8 new from CDN$ 194.85

Vanguard SBH-250 Magnesium Ball Head with Sliding Quick Shoe

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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8 new from CDN$ 194.85
  • Precision-cut with safety lock and 360
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Strong aluminum alloy
  • 40 mm plate to support various sized equipment
  • Great for use with monopods and tripods

Product Details

  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 12.7 x 9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 621 g
  • Item model number: SBH-250
  • ASIN: B003BQ71MA
  • Date first available at Amazon.ca: June 7 2012
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #129,793 in Electronics (See Top 100 in Electronics)
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Product Description

Vanguard SBH-250 Magnesium Ball Head with Sliding Quick Shoe

Customer Questions & Answers

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

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This is an excellent ball head for a tripod. It is very solidly made and easy to use. The only weak point is the documentation, which was very sparse to say the least. With the exception of the documentation, I would rate this an excellent buy and good value for the money. I currently use it on a Manfrotto monopod, but only because I am having trouble getting the SBH-100 off the Vanguard tripod. Once I do that I will swap the two. Great product though
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Verified Purchase
Better than I thought it would be.!! Well built and it works like it should. I highly recommend this ball head .... great product!!
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Verified Purchase
Poor user's manual
Solid construction; easily adjusted and set
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa4666888) out of 5 stars 242 reviews
61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4296f90) out of 5 stars Great but for one tiny (really) design flaw that could prove disastrous Jan. 6 2012
By Team CDR - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Have had this item for several months now. Use with a Slik 700DX tripod. Combo is very sturdy but longer and heavier than what i am comfortable carrying around town. (I live in Seoul South Korea). Head is smooth, controls work fine--no issues. I especially like the addition of the knob that allows you to set the ball head tension so that when you unlock the fixing knob the head does just flop over. The system works well to support a 7D w/ ef 300 f/2.8 II lens. (No vibrations during exposures.)

Only issue is with the little orange button that you must push to lower a pin that allows you to slide the the clamp plate off the ballhead. (You can see the button in the photos.) A few days ago i was removing the clamp plate to attach it to the camera. I had a bad angle and my thumb slipped off the button while i was pushing it in. the little orange button part shot out of the head. fortunately i was in the house so was able to find the pin. The pin mechanism is made up of three parts: 1-the pin itself; 2- a tensioning spring and 3-a very small philips head screw that has two functions--to hold the spring on the pin and to hold the whole assembly in the ballhead. I was able to reassemble the thing and get it back in the ball head. the problem is that the screw has a flat to slightly rounded head. this does not provide 100% positive retention of the pin when it is screwed flush into the pin. When i reassembled the whole thing i put the screw head flush w/ the pin shaft then backed it out a couple turns. this provided 100% positive retention of the mechanism in the ball head. i do not have any lock tight but i will get some to put on the threads of the problem screw--since the screw is now not tightened in the pin and can back itself out over time and use. this could prove very problematic in the field as w/o the pin you cannot remove the plate. If you have a camera on the plate and in the ballhead you will be stuck w/ a ballhead--at best--stuck to the bottom of your camera.

Vanguard needs to redesign this mechanism to make an otherwise good product even better.
72 of 77 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa429ad08) out of 5 stars Rock solid! More than enough to hold your set-up! June 22 2010
By Webtrance - Published on Amazon.com
*** UPDATE after 1 year of use ***

The SBH-250 is still perfect after a year of use! Here's the deal...I own the Manfrotto 496RC2, and while it's a nice head with general ball head control, it doesn't match the Vanguard. The holding strength of the Manfrotto isn't an issue...it's solid, but not as solid as the Vanguard! The SBH-250 is just a work horse of a tripod head, that's smooth, solid, and offers flexible panning. The build construction of the SBH-250 is as good, if not better than Manfrotto heads. But, if I were to get one Manfrotto head, it would be the older 488RC2 or perhaps the newer 498RC2. BTW, I also have the Manfrotto 234RC2 monopod head now. Overall, I still prefer both Vanguard SBH-250 (tripod) and SBH-30 (monopod), rather than Manfrotto's 496RC2 (tripod) and 234RC2 (monopod). Consider this however. The Manfrotto RC2 quick release mechanism is great to work with and speedier than Vanguard's system. In my opinion, it's not a quality issue when deciding between the two brands, but design features (panning, friction, knob design, quick release plates, etc). Also consider that Manfrotto uses a resin ball material with joined metal post. The Vanguard ball and post is of all metal construction and one solid piece.

