Here are the best tripod heads for your spotting scopes.
A tripod is a fundamental accessory for your spotting scope, but the tripod stand is not enough on its own. Whether you have a full-size, compact, or mini tripod, you need to make sure that the tripod has the best tripod head for your spotting scope.
A tripod head is essential for your mounted optic as it controls the orientation of your mounted optics. But which tripod head should you pick out? What should you look out for in your tripod head, and what are the different types of tripod heads? With the tripod head being the part of the tripod that holds your optics in place, it may influence the quality of the images you view, and at the same time, the tripod head affects how easy it will be for you to spot different animals when hunting.
Keep reading to find out all you need to know about tripod heads for spotting scopes.
Comparison Table for Best Tripod Head for Spotting Scope
Best Tripod Head for Spotting Scope
Manfrotto XPRO Ball Head (MHXPRO-BHQ2)
Best Overall Tripod Head
Neewer Professional Metal 360-Degree Panoramic Ball Head
Most Affordable Tripod Ball Head
Vanguard Alta BH-250 Ball Head
Large Weight Capacity
SIRUI VH/VA-Series Fluid Video Head (VA-5)
Best Vibration Free Spotting Scope Tripod Head
PERGEAR TH4 Ball Head
Great Value for Money
IFOOTAGE Tripod Head
Most Versatile Tripod Head
Reviews of the best tripod heads for spotting scopes
Manfrotto XPRO Magnesium Ball Head with 200PL Plate (MHXPRO-BHQ2) – Best Overall Tripod Head
First on our list is this Manfrotto tripod head, a ball head tripod head designed to enhance the performance of your spotting scope. The ball head design enhances the spotting scope’s performance, and you can spot game from different angles. It’s also designed ideally for traveling with its lightweight and simple design.
It offers a high level of precision thanks to the triple-locking system for the tripod head, as well as the polymer rings, which ensure stable positioning of the spotting scope or your camera easily. The high-precision ad stable positioning also ensures that you don’t have to deal with drifting movements.
It is quite portable, too, thanks to its lightweight build from the magnesium alloy build of the tripod head. The portability and the lightweight design of the tripod head are further enhanced by the ball head’s new hollow sphere. Despite its lightweight design, this tripod head is quite strong and durable, and also very stylish. The Italian styled tripod boasts an iconic design and durability, thanks to the use of high-quality materials and advanced engineering that leaves you with a high-performance ball tripod head.
You might also like this ball head because of the two leveling bubbles system, which allows for fine adjustment and easy opening of the locking knobs. Then you have the triple locking system that features three wedges enclosing the spheres, hence a high level of stability and smooth positioning.
You also won’t have to deal with messy grease thanks to the polymer rings enhancing the accuracy and smoothness of the ball head’s movements.
- Lightweight and portable
- High-strength, durable build
- Smooth and accurate scope positioning
- Fine adjustments
- Great spotting scope stability
- Versatile and works with Manfrotto 055 and 190 tripods
- No drifting movements
- Strong levers
- Works well for photography too
- The locking screw can easily fall off.
- The release system is not the best for cameras, and the camera could fall off.
Neewer Professional Metal 360-Degree Panoramic Ball Head – Most Affordable Tripod Ball Head
With a 360 degrees swivel angle and three adjustment knobs, this panoramic ball tripod head allows for quick adjustment of the spotting scope or the camera with ease. It has a maximum weight capacity of 17.6lbs and works great for tripods, spotting scopes, monopod, DSLR cameras, etc.
This tripod head is built for the best hunting performance thanks to the 3/8 inch bottom screw thread, which allows for easy attachment to the tripod, enhancing its angle-changing flexibility. It also features a ¼ inch quick-shoe plate that allows for set in only seconds, both in vertical and horizontal bubble levels, enhancing your perception of the positions. Then there is index marking at the base for precision control.
This tripod head is also ideal for your spotting scope as it is built for use outdoors. The fine-tuning damping feature will protect the tripod head from any sudden plunges as you change your scope’s angles.
It is a very durable tripod head made of a high-quality aluminum alloy constriction, an anodized surface, and high-precision CNC finishing.
- The reliable, quick release plate
- Great position perception for vertical and horizontal bubble level adjustment
- Easy angling thanks to the smooth ball joint
- 3/8” screw mount for easy mounting of the spotting scope
- Durable aluminum construction
- Precise control enhanced by the index marking on the base
- 360-degrees swivel
- Three adjustment knobs
- Large weight capacity of 17.6lbs
- Slightly heavy
- Not suitable for professionals
- You need two screws to tighten the ball
Vanguard Alta BH-250 Ball Head – Large Weight Capacity
If you are looking for a heavy-duty tripod head to hold your heavy spotting scope, camera, or other optical devices, this Vanguard tripod head might be exactly what you need. It boasts a maximum weight capacity of 44lbs, which means you can look forward to the highest workload performance and a high safety payload for multiple gadgets and multi-gear setups.
