency, noticeable when turning the ballhead on its horizontal axis. Gone are the usual dial knobs and in their place are a tab design.
As an avid L-Bracket user, I was extremely pleased to see this ballhead retains the jaws system that is found in expensive heads from companies like RRS and Kirk. I removed the stop screw in the centre of the jaws, so the plate or L-bracket can then slide freely. This is idea for using shift lenses like the Canon 24mm TSE Mk II. The head comes with a plate included.
Vanguard BBH-200 Ball Head Performance
On location, the head was perfect weighted and balanced when carrying the Alta Pro and ballhead attached. Setting up felt natural and instinctive. My favoured travel setup, the Canon 1Ds Mk III
and 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
, is certainly not lightweight. At 2.5kg, this combo will show up any instability flaws, and I am excited to report this ballhead is rock solid.
The tab locks are brilliant. I am sick and tired of mounting the camera and rotating knobs eight times to lock the camera in place. However, with the BBH-200, just a simple 180 degree flip and the camera is perfectly tight. There is literally no ‘creep’ either, movement as the ball tightens, which my beloved (and somewhat battered) Kirk BH1 exhibits. This head is fast, quick to use and beautifully engineered. The tabs will also rotate if the current position is becoming irritating. Just pull and turn the tab away.
Finally, there is the Rapid Level System. If the tripod legs are level and you are about to begin a panorama, then a spirit level is the only way of aligning a ballhead with accuracy. The RLS switch locks the ball into a flat plane which can then be tightened with the tab. This can also work really well when using a monopod.
Value For Money
The Vanguard BBH-200 is available for £169
and will support 20kg, this compares well to the Gitzo GH1780QR Centre Ball Head
(supports 10kg) available for £199, the Manfrotto 468MG Hydrostatic Ball Head
(supports 16kg) available for £179, the Manfrotto MH055M0-Q2 Ball Head
(supports 12kg) £189, and the FLM CB48FT
(supports 35kg) available for £185.
Vanguard BBH-200 Ball Head Verdict
Overall this BBH-200 is a killer piece of kit. It's fast, intuitive and responsive. The whole AltaPro / BBH combo is balanced and sturdy and can take the weight of camera requirements, both amateur and professional. I seriously urge you to have a good look at this head when considering a whole host of expensive alternatives. You will be highly surprised at just how solid this head feels, as well as how enjoyable it is work with. L-bracket or no L-bracket, the system can expand with your camera equipment. The BBH gives access to a professional set-up at a very affordable cost.
|The BBH-200 is a killer piece of kit that is very affordable.
Vanguard BBH-200 Ball Head Pros
Solid build quality
Quick lock mechanism
Works with L-brackets
Vanguard BBH-200 Ball Head Cons
Rapid Level System won't be used much
|VALUE FOR MONEY
Vanguard BBH 200 Specifications
|Minimum Height||No Data|
|Maximum Weight Capacity||20kg|
|Number of Leg Sections||No Data|
|Box Contents||No Data|
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