fluid head gitzo Tripods & Support

Gitzo 2-Way Fluid Head Review (Model GHF2W)

This Gitzo 2-Way Fluid Head was updated in 2019 so I took it out for a check to see how it might work for each stills and video manufacturing. I had been which means to borrow a field of Gitzo heads to raised familiarize myself with the brand’s offerings, and the launch of this head and the Gitzo Fluid Gimbal jogged my memory to get my ass in gear and type that out.

2-way heads, typically referred to as “pan and tilt” heads, aren’t typically utilized by stills photographers, with most preferring to stay to a ballhead design. While a ballhead is probably going the only option for a lot of stills photographers as a main tripod head, there are several conditions where a 2-way head, notably a fluid head, can really shine and make a great case for inclusion in your package as a secondary head or a head for specialist tasks.

In this evaluation I’ll speak about why you may need to consider using a 2-way hear, and which conditions lend themselves to this utilization. Then I’ll offer you my opinions on this particular Gitzo 2-way head.

Gitzo GHF2W Specs

Fast launch plate and clamp sortArca-Sort
Mounting screw measurement1/four″-20 Male
Load Capacityeight.eight lb / three.99 kg
Lateral Tilt-60° to +90°
Panning Vary360°
Base Diameter2.4″ / 6.10 cm
Weight1.3 lb / 590 g

Makes use of For a 2-Way Pan/Tilt Head

The first usage for a 2-way head is capturing video. These heads supply a full 360 levels of rotation on the horizontal panning axis, they usually supply various degrees of up-down tilt in the vertical axis. They do not supply any sort of left-right roll as a standard ballhead would, which makes them good for video because you all the time want your panning movement to be degree with the horizon. Merely degree your tripod if you’re getting arrange, then unlock the pan and tilt knobs to permit a clean vertical tilt and horizontal pan.

On this specific Gitzo 2-way head, the pan is lock lock knob is in the midst of the lean lock knob, offering a compact and straightforward to make use of answer.

With all DSLRs and mirrorless cameras capturing extraordinarily top quality video lately, many photographers are dabbling on this totally different medium of media and wish a 2-way head to get started. While you possibly can shoot static locked-off video photographs with a ballhead, you merely can’t use them for panning and tilting when you shoot. 2-way video heads are available all sizes and shapes, however one thing like this Gitzo head falls into the medium-low priced category and will undoubtedly be a consideration for someone who needs to get began in video capturing.

So 2-way heads are for capturing video, and it’s possible that you simply already knew that. However did you additionally know that they can be helpful for wildlife images? Most wildlife photographers with massive tremendous telephoto lenses use a gimbal head, one other sort of tripod head that also limits the range of movement to the identical horizontal and vertical axis that we get from a regular 2-way fluid head. Gimbal heads are designed to perfectly stability a heavy digital camera rig and make it feel weightless while it’s shifting and monitoring wildlife, however such heads are additionally massive and heavy, and subsequently overkill for much lighter wildlife images setups.

A 2-way head comparable to this Gitzo one could be a nice answer for wildlife photographers, so long as you’re utilizing a lens that has a tripod collar. The tripod collar is necessary because you want to be able to rotate the digital camera from horizontal to vertical orientation utilizing the collar. Then your pan and tilt motion for following the wildlife is handled by the top. You possibly can see in my assessment photographs that I even have a tripod collar that has an Arca-Sort plate constructed into it, and this clamps instantly into the Gitzo head clamp. When you don’t have this, no drawback, the top consists of an Arca plate that may simply be hooked up to your tripod collar with the standard 1/four 20 stud.

Gitzo additionally promote the utilization of this head for hen and wildlife watchers utilizing recognizing scopes. A spotting scope is a high-magnification moveable telescope and I can see how it might be nice for that utilization, although I personally didn’t check it for that objective.

Gitzo GHF2W In Use

Upon unboxing the top I was pleasantly stunned by its measurement and weight. It’s a bit of bulkier than the ballhead I often use on my tripod, nevertheless it’s truly lighter and considerably much less cumbersome than different small 2-way fluid heads I’ve used up to now.

