(From company literature) Markins Light Weight Ultra Precision Q-Ball Q3 Ball Head. Markins Q3 Emille is a triumph of compact design and precision engineering. Its distinctive bell shaped design (patented) is inspired by the legendary Emille Bell. The compactness and light weight of Q3 Emille is ideal to match with a light-weighted tripod such as Gitzo series-1 or smaller tripods. It is strong enough to support small SLR cameras such as Nikon D70 or Canon 20D with mid-sized zoom lens such as 70-200mm/f2.8.
Patented ergonomic design.
All-in-one type ballhead with a quick release clamp compatible with dovetail style plates from other major manufacturers.
Ideal ballhead for small SLR cameras such as Nikon D70 or Canon 20D with mid-zoom lens (70-200mm/f2.8).
Light weight, amazing support, smooth operation.
Bi-axial progressive locking mechanism supporting up to 65 lbs of weight (130 lbf-in of torque).
Amazing 78 load/weight ratio (weighs only 0.84 lbs).
Patented fluid style main knob for smooth and easy control.
Simple and intuitive single knob tension control.
Drop notch for vertical photographs.
Panning base with laser engraved index at every 10 degrees.
Tough and beautiful hard-anodized finish.
Express yourself with blue or wine-red anodized finish.
Fits all standard monopods and tripods with a 3/8" bolt (Tripods with 1/4" bolt require an adapter bushing which is not provided).
Selecting camera bodies and lenses is easy - most of us are tied into a manufacturer and there isn't much choice. However, when it comes to tripods and ball heads there is a bewildering choice on the market.
These days there are many Asian companies making cheap copies of well-known brands. At one time quality was a problem, but they are improving constantly.
Or are they?
I found lots of comments on the Internet that made me wary about trying to save money on a ball head. I feared that it might be a false economy.
In the end, I decided to go for known quality. Where I live in provincial Thailand there isn't a lot of choice, but I was able to buy a Markins. I'm glad I did.
In the field it feels great and I have no worries about it supporting expensive equipment. Together with the Gitzo GT2541EX tripod, this combination gives me a lot of confidence.
With a fairly heavy load, the lens will creep down a little after it has been locked. You need to position the lens a little higher initially to counter for this.
The panning lock screw is small and it is difficult to lock the panning adjustment securely. If you have a centre column that can be set horizontally and you position the ball head so that there is rotational force, it won't stay still.
Try to keep the ball head vertical and use the main locking knob to lock it in position, not the panning lock.
The load specifications for the Q3 are more than enough for my requirements but with hindsight I should probably have gone for one of the larger models.
It's convenient to have a light, small ball head but for absolute stability the larger models are always better.
If you're doing a lot of hiking and want a good, small, light ball head for general photography that will perform flawlessly in most situations, this is a good choice.
If you want something that will be rock solid - where size and weight aren't a problem - go for something bigger.