ManfrottoWell-known tripod maker Manfrotto also offers a wide range of tripod heads, from three-way pan-tilt to ballhead, in a number of sizes and price ranges. The basic pan-tilt head, the 804RC2 ($73), includes a quick-release plate for Manfrotto's own mounting-plate system and can handle up to 8.8 pounds. The 329RC4 ($110) is a compact-style, three-way head that supports up to 20 pounds. The three bubble levels make it easier to keep your camera level when creating panoramic shots, and the head also features their quick-release system.
NovoflexNovoflex made a splash when it introduced the MagicBall heads. A unique blend of ballhead flexibility with panning head ease of use, the MagicBall is a popular option. The handle and mount give the user full range of motion like a ballhead does, with a quick-locking handle to keep your position. The MagicBall is available in three sizes, from $179 to $299.
The ClassicBall is a more traditional-looking ballhead, but even here Novoflex brings something unique: three slots in the ball housing for easier vertical positioning of your camera. The ClassicBall also uses a friction ring, an adjustable band around the housing that lets you easily set the friction level, even before mounting your camera. The ClassicBall is available in two sizes ($329 and $429).
All Novoflex ballheads employ a design that prevents the ball from shifting when force is applied. This means nothing moves as the head is being locked. Also, Novoflex balls aren't lubricated so they're unaffected by dust, moisture or sand.