Hands-On Review: The Robus RTH-1050 Ball Head

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Prior to reviewing the Robus RTH-1050 Ball Head, I was familiar with the Robus name but had zero hands-on experience with its products. After spending a few days with an RTH-1050 Ball Head mounted on a Robus RC-5570 Vantage Series 3 Carbon Fiber tripod, I can tell you I’m not only familiar with Robus products—I’m also liking them.

The Robus RTH-1050 Ball Head is a heavy lifter, and you know it when you pick it up. Manufactured from aircraft-grade aluminum with a weight capacity of up to 55 lb, the Robus RTH-1050 is designed to handle the largest of camera rigs safely. The heaviest camera I currently own, a Hasselblad 500CM with a 50mm f/4 Distagon lens and an A12 film magazine, weighs about 1/10 the maximum capacity of the RTH-1050. Like I said, this ball head is designed to handle big rigs safely and securely.

Photographs © Allan Weitz 2020

The Robus RTH-1050 makes easy business of a Hasselblad medium-format camera with a 50mm lens and a film magazine, which together weigh about 1/10th of the RTH-1050’s 55 lb. load capacity.
The Robus RTH-1050 makes easy business of a Hasselblad medium-format camera with a 50mm lens and a film magazine, which together weigh about 1/10 of the RTH-1050’s 55-lb load capacity.

I use the word “safely” because when it comes to tripod heads, weight capacity is only one qualifying factor for choosing a camera support system. Equally important are the head controls—the locks, knobs, friction controls, and the fluidity of movement. The Robus RTH-1050 fares well in this department. The control knobs are large, sensibly located, easy to lock and unlock, and the friction control knob, smartly located in the face of the lock knob, enables a seemingly infinite degree of drag control.

All of the controls on the Robus RTH-1050 are large, easy to maneuver, and when locked down, your camera and lens are as secure as secure gets.
All of the controls on the Robus RTH-1050 are large, easy to maneuver, and when locked down, your camera and lens are as secure as secure gets.

With my camera seated and locked in place, I was able to maneuver the camera position fluidly and with just the right amount of resistance. The ball sits well within the head collar and rotates without rough spots, regardless of camera position. I didn’t notice any drift when my camera and lens locked down in an off-center position, which I attribute to the large ball size and general design of the RTH-1050. Once locked down, it was if the camera were welded in place.

This is notable because one of the downsides of lesser ball heads is that if you do not thoroughly torque down the head’s locking knob, heavier camera and lens combinations sometimes start drifting until they reach a point at which gravity takes over and things suddenly point earthward. Though I did not test the RTH-1050 at maximum payload, the head performed extremely well with all three camera systems I used over the course of this review.

The Robus RTH-1050 is a solid, heavy-lifting ballhead designed to support secure big rigs in place.
The Robus RTH-1050 is a solid, heavy-lifting ball head designed to support secure big rigs in place.

A 90° notch allows you to shift quickly from landscape to portrait orientation (or vice versa) quickly and smoothly. For maintaining level horizon lines and minimizing distortions, a small bubble level is integrated into the top of the head’s Arca-compatible quick release. This is a handy feature, but if you plan on mounting a larger camera system on the head, I recommend that you level the head before mounting the camera, which when mounted, will most likely cover the level.

The Robus RTH-1050 ballhead features an integrated bubble level and Arca-compatible quick-release plates
The Robus RTH-1050 ball head features an integrated bubble level and Arca-compatible quick-release plates.

The quick-release head and the included AQR-60 Arca-compatible quick-release plate, which features security pins to prevent your camera from accidentally slipping off the head, both feature calibration markings for precise and repeatable camera and lens positioning. It should be noted the RTH-1050 is designed for tripods with 3/8"-16 mounting studs and cameras with ¼"-20 sockets.

For panning and repositioning your camera, the RTH-1050 rotates a full 360° at the base, with demarcations at set intervals, and there’s a small knob within easy reach to lock the base in place.

The Robus RTH-1050 features 360° panning and large, tactile knobs for locking the camera and lens firmly in place.
The Robus RTH-1050 features 360° panning and large, tactile knobs for locking the camera and lens firmly in place.

I only used the Robus RTH-1050 in the field, but I have no doubt it would perform equally well in a studio setting. Do you have experience with ball heads? And if so, how does the Robus RTH-1050 size up to the ball heads with which you’re familiar? Let us know in the Comments field, below. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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