Customer Reviews: Manfrotto MH054M0-Q2 054 Magnesium Ball Head with Q2 Quick Release
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on February 22, 2012
This is my first ball head. Well that's not entirely true. I actually bought the Manfrotto 496RC2 before this one. The 496 was nice for the price. It didn't impress me though. The ball itself seemed kind of small. Maybe it was just me but it seemed a little overpowered when my Canon 7D was mounted with a large lens. The safety release on the 496 appeared to be an afterthought on Manfrotto's part. The whole unit just seemed kind of "no frills". I think this made worse by the fact that I had it mounted on the 190CXPRO3 carbon fiber tripod. Please don't take this as bad review of the 496 -- it's not. The 496 is great for it price range.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the 054! Literally a few days after I received my 496, Amazon offered me 5% off the Manfrotto MH054M0-Q2 054 magnesium ball head. At $185 it was a lot more expensive that the 496 and I wasn't sure if it'd be worth the extra $$. I went ahead and tried it though. I'm glad I did. It is awesome!

The first thing I noticed about the MH054M0-Q2 is, well -- everything! Hahah The 054 is a BIG upgrade from the 496; better by almost every metric. It's got two bubble levels, built-in panning control with degrees dial, 90 - 105 degree portrait angle selector. The ball is super smooooth! It feels so much nicer and precise than the 496. And the ergonomics are great. The levers are larger, the magnesium head itself has a nice textured surface. And it looks sexy...if a ball head can look sexy lol. I'm referring to the red lining around the ball and the red portrait select lever and the fact that all pieces and knobs are finished in textured matte black (unlike some bare aluminum pieces on the 496). Also, it was made specifically for the 190CXPRO3 carbon fiber tripod so they look good together.

Most important of all, it holds my full-sized 7D body with any lens -- no drooping -- rock solid. This includes portrait position. The 054 is happy to hold the camera in portrait with no fuss.
So yes, I'm very pleased with the MH054M0-Q2 054. It is more than twice the cost of the 496 but worth it in my opinion. Search my name on Flickr if you'd like to see more photos.

Feature Highlights:
* 100% magnesium
* Built-in low-angle adapter in the center column for ground-level shots
* Dual levels
* Independent pan lock
* Redesigned, more ergonomic flip locks
* Portrait orientation range of 90-105°.

* Load capacity 22.05 lbs
* Weight 21.47 oz
* Working height 4.61 in
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1111 comments| 53 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 12, 2012
This is a really great ball-head. I needed small, lightweight, rugged, reliable, a panorama axis, level indicators, quick release capable, and support at least 15 lbs (it's rated at 22-lbs), this ball-head has that all and then some. I use it with my carbon fiber Feisol CT3441T tripod and it can collapse and fold up, with the ball-head installed, to about 18" in length and about 1.8kg or ~4 lbs. (tripod & ball-head combined). It all fits inside the Feisol tote-bag with the ball head installed. Size, weight, and ability to fit on my tripod with ball-head attached inside it's tote-bag were also must haves for me. I like to do urban and back-country hiking shoots and believe me every pound counts when you're hiking the hills of San Francisco or the foothills of the Sierra's.

The only problem is on the larger lenses where the Manfrotto 200PL-14 RC2 Rapid Connect mounting plate has to go on the lens collar then the MH054M0-Q2's quick release lever hits my Canon 7D's battery grip so you can't clamp in the lens. I have to loosen the RC2 on the lens collar and spin it 90 degrees then clamp it into the MH054M0-Q2 and then rotate the lens back 90 degrees to re-tighten the RC2. PITA... I can live with this since I don't always use the battery grip and when I do I'll just have to be extra careful. I don't want to be fumbling around attaching my Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 and Canon 7D and drop it and watch $3k go up in smoke... For standard lenses with my "gripped 7D" this is not an issue since you attach the RC2 to the "grip" and not the lens collar so the Quick Release lever isn't blocked by the "grip". I knocked off 1 Star for this (I wanted to just drop it a 1/2 star but you can't... so to me it's really 4.5 Stars).

