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  #1  
Old July 26th, 2011, 05:02 AM
Ben Rubinstein Ben Rubinstein is offline
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Default Sunwayfoto DYH-66 (later version) Review

Hi,

I mentioned on another thread certain issues that I was having with a Sunwayfoto DYH-66 Levelling head which I'd bought and Desmond Simmons the US distributor of Sunwayfoto very kindly offered to replace my model with a later version of the Levelling head.

Firstly let's talk about the Sunwayfoto DYH-66. The manufacturers webpage for the product together with images is here: http://www.sunwayfoto.com/html/products/200911/152.html

I was starting to do virtual tour photography as well as indoor stitching and although you can get away without a panoramic setup for outdoor landscape type work, indoors it becomes a necessity. I have the now discontinued Nodal Ninja NN5 and to use it sucessfully you need a Levelling head. The huge +/-16 of tilt on the Sunwayfoto together with the small size and weight and attractive pricing made me decide to try it eventhough online reviews were scarce.

My impressions of the DYH-66 which I bought were pretty much this: unuseable. I'll quote here my points from the other thread.

Sorry to say but it's junk.

The bubble level exploded after the first use. The amount of droop while tightening makes the thing a joke. The locking handle is cheap and not easy to use (takes two full revolutions from open to closed with no noticeable increase in friction as you tighten). The head is permenantly stiff in movement to the extent that precise levelling is all but impossible.

I've never seen performance like this even when I used cheaper manfrotto ballheads and the manfrotto levelling head was 1000% times better.

I've heard a lot of good stuff about Sunway but this levelling head is far from a pro product IMO.


Desmond sent me a new one which I assume is a later version and here is my review. Let's see if it is now a product to be proud of.

The Sunwayfoto DYH-66 comes beautifully packaged in a georgous box with the Levelling head itself incredibly well packaged and supported in a superior foam casing. Also provided is the instructions (for the wrong models according to the cover) in the usual appallingly translated English which we've come to expect from many similar companies selling direct from the Far East. There is a warranty card and instructions how to register for an extended warranty.

Out of the box the Levelling head is small, light and apart from the lever, seems well made. This copy had a noticeable scratch around the circumference of the top edge some 2/3 of an inch in length. I'm not sure if I was given a replacement which was new or not and as I've had a substantially less than new replacement from RRS for a faulty product I'll leave it to others to decide whether this industry norm is acceptable. If it was a fully new product then a large cosmetic scratch like that is not very appealing on a product which cannot be viewed and swapped while still in a store.

This newer version was supplied with a 1/4-3/8" adaptor for the screw which although made of cheaper metal than the usual one we're all used to, is actually of a superior design which can be screwed tight so that it doesn't fall off. The usual type falls off every time I ever unscrew anything whatever I was using it for! I don't remember the original Levelling head coming with an adaptor so rather pleased with it. The webpage says "Anodized to a scratch-resistant, black finish". Um, not very well. The moment I screwed my RRS BH-40 onto it the top of the levelling head was scratched in a full 360 circle. I've been screwing that ball head onto my Gitzo tripod for 3 years with not a single scratch and there is nothing at all sticking out of the base of the ballhead, all the screws are recessed. Keep in mind that unless they improved the finish you won't be getting that much on the 2nd hand market for these Levelling heads due to cosmetic scratches. I'm not sure about the rest of Sunwayfoto products but as they seem to be in direct competition to several manufacturers including RRS I'll say that although I've scratched my RRS stuff, it takes a lot lot more to do it.

The spirit level seems to be slightly recessed this time so that it shouldn't break as easily as last time. The offset spirit level of the mkII which is being designed at present will be very welcome.

I tried the Levelling head on my tripod which I set up squint (so as to require significant levelling). First I tried it as a Levelling head for a simple ballhead. The idea is that when you flop the ballhead over into the usual 90 degree slot for a vertical composition there is usually little room to adjust if the composition is not level. There are two options. You either fiddle with the leg heights (pain in the neck and far from precise) or use an L bracket which doesn't require using the limiting 90 degree slot. Or you can buy a Levelling head.

The open/close using the rather nasty to use and cheap looking lever gives about 180 degrees from full lock to 'adjust under tension' which is a drop more than I personally prefer however unlike the previous version, there was significant control during the turn of the amount of movement tension which allowed me to leave the lever in a position which allowed full and controlled movements of a camera with pro zoom lens attached. The movement is perhaps a tiny bit jerky but no less than my RRS ballhead. The tension can be set to negate all locking 'droop' which plagues many ballheads and with which accurate levelling would be frankly impossible (and was with the previous version). In other words the Levelling head works perfectly and with a tension which allows intricate and precise levelling of the camera. I couldn't say the same for many ballheads from big name manufacturers!

This was my main complaint with the old Levelling head so now let's see how it gets on with a pano rig. Due to the nature of a panoramic setup the camera is no longer over the center of gravity and due to the height and distance from that center the amount of torque is incredible nevermind the loss in stability. Just tap one of the arms of a pano rig while waching a spirit level on the hotshoe compared with tapping a regular ballhead with camera attached to see what I mean. Due to this torque and the fact that you're adjusting at the end of a lever, adjusting a levelling head precisely becomes far more difficult in general and without sufficient and adjustable tension in the levelling head is finger bitingly fustrating. It's one thing to have enough tension for a ballhead with camera but another entirely to have sufficient tension for a pano rig. I'm extremely pleased to say that the levelling head passed with flying colours. The tension was controllable, there was no tightening droop and it was a pleasure to work with.

