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Great Quality Camera Rail at Budget Price

Discussion in 'General Equipment Chat & Advice' started by Terrywoodenpic, Nov 24, 2020.

  1. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Well-Known Member

    I ordered a Camera rail slider XILETU LCB-18B Rail Slider & Clamp and QR Plate Fro AliExpress in China on 11-11-20 at a discount price of just over £14. Much to my surprise it arrived today just 13 days later

    It is beautifully designed and machined and is far stronger than is needed to hold a small mirrorless like my X T30, it would easily manage a heavy dslr.

    It will serve as a suitable balance rail slider as well as a simple Pan bracket in both the portrait and landscape orientation using my SmallRig L Bracket. As my Highlights E2 ball head also has a D2 top rotator it can serve as a level panorama rotator. As well as an easy to use levelling head.

    You can see the slider here. It is made by Xiletuphoto.com

    Buy Products Online from China Wholesalers at Aliexpress.com

    I am constantly amazed How China has redesigned so many photographic components, that in many cases are superior in design and manufacture, using the latest Hitec CNC machining for production, rather than relying on die cast parts. As are used in so many Western equivalents. Where they do use castings they are CNC machined for maximum precision of fit.

    The Cross clamp can be positioned either cross or parallel to each other, and are registered with a pair of tapered dowels, so once screwed together they are rock solid. When clamped to the rail there is absolutely no movement between the parts, yet they slide completely smoothly when required.

    For the price I am more than impressed.
  2. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    Great value if the quality is as good as you claim, but not something I need.

    Several years ago I paid about £20 for a Neewer 100 mm nodal rail which I use on my ball head (Uniqball) to put the centre of gravity of the camera and lens above the ball and avoid droop when I let go after setting it; any more length would just get in the way. Subsequently I paid about £70 for a Sunwayfoto 150 mm macro focusing rail, with a screw on a crank for precise adjustments with a macro lens. I’m well satisfied with the quality of both of these.

    Terrywoodenpic likes this.
  3. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Well-Known Member

    These are more a general purpose rail than a macro rail as they do not have a screw mechanism.. but they are very smooth to adjust so could be used.
    The HighLights low profile head that I use, locks solid without introducing any movement as you clamp it.
    But it is good practice to reduce any out of balance to a minimum, and will always make subsequent adjustment both easier and more accurate. You will notice that the ball head has a built in pan at the top and the bottom. Which means you can use it as leveller as well for accurate levelled pans.
    This makes using it very simple indeed. As after levelling, it swings at the top with the horizon level.
    Which you can not do with only a bottom level. Unless you also accurately level the legs.
  4. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    I am sure that these items are well built and good value for money, unfortunately my photography rarely requires the use of a tripod and even more rarely panning to be absolutely horizontal. If you need such a device it is always helpful to have personal recommendation for which, many thanks.
  5. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    I appreciate the precise adjustment of the screw system, and I might find it invaluable if I ever get into focus stacking (which produces sensational macro results, but I don’t yet have the software).
    I found it very frustrating using a conventional ball head. I instinctively hold the lens barrel to level the horizon and adjust where my chosen focal point sits, but it takes a lot of fiddling to get both right. I would then lock the head, but when I let go of the lens barrel, the weight would cause it to droop slightly, which might drag the focal point off my intended target. But unlocking the ball and trying to raise the lens a fraction would allow it to roll to one side or the other, sending me back to square one. I’m not sure where the movement allowing the droop occurs; the key parts of any decent ball head look extremely solid.

