20% off every day with coupon code diglloyd20 at NuLeafNaturals.com
100% organic non-GMO, no additives or preservatives, lab tested for purity and quality.
Acratech GP-S and GP-SS Ballheads
All of the GP ballheads are the perfect complement to a lightweight tripod, with the GP-ss ideal for cameras like the Fuji X100 or Fuji X-Pro1 or Sony NEX-7 or Leica M9. And all of them are perfectly capable of supporting larger camera, but I’d suggest the GP model with its larger clamp for pro-size DSLRs.
I was impressed with the attention to detail with the GP/GP-s / GP-ss ballheads: the fit and finish, the stainless-steel and brass parts, the built-in spirit level., the laser-engraved markings. It’s clear that a great deal of thought went into the features of these heads, right down to the removal of excess metal from the cross member.
After speaking with Scott Dordick at Acratech, I came away realizing that Acratech is one of those companies with a deep comittment to design excellence. That’s the type of company I like to support when I buy my gear. And Made in the USA is a plus too.
I tested these combinations:
- GP-SS #1180 (smaller ballhead with knob clamp)
- GP #1155 (Regular size ballhead with knob clamp)
- GP #1157 (Regular size ballhead with lever clamp)
The GP and GP-s models are slightly different. According to Acratech:
The GP-s has a smaller base diameter and a relocated pan knob so it provides additional clearance for compact, travel tripods where the tripod legs fold over the tripod head”.
I saw no particular need for the GP-s model even with my tiny Gitzo 0531 tripod; I used the GP and GP-ss models. When I use a small tripod setup, I stuff the tripod with head into a side pocket of my North Face Recon day pack.
With the knob clamp, the spirit level remains exposed and visible when the camera is mounted. I also like the fact that it keeps the clamp form-factor smaller, a factor for stowage in the side pocket of my pack.
With the lever clamp, the spirit level is covered once the camera is inserted; see the two photos on this page and why this is so will be immediately clear.
As per Acratech.
- Works as a gimbal head with lenses up to 400 f4.0.
- Weighs .90 lbs with quick release clamp.
- Reduced base diameter of 2.375" (60mm).
- Easily holds over 25 lbs (11.4kg) at any angle.
- Full movements allow any camera position.
- Precision C.N.C. machined.
- Compatible with Kirk, Arca, R.R.S., and many other QR plates.
- Fits all standard tripods (1/4-20 and 3/8-16 threads).
- Laser Engraved dual degree markings.
- Solid precision feel.
- Beautiful satin black anodized finish.
- Long lasting stainless steel hardware.
- All knobs are secured so they cannot vibrate loose and fall off.
- Oil-free and greaseless ball will not attract or hold dirt and debris.
- Made in U.S.A.
NuGard KX Case for iPhones and iPads.
Outstanding protection against drops and impact!
Plus, excellent grip for wet hands, cycling, etc.
Weight as actually weighed on my lab scale.
GP-SS: 386g with screw clamp
GP-S: 400g (nominal)
GP: 452 with screw clamp
GP: 475 with quick release lever clamp
Together with a small and light tripod like the Gitzo 0531 tripod, carrying a tripod need not be so burdensome.
The 386g weight is in line with the Really Right Stuff BH-30, but I prefer the Acratech head for its superior control layout, which interferes less with rotating/aiming the camera.
Craig B writes:
I've been following your blog and subscribing to Making Sharp Images and DAP for a few years now. I got into photography after buying a Canon Digital Rebel in 2005 so consider myself a relative newcomer. Despite not having the time I'd like to invest in improving my craft, I really enjoy your articles. I learn something new every time I read them. I appreciate the attention to detail. I especially appreciate the MSI articles about avoiding blur. They are worth repeated study.
I am glad to see you review the Acratech ballheads. I think that they don't get the attention they deserve. Maybe people are freaked out by their very unconventional design.
I have used the Acratech GP ballhead with my Canon 40d and 7d and a variety of smaller lenses and also with a Wimberley Sidekick for my Canon 500 and 100-400 for about 18 months now. It's lightweight, well built, and gets the job done. I have used it everywhere from my own backyard to the Serengeti and it has never let me down. Acratech doesn't quote inflated weight limits - they say that they can handle 25 pounds at any angle and that's what they do with little fuss or hassle. Their design makes cleaning a non-issue. They don't need lubrication or much maintenance at all to keep working.
I also use their separate leveling base which works great as well. Note that the ballhead can be flipped over and used like it has a leveling base for quick panoramas in a pinch but it's a bit awkward so I recommend a dedicated leveling base. I agree with another comment that notes the limitations of the gimbal mode - I would only use it in a pinch if I forgot my Sidekick. With a replacement lens foot for my 500/4 the weight is well centered over my tripod and I have lost little if any functionality over a full Wimberley. When you are limited to 15 kg of luggage on an African Safari and wish to actually have a few changes of clothes as well you will really appreciate the Acratech GP ballhead.
There are many quality options out there from manufacturers like RRS and Arca-Swiss but I recommend everybody at least take a hard look at the Acratech options.
Click for supersized view.
Other Acratech products
Acratech makes a variety of other products as well, see the Acratech web site for details.
- A handy allen wrench on a clip.
- A nodal point rail for panoramic shooting.
- A leveling base.
- A panoramic tripod head.
- A universal L-bracket.
- A nifty viewing-angle clip-on for laptop computers.
Nikon F or Canon FE mount, use with lens adapter on Sony, Panasonic, Canon, Nikon mirrorless.
$699 SAVE $450 = 39.0% Apple 12.9" iPad Pro (Mid 2017, 512GB, Wi-Fi Only, Gold) in Electronics: iPads and Tablets
$5499 SAVE $800 = 12.0% Apple 15.4" MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (Mid 2018, Space Gray) in Computers: Apple Macs
$2549 SAVE $300 = 10.0% Apple 15.4" MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (Mid 2018, Space Gray) in Computers: Apple Macs
$7995 SAVE $3720 = 31.0% Leica Leica SL (Typ 601) Mirrorless with 50mm Lens Bundle in Cameras: Mirrorless
$1000 SAVE $500 = 33.0% Westone W80 Eight-Driver True-Fit Earphones with ALO Audio and M… in Electronics: Audio
High capacity, high-performance fault-tolerant storage for photography and video.
Non-RAID or RAID-0/1/4/5/10.
Capacities up to 84 Terabytes!