What is a Leveling Head on a Tripod?
A leveling head is something that sits between your tripod head and a tripod, to help you level the head extremely quickly. Without a leveling head it can be tedious and time-consuming to perfectly level a tripod by adjusting the length of the individual legs. For normal photographic purposes, you don’t actually need a perfectly level tripod because you can simply use the ball head of your tripod to level the camera. The difficulty arises when you need a camera to rotate. If the tripod isn’t perfectly level when you rotate a camera, it will dip up and down at you spin it around.
This will cause dramatic issues when shooting videos that involve a panning motion as the camera will appear to shift and tilt while you pan. The same issues also arise if you’re using a gimbal head for wildlife photography. Without a level gimbal, as you pan around to track an animal, you’ll find the camera tilting and making it harder to stay on your target.
Panoramic photography is the third common reason for using a leveling head. If you aren’t level when you rotate the panoramic rail, the resulting panorama will be the shape of a wave instead of a perfect rectangle.