*** UPDATE after 6 months of use ***

Now I'm looking at monopod heads and wanting matching quick release plates for both tripod with SBH-250 and my new monopod. Well, if I go with a Manfrotto monopod head with RC2 plate, I have to switch between that plate and the Vanguard SBH-250 QS-39 plate. I don't want to do that, so unbelievably, I started my shopping for a replacement for the SBH-250. I was considering a Manfrotto tripod head with RC2 release and getting the nifty little Manfrotto 234RC monopod head. They both use the same quick release plate. The only Manfrotto head that approaches the specs for the SBH-250 is the Manfrotto 498RC2 with friction and pan. The Manfrotto Hydrostatic heads were too expensive in my opinion, so I didn't consider them. The problem with the Manfrotto 498RC2 is that it offers the same features as the SBH-250, but the ergonomics are poor. Here's why: If you have your right hand on the camera grip and shutter release button, that leaves your left hand for tightening the ball head. Therefore, you need the ball tightening lever on the left side. The friction will be on the right. But the Manfrotto 498RC2 panning lock will then be in the front right, which is in front of the friction knob. That's not a good place to have the friction knob. On the other hand, the SBH-250 is perfect in that the ball lock is on the left, friction on the right, and pan in the back.

Here's the real kicker that sort of leads me away from Manfrotto. No bubble level(s)!! I have come to rely on the SBH-250's horizon level (in the rear) so much that I believe that I may miss it if I were to get a Manfrotto. Yes, the Manfrotto RC4 heads/plates have bubble levels, but I really don't care for those larger plates. I've looked at and prefer the RC2 versions, which have no levels. Is the level a deal breaker...no, not necessarily. It's only become a wonderful feature of the SBH-250 that I'm come to really enjoy.

SOLUTION to my tripod/monopod head problem. Forget Manfrotto and keep my SBH-250 and get the SBH-30 for my new monopod! (EDIT: I now have the Vanguard SBH-30.) The SBH-30 is a little version of the SBH-300/250/100/50. It comes with the same QS-39 quick release plate as most other SBH series heads. Therefore, I can leave my quick release plate on my camera and use both tripod and monopod heads without all the swapping of quick release plates. I've posted a review and many pictures of the SBH-30 for your consideration. Check it out here: Vanguard SBH-30 Lightweight Magnesium Alloy Ball Head

Best of all, I didn't get rid of the excellent Vanguard SBH-250!


I've posted a few pictures of the SBH-250 atop the Induro 8M AT114 Induro AT114 Alloy 8M AT-Series 4-Section Tripod, Extends to 59.7", Supports 13.2 lbs.. Please read my review of that tripod as well, since this ball head fits the tripod perfectly and makes for a complete travelers gig.

The ball head is rock solid, smooth, feels like it's made from aerospace materials, finished nicely to match many of today's tripods and cameras. It's looks fantastic with my D90 and I can imagine a Cannon SLR would look nice locked in place as well.

Why did I go with the SBH-250?

