FLM CB-58 FT Mark II, FLM QRB-50 Mark II, FLM QRP-50 Mark II
Talking about a ball head for a photographer is always interesting, mostly when you have got expensive equipment.
Since I've started taking pictures, I always had got a tripod with a ball head. The first ones were pretty cheap, but during the time I bought new ball heads in order to improve my photography life, especially as a wildlife photographer.
The ball head
Recently I had a bad adventure. During a photography session where I was taking some pictures of a beautiful waterfall, my camera has fallen down into a stream. It's happened because I hadn't well closed the lock of the plate's ball head and the camera has slipped off. The result has been that I had to repair the camera (a Sony A7RII) and throw the lens (a Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8) away because of the excessive cost of fixing it.
Now I don't want to tell you which tripod I was using, because that piece of equipment is pretty good for normal situations, for example in a trip when you're abroad and you want staying light. But in extreme conditions, it's always better using rock-solid equipment.
The subject of this review is the FLMCB-58 FT Mark II ball head, unfortunately a not well-known company here in Italy, because they make some really good piece of equipment, especially the ball heads. In Italy there's the official importer who sells FLM's products, the Lauriola Distribuzione company (www.laurioladistribuzione.com), but buying something by them is pretty challenging.
Anyway, we talk about the ball head:
How you can see this ball head is huge!!! Comparing with my old Sirui K-20X you see the differences:
But we come to the technical specifications:
Ball diameter 58 mm
Camera connection 1/4 inches
Bottom thread 3/8 inches
Dimensions 78 x 111 mm (diameter x height)
Weight 811 g
Max. Load 60 kg
Yes, you've read well!! 60 kg of payload, like my bodyweight... (I don't know if to be proud of this... :D), it's absolutely a respectable value for a ball head, but this one isn't the most interesting aspect that I want to show you.
Before taking this ball head, I read many reviews on the Net, comparing many different ball heads looking for the best one that suited my expectations. And one of the aspects that I was looking for was the post-lock result, and of course the max payload.
I'm concentrating on the post-lock result because for me is very important, especially in landscape photography. Having a precise lock mechanism it's essential for achieving a precise view of your picture. Often, with other ball heads, I had to refine the lock in order to get the right position, and sometime was really annoying because I couldn't get it. The FLM CB-58 FT instead has a perfect lock. Once you have locked it, the camera will stay in the right position, without moving. Reading a comparison ball heads reviews, it sees that the FLM ball head has the lesser shift of the ball position, guaranteeing you an absolute precision.
As many other ball heads, the CB-58 FT mark II, has the pan knob that allows you to turn-round the ball head for making a panorama picture, but it has two other feature that many others don't have. The first one is the tilt function:
With this knob you can control the movement of the ball, limiting the plane where it can move. This feature permits you to get a more precise view when you want to take many pictures to be joined together, allowing you an easier work in post-production. Always related to that function, there is another feature that is the click-knob (actually I don't have this knob, but it can buy apart), that permit you to ear a “click” after every 15-degree rotation of the ball head, a really useful function for panoramic pictures.
With this ball head I bought the QRB-50 clamp and the QRP-50 plate:
The clamp is different from usual clamps by its lock system, that in theory it should avoid the losing and slip of the camera plate from the clamp. Once put the plate into the clamp, even though you don't lock the clamp, there's a pin that avoids the plate slipping in both directions:
Locking the plate is a bit tricky. First of all, you have to move the lever as in the picture
after, you have to pull the lever
and then move it back.
Now your camera is locked!
These are the clamp specifications:
Base thread: 3/8 inch
Measures: 50 x 62 x 16 mm (L x W x H)
Weight: 85 g
Max. load capacity: 30 kg
The plate is a standard Arca-plate, with no particular feature for me, apart from the cork thicknesses
This ball head is very well done. The FLM has used the metal (anodised aluminium, also for the ball) in all elements of the head, guaranteeing solidity and precision, and the lock system works really well so far. For me, this CB-58 FT hasn't any flaws. Yes, it costs a lot, but it's justified by the high general quality of the product. Then you have to be aware that using this ball head needs a big tripod, maybe a carbon tripod like mine.... But this is another review, so stay tuned :D