As you’ll be able to see from the photograph, it’s somewhat similar to the dimensions of a medium-sized DSLR lens and I found that helpful immediately. In my testing I might be primarily carrying this as a second head alongside my ballhead as an alternative of my gimbal, giving me something to make use of for video capturing and following wildlife. Bigger fluid heads and even gimbals is usually a real ache within the ass to pack into digital camera luggage, but I found this little head straightforward to pack into a lens slot or prime pocket of MindShift BackLight Elite backpack. If your main focus is video capturing and this head is to stay hooked up to a tripod, it will pair very properly with a light-weight carbon tripod to create an ultralight answer for getting out into the wilderness.

The clamp on the top uses the Arca-Sort normal and not the Manfrotto normal that’s widespread on so many fluid heads. For photographers this is great news as a result of it signifies that many people will have already got numerous plates and equipment that match the top. In case you don’t have any plates, a simple Arca plate is offered, and fortunately it additionally has anti-twist rubber strips on it, something that’s inexplicably lacking from the Arca plates supplied with Gitzo’s ballheads.

One factor you’ll notice is that the clamp runs fore and aft on the top, and never left to proper. Because of this when you’ve got a non-square Arca-Sort baseplate on your digital camera physique already, maybe an L plate, this can truly be operating in the fallacious course to attach the digital camera body directly to the top.

To unravel this you’ll both have to make use of the included Arca plate and mount it perpendicular to the plate that’s already on the digital camera (you can also remove the prevailing plate), or mount some kind of different clamp onto plate at 9- levels to the prevailing one. A lot of this depends the way you’ll be utilizing the top. Should you simply need to use it as a gimbal substitute with collared lenses, as in my photographs of it with the Canon 100-400mm, then the clamp runs within the right course. If you want to use it for all types of video capturing and mount the digital camera physique to the top, you’ll in all probability need to commit to using the plate that is supplied with the top, even when you have already got a plate on the digital camera. It’s not an enormous deal, however it needs a little bit of forethought.

Once I received the digital camera mounted to the top, though, I observed something was lacking. Earlier on I discussed that it’s essential degree your tripod head for video capturing, in an effort to make certain your panning motion is degree with the horizon. Sadly this Gitzo 2-Way Head doesn’t give you a bubble degree to be sure that is the case.

That’s a definite disappointment on a $300+ fluid head. Even probably the most primary Manfrotto heads that sell for round $140 have a bubble degree, so I really can’t think about what they have been considering once they decided to omit this easy function. A bubble degree prices just some cents! You’ll be able to remedy this by putting a hot-shoe bubble degree on the digital camera, but for this worth a built-in answer should completely have been designed into it.

On the suitable aspect of the top is an attachment for the detachable pan handle. Very similar to the top itself, I used to be also pleasantly stunned by how lightweight the deal with was. It’s undoubtedly mild sufficient that you might tuck it into your bag “just in case” and not likely discover its presence. In case you’re capturing video you’ll undoubtedly need to use the deal with to get smoother outcomes, but in case you are using the top as a gimbal various you gained’t need as you’ll have your eye to the viewfinder and finger on the shutter button.

On the left aspect of the top is a pair of properly sized knobs for controlling the friction of the panning and tilting motion. I really like this design, having both knobs in the same place, and I feel it’s a lot better than the usual video head design that sees the panning lock knob positioned on the panning base. It’s just good to have them so shut together to be able to unlock each axis shortly without shifting your arms around an excessive amount of.

Now, I exploit the word “lock” here, but maybe this isn’t fairly true. Unusually, I found that it’s truly unimaginable to actually lock the motion of those two axis, even for those who flip these knobs very arduous. As somebody that is used to using a ballhead or a gimbal that can be locked absolutely solidly, this was a real shock and a disappointment.

The top isn’t extremely unfastened when these knobs are tightened, however I undoubtedly wouldn’t call it locked. For those who had a digital camera on it and you set the tripod on your shoulder for a couple of minutes of strolling, you’re undoubtedly going to seek out that the tilt axis has sagged and the pan axis has rotated slightly.

Some individuals may toy with the thought of pushing the bounds of usage of this head and using it for static panorama images as well as the opposite usages I have described. In any case, a head is just a option to join a tripod to a digital camera, and angles can all the time be adjusted by changing the size of the tripod legs. While this can be a nice concept to create a one-head-to-do-it-all setup, I absolutely wouldn’t advocate this head for that objective, based mostly on the lack to solidly lock either axis. You’d undoubtedly stand a chance of getting some pan or tilt creep during an extended exposure shot. For the same purpose, I wouldn’t advocate this head to anyone that plans on doing a variety of timelapse images. I might undoubtedly worry about pan or tilt creep through the period of the timelapse. A normal locked off ballhead can be a lot better for that function.