Overall I highly recommend this ball-head. I think it's a fantastic "bang for the buck" ball-head. All those features and a lightweight magnesium "frame" makes it hard to beat at around $175. From what I've seen you'd probably have to have to add a couple hundred dollars, or more, to your Ball-Head budget to find one that's demonstrably better... and that just wasn't an option for me at this time.
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on February 24, 2012
After quite a bit of debate on what I wanted as my own starter tripod & head, I decided to go for this one. It was slightly higher priced than the others I was looking at, however it was worth it.

+ Solid construction and feel
+ Portrait slider, which keeps it at either 90°, or slightly more (to 105° or 110° I believe). This comes in pretty handy more often than not for me.
+ The twist locks are easy to grab and identify when looking into the camera
+ Minimal, if any, drooping once locked. The tripods I had borrowed in the past were older and thus always sagged once locked - which is very annoying
+ Quick release is solid, both the plate and the holder on the ball itself are very sturdy unlike some plates I've borrowed in the past.
Side note, some people have said that the quick release doesn't work too well with battery grips. On my T3i + grip, it is just fine and doesn't get in the way of any of the buttons.
+ Double bubble levels in easy-to-see locations.

- More of a minor gripe: the panning takes a bit of work to move when unlocked, but that is also because it is relatively new.
- The quick release has gotten harder to open more recently, requiring a little bit of force to get the plate to unlock from the head.

Overall, I'm very satisfied with this tripod head and would highly recommend it.

UPDATE 11/29/14: Added one more con (QR harder to release). I'm still very pleased with this product nearly 3 years later. The locks still hold the ball strong (camera + battery grip + lens is usually around 3-4 lbs)
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on January 16, 2013
Nice Ball Head, but the quick release mechanism became loose and my camera actually rocked while locked in. I discovered that this was a common complaint with this release. I was able to resolve the problem by tightening the nuts on the quick release. I don't know if they'll loosen up again, however I suspect they will. A bit concerning for a head in this price range.

Update - Tightening the quick release proved to be a temporary fix, it loosened up again pretty quickly. I sent the head in for warranty repair and now seems to be working properly, so I suspect that mine was an isolated issue since others are not having this problem. I'll update later with longer term results. The warranty process was very smooth and painless.
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on May 1, 2012
I purchased this head after doing a great deal of research on ball heads that would effectively hold a heavy camera/battery grip and heavy 300mm lens. I wanted to stay with Manfrotto since my current tripod and platform head are both Manfrotto and they've lasted me over 15 yrs without a hitch but was limited in range, so I decided it was time to move up to a ball head. One of my biggest worries about using a ball head was whether it would creep when a heavy camera/lens was attached. This is a known problem with many of the sub-$500 ball heads and since my platform head was still functional, there was no way I could excuse such an expenditure. Fortunately a fellow reviewer here on Amazon definitively showed that the magnesium ball head more than adequately held up to the task.

I have field tested this head many times now and am thoroughly impressed with its performance. It has zero creep when holding my D7000 with grip and 300mm lens and easily holds my D800 w/o the same heavy lens. The price vs. performance vs. quality ratio on this head is excellent and frankly Manfrotto could easily have set the price tag at $350 or more without complaint.

