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Sirui K40X 54mm ball head

Sirui K40X 54mm ball head

One line review: It is stable with my heavy lens and camera combo.

I had never heard this name Sirui before and I assume many of you would not have heard the name of this Chinese company. It was a leap of faith for me to order the Sirui K40X 54mm ball head from

Sirui K-40X Ball Head

Sirui K-40X Ball Head

This ball head specifications had the the highest load bearing capacity mentioned in the specifications. At 35kgs rated load capacity, I thought this may be stable for my normal camera and lens which comes around 9kgs.

First impressions:

I got a small package and from the outside packaging it looked cheap. Then I removed it and saw the original Sirui box. Neither the colours were impressive nor the quality of the card board box. Immediately I thought that I have made a mistake. Inside the box there were three pieces of badly cut thermocole. Within it was a soft pouch. On opening the pouch I found the ball head.

Two decades ago I was a metallurgy engineer and when I held the ball head the fit and finish and the anodizing made me feel good.

The ball head appears heavy and sold. The knobs look to be of good quality. I proceeded to immediately place it on my tripod. I didn’t bother to look at the flimsy one page folded manual as it appeared to confuse me. Also, the best way to test the gear is to see if it is intuitive or not for use in the field. In the forest one can be in a life threatening position if you fiddle around your gear too much in presence of animals.

After fitting the ball head on the tripod, I was surprised to find that the panning is smooth. I had bought the ball head primarily for locked down shots as I don’t trust cheap heads. Though the ball heads don’t have a handle, one can hold the camera and the ball head at the base to do a bit of panning. One can get away with it. So full marks for something which I never intended to do.

I proceeded to mount my Canon 400mm f2.8 L IS USM lens which weighs 5.3 kgs. Mounted a 2xII TC on it and the Canon Cinema C300 camera. It was more than 8+ 9kgs. This combo on the same Gitzo GT3530LSV tripod and a Manfrotto MVH500 AH flat head fluid head used to shake violently on a single tap and was unusable. So I was interested to see it mounted on the Sirui K40X ball head. The moment I lock it there is no vibration whatsoever. I couldn’t believe my luck. I could see that I can do some basic pans with this combination.

However, if the ball head is not locked, then this combo can flipover and hurt you. So don’t try to tilt up the camera for some vertical moves. This is not designed for vertical moves. If you need vertical tilt-ups then go for a regular fluid head at substantially more cost. Period.

I am more likely to use the Sirui ball head for static shots with long lens as well as on treks where carrying my OConnor 1030HDs fluid head and Sachtler ENG CF DH2CF tripod would necessitate one extra porter and physically impossible in many shooting situations.

During my recent shoot, it was raining. There was a kingfisher and I wanted to shoot it. However, the knobs became wet and it became very difficult to twist it. I had to use a piece of cloth to grip the ball head knob and only then I could loosen it for correct framing. Unfortunately, by that time the kingfisher vanished.

I used this ball head for shooting macros of spiders in trees. Unlike my OConnor fluid head which can be moved at will and will stop whereever I want for precise framing, the limitations of ball head was all too clear during the macro filming. Even after tightening the ball head sags a bit down. So you have to aim a bit higher and tighten and that is an imprecise way. When you are shooting macro and the magnifications are more than 1:1, slight movement and you lose the focus and it becomes very difficult to hunt for the subject. This is cheaper and lighter than a fluid head and hence can be carried around at ease. However, you have to live with the limitations of the ball head design.

No equipment will work 100% at all situations. We need to understand the limitations and then use the equipment accordingly.

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