Vanguard GH-100 Pistol Grip ~ Review
The GH-100 is a pistol grip style of tripod head which fortunately describes its looks rather then its use. Over the years I’ve seen the popularity of pistol grip heads come and go and my own experience with them hasn’t been great, so I was a little sceptical when Vanguard sent me one to test.
Coming from a simple ball head, the first thing I noticed was the size of the GH-100. It’s not huge but it’s certainly bigger then most ball heads you’re likely to come across. That extra size doesn’t mean extra weight however, as it tipped my scales at just over 0.7kg
The GH-100 has an impressive feature list. It has a quick release plate which once removed reveals a bubble level below. It’s an odd place to put it but there it is. The top of the head can be rotated a full 360 degrees which is a great feature if you shoot panoramas.
On the back of the GH-100 is the friction lock lever. Twist it to the left and the head will turn freely but turn it to the right and it freezes solid.
The standout feature of the GH-100 is the pistol grip itself. The idea is this. With the fiction lock on nothing moves but squeeze the trigger and you can twist and turn the handle as much as you want. Letting go of the trigger locks everything back in place once again. It’s as simple to use as squeeze twist, lock. It’s worth mentioning that the handle can rotate around so you can twist the trigger to the sides or even upside-down if you really wanted to.
At it’s heart the GH-100 is a ball head and with both 1/4” and 3/8” threads it can be used with whatever set of tripod legs you wish.
I really gave the GH-100 a thorough workout, testing it on location, in the studio for still photography and for video. On the whole it surpassed my expectations.
Although I don’t have the heaviest camera gear around the GH-100 coped with anything I threw at it. It was rock solid, even with my Canon 5D2 and Canon 70-200 f/2.8. The small, round quick release plate doesn’t have a particularly large surface area so I’d recommend tightening the thread with a coin rather then the built in D-ring which needs super strong and very thin fingers to operate anyway.
When shooting in landscape format the pistol grip worked flawlessly. I could use one hand then release and turn the tripod head whilst the other hand controlled the camera. I needed to exert a fair amount of force to squeeze the trigger so if your a little weak in the hand department, you should try before you buy.
My only big gripe was shooting in portrait format. Tipping over the GH-100 90 degrees is easy enough but once turned there’s no way to tilt the camera up and down with the trigger. This is done by releasing the rotate lock on the side which is a bit of an annoyance until you get used to it. As a result, if you shoot mostly in portrait format I really wouldn’t recommend this to you.
To be honest I started out a little sceptical about the GH-100. I’ve tried pistol grips before and found them awkward to use but the GH-100 has won me over with its sold build, sturdy support and ease of use. Most of my photos are shot in landscape format which just happens to suit the design of the GH-100 perfectly.