Architectural photography with the Leofoto Summit and G2 Geared Head
Photo equipment with Leofoto G2 Geared Head
People regularly ask me which is my best lens. My answer to that question is short and clear: my best lens is my tripod. My tripod is an important part of my photographic equipment. As a documentary and architecture photographer, I need a light, compact and stable tripod. In addition, a geared head is very handy to have. Shooting architecture without a geared head is almost like fishing without a hook....
Written by Dominic Verhulst
Dominic is an architectural photographer and focuses mainly on reportage and documentary photography for magazines. As an instructor at the Leica Academy in Germany, he also conducts international workshops. See also Dominic's website.
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When I was looking for a 3D Geared Head for my architecture workshop - which I gave in collaboration with the Leica Store in Berlin - I accidentally came across the Leofoto brand. The reviews I read were all positive and very complimentary. I decided to order the G2 geared panning clamp and the LH-40 ball head.
After photographing for a few weeks, my experience with Leofoto was positive. I had to revise my 30-year idea-fix about Gitzo and also Arca-Swiss. There was a new, relatively young player on the market with very high quality tripods, heads and accessories, made from the very best materials and with a 10-year warranty!
The LH-40 ball head is beautifully designed and also looks very nice. At around 500 grams, it can't really be called lightweight but it is very solid and can carry up to 25 kg of weight. The three large adjustment knobs are perfectly positioned and the ballhead is of course Arca-Swiss compatible. The ball head is also equipped with a spirit level. The quick release plate (QP-70N) that is included has two safety screws to prevent the camera from accidentally slipping out of the mount. About the first photo shoot with the ballhead, I can be very brief. The LH-40 ball head does what it is supposed to do and does it with great precision.
The LH-40 ball head does what it is supposed to do and does it with great precision.
Shooting architecture without a geared head is like fishing without a hook....
I like straight lines when shooting. In fact, I'm not a fan of: "I'll straighten that out later in Adobe Lightroom". I make my shot as perfect as possible on location, not behind the laptop. The Leofoto G2 geared head contains a nice piece of technology. It is handsomely built and is also very compact. The "Fine-Tunning" over both the X-axis and the Y-axis is fantastic. With a lot of precision, you level the camera with the G2 over both axes.
To avoid vibrations at slow shutter speeds in architectural photography, I like to mount the G2 on the tripod without a ball head. Unfortunately, I then miss a panoramic dial at the bottom of the G2. Fortunately, Leofoto also has separate panoramic plates in its product range and these can easily be attached under the G2. If you mount the G2 Geared Head on the LH-40 ball head, then the adjustment possibilities are truly unlimited. During the test, I photographed with a Leica SL2 and some heavier lenses from the Leica R and SL series, among others. This is a pretty heavy set-up, but the LH-40 together with the G2 has no problem with that. The camera and lens stand firm and stable on top of the legs of the carbon tripod.
The Leofoto Summit carbon tripod I use is of the same cloth as the ball head and geared head. The tripod looks very nice, professional and is made of exceptional quality. Everything is in the right place and the tripod feels good, solid and reliable. The tripod comes in a nice sturdy carrying case with various accessories such as stainless steel spikes, allen wrenches, a small multi-tool to tighten all the screws and bolts and keep them in tension.
The Summit LM-324C tripod has a working height of 1.45m without the ball head. The LH-40 ball head increases that working height to 1.53m. On the ball head you place the G2 Geared Head which makes the working height 1.59cm. Finally, you put your camera on top of it, and so I reach the ideal working height of 1.69m. This height is the center of my viewfinder eyepiece on the Leica SL2.
Folded closed, the tripod has a low height of 52cm which makes it easy to attach to a photo bag or backpack. The legs of the tripod are made of 10-layer carbon and with a weight of only 1.6kg they are easy to carry. Despite its small size, the tripod has a load capacity of 25kg. It is an extremely stable tripod and vibrations are minimal.
The tripods from Leofoto are of very good quality and will last a long time. Therefore, each Leofoto tripod has a 10-year warranty.
Here you can register Leofoto products.
The TwistLock twist lock that you use to extend the tripod legs function very precisely. A quarter turn is needed to unlock them and secure them again. The legs are each adjustable in three steps 23 degrees, 55 degrees and 85 degrees. At the 85 degree angle, the legs lie almost flat on the ground so the minimum working height including ball head is about 16 cm.
In the central section of the tripod is a removable tripod plate that you can replace with numerous accessories such as a center column or a level base. In addition, I also placed the tripod on one leg and stretched the other two legs between two pillars to check that they remained in tension. The tripod carried the Leica Q2 Monochrome without any problem.
In uneven terrain, instead of using the LH-40, you can also use the handy YB-75LC leveling base. To use it, first remove the tripod plate and then mount the Leveling Base. This is easy and you don't need any allen keys. On the base you immediately place the G2 Geared Head. The leveling base has a built-in level and locks into place with a dial at the bottom. You can of course rotate the YB-75LC 360 degrees around its axis with an adjustment angle of up to 15 degrees. This is a nice and very useful accessory for video and filmmakers. Nevertheless, I believe that for architectural photography you can do anything with the LH-40 ball head and the G2 Geared Head.
The Leofoto Summit LM-324C is a stunning carbon tripod. Light, stable, compact and with a high-value finish. The TwistLock system is accurate and fast, the accessories versatile and the price-performance ratio is much better compared to other top brands. The LH-40 ball head with every button in the right place is also an excellent all-around choice. Although my absolute favorite is the Leofoto G2 Geared head: light, compact and extremely precise. All characteristics for an excellent accessory for architecture and landscape photography. In addition, the designers at Leofoto must definitely be confident when they offer a 10-year warranty. I am in any case a big fan, and I can warmly recommend the tripods, ballheads and accessories from Leofoto to every (amateur) photographer.