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Vanguard BBH-200 Ball Head Review

David Clapp puts Vanguard's BBH-200 Ball Head to the test out on location.

| Vanguard BBH 200 in Tripods, Monopods and Other Supports

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 Review: BBH 200 On Location

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.

Vanguard BBH-200 Ball Head Review: BBH 200 Camera In Place

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.

Vanguard BBH-200 Ball Head Review: BBH 200 Lock

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.

Vanguard BBH-200 Ball Head Review:
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


Vanguard BBH 200 Specifications

Maximum Height11cm
Minimum HeightNo Data
Maximum Weight Capacity20kg
Number of Leg SectionsNo Data
HeadNo Data
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
WidthNo Data

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lumix Avatar
lumix 16 11
31 May 2012 10:16AM
Surprised the Giottos ball heads weren't mentioned. The MH1300 has a 15kg weight capacity and can be bought for around £85 - doesn't have the rapid level feature but still represents great value in my mind compared to some of the others listed.
JamesPicture Avatar
30 Jan 2013 9:06AM
I've just purchased one of these last month, and I have to say it is very good indeed. Easy to use and I love the auto level feature.
My auto level is a little temperamental and I have to wiggle it a little to get it to catch, not sure if that is normal, other than that its well built, robust and moves well.

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