1. Price. It's a competitively priced ball head for the features you get. Tension and panning control are wonderful features. You'll regret getting anything less!
2. Support. Rated at 44lbs, it's a very strong/secure holding ball head. I'll never be able to actually test 44lbs, but it'll easily hold a full D90/grip/flash & f/2.8 lens set-up with ease. There's no movement when locked in place. It's that's strong!
3. Size. At just over 4", it provides a bit more height to your tripod. It's not a compact ball head, though it's not too large either. It's shorter than the Manfrotto 498RC2. It feels substantial enough to match up with any camera configuration without being dwarfed.
4. Two (2) quick release plates. Sweet bonus!
5. Comes shipped with a 1/4" reducer screw in the ball head base. To use on a tripod with a 3/8" screw, simply use the provided tool to remove the 1/4" reducer. I recommend using the 3/8" screw on your tripod, since it's a larger screw than the 1/4" and will offer more strength and support.

I really believe you'll enjoy this ball head and will not regret your purchase!
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa429aea0) out of 5 stars Great Tripod Head May 10 2009
By T&D - Published on Amazon.com
I have owned the Vanguard SBH-100 for several months now and am very pleased.

The product literature is somewhat lacking in details. This head has a 3/8-16 tripod mount but comes with a 1/4-20 adapter so it should fit most tripods/monopods. It also comes with two quick release camera mounting plates - one is for 1/4-20 camera socket and the other for a 3/8-20.

I tried the Manfrotto 056 head before I purchased the Vanguard. With one hand on the camera, it took both left and right hands to adjust the 056 so I was continually shifting hands to loosen and tighten knobs on the 056. The 056 took a long time to get adjusted while the SBH-100 quickly locks where you want it.

I have the SBH-100 mounted on a Manfrotto 190XPROB. This tripod/head combination easily handles my Nikon D60 with a 18-200 zoom. I wanted a head that could rotate for panoramic shots without loosening the ball and this head does that. The other ball heads I found with this feature were more than twice the cost of the SBH-100.

After having used a $25 tripod for several years, I finally bit the bullet and purchased a "real" tripod/head. I am amazed at the difference and wonder why I put up with that cheapo for so long.

If you're looking at Manfrotto heads, you should consider the Vanguard line as a less expensive alternative. It is certainly impressive for the price!
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa42a7030) out of 5 stars Excellent, High-Quality Product at a Great Price Jan. 20 2009
By John Guilbault - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I just received my Vanguard SBH-100 head, and I have to say I'm very impressed. Although lightweight, it has a high-quality feel to it. It's rated at 22lbs, but it feels as if it would hold twice that weight. It holds my Canon XTI with battery pack and 70-300mm lens with no trouble at all, even when I lean on it. The adjustment knobs work smoothly and easily, and the locking knob has a nice drag adjustment. It has a separate knob to allow you to pan horizontally without unlocking the head completely. This is very useful if you plan on stitching shots together to create panoramas. I noticed that this feature is not present on some of the more-expensive ball heads. This was a must-have feature for me, and the reason I took a chance on the Vanguard. This particular model is listed as their "small" head, but at 4 inches high and 2 inches in diameter, it doesn't seem very small to me. Unless you're mounting a telescope or something, I can't see needing a larger head than this.

All-in-all, I'd say Vanguard hit it out of the park with this one. I've seen tripod heads that run $300-$400 or more, and I can't imagine what they can offer that would make them worth the added dough. This head is rock solid when locked, has buttery-smooth movement when unlocked, and offers features (panning control, bubble levels) that the others don't. Money well spent!

UPDATE: It's April of 2014 now, and I've just bought my second SBH-100. Not that the first one broke or anything. In fact, I'm sure whoever stole it (and my tripod) is still getting great service from it (thanks, you bunghole). I did a lot of research and pondered quite a long time before deciding on a new tripod (finally bought the Manfrotto 190CXPRO 3), but never even considered a different ball head. In the 4 years I used it, my first Vanguard SBH-100 held my increasingly heavy equipment without the slightest slip. The second one is no different, and I expect I'll have it for a very long time.....unless it's stolen again.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa42a75a0) out of 5 stars Excellent lightweight, sturdy, smooth, and precise ball head at a great price! Feb. 26 2012
By ƒůℤźϔ ωൠ≥ζŷ ♥☮♭♩♪♫♬♮☯☺♡✈ - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
இ Fuzzy Wuzzy's Summary:
ѾѾѾѾѾ Highly recommended with warm fuzzies!

