This article will give a brief overview of some different types of tripod heads.
MANFROTTO MHXPRO-BHQ2 XPRO BALL HEAD
This type of tripod head is probably the most versatile and popular for still photography. These heads are available in a number of weights and ball sizes to match the weight of your gear and are fast and easy to adjust for many situations. They are also the most compact type of head.
A better specified version will have options for ball friction, locking swivel/pan capability at the base and in-built levels. Most will come with a camera quick release plate.
3-WAY PAN/TILT HEAD
MANFROTTO 804-3W PAN HEAD W/QUICK REL
This is a less expensive alternative to the geared head as it does not incorporate fine meshed gearing but will give you compositional control on 3 axes. Great for fine tuning a composition albeit with less precision than a geared head. Great for studio work/realty photography but also an alternative for outdoor photography. They are bulkier than a ballhead with handles that can get in the way when bush crashing.
MANFROTTO FLUID VIDEO HEAD MVH502AH
Although primarily designed for video camera use these heads can be very useful for panning in still photography as well but tend to be bulkier and heavier than a ball head for example. They give an extremely smooth side to side or up/down panning motion essential for video.
The better ones will have panning friction control to loosen or tighten the movement. The longer handles provide very accurate camera movement control. Most will come with a camera quick release plate.
MANFROTTO 324RC2 JOYSTICK BALL HEAD
Grip heads incorporate a ball and socket within a hand grip style release. When you squeeze the ‘trigger’ pressure on the ball is released and you can reposition the head. Releasing the trigger reinstates pressure on the ball. Most will come with a friction control to allow you to vary the degree of pressure on the ball.
These heads are beneficial for quick placement of small to medium sized camera/lens combinations. They are not as well suited to use with very long lenses as they can be somewhat unwieldy with a front heavy load. They work well in combination with a monopod due to the ability to control it one handed.
YELANGU YLGA17 GIMBAL HEAD
The gimbal tripod head design is really meant for use with long, heavy telephoto lenses and a sturdier tripod or monopod. The design lets you balance the camera/lens combo perfectly and allow for fingertip up/down/panning control for what would otherwise be a heavy and unwieldy combination. Most will incorporate friction adjustment control.
The design can vary and you may have to match a quick release plate with the type of lens you want to use.
MANFROTTO 410 MINI GEARED HEAD
This type of tripod head is designed for photography that may need exacting precision in composition. Generally studio work, landscape photography or architecture photography where the lines in your image need precision placement. The gears are finely meshed and allow for small movements on each axes (usually 3) to fine tune a composition. Be prepared to pay more for this specialized head.
MANFROTTO 303SPH MULTI-ROW/CUBIC PANHEAD
Panoramic heads are specially designed to allow photographers to take multiple sequential images at regular, controlled increments. Markings are etched for precise placement of each photo and to allow perfect overlaps. Multiple photos taken are then stitched together in software to create a large panoramic.