At 900g in weight and with a 60mm base diameter (making it around 70mm across), the Gitzo Series 4 Ball Head looks and feels beefy. Its build and design ooze quality.
Naturally, the first step in using the GH4383LR head is to attach the quick release plate to the camera, or more likely the lens’ tripod collar. The plate is a Gitzo S5379DR unit, which has an Arca-Swiss type design, and it attaches via a bolt with a flip-out grip, a coin slot and a hex socket. The grip is useful when first attaching the plate, but it takes the supplied Allen key to tighten it sufficiently to hold a heavy lens.
Gitzo supplies a couple of Allen Keys with the GH4383LR head in a plastic zip-sealed bag along with a thread adapter. It would be nice, for the price, if they could be supplied as some sort of keyring tool so they’re always to hand. I’d also like the key to fit a little deeper into the bolt, but it does the job sufficiently well.
With the plate on the lens, it’s just a case of resting it in the bed on the top of the head and pushing the locking lever to the left. When the lever is half-way over, there’s an audible click as the plate locks into position. From this point, the plate can only be released again if the clearly marked lock button on the lever is pressed. After the initial locking, the lever can be pushed fully over to the left so that it’s flush with the head and out of the way.
The plate is released by flipping the lever to the right, pressing the lock button from at least the midway point.
As well as being very fast and easy to use, the release lever seems very secure as the plate locks very tightly. I prefer it to the screw-lock type as I always feel the need to give them one more turn and then struggle to unlock them.
A pin in the head under the plate bed stops the plate sliding sideways off the head before it’s locked fully.