I urge those who are looking for a heavy duty head under $500to do your D&D and I suspect when you've completed your search you will end up back here looking at this head.
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on September 10, 2012
I have used a Manfrotto carbon fiber tripod with three way head and had not used a ball type head, just for fear of stability. I took a photography class even though I would suggest I am a long time photographer. There I learned about the value of a ball head. I already was a believer in the quick release. Weight is always an issue when one carries multiple lenses and a full size SLR camera so the magnesium head made total sense. This head is typical of Manfrotto engineering excellence and production. It is flawless and functions perfectly. Balance and stability are excellent and combined with the L bracket it is without fault. My worries about adjustment and holding its position were without ground. It is quickly adjusted and very easy to use. It is the perfect companion to the carbon fiber tripod. I can recommend this head without reserve.
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on April 14, 2012
Just got the Manfrotto 054 ball head after I received my first 70-200 2.8 lens. I have been using a smaller ball head for my Manfrotto tripod but I felt my current head was not sturdy enough for heavier lenses. I notice at first the difference in size & built, appears to be much more durable & it does handle my Tamron 70-200 with ease. Ball head movement is much more smoother & overall use is much easier (levers/adjusters). Only gripe is the head just like the smaller Manfrotto head, does not have a screw lock! I am not sure if there is such a thing but when placing the head to the tripod, there is no mechanism to prevent the head from "unscrewing" from the tripod. You will notice this if the head feels loose when panning. The only way to prevent this is by srewing the head to the tripod VERY tightly or that & putting some glue on it. But doing the latter will be a permanent fix and I am prety sure that won't be practical. Otherwise, the head is really nice & will serve you a lifetime of great picture taking.

Also saw at Youtube that it would be best that if you have a dedicated allen wrench for your tripod head, they do get loose in time & the plate locks 'rattle" and will cause your mounted DSLR/lens to shake & in time might fall-off especially on uneven ground or steep angles. Hope this advice helps.
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on February 28, 2011
I just received my 054 ballhead with Q2 quick release plate system today. Was very excited as it looked like an awesome head that would fit all my needs and I already have some quick release plates that are compatible with that system. After playing around with it for about 20 min and liking what I saw, I tried putting my 40D with battery grip on it using the tripod ring on my 70-200mm F/4 IS. With that setup, the camera cannot sit level horizontally because the battery grip hits the Q2 lock tab. So, I can either mount the quick release plate backwards on my lens to avoid this problem, but then have all of my knobs in the wrong place, use the plate on my battery grip, which isn't as stable or look into an alternate quick release plate system. I'll have to think about it...
FYI, my friend has the 70-200mm F/2.8 and 50D with battery grip, it works fine...
The ball head itself seems wonderful so far, but I haven't taken it out for a test drive yet. I love the 90 degree option for portrait photos and the panning option. Huge improvement over what I have had access to in the past. All of the levers and knobs are easy to operate, yet tighten well for a still shot.
Will update later when I've had a chance to use it more and have decided what to do about the quick release plate portion.
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on May 10, 2014
I upgraded to this head from an older 496 head, and I do like the upgrade. This head is a bit larger, and the leveling bubbles really are nice (though sometimes I spend too much time trying to get the shot perfectly level, which is something I can fix in PS in two seconds: so in some ways those bubbles are a curse for me). Also, the actual ball is a bit larger than the one in my old head, and while it does inspire more confidence, I never was unconfident with the old ball head. I guess, my point, is that Manfrotto products are good enough that even their lower end products are so good that an upgrade is nice, but not necessary. As such, these little "extras" like the ability to set the portrait degree at 90 or 105 degrees really are nice, but they are not something you really need. That said, if you have the money, they really are great touches. The main thing that made me love this head, however, is the lock. The lock on my old head was okay, but really wasn't confidence inspiring. With this head, when you really push that lock lever forward you are confident that the camera is LOCKED in place. I feel like I could pick up my tripod and swing it around, and the camera would stay attached. (Needless to say, I have never actually tried this!) In that sense, if you are using a pro-level DSLR with good glass, you will want this head. For the average person shooting with a consumer level DSLR and a kit lens, this head will still be great, and a pleasure to work with, but you could probably get by with a ball head that is half the cost. At this point in my career, this head makes sense, and it helps me get the job done quickly and efficiently. I've said it in other reviews, and I will reiterate it hear, I love Manfrotto products. I think they are expensive but not too expensive, and they are well worth the money!
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on May 9, 2016
Light, and easy to use. I love the design on the locking device (best from Manfrotto yet), and I'm sure I'll get years of service from this ball head. It holds my Canon 5D M 3, and my biggest lens (100-400 zoom) with ease.
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