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My search has ended quite successfully! For those still looking for a good trigger style ball grip for their bins I have found the ultimate replacement. Mike's photo (on ebay) have increased all of their prices and no longer were willing to ship to North America. I found this instead http://www.ebay.ca/i...1#ht_5908wt_926 Shipped from Seoul Korea and got to my front door in Ottawa, Ontario Canada in exactly 12 days. $50CAD and "free shipping". I was extremely surprised. They packed it very nicely and provided a tracking number 15 minutes after I paid for the item. Here are some images for those interested: In the third picture you can see a handy little safety lock so you can't accidentely dismount your bins/camera. I also found this gem of a monopod for $20 locally. Best buy sells them brand new for $30 - I've seen a few on here. I mounted up my 15x70 skymaster bins and the new trigger grip and it was rock solid even extended to the total max height of 81 inches (includes the standard 4" plastic Skymaster chimney mount, the trigger grip and all lengths of the monopod extended). Definitely great purchases all around. So for those looking for inexpensive alternatives you can't go wrong with a setup similar to mine. A note on fit and finish: fit is perfect. All the threads are of quality metals and there is a tension adjuster for the trigger action. I find the softest setting makes tracking across the night sky smooth as silk, even with my heavy-ish 15x70's. Finish, apart from some minor paint bubbling seen here everything is tip top. Should get many years of use.
I managed to get hold of a used Manfrotto 222 trigger-grip head on FleaBay for a reasonable price. It arrived today, so I've been comparing it to the Weifeng WT011H (branded Konig/Olivon/Camrock/DynaSun/etc.) that we all seem to be using. Overall impression is that, where the Weifeng oozes basic utilitarianism, the Manfrotto oozes quality and class. It's matte black powder-coated, so it feels warmer (and softer) to the touch -- no doubt this will change inuse it under a clear night where it will radiatively cool much quicker than the Weifeng.The Manfrotto ball is very much smoother. Visually, the Weifeng ball has ridges, and these manifest as a change in ball-tension in different parts of the motion. The Manfrotto ball-tension is uniform.The Manfrotto has a tension-adjust that adjusts the ball-tension when the grip is operated, from "none at all" to "good - the binoculars won't slip and bash my nose as I try to adjust the elevation". No such niceties on the Weifeng.The Manfrotto base is slightly larger and has a knurled rim. This allows it to be more easily tightened onto the monopod.The Manfrotto operating plunger is partly external, making it potentially more vulnerable than the entirely internal Weifeng mechanism.The Manfrotto QR plate is smaller and has no video pin.The Manfrotto QR plate release lever mechanism is external, making it potentially more vulnerable than the entirely internal Weifeng mechanism.The Manfrotto QR plate lock is a tiny brass thumb-lever; the Weifeng lock is a knurled thumbscrew.Overall, the Manfrotto is clearly the better head -- as it should be at around three times the price. However, bits of it are a bit more vulnerable to damage than is the case with the Weifeng, so more care will need to be taken with storage and transport. Is it worth the extra? Hard to say: I wouldn't have paid full price for it and I won't be getting rid of the Weifeng, but I really do appreciate the better quality of the Manfrotto.