Head Choice

  1. Introduction & Specifications
  2. Design & Operation
  3. Test Results
  4. Head Choice
  5. Comparison & Conclusion

When selecting a head, one wants to pair the legs with a head that will not compromise the stiffness of the system as a whole.  On the other hand, a head that is too big adds diminishing performance increases and just adds weight.  

Below is the optimization result for selecting a ball head.  This chart plots the stiffness to weight ratio for this tripod and each ball head that I have tested in blue dots versus the stiffness of those heads.  The red line is a generalized model for a strong performing ball head. The higher up on the this graph the higher stiffness/weight performance of the system.  More information on this analysis can be found in the ball head choice optimization page.

This chart is telling us that we want to choose a lightweight ballhead with a stiffness of around 1800 Nm/rad.  Even though the tripod legs aren’t that stiff to begin with, they also aren’t super light which means there is relatively little downside in terms of weight to simply getting a stiffer head.

Note that our algorithm is actually suggesting a less stiff head for the Carbon version of the tripod as opposed to the Aluminum version.  This may seem counter intuitive, but in this case the carbon version of the tripod is less stiff than the aluminum one.  Also, since the carbon is lighter, there is more to lose on a percentage basis by going with a bigger, heavier head.

Recommended Heads

Note that these recommendations are limited to the tripod heads I have tested.  The more general discussion above should provide adequate guidance if your head of choice is not listed.

MeFoto Q1:  This is the head that comes with the tripod and has a stiffness of about 1600 Nm/rad.  Its not totally optimal, it is good enough.  While this head isn’t high quality, none of the tripod is, and the head is frankly the least of my complaints.

Sirui K-10X:  If you are really unhappy with the included head and want to upgrade, this is the correct answer.  It is fully featured, and provides a big step up in stability and build quality from the Q1.  It is a bit larger than exactly optimal, but still within the optimal range.

RRS BH-30:  This is probably the best head available for the MeFoto Roadtrip.  It has a great stiffness/weight ratio, and very high build quality.  It is however, more expensive than the entire tripod.  Spend your money on a better set of legs.

If you are using the MeFoto RoadTrip Carbon, or looking to buy it, just use the head that comes with it.  Otherwise, funnel that money into getting a better tripod to begin with.