    I bought a Giotto’s MH5001 3-way head, which solved these problems. I could level the horizon independently of the camera’s pitch, and adjusting pitch with a lever handle meant that there was no change in weight when I released the handle, so no droop. But the 3-way head was heavy and cumbersome to carry, and when I bought a carbon fibre travel tripod, that head weighed almost as much as the tripod. I went to my local camera shop, SRS, taking my kit, to see whether Giotto’s cheap, lightweight MH5012 3-way head would work for me. But SRS persuaded me to try the Manfrotto 460MG Magnesium Camera Head. (This looks as though a plumber has joined all his left-over pipe bends together and painted them black; it has separate locks for the three movement axes, but no operating levers.) The 460MG is much lighter and more compact than a conventional 3-way head. I knew it would allow me to adjust pitch without disturbing the horizon, but I was surprised and delighted that there was no droop when I released the lens barrel. I realized that this was because the tripod mount is about 50mm behind the pitch pivot point, balancing the weight of a camera and substantial zoom lens above the centre line of a tripod.
    A couple of years later we booked to travel to Australia and New Zealand. I wanted to take my tripod, but the 460MG is much too bulky for the legs to back-fold around, so I bought the Uniqball UBH 35X, and the Neewer nodal rail to balance weight above the head and thus avoid droop. The Uniqball is basically two concentric ball heads. The outer one could be used as a conventional ball head, although it’s action isn’t very smooth, but it’s designed to be levelled with its bubble. The inner ball is restricted so when released it allows the pitch to be altered, and the camera to be rotated, but the horizon can’t roll out of level. This avoids the frustration I experienced with a conventional ball head, and seems less fiddly than the separate adjustments needed with a 3-way head, particularly if taking shots in different directions from the same spot. Also, with a telephoto lens, it can be used as a fair substitute for a gimbal for following wildlife. It can’t be set to hold level while panning, but that’s not something I’ve ever missed.

  6. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Well-Known Member

    Generally I have shared your path through various heads. And Usually have a three way head 460MG. on my larger tripod. But find its movement far from smooth, in fact quite jerky. But it does a job.
    I also have a number of ball heads of various sizes but all suffer from locking up droop, to one extent or another. Only my new HighLights E2+D2 is smooth as butter with no tendency to droop on tightening what so ever. It makes setting up so easy. It is an absolute revelation. Unlike my other heads it locks by tightening the circumference, during the early stages of tightening it can be adjusted extremely smoothly, with out flopping about, and holds the camera in position while doing so.

    You will notice in the image in my first post, that I have a Quick release between the ball head and the tripod.
    This allows me to quickly change over to other heads and cameras , usually to a NodaNinja R20 with a Fuji XE2 set up with Samsung 7.5 fisheye for doing 360x180 pans.

    Probably the easies system that I have used was for my. First plate camera with a wooden tripod. It consisted of two wooden hinged plates used to tilt the camera and locked off with wing nuts. It was quick easy and precise. I have used geared heads but they are heavy bulky and slow to use. But do work well.
  7. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    I noticed the unconventional locking method in your photo; it seems an obvious route to gripping the maximum area of the ball!

    I looked up the HighLights ball heads in case I want a top panoramic rotator in future. I found the company website, showing E1-X, E2-X, E3-X, E1-H2, E2-H2 and E3-H2, with the E2-H2 looking similar to yours. I noticed the versions without top rotators are described as “upgradeable”. I assume that means the top rotor could be removed fairly easily for simplicity, light weight and compactness, and replaced again if wanted? But I guess the attachment isn’t anything universal like an Arca-Swiss compatible clamp that could be transferred to another head (such as my Uniqball or Benro geared heads).

    I couldn’t find “HighLights” ball heads offered for sale on the web, but did find Koolehaoda-branded heads with names such as E1+H2 that looked identical to those on the HighLights website.

  8. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Well-Known Member

    They are identical they are made by highlights. Koolehaoda are a marketing company. You can buy High Lights from Ali-Express at better prices.
    The top rotator is screwed on exceedingly tightly and I gave up trying to remove it. Not that it weighs much .
    I am sure it is fixable to other heads. It has a quite extraordinary smooth rotation. I have no idea how they achieve it. Their whole engineering standard seems to be way above normal.

    There is a range of sizes of head with E 1 Suitable for small compacts. the E2 (like mine) suitable for normal mirror less, And E3. For large DSLR and or very heavy lenses. The H2 rotator is common to all.
    They also make a mini ball head made with the same principal. Of clamping on the circumference.
    ChrisNewman likes this.

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