The Acratech GP Ballhead may just be called a ballhead -- but it also functions as a leveling base and a gimbal head. When flipped upside down, the tension-based system serves as a base for panoramas, making sure each shot is parallel to save stitching headaches later. The tension-based ballhead also works as a gimbal for video or for easy panning. The ballhead features full range of motion using lenses up to 400mm and around 25 pounds of gear total.
Despite the three-in-one functionality, the head weighs only about a pound and the knobs are both secure and small so they don't catch on anything if you take it on a hike. Unlike many ballheads, this Acratech uses only stainless-steel hardware -- there's no oil or lubricant of any sort. Oils can trap tiny sand and dust particles, which leaves a perfectly good tripod head sticking and unsteady over time.
The ballhead is compatible with many different sizes of quick release plates, including Kirk and Arca, which leaves you to pick your favorite -- but also means you have to spend more to get a plate. That's on top of a $399 list price for just the head. The Arcatech may be pricey, but it's a high-end, long lasting ballhead with multiple features, and for the right shooter, is certainly worth the higher cost.