Gimbal heads?

Discussion in 'Photography Forums' started by newbie1, Jun 16, 2015.

  1. newbie1

    newbie1
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    This comes from the bird in flight question thread. If a gimbal head is the way to go for telephoto - which one do you suggest?

    I have a manfroto befree tripod with their integrated ball head. I think this means choices would be

    1. Use a conversion kit to attach arca Swiss clamp to the ball head and then use a sidekick type gimbal

    2. Bite the bullet and get a new tripod without integrated head and a budget gimbal

    Seems a lot of faff is gimbal so much better for 100-400? Any suggestions?
     
  2. Westfield

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    I’ve used a 100-400 for BIF with a ball head (Manfotto compact on a Manfrotto 055 CF tripod) for a couple years now with some success; although I suspect your tripod might be a little short (max height 144cm?) to enable you to easily pan and follow a flying bird. It might also be a little lightweight for the lens but I’ve not seen one so I can’t be sure. I recently bought a Jobu HD4 gimbal head as the ball head wasn’t good enough with a 500mm and I have to say there are pro’s and con’s with using it:

    · The gimbal provides unrestricted movement of the camera and lens which (if balanced properly) feels weightless as you pan it around. Believe me, when you are trying to swing around a large telephoto you will appreciate this!

    · As the lens is balanced, when you lock it on to a subject it stays exactly where you lock it without dipping slightly after tightening the head. Also it stays put when you take your hands off the camera so you don’t have to lock it in some cases.

    · Gimbal heads are expensive (I think I paid around 400 Euros for mine from an online shop in Belgium).

    · Gimbal heads are also relatively heavy and you will notice the difference when carrying it around all day. I know Jobu do a lightweight version ( I think it is called the Junior) which looks ideal for lenses up to 400mm f/5.6 so it might be worth looking into that if you really want one.

    · I wouldn’t consider using a gimbal for everyday use as they are large and unless the lens you are using has a tripod collar you can’t rotate the camera to portrait (you can buy adapters though but these cost extra).

    If I were you, I’d consider investing in a tripod upgrade plus a decent ball head as this will provide a better all round solution and should be good enough for your lens. I would only consider a gimbal if you start using larger lens than the 100-400 and if/when you do I wouldn’t try and attach it to your existing tripod – it will require a good sturdy anchor.



    Hope that helps
     
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  3. newbie1

    newbie1
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    Many thanks that's very helpful.

    I think height is a key issue and why I find the monopod better than the tripod as the tripod is short. Fine for landscapes but not BIF, pointing to larger tripod for that.

    What I will do next is take the camera and lens to a shop where I can test first a higher tripod, and second a gimbal and see if it balances ok and and if it's a big improvement. I saw the shop has a relatively inexpensive Chinese one.

    Thanks again
     
  4. tapzilla2k

    tapzilla2k
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  5. Westfield

    Westfield
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  6. newbie1

    newbie1
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    This is the same one the shop has :)
     
  7. tapzilla2k

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    It's pretty good for the price, does the job it's intended for. I'd say it's an inexpensive way of trying out a gimbal head. Then if you get serious about bird and wildlife photography you can upgrade to something better further down the road. It's the nifty fifty of Gimbal Heads. Seems there is a quality control issue with some, but easy enough to get sorted out if bought through Amazon.
     
  8. snerkler

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    Interesting thread. I struggle to use tripods/monopods for BIF as generally the birds are higher than myself meaning that the camera is pointed up and I have stoop to look through the viewfinder. I have the tallest monopod I could find, and the only taller tripods are either mega expensive, or heavy studio ones :facepalm:
     
  9. tapzilla2k

    tapzilla2k
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    Most of my bird shots have been focused on birds landing or taking off. I've had a few goes at birds in flight but they generally tend to be too far away. Had a Red Kite land in front of me last year, but I would have to have a wide angle lens on rather than a telephoto at the time.

    My tripod is taller than me when I extend the legs fully and it's heavy (2kg at least). But most of the places I go to are not far away. I even take a camping chair with me, just so I can sit down and let my feet recover whilst taking bird photos.
     
  10. JDR82

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    I just bought a Manfrotto X55PROB Tripod and 322RC2 Head bundle from eBay, I might grab that Gimbal Head from Amazon for a test run at that price, my previous tripod was cheap and not high enough requiring leaning over which leads to missing shots when I stretch to ease my neck / back but the X55PROB is higher than my eye level at full extension so spot on.

