SUNWAYFOTO XB-44 Tripod Ball Head Arca Compatible Low Center of Gravity XB44 Sunway
|Price:||$199.95 & FREE Shipping. Details|
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- SUNWAYFOTO® brand Arca-Swiss compatible
- Accepts QR's from RRS Wimberley, Jobu, Arca Swiss, Kirk, Markins, etc.
- 88lb Max load
- Elliptical Ball for progressive resistance
- Low Center of Gravity
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SUNWAYFOTO® brand Arca-Swiss compatible.Low profile Tripod Ballhead XB-44.Low Center of Gravity.Very versatile Jaw opening range of 37.25mm to 41.5mm will accommodate any Arca style plate from various makers including:Really right stuff (RRS), Wimberley, Jobu Design, Arca Swiss, Kirk Enterprises,Markins, etc. 88lb Max load!Eliptical Ball for progressive resistance. Y-axis diameter 0.03mm longer than the X-axis. Two drop notch design. One for portrait, one for tilting. Super Stong shell. All Metal knobs. For long term durability. 50mm clamp w Bubble Level. Main Lock Knob Scale Ring.Laser-engraved with index marks. Pan Lock Knob and Panning Base ScaleIndependent Pan Lock Knob, 360° panning movement with calibrated precision, precisely capture overlapping panoramic images. Panning Base is laser-engraved with index marks in 5° increments. Ball Diameter: 44mm. Base: 58mm. Height: 79mm. Weight: 483g.Max load: 40kg (88 lbs). Bottom thread: 3/8" with included 1/4" adapter.Compatible with all Arca Swiss plates.
Top Customer Reviews
The knobs are all metal and have a really beefy knurl to them - I'm pretty sure that handling in wet weather or with sweaty/gloved hands that there will be no issues. The position and use of the knobs worked very well - I actually preferred the knob to the paddle design of the BH-40, among other things. The elliptical head design gave me a nice and progressive feel - it seems much less prone to flopping than I'm used to (it hasn't been a huge issue, but I did notice it).
The screw clamp worked fine, as expected. The panning base was smooth, but kept a reasonably firm tension even when wide open. The unit has laser-etched marking all around.
My unit didn't come with instructions (they were under development at the time), so I did struggle a bit with the drag/tension adjustment that is integrated with the main knob. I've got it pretty well dialed in now, and one less large knob is a plus. Surprisingly, the XB-44 won't come with hex wrenches, which might be a problem for some people, but it wasn't for me - I have a bunch of them.
It has two drop notches like my BH-40, but I hate drop notches and use an L-plate. They are handy for composing shots at extreme up/down angles, but I do fairly little of that.
I like how small and low-profile the head is. My BH-40 is a little chunkier sitting on my Gitzo 2531 - that isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I like the size of the XB-44.
Overall, I like this head a lot. I think it offers a lot of premium features and quality for a good price. It is targeted as a lower-cost alternative to guys like RRS and Markins, not the cheap and cheerful Sirui and Vanguard brands. I can't blame anyone for buying the established premium brands like RRS, but I think Sunwayfoto has a good product in the XB-44.
Handling XB-44 gives a feeling of a sturdy structure with a very fine and high quality CNC machining and finishing. The new design is pleasant to the eye and remarkably almost all edges are flattened giving the ball head a distinguishing appearance. It's more compact than it shows in the photos.
The body shell and the quick release clamp are hard coat anodized in a black color with a mat finish. The ball head front is occupied by the white laser engravings of the company logo, brand name and model name.
What may prove advantageous, is the two drop notch design. One notch for portrait, one for tilting, on a robust outer shell, but still with a very low total weight for the category of the ball head. Note: The verified weight of the XB-44 ball head copy I received is 465gr on my electronic scales, just a little better than the 483gr stated in the manufacturer specification.
The 50mm quick release clamp fits optically well with the relatively narrow footprint of the whole structure. There is a minor issue with clamp corners interfering with the panning base when extremely tilted, but on the other hand it carries an accurate offset bubble level that is relocatable. The minimized panning base, compared to other Sunwayfoto models, is still quite visible due to the white engraved markings.
In order to achieve the lowest profile possible, the designers of the XB-44 ball head, have moved part of the friction/locking mechanism in an extension at the back of the body shell. The offset placement of the friction/lock and the panning lock knobs, as well as the behavior of the mechanism suggests that a totally new mechanism has been designed (Patent pending) using internal callipers both for the ball and the panning control.
The control knobs follow Sunwayfoto's standard of non rubber ring wrapped knobs, in order to enhance long term reliability. All three knobs follow the same design and are made from aluminum alloy with CNC cut grooves and diamond patterns on the perimeter. The quick release clamp knob is smaller while the friction/lock control and panning lock knobs are oversized, all hard anodized black as the body shell. There is no scale ring on the friction control knob as with previous models.
The ball head bottom has no visible screws for opening the head, other than the central 3/8"-16 threaded hole for tripod attachment, which is actually occupied by an 1/4"-20 to 3/8"-16 bushing, in order to convert the thread for tripods with an 1/4"-20 stud. There are also two small Torx head screws visible, that hold a small cover of the ball control mechanism.
XB-44's ball follows the Sunwayfoto standard of their ball head balls being ellipsoidal but closer to spherical form than balls made by other manufacturers. At present, on most ellipsoidal ball heads in the market, the Y-axis diameter of the ball is about 0.07mm longer than the X-axis, in order to compensate for the extra torque generated when the ball is tilted to the side, by increasing the friction and thus avoid the risk of drift or drag.
On Sunwayfoto ball heads the ball Y-axis diameter is 0.03mm longer than the X-axis, aiming to a smoother operation, while retaining the previous advantage.
Even with a slight increase in friction, you can immediately feel the ellipsoidal form of the ball by the increasing resistance when trying to tilt it in any direction.
The ball is very finely finished in the same black mat color with a very short stem that carries the quick release clamp.
I have already discussed in other reviews the benefits of a short ball stem, but this is an opportunity to bring the matter up again as this ball head has a very short one. Short ball stem means increased stability, since the center of gravity remains close to the ball's pivoting point as the camera/lens combination is tilted, thus exercising less torque. The optimum tilting range is also dependent on the size of the ball, as with larger balls the center of gravity remains within the limits of the perimeter of the sphere for greater angle tilts.
Last but not least, Sunwayfoto offers a 5 year limited warranty extension, upon registration. Besides the credit card type Warranty card, I was impressed to find in the box, a rarely met even with non-Chinese products "Customer Information Card" for use together with the warranty card in case of applying for a warranty claim.
Innovative and original design.
Exceptional machining, finishing, fitting and build quality.
Compact size and low weight.
Great stability and vibration absorption.
Very good panning friction control that permits fine tuning until a very strong panning lock.
Very smooth ball operation at all angles when a "sweet spot" is reached.
Good value for money ratio.
5 year limited warranty extension upon registration.
Minor issue in Quick Release Clamp design that need reevaluation.
Friction /Lock control mechanism with long gap until to start locking the ball, leaving little space for fine adjustment.
Friction /Lock control mechanism does not un-tighten smoothly from full lock.
Having in mind that this is a newly released product with an innovative approach to the low profile design, some operational irregularities or small design flaws that need improvement may be expected.
On the other hand a few minor flaws cannot obscure the built quality, the great stability and the smoothness of operation under different loads.