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Sunwayfoto XB-44 Review
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Release time:2016-08-16 15:51:00

I´m always looking for new gadgets that could help with my photography. Sometime ago I was looking a better quick release clamp compatible with Arca-Swiss plates since I had bought a camera strap that came with that type of plate, after searching, searching and searching for different type of clamps I came across with Sunwayfoto for the first time. Right away a liked the fact they have high average reviews scores and all of the previous buyers speak highly about the quality of their products. To the day I have several of their clamps and level plates always looking for better ways to improve my tripods.

 Sunwayfoto XB-44 Low Profile ball head
Today Sunwayfoto gave me the opportunity to review one of their top ball heads, the Sunwayfoto XB-44 low profile ball head. First impressions? Right out of the box I can tell that the quality of the ball head feels very sturdy, the material (anodized aluminum with a satin finish) looks like it will last forever since it will help to avoid corrosion. My other Sunwayfoto clamps have a couple of years already and they look like I just took them out of the box, and believe me, I use them a lot.

 Sunwayfoto XB-44 knobs
All three knobs are made from the same material with a diamond pattern on the edge making them easy to tight, no rubber or plastic whatsoever which is perfect since they won´t degrade or slip from your fingers when attaching a camera.

 3/8" thread, can be transformed to 1/4" thread with included adapter.
On the bottom it has a 3/8” thread for standard tripod screws but if you need to use it with a 1/4” thread you will find in the box a bushing adapter along with three Allen type wrenches, a friction knob adjustment tool (I will explain more about this tool later) and a cleaning cloth.

 Sunwayfoto 50mm clamp
Lets starts with specifics, from top to bottom. The Sunwayfoto XB-44 comes with an Arca-Swiss compatible 50mm clamp. The jaw of the clamp has an opening range of 37.25 mm to 41.5 mm making it not only compatible with Arca-Swiss plates types but also with brands like Really Right Stuff, Kirk Enterprises, Giottos, Benro and Peak Design between others

Remove level with Allen key included

The level can be repositioned to either sides of the rail
The clamp has a bubble level located on the opposite side of the knob. It comes with two screws that you can easily use to detach the level and relocate it on either sides of the rail making it customizable.

 Screw  can be used to replace the clamp.
In the middle of the clamp you will find the screw used to attach it to the ball head itself. It can be used to remove the clamp and upgrade it with one of Sunwayfoto high end clamp options.

 Sunwayfoto XB-44 with a Canon 6D and Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS MK II over a MeFoto Roadtrip tripod
Continuing with the ball head, one of the specifications I like the most is the fact that it has a load capacity of 40kg (88 pounds). 88 Pounds!!!, my heaviest lens attached to my camera weights in total almost 5 pounds (Canon 6D + Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II) even if I attach the 2X extender it will only raise the weight by .72 pounds. Ok, there are other lenses out there and heavier than the 70-200 but even so it will not be even close to the 80+ pounds. This is at least for photography, for video the story is different, their equipment usually weights a lot more but not sure if it will be that heavy. But let’s focus on photography, so what does the 40kg (88 pounds) means to you, easy, having this load of capacity will make the ball head very steady when you need to focus to an object regardless the angle, other ball heads even when you tight the knob as much as you can will move a little bit due the weight of your equipment making your main subject out of your original composition. My experience so far with the Sunwayfoto XB-44 is that where I point it stays and at any angle.

 Sunwayfoto XB-44 main knobs.

 Sunwayfoto XB-44 lock knob and friction control knob using the friction tool (FT-01) included.
View: original size
That will take me to the next part of the ball head, the knobs. There are two knobs in the ball head, the biggest is the one that controls the lock, it has a little knob in it surface that controls the friction of the ball head. Do you remember the friction tool that I mentioned before? Here is where it comes handy, that small knob has some groves where you can use a tool like a flat screw driver, maybe a coin or thanks to Sunwayfoto you have the friction tool that you can keep in your key chain.
The elliptical ball provides progressive resistance that avoids sudden sliding down and the friction knob will help you tighten how easy you want the ball head to move around, if loose (to the left) you will be able to move the camera around without any kind of friction, the tighter (to right) the movements will be harder but for a full tight the turn will be shorter. Even when you tight the knob it will have like an extra turn making it impossible to move with a single hand.

Front view of notches

 Correct way to tilt the clamp with clamp knob to the top.
Wrong way to tilt clamp.
The ball head has two drop notch, one for portrait and one for tilting. Now you will ask, they both looks the same, what is the difference? The position will make it all, if you set the panning knob towards to you it will leave one of the notch to the left and the other in front, and that is it. You can easily change from a landscape view to a portrait view using the notch that is to your left, and tilt the camera to the front using the other notch. Isn´t that wonderful? With my previous ball head, I needed to release the panning and friction knobs to use the notch for portrait and again if I needed for tilting. One important note, when using any of the notch take into consideration that the clamp knob should not be set down or it will touch the base level and will not give you a flat view.

 Panning knob and 360º degrees scale
The other knob is the one that controls the panning, it has an excellent friction that allows fine tuning and it is located almost at the base level. You will also find there a degree’s scale with a mark for each 5 degrees, if you are planning to do a time-lapse this scale will be very helpful. This knob is also used to attach or detach the ball head from the tripod, you just need to tight the knob as much as you can and turn the ball head to the left to screw it or to the right to unscrew it.

So let’s talk about price now, you can find the Sunwayfoto XB-44 in Amazon (sold from OEC Camera Accessories, Sunwayfoto dealer) or B&H Photo for $249 USD. Some of you may consider that the value is high (I did) but when you compare this item against other brands with similar specifications, but none with this same qualities, you will note that you can obtain a high end product with high end characteristics for a lower price.
• 6 year limited warranty
• Great low profile design with central control center with both knobs.
• Anodized aluminum finish
• High build quality
• Excellent panning friction for fine tuning
• Smooth ball head operation for every angle
• The only cons that I can think about at this point is the price.
• For the high value I could expect maybe a different clamp with lever for example, although there is a higher version that does come with the lever clamp (Sunwayfoto XB-44DL).