Counterbalance knob and scale

On the again of head you’ll see one other knob to interact a counterbalance system, one thing that isn’t typically seen on cheaper fluid heads or heads which are this small. Primarily what this does is to let you stability your digital camera on the top while not necessarily putting the centre of gravity instantly above the top. If the centre of gravity is necessarily fore or aft of the top because of the placement of the Arca plate, you’ll be able to counteract this with the counterbalance system. This creates an general smoother motion when shifting by way of the tilt axis, and I discovered it to work nicely with smaller DSLR digital camera setups. Gitzo specifications report that it’ll stability an off centre load up to 2.5kg (5.5 lbs).

In use I found the pan and tilt motions to be acceptably clean with my DSLR and smaller masses, but I used to be capable of push those limits pretty shortly when making an attempt it with a larger load (my 400mm f/4). Initially this confused me as a result of the general weight of my digital camera and lens setup was properly under the eight.8lb restrict, yet I undoubtedly had points getting completely clean movement with that larger setup.

In the long run, I made a decision that the load limit for the usage of this head must assume the load is all immediately centred over the top. When you’ve got a very long lens setup hanging mass nicely out in entrance of the top, there’s extra pressure utilized to the top because of the second that’s created by that mass. Assume back to high-school physics class…

With there being no standardized solution to check useable tripod head capacities individuals really need to depend on individuals like me, or do their own testing. My conclusion after testing this head is that the eight.8lb quoted restrict is just too excessive for acceptable outcomes should you go pushing that restrict. A RED 8K cinema digital camera with a lens would are available under this restrict, yet I assure you that in the event you’re a RED consumer, you gained’t be proud of the results you get from this head. It’s just not as simple as weighing your rig and comparing it to the quoted limit.

Likewise when you put a tiny lighweight mirrorless digital camera on the top and hooked up an enormous 6lb tremendous telephoto lens, you may be technically underneath the load restrict, but you gained’t get nice outcomes.

My advice is to stay to DSLRs and mirrorless cameras with lenses no greater than a 70-200 or a 100-400. And then when you do use those lenses, you should stability them perfectly using the counterbalance system, or by mounting the foot of the tripod collar to the top, not the digital camera physique.

In other phrases, I feel a more accurate useable maximum load for this head is somewhere in the 5-5.5lb vary for optimum results. Should you stick to those smaller setups then this can be a actually great little head for video and wildlife images.

Execs and Cons


  • Extremely compact and light-weight for a fluid head
  • Form makes it easily packable right into a digital camera bag as secondary head
  • Easily damped motion with lighter masses
  • Arca-Sort clamp makes it straightforward to connect stills cameras


  • Pan and tilt axis tighten but do not lock
  • No bubble degree
  • Useable load capacity appears exaggerated for greatest results


I really like the physical design of this head and feel like Gitzo did a great job cramming a fluid dampening system and counter-balance system right into a head with these proportions. I notably like the fact that once the pan handle is eliminated, the top takes up roughly the area of a typical medium-sized digital camera lens. It subsequently matches simply into the slots in my digital camera instances once I need to carry it as a second head for occasional video photographs alongside my stills work. If I used to be additionally touring for a particularly light-weight wildlife shoot with solely a 100-400mm lens, I might undoubtedly use this head as an alternative of my normal bigger and much heavier gimbal head.

General, I feel this can be a nice head for those who maintain your most digital camera measurement and weight down at around that of a DSLR and a 70-200 f/2.eight or a 100-400mm. In case you push past that and attempt to maximize the claimed 8.8lb max capability, panning efficiency falls off and you’ll begin to have points with not with the ability to sufficiently lock the 2 axis. It’s undoubtedly unsuitable for usage with massive tremendous telephoto lenses.

Finally, I also needs to say that having used it for a couple of weeks, I’m now planning on shopping for this head myself. That’s definitely not an endorsement that gets made at the finish of all my evaluations, but I can really see this being a useful addition to my package and it’ll be changing an previous Manfrotto video head that performs equally, however takes up twice the area in my bag.

The place to Purchase

The Gitzo 2-Way Fluid Head is on the market from B&H Photograph and Amazon with these links.