Maybe I’m late to the game on this one, but if you have a tripod and aren’t using a ballhead, you really should be!
I’m going to have to admit, I am not a tripod user… at least most of the time I’m not. I’m a people shooter and I feel that using a tripod (similar to using fixed focal length lenses) really prohibits my creativity and flexibility when working. That being said though, there are definitely times when I must agree, they (both) are completely necessary.
I tend to use tripods when shooting product photography because its easier for me to set up the shoot, then make minor, incremental adjustments with the positioning of the camera when its on a tripod. When you’re hand holding in this instance, its hard to get repeatability, which is something that makes shooting products, much easier imho.
Also, I almost always use a tripod when shooting landscapes, especially when using longer shutter speeds. In good, bright light you can usually get away with hand holding, but again if you’re looking for subtle changes, a tripod is definitely the way to go.
Now that being said, for years I have used a Manfrotto 5-way panhead tripod head. It has served its purpose and seen some serious use, but after having this type of head for some time I have honestly come to loathe it. I’m sure they serve their purposes, but this has to be the most non-easy to use tripod head on the market. It has three different handles to pan and tilt the head in multiple directions, and while you can get your camera in the position you want (except 180 degrees straight up) it is a royal pain in the caboose to do it. You literally have to adjust three different handles to get the exact position you need, and each one has to be loosened up and re-tightened down. If you forget to lock one in (which dummy me has done numerous times) you can get really frustrated very quickly… which is usually when I start throwing out the colorful metaphors.
Lucky for me though, I must have been really good this year, because for Christmas, Jennifer, my most significant other and artist-in-residence, got me the above pictured Induro BHD2 Ballhead and I have to say, the game has changed. I love this thing! Its built like a tank, is extremely easy to use, will support up to almost 40 pounds and is smaller than my old head. It literally takes one knob adjustment to position your camera however you need it and it locks in super securely! My old head was starting to get loose where the quick connect plate connects and I could never get a secure fitting connection. The way this head is made, that will never be an issue.
After using this only a few times, I am definitely in love, and can honestly say I will be more inclined to use my tripod more frequently now, just because I have a higher quality head which is so much easier to use.
So to re-iterate, if you have a tripod and aren’t using a ballhead, then go and get one, you won’t be sorry! I just can’t believe it took me so long to get one.