Its performance is further enhanced by the three independent unwavering knobs, including the easy-to-grip main ball lock, the 360-degrees panning knob, and the friction control knob, which is ergonomically designed. Then you have the highly intuitive and rapid positioning features which ensure that you have your spotting scope set up in minutes. You might also like its high-precision design made possible by the smooth two bubble leveling.
It’s quite robust, too, thanks to its construction out of aircraft-grade aluminum, which not only lasts a long time but also quite lightweight. The oxidization on the anodized surface further enhances the long-term performance and the precise setup of the tripod head.
It also sports a safety feature called the Arca-Swiss, a quick-release system that’s compatible with the built-in retractable safety pin at the top of the tripod head’s mounting plate.
- Durable and robust construction
- Lightweight aluminum construction
- Excellent precision control and alignment
- Easy leveling and fine-tuning by the dual bubble levels
- Ergonomic design
- 3 independent adjustment knobs for micro-adjustment, panning, and friction control
- Easy setup
- Heavy duty with 44lbs maximum weight capacity
- The panning function feels a little too tight
SIRUI VH/VA-Series Fluid Video Head (VA-5) – Best Vibration Free Spotting Scope Tripod Head
For the best fluid tripod head that allows you to enjoy vibration-free use and the smoothest adjustments at all times. It has a maximum weight capacity of 3kgs, which is ideal for mounting your spotting scope.
The sophisticated fluid-dampen system and the quick release plate enhance its smooth tilting and panning performance, preventing accidental slipping and smooth adjustments. Its operation is easy, direct, and straightforward, and you might like it because of its compatibility with the Arca Swiss system. It also boasts a spring-assisted counter-balance system that allows for smoother tilt movements while adding support and extra protection to your equipment.
- Great support from the internal spring system
- Good balance
- Super-smooth tilting and panning
- Solid, durable built
- Efficient quick-release plate
- Vibration-free setup and use
- Arca-Swiss compatible
- Great vertical damping
- The design of the clamp is faulty; positioning could be better.
PERGEAR TH4 Ball Head – Great Value for Money
Designed to hold your spotting scope’s weight comfortably and to last a long time, this ball-design tripod head is made of high-quality aluminum alloy, with CNC construction and an anodized surface. These design features leave you with a superior quality tripod head that’s worth your money. The aluminum alloy construction of this gadget is the reason for its lightweightedness and the impressive weight capacity of 22lbs.
It boasts a low center of gravity design that’s about 15% the center of gravity of the traditional tripod head. The reduction in the center of gravity enhances its stability and overall performance.
The other features of this tripod head include the easy lock knobs that allow you to unlock and work around the tripod head easily for quick hunting and panoramic shooting. It also allows you to switch to the vertical orientation easily thanks to the double U-shaped grooves, which also allow you to switch to and from the horizontal mode easily.
- Durable aluminum construction
- Impressive maximum weight capacity of 22lbs
- Universal compatibility
- 360-degrees rotation
- Low center of gravity for better balance
- Easy operation thanks to the large knob design
- Easy position adjustment
- Compact and lightweight
- Some people prefer TH3; TH4 is smaller
- The mounting plate is a little too small for some cameras
IFOOTAGE Tripod Head – Most Versatile Tripod Head
Last on our list of the best tripod heads for spotting scopes is this IFootage high-quality, professional tripod head. It boasts a high level of versatility, and besides use in hunting, it works great for shooting videos and photos. It works with tripods, scopes, DSLR cameras, camcorders, monopods, etc. It has a maximum load capacity of 11lbs and sports ¼ inch mounting screws, which ensure easy mounting of different gadgets. It comes with the standard 3/8 inch threaded screw port at the bottom for easy mounting.
Its fully adjustable and removable assembly, along with the pan and tilt arm, means that you can operate this tripod head from different directions effortlessly. It also boasts an ergonomic design, allowing for super-fluid tilts and pan locking with panning at 360 degrees and a tilt range of between +90 degrees and -83 degrees. You might also like the camera’s safety lock that will lock the plate to the tripod’s head while also releasing the attached scope, tripod, or camera easily.
The bubble level allows for accurate positioning, with the security locking knob set up to prevent your equipment from falling off accidentally. The bubble level further allows for stable hunting and easy adaptation/ use in different environments.
- Fluid pan and tilt functions
- Easy operation
- Solid construction from aircraft-grade aluminum alloy
- QR plate is removable
- 11lbs maximum weight capacity
- Spring balance is a little too stiff
- The bottom plate doesn’t offer an adequate grip
Buying Guide for Tripod Heads for Spotting Scopes
When looking for a tripod head, there are numerous factors that you need to keep in mind to make sure that you get the best value for your money. Below are some of the important factors for you to keep in mind when buying a tripod head for your spotting scope.
