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Acratech GP and GP-s

Reviews Views Date of last review
2 11,010 Tue February 8, 2011
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $399.00 9.50
Acratech GP and GP-s

Acratech GP and GP-s Acratech GP and GP-s

Description:
The Acratech GP ballhead is available in two models. The standard GP (weighing 1lb) and the GP-s (weighing .9 lbs, and sized a bit smaller). Each is rated to carry 25 lbs. Each can act as a standard ball head, a gimble, and inverting the ball head, it becomes a panning ballhead (where by the panning head is above the ball, thus allowing fully level panning regardless of the positioning of the tripod legs). The clamp comes with a level and is of the arca-swiss style.

The GP-s has the smaller base diameter allowing the tripod legs to fold more compactly.
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Senior Member

Registered: January, 2010
Location: Pemberton BC
Posts: 238

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: February 8, 2011 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $399.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Open non-lubricated ball, fantastic construction, works as a panoramic head
Cons: GP-s version not quite as compact as advertised, expensive, old-school non-metric fittings

The new generation of folding 'traveler' style tripods from Gitzo, Benro etc. require a smaller head to achieve minimum size, and several companies have produced Traveler heads, including the Q-Ball, PhotoClam and now the Acratech GP-s.

The GP-s is a beautifully machined piece of aluminum art that just oozes quality. The non-lubricated open ball design was key for me, as my tripod spends a lot of time exposed to the elements on the side of my pack (and getting dropped in the dirt). The Q-Ball and PhotoClam use enclosed ballhead designs, which require cleaning and lubrication, which can then attract dirt and grim.

The panoramic option is unique and works well. Conversion takes two minutes with the provided Allen key. This leads me to one of my peeves: the bolts are non-metric - 5/16"! If you live anywhere but the US be sure you don't jam a metric Allen key in there.

Most of Acratech's competitors have gone to a quick-release style plate system, but the GP-s uses their quick clamp bolt. Since Acratech's clamp will open and close with only a half-turn, I can't see a Q/R working any faster, and I suspect the bolt will be more reliable (we wear out a lot of Q/R's in the bike biz, but we stress them a lot more). All of the controls are coated in rubber for comfort in cold weather.

The real test of a Traveler head is whether is fits a Traveler tripod. The main difference between the GP and the GP-s is the smaller diameter of the base, and indeed the folded legs of my Gitzo 1541T do clear the base. Unfortunately the legs still come into contact with the upper parts of the head, which prevent the tripod from collapsing to its minimum size. It's not huge, but one leg does slightly protrude. If you rotate the head around it's possible to squeeze them in a bit tighter, but this seems to flex the legs a bit, and I'd rather deal with the slightly bigger size. Overall it's not a deal breaker, but since the GP-s is advertised as a Traveler-specific head I was hoping for more. I've knocked a point off for this, but that's the only real negative.

The price is a bit of a shocker, at $399 the GP-s is substantially more expensive than its competitors. Considering the quality of it's (North American) construction and the fact that it functions as a leveling head for panoramas (usually an extra expense) I think it is well worth the extra dough. This is a head that will last for decades, if not a lifetime, so dig deep and find that extra hundred bucks - it's worth it.
   
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: June, 2009
Location: Tumbleweed, Arizona
Posts: 5,370

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: August 29, 2010 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $399.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Small, Light, holds securely, gimble, panning head
Cons: none

I have had this ballhead for about a year. I have also used a Manfrotto RC2 head. The difference is night and day, in terms of my preference for the Acratech. It is a bit pricey, however when compared to the alternatives RRS (panning ballhead), this is of equal quality with a price advantage.

The design is radically different than the traditional ballheads. Its open design allows it to be clean and not accumulate dirt. This lightweight design is great for backpacking. The design also allows for it to be used as a traditional ballhead, gimble ballhead and as a panning ballhead by inverting the unit and placing the camera clamp on the other end. This way the clamp is above the ballhead and you are able to pan level regardless of the orientation and placement of the tripod legs.

The unit is very easy to use.
_____________________________

I received an email asking what the difference between the GP and GV2 actually were. Here is the response......

The functional difference between the Acratech GP and GV2 ballheads is the GP is able to be inverted and thus becomes a panning head. Let me explain a bit on this..
To pan level without perfectly leveling the tripod first, the panning assembly needs to be ABOVE the ball, thus you are panning perpendicular around the vertical axis (i.e., level).
To accomplish this, Acratech made a small but brilliant change in the design of the GV2 - since the GV2 was available before the GP, I am assuming here that they leveraged off the GV2 base (which makes perfect sense).

From what I see, on the GV2, the clamp is threaded, and thus screws on to the 3/8-16 bolt coming off the ball assembly.

The design change for the GP is that the clamp rather than being threaded, has a hex 3/8-16 bolt attaching it to the stem on ball, which has been modified from a threaded bolt, to a footed stem attachment that accepts a 3/8-16 bolt. In the standard configuration this footed stem assembly accepts the bolt holding on the clamp. In the inverted configuration this footed assembly screws (accepts the 3/8-16 or 1/4-20) onto the bolt from the tripod (hence the need for the foot to provide a wider base for sitting on the top of the tripod providing stability), and the clamp is then bolted in to the panning base, which is now sitting on top of the ball, thus making it a panning head.

The person I acquired this from, purchased it before the GP was available and bought both the GV2 and the leveling base, to perform the same function (as the now available GP). The person I acquired it from, now has kids and went to a video head. I bought the set for the leveling base to sit under my Nodal Ninja Panorama head so that I would not have to perfectly level the tripod before I shot multi-row stitched panoramas. I got spoiled from using the GP, so I finally broke down and went looking for a Acratech leveling base.

The GP and GV2 essentially look the same. The differences are all hidden under the clamp assembly - the difference in design that provides the additional functionality. See the attached image - the GV2 is on the left with the GP on the right. Look at the underside of the clamp and you can see the difference in how the clamp attaches - the GP has the additional foot to act as a base when the unit is inverted and the clamp is attached to the bottom base of the unit. The rest of the unit - shares the same design, precision machining. The only other difference is the degree markings around the base - with the GP having the markings both right side up and up side down - to be readable in both configurations. Both act as a ballhead and as a gimble head, hold the same amount of weight, weight the same, look the same, and operates the same - same look and feel.

I know that the Acratech products are a tad more expensive, however their design, construction and machining are exquisite from an engineering standpoint. They are practically indestructible and built for a lifetime's use. Sorry for the marketing pitch (an no I do not own any Acratech stock), but I just really like their products - they really work for me - first time, every time, all the time. From a concept of operations view, they are drop dead simple to use.

There are some pictures here on the link....
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