The "Arca-Swiss Style" Quick-Release Geometry
The "Arca-Swiss Style" Quick-Release Geometry refers to the open-cavity dovetail quick-release system developed decades ago by Arca-Swiss for use with their Monoball ball heads and large format cameras. After the extreme popularity of the Arca-Swiss B-1 ball head in the 1990s, other companies began manufacturing custom camera-body and lens plates using this geometry. Since then, this geometry has become the industry standard for high-end tripod heads (particularly in the nature photography industry). The figure below shows the basic dimensions of the dovetail used in this system:
The Wimberley Head Version II, Sidekick, and other clamps use this quick-release system, so any lens that you wish to connect to our heads must be equipped with an Arca-Swiss style lens plate or replacement foot.
Manufacturers that use the Arca-Swiss Style Quick-Release Geometry include:
Giottos (only on their most recent line of ball heads & plates)
Novoflex (only on some of their products)
Really Right Stuff
The Linhof Profi III appears to be very well made, as its price would suggest.
The Profi III will hold the weight of very large lenses including 600mm f/4, 400mm f/2.8, and 800mm f/5.6 lenses.
The action of the ball-and-socket joint is generally smooth, however, it does exhibit slightly more stick-slip than the best Arca-Swiss B-1 ball heads that we’ve seen. (Stick slip is the slight initial jerk in movement when adjusting the position of the ball-and-socket joint from a static position with tension on the ball.)
The pan bases of this ball head is extremely smooth. The motion is damped by grease which adds to the smooth feel, but could get very stiff in cold weather.
The knob used to tighten the pan base is not captive.
People who own Profi III ball heads are generally very happy with them. If you can afford it, it should be a solid choice. In some ways the Arca-Swiss B-1 is a better performing ball head (less expensive, less stick-slip, and lighter), but it is sometimes hard to find, and the B-1 has been known to have some minor problems that have driven some people to use other heads. The B-1 is a more widely used head, and the vast majority of its users are very happy with it. Arthur Morris now uses the Linhof Profi III. He said that these ball heads are very smooth and, the tension setting is very convenient, and they are trouble-free unlike the Arca-Swiss ball heads.