Tripod heads come in a variety of shapes and sizes with the most common types being the 3-way panhead, ball and socket head and the fluid head. Most of these heads were designed primarily for photographic use and can perform adequately for visual observation as well, the choice again being a personal preference and perhaps the size and configuration of your spotting scope. The most popular and perhaps best design for spotting scopes, however, is the fluid head.
Designed originally for video cameras, these have a single, adjustable control arm which permits the scope to be moved up and down and panned with one hand. The fluid-effect movement of the head is silky smooth, dampened with an adjustable screw controlling the amount of tension desired. Another feature offered with some tripod heads is a quick release plate, which allows you to easily and quickly remove a spotting scope from the tripod and replace it with a camera, or vice versa. While these are convenient, equipment damage can easily result from an accidental bump or unintended turn of the quick release lever.
Thanks to our friends at Eagle Optics for providing this information!