► Packaging, Style, Appearance: ѾѾѾѾѾ Excellent 5-fuzzies rating
► Design & Features: ѾѾѾѾѾ Excellent 5-fuzzies rating
► Ergonomics, Usability & Ease of Use: ѾѾѾѾѾ Excellent 5-fuzzies rating
► Construction & Build Quality: ѾѾѾѾѾ Excellent 5-fuzzies rating
► Performance, Stability, Reliability: ѾѾѾѾѾ Excellent 5-fuzzies rating
► Competitive Pricing & Value: ѾѾѾѾѾ Excellent 5-fuzzies rating

փ Positives:

փ High-quality low-weight magnesium alloy construction.
փ Silky smooth and evenly fluid ball head action.
փ Less expensive than similar Manfrotto and Gitzo magnesium ball heads.
փ Supports up to 22 pounds, but is sturdily built and probably could support a bit more beyond that.
փ The clamping platform has a very nice safety feature that still holds onto your camera/lens if you either forget to tighten the clamp onto the camera/lens-attached quick release plate or if the ball head suddenly swivels downward while the camera is still mounted on the platform and you have loosened the platform's clamp.

ჯ Negatives:

ჯ Depending upon the available light and orientation that your camera is mounted onto the quick-release plate, it can be a bit difficult to view the bubble levels sometimes. If your camera has a built-in electronic level, or if it can display grid lines either on its viewfinder or on its LCD monitor screen, those are more accurate to align a photo with the horizontal and vertical elements in your shot instead of just relying on the bubble levels of a tripod head anyway.

I have both this SBH-100 ball head, mounted on a Vanguard Alta+ 225CT 5-Section Compact Carbon Fiber Tripod Leg Set and I also have its magnesium alloy little brother, the Vanguard SBH-30 Lightweight Magnesium Alloy Ball Head, mounted on a Slik Mini II 43.3IN. Compact 4 Section Tripod With Ball Head in Gun Metal Finish. My SBH-30 with its Slik Mini II tripod weighs 31.0 ounces and the SBH-100 with its Vanguard Alta 225CT tripod weighs 42.5 ounces. The SBH-100 weighs 13.6 ounces without the QS quick-release shoe, and 14.9 with the QS shoe, and the Vanguard Alta 225CT tripod weighs more than the Slik Mini II, thus accounting for the 11.5-ounce heavier weight of my SBH-100 tripod setup compared to the SBH-30 tripod setup.

I will start off by comparing the similarities between these two smallest members of Vanguard's magnesium ball head models, the SBH-30 versus the SBH-100, and then move onto their differences, which will also hopefully help you to decide which one is more appropriate for your needs if you are deciding between these two.

First, the similarities between the SBH-30 and the SBH-100:

✸ Both ball heads have a similar high-quality low-weight magnesium alloy construction, with very smooth and fluid knobs and ball head actions that allow precise handling and movement with a smooth even amount of adjustable friction and no stickiness in the ball head action.

✸ Both ball heads have the same 360-degree swivel rotation and +90 to -35 degree tilt.

✸ Both ball heads have a 3/8-16 tripod mount at the base, but they come with a 1/4-20 adapter screwed inside the 3/8-16 mount, so they should fit most tripods/monopods. A small tool is included with the ball head package for unscrewing the 1/4-20 adapter if you want to use the 3/8-16 mount.

