Today we continue our series of reviews of Sirui products and this time around we are going to take a look at the K-30X Ballhead.
After we praised the Sirui T-2204X tripod in the last review (you can also read there a bit about the company), it is time to test one of the company’s ballheads. Sirui has several lines of ballheads, the pro line of the company is called KX and it includes 4 different sized ballheads ranging from the small K-10X with a 33mm ball to the very large K-40X with a 54mm ball. We will be testing today the somewhat smaller K-30X which has a ball diameter of 44mm and a very respectable official carrying capacity of 30KG (or 66 pounds).
Unlike the CB-38FT II by FLM which we reviewed here recently, the K-30X has a more traditional design with only two knobs – one for panning and one for locking the head and friction control.
Very good build quality – Sirui K-30X
Let’s take a closer look at the head:
A Closer Look
- The K-30X is very well made and feels like a quality product in the hand.
- With a 44mm ball the K-30X also feels pretty substantial and putting it on a scale tips the balance at close to half a kilogram (or about 1.1 pounds) without the quick release plate.
- The pan knob is a bit small with groves but no rubber coating and the pan movement itself is very smooth. You also have very clear angle markings with an arrow in the front.
- The locking knob is large and rubberised and feels very nice in the hand. The actual movement of the ball is extremely smooth and you have a wide range of friction levels – from extremely loose to very tight – which is really great.
- Talking about friction control – this is probably the biggest drawback of this head in our view. Sirui choose the traditional screw type friction control which you can find on many other ballheads. It is a bit better implemented than on some of the other heads we tested, but the system itself is inherently bad. You need to either use your fingernail or some flat screwdriver to choose the right level of friction and set it in using the secondary friction adjustment dial. As we noted in all of our head reviews – the system that we would really like to see here is a separate knob for friction and for some reason almost no manufacturer chooses to implement this simple design.
- Another drawback we found is that from time to time especially with heavier loads we feel a slight drop in the head after locking it. This is something that we didn’t feel with the FLM CB-38 for example (but to be fair the FLM does cost almost 3 times as much).
- As for the quick release of the K-30X, although as we have said a few times before on our previous reviews – we prefer the Manfrotto RC2 system which is the fastest and easiest to use QR system on the market, the K-30X implementation of the more common Arca Swiss type QR is one of the best that we have seen.
- The K-30X QR base has a security pin and to prevent accidental release you have a nice red metal release button on the front which is very easy to use.
- The plate that comes with the head is pretty great. It is very wide (perfect for mid to large size DSLRs), it has a nice d-ring for easy locking and even a side hole for a strap which is an innovative addition which we never encountered on any plate to date.
- Sirui was pretty generous with levelling bubbles on this QR base – you have one on the upper part of the base and one on the side.
- Just like with the Sirui tripod we tested here before the company really knows how to give the costumer a good feeling with a nice case, and with the K-30X you get a very well padded one (note that even with the much more expensive FLM head we only got a simple cardboard box with the head).
The red button releases the (large) QR plate
So let’s some this quick look at the K-30X ballehead by Sirui. Just like the T2204X tripod we reviewed, the K-30X is a very well made product, simple, yet functional which comes in a nice overall package which is also very well documented by the way.
We have used the K-30X quite a bit both on a tripod but also on a slider (which we are currently testing) as well as in some other situations. It functioned very well and was very easy to control and use.
On the downside the friction mechanism is annoying and we hope Sirui will take our advice and design a different one for future heads with a separate friction knob as well as improve the resistance of the head to drop slightly after locking it with heavier loads (which can be avoided as we have seen in the CB-38 from FLM).
Sirui needs to consider a new friction control mechanism
All in all for around $140 the K-30X is a fantastic head – it doesn’t have any of the fancy, advanced features you might find on some of the more expensive ballheads, but not everybody needs those or can pay for them for that matter. If you just need a mid-size high-quality head for under $150 – you can’t get much better than the Sirui K-30X.
What we liked
- Great build quality.
- Very Good carrying capacity.
- Very smooth movement with lots of friction control.
- Very good quick release system and plate (if you like Arca Swiss QR).
- Comes with a nice carrying case.
What might still be improved
- The friction control mechanism needs to change.
- The ball has a small drop sometimes after locking it with heavier loads.
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