Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tripod Head Advice

Eagle Optics,

Now that we have played with our new scope a bit, it is painfully obvious we need a better tripod head. I have done a bit of research, watched a lot of your videos, etc. I want to make sure the head I buy will support the Swarovski 80mm Spotting Scope and any DSLR - I currently shoot with a Canon 50D, but want it to support a heavier camera in case I move to a bigger camera/battery pack in the future.

I realize the heads that are good for digiscoping typically only pan/tilt, and don't offer that third axis for moving a camera to shoot portrait. Seems like most of the 3-way heads aren't great for digiscoping.

Of the Gitzo, Swarovski, and Manfrotto (or other brands) heads, what do you like best? What max support weight do you look for? I assume given the offset of the weight, you should allow for more than the actual combined weight of the scope/camera?


Hi Greg,

There are several tripod heads that will work well for digiscoping, and I’ve listed a few of my favorites below. As for 3-way heads, it is possible to use them for digiscoping, but the drawback is that you can’t fluidly pan/tilt without first loosening the locking knobs. As for supporting the weight of the scope and DSLR, all three of the tripod heads listed below can handle it.


I really like the Manfrotto 128RC Tripod Head which weighs 1.9 pounds, and has a maximum load of 8.9 pounds. It’s less expensive than the other two heads below, and lacks a few of their features, but it is very sturdy, will support your digiscoping setup.

The Gitzo Birdwatching Tripod Head is super small and lightweight, and is ideal for traveling or hiking with it. It weighs 1.1 pounds with a maximum load of 8.8 pounds, and has just one large knob that you can use to loosen/tighten the pan and the tilt, or lock both in a fixed position.

I personally use the Swarovski DH 101 Tripod Head and really like how it operates. It also is very light at 1.2 pounds, and can support up to 10.9 pounds. It has a very smooth pan and tilt which can be locked independently of each other, and it has a bubble level (which isn’t always useful, but can help with setting up a composition against a horizon).

I like all three of these tripod heads and I hope this was helpful, but if you have any other questions about them please let me know.

Eagle Optics

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