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Thread: Acratech Gv2 Ballhead

  1. #1
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    Default Acratech Gv2 Ballhead

    With all the chatter about the improved Continuous Auto Focus capabilities of the latest E-410/510 cameras, I thought a review of this ballhead would be timely in light of its ability to function as a gimbal head. In other words, you can set the ballhead in gimbal mode and it will allow smooth tracking, either horizontally or vertically, or both. It's great for shooting at moving objects like birds, cars, aircraft, etc. The GV2 ballhead was announced at the PMA show earlier this spring and just now became available. It's slightly modified from its V2 parent, in that it has a bushing on the stem above the ball portion of the head that fits into an enlarged groove on the clamping assembly. It also has a small pin on the ball, at the "south pole" that correspondingly fits into its own slot on the other side of the clamping assembly. Both serve to reinforce and stabilize the ball when in the horizontal mode. I spent all yesterday trying to capture backyard life forms in motion, but it was too hot for motion, so I'll just attach some photos of the ballhead itself.

    Pro's:

    Elegant design and execution--beautiful machine work, if you're into that.
    Effective. It works as advertised, at least with the heaviest glass I could muster (150/F2 & 1.4 TC).
    Lightweight. Not much, if any, heavier either the Ultimate or V2 versions.
    Like the V2, it has adjustable tension, or drag, so it functions like a conventional ballhead.
    The clamp itself has a screw release, which I find to be just as fast and convenient as any of my RRS lever release clamps, at a much lower cost.

    Cons:

    At $349.95 + shipping and taxes, it's not the bargain that the Ultimate version is.
    Unconventional design. As an Oly shooter, one has to be somewhat of an iconoclast anyway, but there are those who will be put off by the unorthodox look of this excellent ballhead.








    Although not exactly a bargain like my Ultimate version, it does combine the functions of a regular ballhead and a gimbal mount, like the Wimberly. If you were to buy a conventional high-quality ballhead and add a gimbal mount, you'd have to spend twice the cost of a GV2. I think this ballhead will be most appreciated by those who have to carry their gear far from their cars.

    Rocky

    Just read FL's thread about posting & realized that I forgot to mention that I bought this item direct from Acratech for $349.95, plus tax and shipping (total $391). I ordered this item on Monday afternoon and received it on Tuesday afternoon, even though I had selected the least expensive form of shipment-UPS standard Ground. My home is about 150 miles from Acratech, so my hat's off to the Acratech shipping department as well as UPS.

    Acratech's website

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    Default Re: Acratech Gv2 Ballhead

    Hi,

    I noticed that you're using RRS plates. Is it advisable to get a GV2 with or without the pin? All my plates are from RRS (L-bracket, etc) don't know if the pin has any use at all with the RRS plates.

    Still choosing between the GV2 and the Bh-40, I'd appreciate your opinion on this.

    thanks

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    Default Re: Acratech Gv2 Ballhead

    REM: Good point about the utility of the safety pin when using lens/camera plates other than those made by Acratech. I can only offer that I opted for the Acratech clamp over another RRS clamp, and I'm happy because I saved some money; the Acratech clamp is just as fast and easy to operate as the RRS lever release clamp. To further muddle the issue, I use a Kirk plate on my camera and it works great with any of the clamps I use. So, my experience is that all the American-made Arca style plates are compatible, but I understand that some of the European plates are not. I'll bet it's a metric vs. inches thing, i.e. metric machine tools are used in Europe, and all their lead screws are metric vs. inches.

    I also have/use a BH40 (with an RRS lever release clamp) and it too is a great head--no problems that I can find. It just doesn't have a gimbal function like the Acratech, and it is slightly heavier. The gimbal feature is intended (IMHO) for tracking moving targets with heavy lenses, like my 50-200 or the pictured 150/F2. I think your decision will finally boil down to ergonomics or appearance, although the BH40 is more expensive. Good luck, I'm pretty sure you'd be happy either way.

    Rocky

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    Default Re: Acratech Gv2 Ballhead

    Thanks Rocky! Glad to know you have tried both and both actually worked well with no problems. I just might try out the GV2 - that "gimbal" feature may just be a nice thing to have

    Regards,

    Rem

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    Default Re: Acratech Gv2 Ballhead

    Hi Rocky,

    why can't an RRS BH40 be used in "gimbal mode"? It has notches for the stem, are they too deep or is the friction too high or what is the difference?

    Cheers, Jens.
    Motto: Wildlife won't come to me unless I go to it.
    --------------------------------------------------------
    My Wildlife Photos: jensbirch.smugmug.com

    E-5, E-3, E-510, IR-E-1 ,E-P2
    ZD: 7-14, 14-54, 50, 50-200 SWD, 90-250/2.8, 300/2.8, EC-14, EC-20
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    FL-50R, FL-40, FL-20, HLD-2, HLD-4, cleaved ZD EX-25 w. electric bypass, 250D, 500D, KatzEye Plus OptiBrite
    Feisol CT-3472LV and CM-1471

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    Default Re: Acratech Gv2 Ballhead

    Jens: Just tried the BH40, trying to emulate the gimbal mode of the GV2. It tracks horizontally just fine, but vertical tracking is almost impossible--I just can't get it to be smooth. The GV2 has the bushing below the lens clamp and the locking pin at the opposite axis, and I think their combined effect is to stabilize the ballhead in the vertical axis.

    Another interesting note is that while using my E-1 in the gimbal mode, it's almost too heavy for my Feisol tripod, at least with the 150F2/1.4TC combo as pictured above. All that mass, off center, makes me a little suspect of the overall stability. I'll probably take advantage of the hook on the center post and hang something heavy from it, at least while in the gimbal mode.

    Rocky

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    Default Re: Acratech Gv2 Ballhead

    I have posted a review here.

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