The solution was to buy a Benro G2 ball head.
A Benro B2 ball head was included with my Adventure Series 2 carbon (TAD28CB2) tripod. The B2 ball head has had an issue with drift since purchase, and after months of dealing with it, I felt it was now time to finally fix the issue. With winter approaching, I now have the time to acclimate to a new ball head for my primary tripod without risking its failure during a photo shoot.
Because of my positive experiences with a variety of different Benro platform solutions and ball heads, I was reluctant to move away from the brand unless it was truly necessary. Despite the temptation of low-profile style ball heads that offer similar specs and features for less money, I was willing to limit my potential solutions to Benro for now. Despite not being of low profile design, I focused on the Benro V2E as a potential replacement. With a low price, drag adjustment built into the locking knob, polished ball and similar profile to my B2, I began my research by reading a lot of product reviews. However, I discovered a disturbing amount of negative reviews that convinced me to drop it as a potential solution. Moving on, the next on my list was the G2; with a low profile design, polished ball and sleek design, it definitely looked good from a technical perspective. Without an abundance of reviews overall but high ratio of positive reviews to truly negative ones, I chose to give it a try knowing it could always be returned.
Arriving two days after ordering, right off the bat I noticed the top notch packaging, though in hindsight I should’ve expected it as Benro does a good job with their packaging. Nothing really over the top but it was efficient, securely padded and included all of the hardware needed to adapt the ball head to your application. In this case, the G2 was accompanied by a drawstring bag, 3/8″ to 1/4″ adapter bushing, a 60mm ARCA-Swiss adapter plate with safety studs, and 4mm hex key for the adapter plate.
The G2 ball head is a triple-action, low-profile ball head and features 3 knobs: clamp lock with safety, panning base lock, and friction lock with drag control. On the clamp is a bullseye fluid level and the panning base is marked at 5 degree increments with numerical markings every 45 degrees as you’d expect. That said, both clamping and panning actions are exceedingly smooth. The 44mm ball is hollow to reduce weight while the body is notched at the 11 o’clock position to allow for portrait orientation of your camera body. Polished and anodized, it moves smoothly in the base, far smoother than my B2 ball head and, with a more consistent control and feel while under friction, it locks solidly. There is a bit of stiction as the drag is increased but it remains consistent throughout the range. The squircle (or sphube?) shaped, rubber coated knobs offer better grip than that of the B2, or even other brands’ designs that feature everything from plastic to bare metal, with ribs or teeth. Only locking levers offer a more reliable grip in my experience, though they add the potential for over-tightening and ultimately failure. The clamp is machined and anodized aluminum instead of the cast and powder-coated aluminum I’ve seen on every other Benro ball head I’ve owned… It may not offer a tangible difference in strength and weight, but it sure looks good with sharp, accurate edges and precisely machined cutouts that match the construction of the machined and anodized adapter plate. The diameter of the base is an exact match to the platform base on Benro’s series 2 and 3 center columns.
Now for some speculation. I’m confident the G2 ball head can hold any combination of camera body and lens in my kit at any angle for an indefinite amount of time, safely and securely, without any creep. However, the advertised max capacity of 31 lbs seems a bit optimistic. That maximum, like most, is probably determined with the ball upright and aligned directly perpendicular to the ground. Any claim to hold 30 lbs with the ball locked at an angle, safely and without any creep, seems dubious but I’m probably wrong.
As for what the base is made from, while it looks like bead blasted and anodized aluminum, it could also be magnesium, which would help to explain the relatively low weight of the whole device. Either way, it feels solid and the finish looks great with a combination of matte and glossy elements and laser engraving that’s easy to read and should last the life of the unit. There are no obvious weak points I could identify from a cursory visual inspection.
Most importantly, it resolves the drift problems I had with the B2. The ball locks in place accurately and securely with no bias. Movement is the smoothest i’ve experienced in a Benro ball head, with only a little bit of stiction while under drag that’s consistent through the locking range. The fit and finish also correlates favorably to the price point. The G2 a high quality, low profile ball head with huge capacity and smooth action that punches well above its weight. It compares favorably against more well-known name brands even if you take out price as a factor. It’s not just great for the price; it’s just plain great. Accounting for the price, it then becomes a great value.