Choosing a Tripod Head: Everything You Need to Know

by Tycho Smith December 10, 2019 4 min read

Choosing a Tripod Head: Everything You Need to Know

Amateurs and professionals alike rely on camera tripods to support their devices and stabilize shots. It can be difficult to hold the camera steady when recording a video or trying to capture a time-lapse. Many photographers consider tripods to be an essential accessory as they also help reduce blurriness. In order to use your tripod, you’ll need to invest in a tripod head as this is the device that connects your camera to your tripod.

There are a variety of tripod heads available on the market with different uses and designs. The four most common types of tripod heads include gimbal, panoramic, ball and pan and tilt. Choosing the right one will depend entirely on when and where you’re shooting. No matter what type of tripod head you’re looking for, Movo has an extensive collection for every type of project.

What Is a Tripod?

A tripod is one of the most commonly known photography accessories. Made up of three legs, a tripod is a stand that you can attach your camera to in order to keep the shot steady. This tool will eliminate any shakiness in videos that is often a result of trying to film while holding the camera in your hand. To give your videos the most professional look, you’ll need an accessory like a tripod or a stabilizer to keep the shot consistent. Tripods are also great for capturing long exposure shots that require a slower shutter speed, ensuring that no movement takes place and allowing more light to enter the camera.

Owl sitting on camera with gimbal head

What Is a Tripod Head?

In order to attach your camera to your tripod, you’ll need to use a tripod head. However, there is a large selection of tripod heads on the market, each of which has a different purpose and benefit. Tripod heads can be manually adjusted or motorized, allowing you to control the camera’s direction and movement with a remote control, computer or tablet. Motorized tripod heads are often used by nature photographers. Utilizing a tripod in your photography projects can greatly improve the quality of your shots and allow you to capture subjects you may not have tried to shoot before. Read more about the most common types of tripod heads to figure out which would be best for your endeavors.

Types of Tripod Heads

Ball Tripod Heads

Ball tripod heads are typically more lightweight than some of the other choices for tripod heads. Because of the ball design, this accessory can easily move the angle of the camera to capture the perfect shot. The movements of the ball tripod head can be more flexible than that of the pan and tilt heads, but they both work in a similar manner.

Pan and Tilt Heads

The pan and tilt heads are also meant to move the angle of the camera to capture different aspects of the scene or subject. However, with this accessory, you have the ability to alter the horizontal and vertical movements of the camera independently. This allows greater control over the angle, though the movements are less fluid than with a ball tripod head.

Gimbal Heads

Gimbal tripod heads are specifically designed for heavy cameras and long lenses and some models can support up to 30 lbs. of gear. The greatest advantage of using a gimbal head is the fact that the weight no longer needs to be supported by the photographer. The Movo GH800 Gimbal Head displays this feature with its “gravity-balanced” design that helps make even the heaviest of cameras feel weightless. This allows you to turn your attention to capturing the shot without worrying about supporting and moving the camera. With a gimbal head, you can move the camera vertically and horizontally all while keeping the camera perfectly balanced without adjusting or locking in any knobs. Additionally, gimbal tripod heads are great for capturing action shots quickly while keeping your camera stable. If you’re looking for a gimbal tripod head that works well with fast-moving subjects, the Movo GH700 is a must-have.

Panoramic Tripod Heads

Another common type of tripod head, the panoramic head is for panoramic videos and continuous panning videos as its name suggests. These devices are easy to set up and offer extreme precision, so panoramic tripod heads are perfect for landscape shots. This design allows your camera to rotate at a predetermined angle to capture a flawless panorama. The fluid, steady movement of the tripod head produces the greatest clarity and quality in your photograph.

If you’re looking for a tripod head that’s specific to time-lapse photography, a panoramic time-lapse tripod head is a great option. These types of tripod heads pan very smoothly, so you don’t have to worry about a shaky shot for long exposures. For a quality product with lots of great features, consider purchasing the Movo MTP-20 Programmable Time-Lapse Tripod Head, which is compatible with smartphones, GoPros and DSLR cameras.

Find All Your Photography Accessories at Movo

Great photography requires great accessories to improve the quality and capabilities of your camera. Tripods are considered a vital accessory for photographers–particularly those who shoot landscape and panoramic shots. At Movo, we have an extensive collection of tripod heads to allow your camera to move exactly the way you need it. From standard types like ball heads to motorized tripod heads, our accessories are perfect for photographers of all skill levels.

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