Leofoto G2 geared head
- + Excellent control for the price
- + Smaller and lighter than conventional geared heads
- + Excellent build quality
- + Accepts a heavy load
- + Can be used for stitched panoramas
- - Doesn't feature a panning base
- - Restricted range of movement
Price as Reviewed:£189.00
Andy Westlake tests a compact, lightweight geared head for precise camera adjustment
Leofoto G2 geared head at a glance:
- Height 6.2cm
- Diameter 6cm (excluding controls)
- Rated load 20kg
- Weight 360g
Photographers who engage in serious architectural work often prefer to work with geared tripod heads. By driving the camera directly in each direction, these enable extremely precise control over composition, but in return, they tend to be large, heavy and expensive.
Historically, this sector has been dominated by Manfrotto and Arca Swiss, but now some interlopers have started to find a way in. The device we’re looking at here, the Leofoto G2, bears a strong resemblance to the Arca Swiss Core Leveller 60, but at a third of the price.
Leofoto G2 geared head key features:
- NP-60 camera plate: This 6cm-long plate includes both a strap slot and an anti-twist lip. The camera screw has a fold-down d-ring for easy attachment.
- Level: A circular bubble level on the camera clamp helps with setting the camera platform flat.
- Arca compatible: There’s an Arca Swiss-type clamp on top, and a dovetail plate at the base for fixing onto a ballhead.
- Tripod socket: The base has a standard 3/8” tripod connection socket, with a 1/4” adapter supplied in the box.
Compared to most other tripod heads, whose aim is to lock the camera at any angle of the user’s choice, this serves a different purpose. It’s all about setting the camera straight and level, which is a prerequisite for formal architectural compositions. To this end, it offers geared adjustments across a range of +/-10° in two directions.
Panning is provided via a smoothly-rotating camera clamp, which can be locked in place when required. Should you wish to shoot in portrait format, you’ll need an L-bracket on your camera. This design may sound limiting, but the advantage is that it allows the Leofoto G2 to be very much smaller and lighter than conventional geared heads. It’ll even fit between the legs of many travel tripods, making it a tempting option for location work.
While the device can be used on top of a ballhead, for architectural work it’ll most likely be mounted directly onto a tripod. The two axes of geared control are then used to ensure the camera is level, or perhaps tilted upwards slightly to deliver more natural-looking images. This is where the Leofoto G2 is at a disadvantage compared to the Arca Swiss version, which includes a panning base that for aligning those axes logically. My solution was to add a rotating base underneath.
The head is constructed from aluminium, with excellent build quality. All of the movements are smooth and precise, and once you’ve worked out how you prefer to align the controls, it’s extremely intuitive to use. I stress-tested its load capacity using a full-frame DSLR and 400mm lens totalling over 3kg, which it handled with aplomb.
This head isn’t just for architecture. It can also be used for creating stitched panoramas, by first setting the camera perfectly level and then panning across a scene to shoot a series of frames. More generally, it’s potentially useful for any work that requires fine control over the camera angle.
Leofoto G2 geared head: Our Verdict
There’s no doubt the Leofoto G2 is a niche product with substantial limitations, most obviously its restricted range of movement. This limits its usefulness for many subjects, so it’s not a head you’d keep on your tripod all the time. But if you do have a use for it, it’ll do the job extremely well.