✸ Both ball heads utilize two on-board bubble levels. The two bubble levels work well on both ball heads, but depending upon the available light and orientation that your camera is mounted onto the quick-release plate, it can be a bit difficult to view the bubble levels sometimes. Luckily, my Canon 7D has a built-in electronic level, which I rely on entirely instead of using the bubble levels. But on my Canon 40D, I use a combination of these two bubble levels and the grid lines on the Canon EF-D Focusing Screen for Canon EOS 40D Digital SLR Camera to level my 40D. If your camera has a built-in electronic level, or if it can display grid lines either on its viewfinder or on its LCD monitor screen, those are more accurate to align a photo with the horizontal and vertical elements in your shot instead of just relying on the bubble levels of a tripod head anyway. Of course, if you are in a situation where there are no horizontal features or horizons or vertical elements to help level and align your camera, then these two bubble levels can be of immense help.

✸ Both ball heads come with two Vanguard QS-39 1/4" Camera Screw Quick Shoe Compatible with Tracker Series, Some Alta Series, and Some MG Series Tripods "Quick Shoe" quick release plates.

✸ Even though they look very slightly different from each other, both ball heads use a same-sized 2.0x2.1" platform that screw-clamps onto the quick release plates. The clamping platform on both ball heads have a very nice safety feature that still holds onto your camera/lens if you either forget to tighten the clamp onto the camera/lens-attached quick release plate or if the ball head suddenly swivels downward while the camera is still mounted on the platform and you have loosened the platform's clamp. You have to actually press an orange-colored spring-loaded button and slide the camera's quick release plate out of the platform to disengage the camera from the platform. This takes a tiny bit longer to attach/detach the camera from the ball head compared to some other tripod heads, but the added insurance and certainty is worth it!

Now for the differences between the SBH-30 and the SBH-100:

✸ The smaller SBH-30 supports up to 11 pounds while the SBH-100 supports twice as much at 22 pounds.

✸ The smaller SBH-30 weighs 9.5 ounces compared to the larger SBH-100's 14.9 ounces.

✸ The height of the SBH-30 with its platform fully extended upward is 3 1/8 inch compared to the SBH-100's 4 1/8 inch height. The extra one inch of height on the SBH-100 is due to the barrel of the main body that is about twice as high as that of the SBH-30.

✸ Both the ball head and horizontal panning action are controlled by a single knob on the SBH-30, whereas the SBH-100 has one knob to tighten the ball head and a separate smaller knob to tighten the panning base. If you like to take a series of overlapping shots to later stitch together as a panorama, this feature of the SBH-100 will definitely sway you over choosing the SBH-30. Both knobs on this SBH-100 have a very good grip for tightening and loosening the ball head and panning base.

✸ While both ball heads have a ring of notch markers spaced at 5-degree increments placed at the base of the ball head for use as a guide when horizontally panning the ball head, with smaller notches every 5 degrees and larger notches every 15 degrees, the SBH-100 also includes angle annotations at every 45-degree increment whereas the SBH-30 only has the notches without angle numbers printed on them. It seems silly that the SBH-30 did not also include the 45-degree angle increments printed on its base, but it can be useful at times to quickly look down and rotate the ball head at fixed increments when you have the angle numbering also displayed.

௫ Fuzzy Wuzzy's Conclusion:

Both the SBH-30 and this SBH-100 offer great performance in a light-in-weight (but not light-in-ability) ball head at a price that is lower than other ball heads offering similar performance. This SBH-100 can support up to 22 pounds and offers independent control of panning, but it is also 50% heavier and bulkier than its smaller brother, the SBH-30. As mentioned, I have both ball heads and I use them for different purposes. I carry my smaller lighter Slik Mini II with its SBH-30 for all-day mountaineering that may involve hiking for 10+ hours and climbing and scrambling over boulders at 12,000 to 14,000 foot elevations. Under these conditions, having a tripod/head combination that weighs 12 ounces less and is even more compact than the not-that-big SBH-100 to strap to my backpack makes a difference. But for other situations where the extra incremental weight and bulk is not a concern, I prefer this SBH-100, especially since I like to use its separately-controlled panning knob to shoot overlapping photos as a panorama. This ball head will outlast your camera, and with it being priced lower than similar magnesium ball head models made by Manfrotto and Gitzo, it is a very worthwhile addition to your camera tripod gear.

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