Sirui K-40x – Review

For a solid 2 years, I contently used the Manfrotto 498 RC2 ball head, and for the most part, it did a semi-decent job. It wasn't until I received the Sirui K-40x that I truly realised what I've been missing out on for so long. It's been a good 6 months now since I first got my hands on the Sirui K-40x ball head and I can honestly say it's changed the way I shoot when mounted to a tripod (which is all the time).

Price

Straight off the bat, the price was a major selling point for me. When purchasing photographic gear you often hear the saying "you get what you pay for", but in the case of this ball head, I really don't think I did. I think I got much more than I paid for! Compared to it's competitors, the Sirui K-40x is a steal coming in at only $229 AUD. It's actually increased in price since I received mine, but it's still a bargain in my eyes.

Just like I mentioned in my tripod review HERE, I spent quite some time researching various ball heads to find the one that suited my needs best. After careful consideration, I opted for the K-40x.

Specifications

  • Ball Diameter: 54mm

  • Weight: 0.7kg

  • Height: 12.5cm

  • Max Load: 35kg

  • Arca-Swiss type mount

  • 6-year Warranty

Aesthetics and Build Quality

The first thing I noticed when I removed the ball head from it's box was how unusual it looked, at least compared to other ball heads from brands like RRS and Feisol. What I mean by unusual is the fact that the ball itself is obviously inclosed a "shell" but as you look further down the body of the ball head, it starts to taper in slightly. While I find this does look a little different, in the end, it can only be reducing the weight and overall size of the ball head. So it's a plus in my books!

As I said in my first impressions post, the build quality feels nothing short of exceptional. And let me tell you, it lived up to that statement. This thing is built like a tank! It's hard to put into words how this ball head feels, you just need to get one in your hands to truly appreciate that quality of such a well-machined head. The fact that the manufactures rate this tripod at a hefty 35kg load capacity should help paint the picture!

Functionality/Usability

Whilst this ball head does exactly what it is intended to do, I do occasionally have some issues with how it does it. For example, I find that the tension dial located on the edge of the "ball lock" to be very difficult to adjust in the field, if needed. Obviously, the intention is to use a flathead screwdriver, or even a coin; but while I'm shooting, I put all my focus on just that - shooting. I don't like to be looking through my bag, for my Leatherman or a spare coin, to adjust the tension/friction of the ball as I could potentially miss the shot. I can see why they didn't include a dedicated friction knob (spacial limitations), but I think that the inclusion of a dedicated knob would make this tripod practically unbeatable.

Ok, so, that's 1 of 2 negative comments about this ball head, now for number 2. My next issue is with how the ball head moves once it is loosened. For the most part - it's great! It moves back and forward and side to side without any issues. However, it's very difficult to pan/rotate your camera from left to right. The ball just feels very tight, no matter how loose it actually is. But I guess that's where the ball head's 360º pan function comes into play, which works exactly how you would hope and expect - very smoothly! I really can't fault it there.

Extra Goodies

Nowadays, most recent cameras bodies come with the addition of a built in digital level. However, these are not entirely accurate, which was why I was excited to see the inclusion of not one, not two, but THREE bubble levels built in the side, and top, of the ball head. I don't want to get into it here, but I can often rotate my camera several degrees in either direction before my camera realises it's not level. Whereas with a physical bubble level, it's based on physics - and physics are never wrong :)

Summary

Things I love:

  • Affordability.

  • Build quality.

  • Weight load capacity (35kg).

  • Multiple bubble levels (for each axis).

Things I don't love:

  • Dials are hard to turn when wet.

  • Ball is difficult, some times near impossible, to swivel (all other movement are perfect).

  • Rubber grips on knobs slip making it hard to actually rotate.

Conclusion

I'm pretty confident in saying that the Sirui K-40x ball head is by far the best head for the money (uuhh). It's bloody solid, has some nice features and at just over $200 - you'd be hard pressed to find a better ball head for the money. Having said that, it's certainly not the best ball head, by a long shot.

For my Australian readers interested in purchasing this awesome ball head, check out Mainline Photographics: Sirui K-40x