Geared heads are the holy grail of camera support. Gearing allows for a fast, precise composition. Unfortunately, geared heads tend to be heavy, expensive, and less stiff than their ball counterparts. The Leofoto G4 is small and inexpensive enough to negate two of those problems, potentially making it the perfect geared head for field use.
The G4 is nearly a direct copy of the Arca Swiss D4 geared head. This is indeed intellectual property violation at its most blatant. Leofoto has made some improvements on the overall design of the D4, but lacks the manufacturing precision of the Swiss company.
|Stiffness About Vertical Axis||1236 +/- 7 Nm/rad|
|Stiffness About Radial Axis||593 +/- 7 Nm/rad|
|Weight||1.499 lbs (0.68 kgs)|
|Manufacturer weight rating||44 lbs (19.96kgs)|
|Maximum Height||4.0 in (10.2 cm)|
|Base Diameter||2.36 in (6.0 cm)|
|Ball Diameter||N/A mm|
|Quick Release||Arca Clamp|
The highlight of the specs is the weight, or lack thereof. The G4 is the lightest and most compact geared head I have tested to date. It is thus one of the most tempting geared heads for travel and field use. The downside is that the G4 is also one of the least stiff heads I have tested.
The lack of stiffness is likely the result of two issues with the head. First, the neck connecting the clamp to the rest of the body is very narrow. This directly causes some flex in the system. Second is the gearing. Like all geared systems, there is a little bit of slack and backlash in the gearing that results in less than perfect rigidity. While I haven’t tested the Arca Swiss D4, I suspect that this an area where the original will perform much better.
Presently, the Leofoto G4 doesn’t not seem to be widely available for purchase. It was commonly available for about a year in 2018, but has since quietly disappeared from the market. I don’t know why this is, but we can speculate at copyright issues, manufacturing difficulty, or simply low sales. The best bet for finding a G4 is on Ebay.