Choosing a Leofoto LH (Low Profile) Ballhead

Leofoto’s low profile ball heads feature the latest in tripod head design combined with premium materials and precision manufacturing to offer a powerful, ergonomic and easy to use tripod head. A cup machined from aircraft grade aluminium holds a hollow-core ball made from the same material, while Japanese ball bearings ensure smooth panning control and gaskets on all control-knobs keep out dirt and moisture. A low-friction Delrin sleeve is used between the cup and the ball to ensure smooth drag. This combination of cutting-edge design and premium materials puts Leofoto’s products far ahead of most manufacturers in the market, which are still making conventional heads.

The LH-40R alongside the LH-36R

Low profile ball heads offer several advantages over conventional ball heads 

  • The camera sits closer to the apex, which has several benefits like improved stiffness and a lower center of gravity.
  • The cup has a much larger contact area with the ball, allowing greater grip.
  • The lower profile design allows the use of a much bigger ball without making the overall head too large. Larger ball = better grip.
  • A simpler design means a longer lifespan and better durability in testing conditions.
  • Less material and a simpler design means it is lighter and cheaper than a similar sized conventional ball head.

Sizes Available

The range starts with the diminutive LH-25 with a tiny 25mm ball through to the large LH-55 with its 55mm ball. The sizes are also available in a range of clamp types, which are listed as variants of the product (e.g. the LH-40 is available in 4 different variants, selectable on the LH-40’s product page).

LH-55 – R5 999.00

This is the big boy in the range and what would be considered an oversize model. It weighs a whopping 940g and will comfortably hold an 800mm lens. Think twice before purchasing this head as it is not travel friendly. It features a massive locking knob and two decent sized knobs for tension adjustment and panning, all with deep ribbing for good grip. This head is equivalent to a Kirk BH1, Gitzo GH3382QD or SIRUI K40x.

This head is ideal for large lenses (400mm f/2.8 and bigger) and large cameras (medium –large format)

LH-40 – R3 999.00

This is without a doubt our favourite size. It is essentially just a downsized LH-55 and still features all the individual controls in the form of large, ribbed knobs that can be easily controlled even by someone with stubby fingers. It is a nice fit on 36, 32, and 28 series tripods, but starts looking a touch oversized on 25 and under. It weighs 540g, making it equivalent to a Kirk BH3 or Gitzo GH1382QD, but at R3299, it wins the price battle by a million miles.

This head is ideal for full frame cameras with lenses up to a 300mm f/2.8 or 400mm f/5.6.

LH-36 – R3 499.00

The middle model is the smallest size that still features individual tension and pan controls, but in order to fit on the much smaller head, the controls are downsized to two smaller knobs of which one is a round knurled knob (panning) and one is a flatter tap-style knob (tension adjustment) that needs fine handling. Any competent photographer will be fine with this head, but you’ll need to sit down for 20 minutes and get to know the head to see what level of tension suits the weight of your gear. This head is equivalent to a SIRUI K20x and a touch smaller than a Kirk BH3 or Gitzo GH1382QD.

This head is ideal for APS-C cameras or full frames with wide and mid-range lenses.

LH-30 – R2 999

The LH-30 is the second smallest in the range and tension adjustment is foregone at this size, but an individual pan knob still remains. Without individual tension adjustment, the low-profile head with its larger ball-contact area really shines. It is easier to set a fine amount of drag that will hold the bulk of the camera’s weight, while still allowing you to manipulate it and compose the shot. This head pairs perfectly with the 25 series tripods like the LS-255C or LS-254C. This head features wingnut/tap style knobs for easy operation.

This head is ideal for APS-C cameras with light lenses or MFT cameras.

LH-25 – R1 499.00

Although tiny, this is a very capable head for small mirrorless camera systems and ideal for the adventurous shooters who count every gram they carry. This head only has one knob, which locks both the ball and the panning axis. This is actually very convenient to use, but it does mean that panos on the tripod are no longer an option. It weighs a measly 180g and is priced at just R1 299.00.

This head is ideal for MFT and compact cameras or APS-C cameras with light lenses.

Clamp Types

The LH-30, LH-36 and LH-40 heads are available in 4 different clamp types, while the LH-55 and LH-25 are available in two clamp types.

Screw Clamp Standard | E.G LH-40

This is the standard and most affordable option and what you’ll get when purchasing a tripod kit containing an LH head.

Screw Clamp Panning | E.G LH-40R

A panning clamp allows easy panorama shooting by simply levelling the clamp instead of the entire tripod. Note 1 – the spirit level on the clamp will be under the camera, so you need to remove the camera to level the clamp. Note 2 – as you cannot tilt the clamp up or down as you would if the whole tripod is levelled, your horizon will always be in the middle of the frame.

Lever Release Clamp Standard | E.G LH-40LR

Anyone who was spent a long day shooting with a screw-clamp tripod will know the effect it has on your fingers – loosening and tightening a screw clamp too many times can be tedious and painful. A lever release clamp makes life a lot easier, but the majority of manufacturers shy away from it for one reason – price. The lever has to be made from a much harder alloy like stainless steel, as aluminium and normal steel bends under the pressure that the lever is subjected to. Similarly, the flex provided to the hinge of the lever has to be from a brass bushing as rubber simply doesn’t last.

A lever release clamp is an absolute pleasure to use, but it costs an average 25% more. Fortunately, due to Leofoto’s amazing pricing, an LH-40LR at R4 799.00 still costs far less than competing heads like Kirk’s BH3 (R5 999) or Gitzo’s GH1382QD (R5299).

Lever Release Clamp Panning | E.G LH-40PCL

Panning lever release clamp


An exploded view of all the components


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