Manfrotto XPro Magnesium Ball Head with Top Lock plate
£134 / $163 www.manfrotto.co.uk
At first glance, this head doesn’t look particularly special, but there’s more than meets the eye. The magnesium construction is rated to support 10kg, enough for almost any full-frame setup, yet the head tips the scales at a reasonable 520g. At its heart is a fairly large ball for good stability, and its grease-free polymer housing enables exceptionally smooth movement, even with a lot of friction applied.
The friction is set using a tactile, clicky wheel that’s better than most systems for dialing in a precise level of drag. Rather than using rubberised or knurled knobs, the ball-and-pan movement is tightened using levers that lock securely with minimal user effort.
The XPro ball head can be specced with several mounting plate designs. We went for the Top Lock system, which is Arca-Swiss compatible, with the QR plate released using a simple but effective button. The top plate is surrounded by three individual bubble levels for precision camera levelling, all viewable with your camera mounted.
PROS Extremely smooth; ergonomic locking levers and friction dial; good QR system
CONS Not as compact as Benro or Novo heads