Manfrotto XPRO BHQ2 Ball Head Review (2018)
Recently I was in the market for a really good ball head and settled in on the Manfrotto XPRO BHQ2 Ball Head. What makes the Manfrotto XPRO BHQ2 rather unique is it’s use of Manfrotto’ 200PL quick release plate system, allowing a photographer or videographer to quickly and easily move cameras from one Monfrotto quick release bracket to another.
As one who loves cycling, I am always searching for great cycling products to review and often find that they come from Italy, so it should come as no surprise that the Italians would also make amazing products for photography. Based in Northern Italy at Cassola, Manfrotto designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of camera and lighting support equipment for the professional photographic, film, theater, live entertainment and video markets. The product line includes an extensive range of camera tripods and heads, lighting stands and accessories.
Back in 1974 the first Manfrotto tripod was launched through a partnership of Lino Manfrotto and Gilberto Battocchio. Manfrotto continues today to bring it with innovative photography and video equipment world wide.
Manfrotto XPRO Ball Head BHQ2 Unboxing
Manfrotto XPRO Ball Head BHQ2 Review
This year while watching one of my favorite Youtuber’s Jason Vong, I saw a video of him talking about the Manfrotto 323 quick change plate system using the 200PL quick release plates. In the video he describes how he is now using the system for all his camera gear and how you can even use it for gimbals. The light bulb went off and I knew it was time to change my own setup. The Manfrotto quick change plate system would allow me to quickly move a camera from a tripod, to a slider to a monopod with ease. For someone who is constantly looking for ways to speed up solo video production, this was a no brainer. Thanks Jason!
The Manfrotto XPRO Ball Head BHQ2 is considered a quick release / lever-release ball head system. It’s main rivals are the traditional screw-knob clamps, often referred to as Arca-Swiss style clamps.
The Manfrotto XPRO is available in both quick release (with the 200PL Plate) and an Arca Swiss version.
- With the quick release 200PL plate (BHQ2 Model)
- With the compatible Arca Swiss attach (BHQ6 Model)
Since I wanted the quick release option, I went with the BHQ2 model.
While both the Arca-Swiss and quick release clamping systems essentially do the same thing, namely clamp a camera to the ball head, the Manfrotto MHXPRO- BHQ2 design is much quicker and easier to attach or remove a camera. It is because of Manfrotto’s quick release mechanism and Jason Vong’s video, that I decided it was time to make a switch.
The Manfrotto XPRO Ball Head BHQ2 is a beautiful piece of equipment. It’s made from a combination of aluminum and magnesium. The main camera contact points and ball head are aluminum. The body and dials are made from magnesium. The Ball Head comes with 2 bubble levels, providing leveling indicators if needed.
Operation of quick release requires 2 fingers to set, usually your thumb and your fore finger. Once set, inserting the quick release plate will engage the locking mechanism to secure your camera. To remove the camera, you simply push down on the safety lock and pull back the quick release trigger. Those who cycle and use clipless pedals will love how the mechanism operates. It’s a stellar design and works perfectly every time.
One issue many people run into with a traditional Arca-Swiss style setups is when they over tighten the locking dial, trying to loosen the dial can be quite difficult. The Manfrotto quick release system totally eliminates that problem.
The ball head comes with 2 adjustment levers and 1 dial. The largest of the levers controls the ballhead and locks and unlocks it. The second smaller lever locks and unlocks the ball head’s panning. Both levers are ergonomically designed to feel really good when using them. The dial controls the tension on the ball head where you can adjust it +/- depending on your needs.
Manfrotto Bubble Levels
I always like ball heads that include a bubble level and Manfrotto doesn’t disappoint considering they include 2.
Manfrotto 200PL Quick Release Plates
The Manfrotto quick release system uses the Manfrotto 200PL quick release plates. Each plate has a popup camera key that allows you to screw it into the base without tools. On the bottom of the 200PL plate there are arrows indicating the direction the camera lens should face.
Are There Any Negatives with using the Manfrotto XPRO Ball Head?
The only negative I could find pertained to the adjustment levers. Both dip below the base when turning and can be problematic if the ball head is mounted on something that is wider than the base. Manfrotto addresses this issue by allowing the 2 adjustment levers to ratchet. Simply pull them away from theBHQ2 body, adjust as necessary and let them clip back in. This allows the ball head to be mounted pretty much anywhere, even if the base is smaller than what it is being mounted on.
