The Manfrotto 486RC2 is a medium duty ball head in my opinion. I only say that as I also have a Really Right Stuff BH-55 and the difference is H U G E – My main issue with the Manfrotto 486RC2 is it doesn’t have the abilty to be locked and pan, the tension lock either is all or none, and if you want to make digital panoramics, then the manfrotto makes it tough to do… with the RRS I can lock the camera so it is level and loosen the panning knob and it allows me to spin the camera without moving it from level.
On the positive side, this is a really good ball head, and after all, it is a Manfrotto, so it goes without saying that it is quality. I have owned this head for several years and it has served me well, it is light, small and accurate, it does suffer from some droop if dropped into the side notches for portrait orientation with something heavy attached like a 70-200mm f2.8 lens.
Manfrotto use their own Quick Release system that is not compatible with anything else, I have never had any major issue with their system and don’t have a preference between the arca swiss style or this. Once the QR plate is in place there is a small lock that once in place, prevents the QR plate from being released. Although, I have experienced the plate coming loose from the camera if it isn’t super tight.
The ball action is fluid and smooth. This was my first ball head and I will never go any other way, ball heads are compact, light and easy to use.
Overall, if you’re after a medium duty ball head that is great quality then this is a great place to start. I once received advice from a pro photographer that you should always buy the best gear you can afford. If you can afford the best you will probably only ever buy the one! If you never plan to have heavy gear or use your tripod week in week out, then this is a great head for you!