I got the Sunwayfoto ballhead for 2 reasons: to replace the AirHed 1 that came with my 3LeggedThing Brian tripod and to make panoramas much easier with its panning clamp.
The AirHed 1 was nice, lightweight and an awesome blue color. However, it had 2 issues that had me looking at replacements.
1. The Arca Swiss clamp on top had a retention pin that didn't play nice with telephoto lens collar plates. The pin had a tendancy to get jammed inside the collar plate channel making removal of lens difficult.
2. The drag setting collar around the main control knob didn't seem to have a large enough effect to hold my heavier lenses & LEE filter combinations properly.
With my upcoming trip to Colorado, I also wanted to add a top panning clamp for easier panoramas with my AcraTech Nodal Rail.
WHAT I LIKE
+ Panning Clamp
The addition of the panning clamp makes setting up a panorama shoot much faster.
+ Panning Clamp, Again
The panning clamp is smaller than the rectangular clamp that was on the AH1, fitting inside the reverse folded legs even better.
The Sunwayfoto is even lighter than the already quite lightweight magnesium AH1.
Even though the AH1 was small, purpose built for the Brian travel tripod, the Sunwayfoto is even smaller without sacrificing ballsize and clamping strenth.
+ Size, Height
It's shorter – this allows the center column to be extended more when folded. With the column further extended, the legs can collapse closer to the center column due to the taper of the leg sections.
+ Size, Diameter
It has a narrower base – further reducing any obstruction when the legs are reverse folded.
+ Size, Ball
36mm ball – The AH1 has a 37mm ball. The Sunwayfoto is more compact and efficient in it's use of space and yet has more clamping force. An all around win.
+ Build Quality
The Sunwayfoto is incredibly well built. I've handled ArcaSwiss and ReallyRightStuff ballheads, and I'm floored that this ballhead cost as little as it does. Everything operates extremely smoothly, it locks up like a rock when you want it to, and the finish is flawless.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE
– Control Size, Kind Of
The purpose of this ballhead is for travel, so size and weight is important. The small panning clamp controls make operation with snow gloves on difficult. This is absolutely a trade-off I'm comfortable with, because larger controls would reduce it's ability to hide inside reverse folded tripods.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THE SUNWAYFOTO FB-36?
If you are looking for a ballhead that fits perfectly in a reverse folding travel tripod - I can't reccomend this one highly enough. If you are looking for a heavy duty ballhead for a studio tripod or for a big telephoto lens - you might look elsewhere. This is a really solid ballhead, but there are other bigger, tougher options for locking down a really heavy load.
HOW ABOUT THE DDH-02 PANNING CLAMP?
Yep. Especially if paired with the FB-36 for a travel setup. For bigger camera/lens setups, or where weight is not important, there are plenty of other panning clamps with more clamping area and larger, easier to operate controls.