    I have adjusted the 322RC2 so I can control it with my left hand and it does have a fairly comfortable range of movement but the Gimbal just looks perfect.
     
  11. snerkler

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    Out of interest what's the difference between the single sided gimbal heads and the one with arms on both sides?
     
  12. Westfield

    Westfield
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    The single sided one's are the newer versions. They tend to be lighter and are less cumbersome to operate. I've used both and I prefer the single sided version as you only have a single locking nut which is quicker to engage, plus you can decide which side it is on depending on which way round you mount the lens. I wasn't aware that you can still buy double sided gimbals these days, I know Wimberley and Manfrotto did them a while back.
     
  13. snerkler

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    Are gimbal heads useful on monopods for sports etc, or are you just best to tilt and spin the monopod itself?
     
  14. JDR82

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    I thought this was nice review of the Amazon BK-45 Gimbal head, for £57 I am going to give it a try, can always return it if there are any aforementioned quality issues.

     
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  15. JDR82

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    It arrived today, no issues with the one I received works just as well as in the above review and straight away could see how it will be clearly better than the 322RC2 for taking wildlife shots.

    I have a nearby RSPB spot I haven't visited yet with the camera and the weather is nice so would like to head out now with the tripod and Gimbal head, however I have a beer festival to attend so fingers crossed for good weather tomorrow.
     
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  16. snerkler

    snerkler
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    Would be interested to hear your views on the head after you've got used to it.
     
  17. newbie1

    newbie1
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    Got mine on Friday too but there were no birds only bears - see in the canon photo sharing. Hopefully get to use it properly tomorrow.
     
  18. snerkler

    snerkler
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    Bears? Cool, where do you live?
     
  19. newbie1

    newbie1
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    Switzerland, near Zurich
     
  20. shotokan101

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    "Yellowstone" :D
     
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  21. GaseousClay

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    Okay Boo-Boo. :D
     
  22. JDR82

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    The weather turned and I was rather hungover yesterday so never got a chance to pop outside and test it out.

    However first impressions from messing about at home are good, this thing is rock solid, it certainly doesn't feel budget and I have no concerns about mounting my Tamron 150-600mm lens onto it.

    Fingers crossed the weather improves and I can try it out properly.
     
  23. tapzilla2k

    tapzilla2k
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    I have no problems using it with my 70D + Sigma 150-500mm. Also no problem when I use the 50D with said lens on this gimbal head (50D is heavier due to it's magnesium body).
     
  24. damo_in_sale

    damo_in_sale
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    Never heard of these before but they look cool.

    Dumb question I know but I'll ask anyway- am I right in thinking that they only work on lenses which have the tripod mount, such as the massive FF telephotos, and you cant connect the camera to them in any way? I only ask because I don't think any Panasonic M43 lenses have a tripod mount- my 14-140mm certainly doesn't.
     
  25. JDR82

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    First to answer your question damo, the one I have (and I'm sure the rest too) have a standard mounting plate so I can't see any reason why connecting your camera body to it instead of a lens mount would be a problem, I'm sure it will work just as well.

    I had my first proper evening of use with the gimbal today and absolutely loved it over the standard ball head I had before and the manfrotto 322rc2.

    Very smooth and easy to use, great for just quickly looking around panning after birds and then can just as quickly be locked up for landscape shots

    Couldn't recommend the one from Amazon enough if looking for a cheaper alternative.

    It was also my first use of my Manfrotto x55prob which was so much more solid and versatile than my budget tripod, in combination with the gimbal it made a much more enjoyable evening.
     
  26. shotokan101

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    won't you have balance issues if mounting via body ?
     
  27. newbie1

    newbie1
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    For the Chinese one I got it's an arca Swiss connection so you could use on a camera body or telephoto with a "foot". The main advantage of the foot is that you can mount at the balance point of a heavy setup so it's really stable.
     
  28. shotokan101

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    got any pictures of it ?
     
  29. damo_in_sale

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    Thanks JD.

    If I'm looking through the EVF though, wont my face be too close to the tripod, especially when pointing the lens upwards? Don't want to head-butt the gimball head :)
     
  30. newbie1

    newbie1
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    ImageUploadedByAVForums1435450981.239774.jpg

    Here it is
     

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