All in all, the latest version of the Sunwayfoto DYH-66 does the job and admirably. The finish in general is suspect and the lever needs to be made chunkier, more substantial and of a less cheap plastic with more grip. As a levelling head it does the job however even when stress tested, both smoothly and precisely.

Should you buy? I can only talk for Europe where I paid 118 including shipping for the Levelling head. That puts it directly in the firing line of similar products such as the this German made FLM head which has 30 degrees of movement, a huge capabity and is significantly cheaper (and will not have a cheap lever and adonizing) or this Novoflex unit which looks very nicely made and is not much more expensive. I haven't mentioned the many other options on the market which have less movement such as the Acratech, neither have I mentioned non ball systems like that of the Nodal Ninja. I think as with many products coming out of China at the moment which are aimed at big European and US manufacturers, the products are functional, perhaps substantially so, but the companies have to get their act together with useability and finish if they want to compete in the same price ranges.

This is a good levelling base now, make no mistake, however if the other two products had been available when I bought it, I doubt I'd even have looked at the Sunway. Keep it significantly cheaper (as most of sunway's stuff is) or make it as nice to look at and use as the competition at a similar price point. I want to look forward to using equipment, I want to have pleasure from the merge of functionality and design which makes the use a pleasure. My RRS equipment has this in spades, my Gitzo tripod does too. This levelling head works well, very well, but is not enjoyable to use, mainly due to that cheap and nasty lever and the fact that it will scratch if I look at it the wrong way. Bit like the difference between a well made European car and most Korean cars, you'll take the Korean car if it's cheaper but you'll upgrade the moment you have the money because one may be perfectly functional but the other is a pleasure to use every single time.
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  #2  
Old July 26th, 2011, 05:55 AM
Bart_van_der_Wolf Bart_van_der_Wolf is offline
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Hi Ben,

Thanks for the review. It is also helpful because it comes from a Pano user's perspective, a practice which puts extra torque/strain on components due to the unfortunately often displaced center of gravity.

Cheers,
Bart
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  #3  
Old July 26th, 2011, 11:22 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Ben,

You are one hell of a reviewer. I like your biting style. Honest, brutally honest but then most valuable. Unfortunately, when we don't recognize the small failures in a great project, the manufacturer doesn't get feedback on what to improve. So you do us all a good service. Thanks. I'm really glass it works so well.

What do you think of having levers coming out, one on each side to allow one to make a tiny nudge on the angle easily. Would this just annoy you?

Asher
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Old July 26th, 2011, 12:58 PM
Ben Rubinstein Ben Rubinstein is offline
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A lever per se is not problematic, if it were better sourced I'd be a lot happier using it. It's too thin, too flimsy and just not nice to work with at all. As it's the main and only user manipulated control it's not just wingeing on my part (at least I hope!). I see your idea for dual levers but I think it would be overkill to be honest, a levelling head needs to be simple, use and forget with the smallest and shortest footprint possible.
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Old July 27th, 2011, 01:05 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
A lever per se is not problematic, if it were better sourced I'd be a lot happier using it. It's too thin, too flimsy and just not nice to work with at all. As it's the main and only user manipulated control it's not just wingeing on my part (at least I hope!). I see your idea for dual levers but I think it would be overkill to be honest, a levelling head needs to be simple, use and forget with the smallest and shortest footprint possible.
Ben,

For using it with a large format camera, it would be good to have the dual levers as they would be accessible directly, otherwise the base is lost beneath the camera base.

Asher
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  #6  
Old July 27th, 2011, 06:51 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is online now
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Hi, Asher,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
For using it with a large format camera, it would be good to have the dual levers as they would be accessible directly, otherwise the base is lost beneath the camera base.
Do you mean that if (because of the aiming of the camera at the moment) access to one lever was blocked by the large base of the camera the other would not be? I'm trying to visualize this.

I assume that there would be some type of head atop the leveling base.

Best regards,

Doug
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  #7  
Old July 27th, 2011, 10:52 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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The leveling base is flat. So, in general, the base is going to be concealed by the inferior surface of the LF camera. So it's more awkward to make adjustment.

Asher
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  #8  
Old July 27th, 2011, 11:07 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is online now
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Hi, Asher,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
The leveling base is flat. So, in general, the base is going to be concealed by the inferior surface of the LF camera. So it's more awkward to make adjustment.
But the degree to which access in encumbered depends on how high the inferior surface camera is above the leveling base. How does the vertical thickness of the actual "head" (between the leveling base and the camera) fit in with this?

Or is there no "head" as such in your usage? That is, do you foresee using the leveling base (by itself) more as a ball head than a leveling base?

Best regards

Doug
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  #9  
Old November 2nd, 2011, 05:39 AM
Ben Rubinstein Ben Rubinstein is offline
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Here is another new competitor which though pricey looks very very nice and will be absolutely incredible.

http://reallyrightstuff.com/ProductD...TAULB-001&desc
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