Kit Focus: Arca Swiss z1 MonoBall Head

Gripvan's Andrew Howe takes a look at the latest ball head offering from Arca-Swiss.

Having never been much of a fan of ball heads it came as a surprise to me just how much I like the Arca-Swiss Z1. I've used a host of different ball heads over the years and have latterly been very impressed with the Really Right Stuff models but I feel the Z1 has the edge on everything else.


Arca-Swiss offer two quick release plate clamping options:  

The standard clamp has a thumbscrew. Clamping or releasing the plate is simply a matter of turning the screw. 

The Flip Lock clamp has a two stage action for releasing the plate which isn't always evident to the first time user. 

  • Step 1. Release the locking lever by sliding the round silver catch outwards with your thumb and pull the locking lever out. It will stop when at 90º to the clamp. This will release the grip on the QR plate enabling it to slide within the clamp but will NOT allow the plate to be removed.
  • Step 2. On the inside of the Locking Lever there is a stepped shaft. Use a finger or thumbnail to pull this shaft away from the clamp this will enable you to move the locking lever a further 90º thus fully opening the clamp and releasing the QR plate.

It sounds awkward and in truth isn't the most intuitive design I've ever stumbled upon but after a little practice you soon develop the technique.

The width of the clamp jaws is adjustable using a small silver thumbscrew located beneath the QR plate so using non Arca-Swiss plates and brackets shouldn't be a problem.

The friction / locking knob on the Z1 is very smooth and simple to use and the model we have at Gripvan has a second panning base just below the clamp which comes in very useful if you've used the ball to level the camera rather than the legs. 

Unique to Arca-Swiss is the aspherical design of the ball itself. With most ball heads as you tilt the camera and move the weight off-centre the increased gravitational effect  means you have to increase the friction on the ball manually to maintain stability. With the aspherical ball the friction is automatically increased as the ball moves off-centre so you don't get caught out as the camera "gets heavier" - what a great feature.

Still, love it as I do, I'm more likely to be using a geared head or a three way, or what about that Induro five way …………..

You can add the Arca Swiss Z1 along with a range of tripods to any Gripvan package