For interior photography, a ball head is slightly restricting and not the best, so I would like a geared head for my tripod. There’s a lot of reviews and information about ballheads, heads with quick release grips, etc. but there’s not half as much information regarding the best geared heads. For those unfamiliar, a geared tripod head is a tripod head with–as the name would suggest–gears in it. Initially the knobs will look like grips to adjust tension, but if correctly advertised, twisting the knobs will adjust the tilt of the tripod head. Each axis will have a different knob.
The current models I’ve been looking at are listed below:
Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head
The Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head has a paradoxical name, it’s called “junior” which informs you that it’s the lesser performing model, but its model number is greater than 405. Being pedantic, I feel it should be called the 400 :).
The Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head is the geared head I am most interested in for my tripod at the moment. It’s not as heavy as the 405, and it shares the same quirk as all of these tripod heads–there’s not much room to switch to portrait mode. With the arca swiss heads, you can get an L bracket to circumvent the portrait issue but with a proprietary plate, you’ll find it less easy. I’m told that you can get around this by turning the tripod plate round and it’s very rare it will ever be an issue–especially on stable ground like in a house.
I know people who have this model and are satisfied with it, which is reassuring. It doesn’t support the same weight as its bigger brother but I’ll be using it with a Sony a7rII and a Sony 12-24mm f/4 G lens–it’s a lightweight setup.
From what I’ve read, there’s nothing particularly wrong with it.
Weight: 1.22 kg
Payload: 5.0 kg
Manfrotto 405 Geared Head
The Manfrotto 405 Geared Head is heavier than the 410. I don’t really care but for landscape photography, the 410 is probably better in that regard. It’s more expensive, and the main benefit for interior photographers is that the gears are slightly finer.
I don’t think the added price is worth it for me and I may end up using a geared head for landscape use, so the weight difference–although not a benefit currently–might matter.
If you’ve got a lot of heavy equipment, you might want to consider that also.
Weight: 1.6 kg
Payload: 7.5 kg
Benro 3-Way Geared Head (GD3WH)
The Benro 3-Way Geared Head (GD3WH) looks to be a great value for money head, and it’s both more expensive and cheaper than the other options depending on where you shop or if you want to convert the others to an Arca Swiss compatible head. The Benro 3-Way Geared Head (GD3WH) looks like it has fine gears (judging from reviews) and it’s quite a lightweight head. I am tempted to get one of these but there doesn’t seem to be too much information about it.
Weight: 0.91 kg
Payload: 6.0 kg
Arca Swiss D4 Geared Head & Arca-Swiss C1 Cube Geared Head
Both the Arca Swiss D4 Geared Head & the Arca-Swiss C1 Cube Geared Head are horrendously expensive but they seem to be the best gear heads available. If budget was no concern, I’d get the Arca-Swiss D4 Geared Head. When I initially saw it, I thought that the price was a mistake.
Everyone says the Arca-Swiss Geared Heads are well made pieces of equipment and as much as I think they’re great, I think it’s a bit silly the gears are exposed to dirt with the Arca-Swiss C1 Cube Geared Head.
The Arca Swiss D4 Geared Head is better in this regard, and it’s a bit cheaper too but it’s still way overpriced in my opinion. I completely understand that it’s of higher quality than the competition, but the amount of aluminium and the machining costs are not enough to justify the prices of these two items.
For landscape photography, I think the Arca Swiss D4 Geared Head would be the best of the bunch.
Arca-Swiss C1 Cube Geared Head
Weight: 925 g
Payload: 25.0 kg
Arca Swiss D4 Geared Head
Payload: 25.0 kg
Leofoto G4 Geared Head & Sunwayfoto Geared Head GH-PRO
Both the Leofoto G4 Geared Head and the Sunwayfoto Geared Head GH-PRO look like great gearheads. They’re priced more similarly to the Manfrotto 405 Geared Head. I am finding it difficult to find useful reviews on these two models, and it’s quite difficult finding a place to buy them.
From what I’ve observed on YouTube, their gears are quite fine. They perhaps don’t support heavier setups but again, I will only be using it with a Sony a7rII and a 12-24mm f/4 G lens.
The benefit with the Leofoto G4 Geared Head and the Sunwayfoto Geared Head GH-PRO is that they’re both quite small and don’t take up much space in a camera bag.
KPS T5 Geared Ballhead
The KPS T5 Geared Ballhead is very sleak, and has precise, fine gears from what I’ve read. It’s a bit like the Arca Swiss D4 Geared Head only somewhat cheaper.
It is almost impossible to buy in the UK and out of budget anyway.