The Vanguard SBH-250 is a lightweight, yet very robust tripod head. To give you an idea of just how sturdy the SBH-250 is, it’s rated to hold up to 44 lbs. The magnesium alloy construction and matte black finish aid in the robust feel of this head. The best thing about the Vanguard SBH-250 though, is its price – $80.
Tripod heads are very much a personal preference item for photographers. Some folks like their pan/tilt heads and others won’t use anything but a ball head. To each his own; however, if you are looking at ball heads, you owe it to yourself to take a long hard look at the Vanguard SBH-250.
The ball itself is very smooth. You get two tension adjustment dials. One to fully lock it down, and the other serves solely as a damper to the movement of the ball head, which comes in handy with heavy lenses.
The SBH-250 has a quick release plate that won’t slide out unless you loosen the control knob and press an orange safety release, which adds to your peace of mind. Additionally, Vaguard provides 2 quick release plates with the SBH-250. Who does that? Major kudos to Vanguard for that little gift.
On the quick release mount you’ll find two spirit bubbles (one on the side and one on the back), which allow you to precisely level the head. This is so much easier than the circular bubbles found in other heads.
There is another control knob at the base of the head, which controls tension for panning the head. The pan is super smooth and works very well (if just a little heavy). Although, I would much rather have a heavy pan than have it pan too loosely.
In the field with the Vanguard SBH-250, I’ve had no complaints. I purchased it a few months back as part of general purpose kit with the Slik Pro 700DX tripod and have been very pleased with the combo.
While you can certainly spend a lot more on a tripod head, many photographers won’t need to. If you are just looking for a quality ball head to work with, I don’t see any other head giving you the bang-for-your-buck that the Vanguard SBH-250 will. Granted, there are many situations where another type of head or an Arca Swiss mounting option (the SBH-250 isn’t compatible with Arca Swiss L-Brackets); however, for many, the SBH-250 will be just what the doctor ordered.
At $80, it’s hard not to put one of these in your bag. It’s the best $80 I’ve ever spent on a tripod head. You can find the Vanguard SBH-250 at Photography Bay’s trusted online retail partner, B&H Photo.