[Review of Desmond Demon DB-44 ball-head, supplied with DAC-X1 clamp]Decent head, but with QA And design problems; DAC-X1 clamp no good at all. Cheaper heads can do better.I would recommend the cheaper, chunkier, Desmond DB-46 head. The DB-46 takes extreme loads/torques, comes with an excellent clamp that has levels useful for both horizontal and vertical alignment, and can be reliably used inverted without additional components. I would also recommend the smaller (than DB-44 and DB-46) - and even cheaper - DB-40 head, which is a scaled-down DB-46. The DB-40 does not have the extreme holding torque of the DB-44 and DB-46, but it has plenty for practical purposes. The only significant downside that I am aware of with DB-40 and DB-46 is that their clamps do not have alignment marks - though it's easy enough to create a centre mark with an engineer's square and a scribe, or paint.I have reviewed the Desmond DAC-X1 clamp on Amazon.com separately. I strongly recommend using a different, more conventional, clamp.Good points:- Ball has very high holding torque: in excess of 13Nm (10 ft-lbs). I didn't try higher torques, as they didn't seem realistic.- Fairly smooth ball action. I have a much smoother Novoflex CB3, but that is much more expensive.- Controls easy to use - deeply grooved knobs work with gloves on. But see also bad points.- Smooth, well-damped panning (but see below).- Degree scale is always visible - some ballhead designs hide the degree scale, except for a cutout in the base.To put the holding torque into context, suppose you have a Nikon 300mm f/2.8 with a D810 on the back. That's about 3.9kg. Don't put it on the ball head. Instead, put a 200mm Nodal rail on the ball head, so the nodal rail clamp is offset 150mm/6"" horizontally from the head, and the nodal rail clamp is pointing at 90 degrees to the head. Now put the 300mm foot in the nodal rail clamp. So the camera + lens is moved 150mm/6"" sideways, and the weight of the camera+lens is centred about 6"" to the side of the head. That's crazy. The torque on the head is about 5.7Nm/4.2ft-lbs. Easily within the capability of the DB-44 head. In fact even the smaller and cheaper DB-40 will hold this mess.Bad points:- Supplied DAC-X1 clamp has a defective design. Use another clamp.- When locking wheel is turned to fully unlocked, it may stick there, requiring extreme force to return to normal operation (see below).- Silicone oil, used to damp panning, may leak from between base and body, and then be spread across other camera gear you touch (see below).- Base design may not attach reliably to some tripods.- My example was supplied with a loose base (see below). My experience seems not unique.Other points:- The body cutouts for tilting the ball are limited to a fairly accurate 90 degrees. This means that it may not be possible to shoot with the clamp in an accurate vertical plane without adjusting the tripod legs to accurately level the tripod itself. Which is not easy or quick. An extra 2-3 degrees beyond 90 degrees would be helpful. This is a common problem with ballhead designs.Usage hint:- When packing the tripod away, make sure that the panning knob is unlocked, and the ball locking knob is neither fully locked nor fully unlocked. This is general advice, but particularly important for this head, because it can stick in ""unlocked"".Quality Assurance problems:- As supplied, the base would not lock: after tightening the locking knob for the base, the base would still rotate with a range of about 2 degrees total.- As supplied, a clear, highly viscous, (silicone?) lubricant leaked from between the (panning) base, and the body of the head.The leaking lubricant was the damping fluid for the panning action of the head. Excess damping fluid was leaking from the panning base. The (plain) panning bearing is not sealed in the design: excess damping fluid leaking from the base of the internal panning bearing has a free path to the outside world via the gap between the base and the body. In the long term, it may be desirable to remove the base periodically, and carefully clean away any excess damping fluid - and dirt which has entered between the base and the body - to prevent buildup of an abrasive paste formed from dirt and damping fluid.Viscous fluids leaking out of photographic equipment are undesirable. I don't want this stuff on my filters or lenses.I was able to fix the wobbling base problem when I noticed that the three flat-head bolts attaching the base to the internal panning ring were loose. Tightening these three bolts (2mm hex key) fixed the problem.I suspect that these bolts were torqued against a thick film of excess highly viscous damping fluid, and, between manufacture and delivery, the excess damping fluid slowly flowed out of the gap between the base and the panning ring, leaving the connection between the base and the internal panning ring loose.Design problems:- The supplied DAC-X1 clamp. See Amazon.com review.- The Locking knob can ""latch"" in the unlocked position, locking both the locking and friction rings in an unlocked position. Other heads I've tried with linked locking and friction controls also have a slight tendency to stick at fully unlocked, but in this case I was unable to un-stick the locking knob with my bare hands - I had to wrap a cloth around the locking knob for extra grip to un-stick it. Not what you would want in the field.- The base many not fix safely to some tripods. This is a relatively subtle point. The DB-44 base has a ring closely surrounding the tripod mount screw in the same plane as the outside of the base. If - on a particular tripod - the base is clamped against this ring, the tripod mounting may be unreliable, unstable, and prone to unscrewing itself. A more reliable design would eliminate this inner ring, so that the base is clamped further away from the central tripod mounting bolt, and - varying - sideways torques on the head are less able to tilt the tripod mounting. Some tripods - including Desmond's own DCF-432 - use head mounting plates which are recessed near the central head mounting bolt to avoid this problem.Illustrations:1) Head, as supplied, with DAC-X1 clamp (I include this because vendors sometimes change the product, without changing the Amazon page, perhaps to keep good reviews).2) Base of DB-44 ballhead, illustrating base ring close to mount hole.3) Base of DB-40 ballhead, for comparison, illustrating a more reliable base design.4) Mounting plate of DCF-432 tripod, which avoids the problem with the DB-44 base.