Gimbal Heads?

NyftyNyfty Registered Users Posts: 18 Big grins
edited February 9, 2014 in Accessories
I've acquired a 200-400mm f4, and would like input on gimbal head options. I don't live in an area where I can see a wide selection of heads. So any first hand knowledge would be greatly appreciated.

Comments

  • Don KondraDon Kondra Registered Users Posts: 630 Major grins
    edited January 29, 2014
    How much do you want to spend ?

    Name brands such as Manfrotto, etc. can run ~ $600.

    I use a Jobu Design gimbal, they start at ~ $400 with a plate.

    http://www.jobu-design.com/

    Off shore knock offs are ~ $150, just go to ebay and search gimbal.

    Cheers, Don
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Super Moderators Posts: 23,724 moderator
    edited January 29, 2014
    The Manfrotto 393 is very affordable at $175USD.

    I don't have one but this is probably the model I would start with. You see them fairly frequently on the used market too. (Also look for the older Manfrotto 3421.)

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=554099&Q=&is=REG&A=details

    Reviews:
    http://www.nikonians.org/html/resources/non-nikon_articles/manfrotto_393/393_1.html
    http://www.richardpeters.co.uk/blog/2009/04/19/manfrotto-393-review/
    http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=151558

    Videos at YouTube:
    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Manfrotto%20393&sm=12
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • NyftyNyfty Registered Users Posts: 18 Big grins
    edited January 29, 2014
    Don and Ziggy, thanks for your input. I've looked at the offshore knockoffs, and what bothers me is that I'm depending on it to support several thousands of dollars worth of gear. The 200-400 came with a Wimberley replacement foot. So I'm leaning towards a gimbal that has a Arca-Swiss clamp. It isn't something that I'd use everyday or every week, so I might try the Manfrotto. I've been searching for a used gimbal head but they seem to be few and far between.
  • pemmettpemmett Registered Users Posts: 507 Major grins
    edited January 29, 2014
    I bought this Gimbal Head - because of price and it has been fantastic. The only down side is the size and weight, but it's been perfect for my Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 with a 1.4X or 2x convertor on. Definitely a great choice.
    ziggy53 wrote: »
    The Manfrotto 393 is very affordable at $175USD.

    I don't have one but this is probably the model I would start with. You see them fairly frequently on the used market too. (Also look for the older Manfrotto 3421.)

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=554099&Q=&is=REG&A=details

    Reviews:
    http://www.nikonians.org/html/resources/non-nikon_articles/manfrotto_393/393_1.html
    http://www.richardpeters.co.uk/blog/2009/04/19/manfrotto-393-review/
    http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=151558

    Videos at YouTube:
    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Manfrotto%20393&sm=12
    "Take a moment to capture a memory that will last forever"
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  • kdogkdog Administrators Posts: 11,680 moderator
    edited January 30, 2014
    Just get the Wimberley II and be done with it. One is rarely disappointed in owning the very best. deal.gif
  • puzzledpaulpuzzledpaul Registered Users Posts: 1,621 Major grins
    edited January 30, 2014
    Another option to be considered for use with big, heavy, long lenses - as used by some w/life pros - is a video head.
    Gimbals aren't the only kid on the block :)

    pp
  • kdogkdog Administrators Posts: 11,680 moderator
    edited January 30, 2014
    Another option to be considered for use with big, heavy, long lenses - as used by some w/life pros - is a video head.
    For stills, or for video? I can't see trying to shoot BIFs using a video head. Way too slow.
  • puzzledpaulpuzzledpaul Registered Users Posts: 1,621 Major grins
    edited January 30, 2014
    kdog wrote: »
    For stills, or for video? I can't see trying to shoot BIFs using a video head. Way too slow.

    No idea what others (that I've read about) use theirs for - although there were bif shots on their sites / in a book written by one of 'em.

    In my case, I generally only use a tripod + v. head for non-low level shots - including bifs (as per those on my site).

    I'll soon be digging that junk out again to have another go at herons with 'logs in gobs' ... and owls - if lucky enough for them to show up again :)

    pp
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Super Moderators Posts: 23,724 moderator
    edited January 30, 2014
    Another option to be considered for use with big, heavy, long lenses - as used by some w/life pros - is a video head.
    Gimbals aren't the only kid on the block :)

    pp
    kdog wrote: »
    For stills, or for video? I can't see trying to shoot BIFs using a video head. Way too slow.

    If you loosen the controls on the fluid head it can help with smoothly tracking moving subjects. Yes, there is more drag than with many gimbal heads, but many fluid heads can be loose enough so that it's not bad as long as the subject doesn't change direction too often.

    I used a fluid head for action sports for a few years, until I quit doing doing that type of photography. I have covered gulls and eagles nicely with a fluid head too.
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • kdogkdog Administrators Posts: 11,680 moderator
    edited January 30, 2014
    Ok, good to know (Ziggy and Paul).

    Funny, I've tried my gimbal head for shooting video. Didn't work very well. :nah :giggle
  • NyftyNyfty Registered Users Posts: 18 Big grins
    edited February 3, 2014
    Thanks to all of you for your input. This weekend I had a conversation with a local professional that shoots wildlife and BIF. He lent me the head he uses to try out. It's an Acratech Long Lens head. It's not a gimbal head in the truest sense, but it does allow a long lens and body to track BIF. If anyone is interested I'll share my observations on it in a few days.
  • DsrtVWDsrtVW Registered Users Posts: 1,991 Major grins
    edited February 9, 2014
    I have a Wimberly II it is great solid performing equipment, I have an Acratech ball head that is great too I also use a video head for BIFs mostly panning type shooting.

    I went to Acratech site and looked at the Long Lens model which is probably a handles that just great, only drawback I can see is that if you do not tighten down enough you can have the camera flip forward or back when not a attended. That can be scary at times

    The nice thing about a gimbal head, Jobu, RRS, Manfrotto, Wimberly, is that when you have the camera set up and balanced you can let it go and it stays at its balance point. When you have to slap a mosquito, sneeze, or turn around to look at something behind you.

    Manfrotto like said before is the lowest cost option and very practical, but not as sexy as others, I was considering that purchase when I found a Wimberly II and Tripod used for a good deal.

    The price of the Acratech long lens tripod head is about the same as many quality gimbals both new and used. Though it might be lighter than a gimbal you have a big chunk of glass there already saving weight at the head wont be that noticeable. As mentioned before you have a big Investment in that lens

    Fluid video heads which I love for BIFs panning shots and video shooting. So much smoother tracking and more keepers I have found than gimbal heads just from the extra smooth movement and vibration damping. Just loosen them up to get faster movement. Cold weather could be an issue, but here in Calif it is not an issue. If you are trying to track hummingbirds or kinglets in a tree, then go gimbal

    All depends on shooting style and subjects

    Then again designing a fluid Gimbal head might be a business oppurtunity
    Chris K. NANPA Member
    http://kadvantage.smugmug.com/
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