Best spotting scope tripod head?

huntsman22

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A couple sirui V-5's, a few Manfrotto's 128's and 700's, and a pair of pos Sliks.... No use for ballheads here.
 

ken226

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I like the geared heads for spotting scope use. I use the 410jr. It's a bit heavy, all aluminum construction with bronze gears.

I've been trying to talk myself into buying the Manfrotto Xpro



The Xpro is lighter weight, but plastic:


The geared heads are useful for fine-tuning the position of a spotter reticle over an object for ranging.

 
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Bobbyshouseofpain

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Thanks for the input everyone! I have the str80 and really thought the geared would be the way to go, how fine and/or accurate is the gearing? Like a watch? Or like my 62 pickups window crank?
 

ken226

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The ratio on my 410jr is fairly high. Roughly 1/4 turn of the knob moves it about 10 mils.

The knobs are pretty stiff. I wish they were a little easier to spin.

I hear that the plastic Xpro has smoother, easier to turn knobs.
 

Bobbyshouseofpain

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The ratio on my 410jr is fairly high. Roughly 1/4 turn of the knob moves it about 10 mils.

The knobs are pretty stiff. I wish they were a little easier to spin.

I hear that the plastic Xpro has smoother, easier to turn knobs.
Thank you, that’s information the salespeople at the camera shop just don’t know... and half of them will get kinda fuzzy and lite headed as soon as you mention true application
 

Bobbyshouseofpain

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If you’re using it for a spotter with a reticle. A gear head is the best way to go.
Thanks for the input, I’ve talked to every camera gear salesperson I could find, and they know cameras, and what the manufacturers say, but half of them just agree with whatever you say hoping to make the sale, real world experience I appreciate it
 
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6AYoteHunter

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Are you trying to use a reticle to measure impacts with that swaro?
Have used a STR 80mm but now run a STX 85mm with same head. No problem keeping spotter still for measuring impacts, ranging, antler spreads, etc. Able to switch from target to target faster with that head only single lock down and fluid heads move so much nicer.
 

Bobbyshouseofpain

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Are you trying to use a reticle to measure impacts with that swaro?
Yes, bullet impacts at closer stuff
1000 helps a little with splash, and if I ever get to see trace the ticket price was worth it IMO
but using a less than ideal lower tier vid head now (not even fluid) upgraded the tripod as it was wracking the legs when I would pan, then wrack back when you would have a decent sight picture and release the panning handle the tripod would “unwrap” or “un-rack” making getting anything more than a guestament off the reticle
 
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Geno C.

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Have used a STR 80mm but now run a STX 85mm with same head. No problem keeping spotter still for measuring impacts, ranging, antler spreads, etc. Able to switch from target to target faster with that head only single lock down and fluid heads move so much nicer.
It’s not about keeping it still. It’s about moving it in a precise location so you can measure the impact compared to where it was supposed to go.

A gear head is not the fastest to switch from target to target but it is the most precise.
 
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Bobbyshouseofpain

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Arca-Swiss makes a geared panning head, D4gp but it’s surpassing the total cost of my first 3 cars, and hard to find in the states, and if I purchased that would be in the center of the dining room table for a month so I could see it everyday when I left for work to remember why I still have a job, and see it every night when I get home so I remember why I haven’t quit yet, and my wife would kill me
 
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Bobbyshouseofpain

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Plus I would rather give my money to an ’MURICAN company, of course that’s if an American company manufactures one... and I haven’t found one, so I have no quarrel with the Swiss, they make a great cheese
 

Geno C.

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Arca-Swiss makes a geared panning head, D4gp but it’s surpassing the total cost of my first 3 cars, and hard to find in the states, and if I purchased that would be in the center of the dining room table for a month so I could see it everyday when I left for work to remember why I still have a job, and see it every night when I get home so I remember why I haven’t quit yet, and my wife would kill me
The benro for $200 is a pretty nice piece. I’ve only ever tried the 410 for other gear heads and it was nice too.
 

6AYoteHunter

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It’s not about keeping it still. It’s about moving it in a precise location so you can measure the impact compared to where it was supposed to go.

A gear head is not the fastest to switch from target to target but it is the most precise.
I can move to any object with a STR and then lock it down with no backlash. Same with most rifles. Not an issue with that tripod head.
 

6AYoteHunter

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If getting a gear head avoid ones that are too coarse and get one with quality gears that don't wear out. Many have serious issues after some usage.
 

6AYoteHunter

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Rim Country Manufacturering & RRS are the only made in the USA tripod heads I have ever used. Not sure if they have anything for sale to the public that would work well for this application.
 

Dmmilburn

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Have you had any issues getting your reticle centered on target with that head? After your panning pays off lol
 

Dmmilburn

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I'm sorry, this is my first time actually using a forum. I'm also slightly.... what the kind might call "blessed" lol
 
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Wyzrd

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Got my Zeiss Diascope 65 FL on a Feisol VH-40 on top of a Benro tripod. For range and hunting use, it’s been great!image.jpgimage.jpg
 

Dixie Rifleman

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With some of the comments from this thread I've decided to go with the Manfrotto Xpro 3 way pan and tilt head for spotting use with my new tripod. First match coming up in February so we shall see how it works.
 

Dev L

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I use a SLIK AF2100 pistol grip head. Makes aiming easy with a red dot zeroed to the spotter and holds still once released. Very small adjustments are difficult if you need that. But if you need a solid hold and easy/fast aiming it works better than Manfroto grip head. It is a bit heavy though, being metal, and a bit tall but only $100.

 

flyer

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I'm trying a Kenko KDS II alt-azimuth mount.

It's like a gimbal mount with slow motion controls so you can balance your scope and then adjust it's aim without shaking your tripod.

It's not too expensive, fairly compact and pretty robust.

The downside is you need to go from Vixen dovetail to the way your scope mounts and probably add an Arca rail so you can adjust the balance.

The cheap option is an Orion slow motion mount for about $40.

Any way, that's what you can get when mixing the telescope and camera ecosystems.

Speaking of which, the sport optics companies need to start making gear that is cheese plate compatible. That could make things really modular.
 

Dixie Rifleman

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As I previously mentioned I went with the Manfrotto XPRO 3-way pan and tilt head. I used it in our first match of the season yesterday and I had my old but still very serviceable B&L 20x spotting scope mounted on it.

Pros:
1. The adjustments are smooth and fairly precise. The spotting scope does not have a reticle so I'm not trying to be exact but I could acquire the target pretty easily. The tension on the pan and tilt movements are adjustable so you don't tend to overshoot and I like a little bit of resistance to the movements.
2. The scope mounts to a quick release plate which locks pretty tightly into the head using a cam lock. The scope was very stable as I was viewing the target. A quality set of tripod legs also helps with stability, obviously.
3. The price was right for a first attempt, just in case I didn't like it. I found it for approx $85.

Cons
1. Really the only negative was that it was a little slow moving from one target to another. We had a couple of stages where the shooter engaged one target, then another on the next shot then back to the first and so on. Moving the scope rapidly to keep up with the shooter was not easy and not a strong point for this head. Guys using ball heads had an easier time with this movement.

Overall I'm pleased with the steadiness of the head. That was my primary goal. No head is going to be perfect for all situations and down the road I'll probably acquire a ball head. But for now this one works well for observation especially when acquiring one target and then maintaining a steady sight picture.