Types of tripod heads
There are two main types of tripod heads, pan-head and ball head tripods. While some people opt for the ball heads, others swear by the pan heads, which is why it’s important to understand the differences between the two. As the part of the tripod whose primary function is to securely hold your scoping equipment while controlling the movement of your optical devices, you want to make sure that your tripod head is designed to offer the best performance.
The ball head refers to the design of the tripod head – it features a ball fitted into a socket using a screw, upon which the camera is mounted. This tripod head design is easy to adjust and use/ operate, but it is not very precise. The ball tripod head offers a great deal of flexibility and smooth movement of the optics thanks to the single control point of the ball head, which loosens and tightens its grip with ease. The flexibility of the ball tripod heads comes from the fact that you can easily and quickly adjust the camera at any angle; however, weird it appears and also at a 180-degrees angle. However, because you could loosen the tilt mistakenly, the ball heads are not the best for video. If you need your ball tripod head for some video action, besides used with the spotting scope, you might want to invest in the high-end tripod heads.
On the other hand, there is the pan-tilt tripod head designed to provide horizontal movement of the tripod head with the use of a single handle or dual handles. The dual handles design of the pan-tilt tripod head allows for vertical and horizontal movement of the tripod. The pan head is common with cheaper tripods.
If you are into photography and have a 300mm+ lens, you will need a heavy-duty tripod head, which is where the gimbal tripod head comes in. Though this isn’t common with hunters, it is a great tripod head for anyone looking for great balance from their optical devices. The gimbal tripod head is quite common with fast-action photography.
But these aren’t the only types of tripod heads on the market; there also are two-way and three-way tripod heads.
Two-way Tripod Heads
The two-way tripod head is the most basic/ common tripod heads, and it’s often called a video or a camcorder head. As the name suggests, you can move the tripod head in two directions – horizontally or vertically. It works great with spotting scopes, as well as binoculars.
Three-way tripod heads
This type of tripod head is designed to provide a wider range of motion to the basic two-way tripod head, meaning that in addition to the vertical and horizontal motions, it also allows you to flip the spotting scope or camera on its side. Thanks to the design features of the three-way tripod head, you can take/ view images from below your tripod. It works well with cameras and spotting scopes too.
Fluid tripod heads
If you are looking for the best hunting/ photography/ and videography spotting scope, you could consider the fluid effect variety. These tripod heads offer slow and smooth movements of your device for the best shots and animal sightings.
Now that we have the types of tripod heads covered, let’s look at the other important features you need to take into consideration.
The tripod heads are made of lightweight and durable materials like magnesium-aluminum alloy, but others are made of die-cast materials. Essentially, the tripod head should be sturdy and lightweight.
The motion provided and weight supported.
In terms of the range ofmotion provided, you know that you have the two-way and the three-way tripod heads, and the tripod head you settle on is the one that offers the level of motion flexibility you desire.
Weight – the weight of the gadget to be supported by the tripod head is an important consideration for you to keep in mind. You need a tripod and tripod head that’s light but strong enough to support the weight of your optical devices. For heavy and high magnification scopes, make sure that the design of the tripod head and its build will support the scope’s weight comfortably. Bear in mind that a weak tripod head often means that your target won’t be in your field of view because the tripod head will likely be sagging under the weight of your scoping device. In some cases, adjusting the height of the tripod or loosening the mount would compensate for sagging, but this doesn’t always work. So, make sure that your tripod head supports the weight of the spotting scope comfortably.
Desired use – the tripod head you choose depends on what you intend to use the tripod head for and the optical instrument to be mounted on the tripod head. For your spotting scope, you could use any type of tripod head, as long as it supports the weight of the scope and provides the desired level of flexibility.
What’s the importance of the quick-release system?
When looking for a tripod head, you need to keep in mind the quick release system. Also called the QR system, this function determines how firmly the spotting scope is held in place. It features a plating locking unit that will hold the scope in place, and at the touch of a button or adjustment of the lever, release the spotting scope or the camera. Given the importance of the QR system, your tripod head must have the best quick release system.
What’s a ball head?
The ball head is a tripod head design designed to allow for seamless movements in three axes. It offers a great 3-way movement, and you can adjust directions using the adjustment knob.
What is a geared tripod head?
The geared tripod head is a high precision engineered tripod head ideal for studio work, as well as outdoor and architectural photography. It might not be a go-to option for hunters because of the price and weight. However, it offers excellent precision control, perfect alignment, and accurate composition.
Tripod heads are versatile, but their performance will vary depending on the construction and the features incorporated. When it comes to tripod heads for spotting scopes, the ball head tripod head design comes highly recommended, and the reviewed tripod heads above are some of the best options for you.