Lever / Quick Release Clamps Vs Arca-Swiss Screw-Knob Clamps Pros and Cons
Arca-swiss camera plates and adapters have been exactly the same (size) for decades and can be replaced randomly among each other. When Monfrotto introduced their quick release system, it was a big deviation from the norm. I have to think that maybe some of the inspiration for the quick release camera plate came from clipless pedals that have a similar clamp in mechanism. Cinelli claims to have invented the first clipless pedal called the Cinelli M71 in 1970. Both Manfrotto and Cinelli hail from Italy, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Cinelli or some other cycling company might have played a role in the Monfrotto quick release plate.
Pros of using the Manfrotto Quick Release Design
- Faster Setup and Removal
- Maintain Tension over time
- Very Reliable Operation
- Easier to top load
- Consistent operation (Arca-Swiss clamps can be a pain to loosen if over tightened.)
Cons of using the Manfrotto Quick Release Design
- Heavier than similar Arca-Swiss clamps
- Usually more expensive than Arca-Swiss setups
- Specific mounting plates are required
- Can’t make subtle back/forth adjustments based on lens
Manfrotto XPRO Ball Head BHQ2 Specifications
The ball head comes with 3 dials, which control the ball head friction, the ball head lock/unlock and ball head panning. The Manfrotto also includes the quick release mechanism, 2 bubble levels and a 200PL photographer plate.
- Weight: 17.64 oz
- Collection/Series: X-PRO Ball Head
- Safety Payload Weight: 22.05 lbs
- Material: Aluminum, Magnesium
- Head Type: Ball Head
- Top Attachment: 1/4″ screw, 3/8″ thread female
- Base Diameter: 2.36 in
- Plate Type: 200PL-14
- Friction Control: Yes
- Front Tilt: -90° / +40°
- Lateral Tilt: -90° / +40°
- Panoramic Rotation: 360°
- Base Type: 1.77 in
- Ball Locking: Yes
- Bubble Spirit Level: 2 levels
- Pan Lock: YES
- Independent Tilt Lock: YES
- Maximum Working Temperature: 140 F
- Minimum Working Temperature -22 F
- Quick Release: YES
- Working Height: 4.53 in
- Warranty: 10 Years
- Retail: $154.99
Manfrotto XPRO BHQ2 Ball Head Q&A
Can you pan using the BHQ2?
YES. The XPRO has the ability to pan and turn 360 degrees
Is the Manfrotto XPRO compatible with most tripods?
YES. Any tripod that has the standard 3/8″ mounting will work. For smaller mounts an adapter can most likely be used.
What is the load capacity of the Manfrotto XPRO BHQ2?
Load capacity is 22 pounds, which is way more than enough for DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras.
Is there a quick release plate included with the Manfrotto XPRO BHQ2?
YES. The Manfrotto XPRO BHQ2 comes with one quick release plate
Is the Manfrotto quick release system compatible with Peak Design Capture Clip Plates?
YES. The Peak Design CapturePRO Camera Clip with PROplate (Discontinued) is compatible. The plates will need to have 2 adapters added, but it should work. Peak Designs current plate is called the Dual Plate and is compatible with Monfrotto RC2 systems.
Bottom Line – Manfrotto XPRO BHQ2 Ball Head Review
If you are looking to save some time, especially those who are solo vloggers, the Manfrotto XPRO BHQ2 Ball Head is a must have. The simple fact that you can switch cameras so easily is huge.
Check out Manfrotto’s website for more information (https://www.manfrotto.us/)
BUY – Manfrotto XPRO BHQ2 Ball Head
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good review. I work with Manfrotto tripod heads (RC2) for over 15 years and already own that ball head for some year now. I never wished for changing the system, because it’s so simple and reliable. But now I’ve got a Utebit camera clip und the delivered quick release plate doesn’t fit in the Manfrotto head. I don’t want to change the quick release plate of the ball head to fiddly Acra Swiss. Does the new Peak Design Dual Plate fit in the Manfrotto XPRO BHQ2?
Tom, great review there. I was sufficiently influenced to spring for one. Could you recommend an affordable tripod body to pair up with this ? My needs are something light , affordable and will be used for photography in the UK, Wales and Scotland over a 2 week period. Cheers and many thanks !
You might not like my answer for the price, but I have to say the Manfrotto tripods are the ones I recommend at the moment. They are a bit pricy, but if you ever decide to sell them, you will get more money than other tripods. I would check out the Manfrotto 190Go. You can save money if you opt for aluminum vs carbon. For travel I would recommend 4 section over 3 section for length, but it’s really up to you.