One of the new items from Vanguard this year is an updated version of their pistol-grip ball head. The GH-100 was last year’s model, which I’ve used and enjoyed quite a bit – although I have neglected to publish a review on it. The GH-200 is the new model and it improves on the few minor complaints I had about the otherwise solid GH-100. In essence, you can take this as a review of both units with some notes on what makes the GH-200 an improved offering.
Like its predecessor, the GH-200 features Vanguard’s robust build quality in the ball and cup construction. Functionally, it works much like a standard ball head would if you flipped it upside down. The difference, of course, is the presence of the pistol grip on the side of the unit.
The purpose of the pistol grip is to allow photographers to lock down on a tension setting and then quickly change positions by squeezing the handle/trigger. Doing so releases the tension which, in turn, allows for rapid repositioning of the ball head angle. Release the trigger and you are, again, locked down tight.
In practice, this works very well. Tension stays tight and movement to different positions goes quickly. I’ve even been known to use the GH-100 for quickly framing up locked down shots for video interviews.
As noted, the GH-200 improves on the GH-100 in a few different ways. First up is a new mounting plate. Instead of the switch-lock QR plate on the GH-100, the GH-200 employs an Arca-Swiss compatible plate. Additionally, the construction is also a bit beefier all the way around. I had no complaints about the construction quality of the GH-100; however, I have no complaints about Vanguard stepping it up a notch on the GH-200 either. The GH-100 supported up to 13.2 lbs, while the GH-200 supports up to 14.4 lbs. I consider both to be rather over-built and that these numbers are conservative.
One final improvement that I’ll note is the inclusion of 2 bubble levels in logical locations. The GH-100 included a bubble level that was hidden underneath the QR plate. (Head scratcher, I know…) The GH-200 adds a top view and a side view bubble level, which makes fine tuning the leveling much simpler, particularly when you are changing between portrait and landscape orientation.
The GH-200 also includes a 72-point click panorama wheel. It moves in 5-degree increments throughout a complete 360-degree range for those who want more precision for panoramic shots.
While the GH-100 was a winner, the GH-200 steps up a couple of notches and demonstrates that Vanguard is out there to make its own products better for the photographers that use them. Big kudos to Vanguard on the GH-200. I’m still a huge fan.
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