Posted: 1. Oktober 2020 at 06:54 CET

By: Team

Review: Benro GD3WH three way geared head

Note: This is an automated translation from the german source

At some point, every photographer will have the point where they are fed up with the ball head. No matter how good and expensive the head is, how carefully you set the friction – aligning the camera properly becomes a game of patience. Especially in architecture, object and reproduction photography, you often have to do some post-processing.

With us it was now time and after viewing the existing offer, we bought a Benro GD3WH three way geared head (GD3WH = Gear Drive 3 Way Head ). In this short review we give our impressions.

First, a quick look at the competing products that we have sorted out for various reasons:

  • Manfrotto MA410 – well-known head (around US$ 200). Unfortunately only usable with Manfrotto plates if you don’t want to use adapters. Not an option as we only use Arca. The same applies to other Manfrotto heads.
  • Cambo PCH – very interesting head, but with around 1,200 euros quite expensive.
  • Sunwayfoto Geared Head GH-PRO – Also quite interesting and with about 480, – still in the frame. Here, however, only two axles are provided with gears (pitch and roll).
  • Arca C1 – The Cube, also known as Rolls Royce of the gear heads. It was simply too expensive for us (around 1,400.00) and too heavy at just over 1 kg.

So the Benro head. Cost around US$ 200 (incl. 70mm quick release plate) with about 700g weight and a load capacity of 6kg (manufacturer information).

Benro GD3WH geared head – scope of delivery, unboxing

Benro GD3WH Getriebekopf Lieferumfang Verpackung

In addition to the head, the package contains a QR plate (Arca compatible), some paperwork and an Allen key. Unfortunately, there is no bag or pouch.

Manufacturing quality and surface quality are impeccable; the gear head consists essentially of metal and looks absolutely solid. The handy dials are made of plastic:

Benro GD3WH Getriebekopf Ansicht Schnellwechselplatte

The three built-in spirit levels are easy to see.

The clamp for the quick release plate works in two stages. You turn the screw to loosen (and be able to move) the plate, then pull on the screw and turn to open the holder completely. In practice, this works quite well.

Other side:

Benro GD3WH Getriebekopf Ansicht

The common 3/8 ″ tripod thread (female) is located on the underside of the GD3 WH, so that mounting on a photo tripod is not a problem.

Benro GD3WH geared head – dimensions, tripod mounting

Here with our large Manfrotto Triman and a Nikon Z6 (with recommended mount from SmallRig):

Benro GD3WH Getriebekopf Nikon Z6 Smallrig Manfrotto Stativ

The head measures approx. 130mm in height from the base to the top edge of the quick-release plate, width and depth are approx. 140mm (all dimensions with the head not adjusted, all scales at zero).

Benro GD3WH geared head – operation and adjustment range

All three axes are self-locking, so you don’t have to lock or clamp anything. In the case of familiar ball heads, the hand always gropes for the locking button for the first few hours, but the geared head stops in every position.

The fine adjustment is made using the three rubberized knobs and runs very smoothly; If you turn the larger star wheels in front clockwise 120 °, the gearbox is disengaged and the respective axis can be moved freely. If you let go of the star wheel, the clutch is engaged again. That also works perfectly in practice; if you land between two teeth of the gearbox when engaging, the whole thing snaps back into place after turning the handle. All buttons and wheels are dimensioned and designed so that they can also be operated with gloves or mittens.

The adjustment range in the vertical axis is a full 360 °, in the other two it is less. Here you may have to turn the camera around or move it if it is not enough. All adjustments are stepless and not locked.

In the pitch axis (i.e. when tilting), the range extends from -90 ° (vertically downwards) to + 30 °:

Benro GD3WH Getriebekopf Test - Maximale Neigung

In the roll axis (i.e. when tilting) the range extends from -90 ° (portrait) to + 15 °:

Benro GD3WH Getriebekopf Test - Maximal Rollen Kippen

For load capacity: The Z6 shown with the 24-70mm F4, battery and quick release plate weighs about 1.3kg. Even when we increased the camera to a total of 3kg with a system flash, filter and additional weights, the head had no problem.

We cannot say with any certainty whether and how stable the promised 6kg will be kept and how evenly the fine adjustment will still work. It also depends on the levers, which can be considerable with large teles and zooms.

Benro GD3WH geared head – test result, conclusion

In the past two weeks the head has done its job without complaint. The progress compared to a ball head is considerable. The quicker and more precise alignment of the camera saves an enormous amount of time.

Long-term experiences are of course still outstanding, but we would still recommend the Benro GD3WH for use in the studio or for architectural photography.

The Benro GD3WH is available from Amazon .

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