Gimbal Head Recommendations

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by rwa757, Nov 12, 2017.

  1. Looking for some input on medium priced (150-250$) gimbal heads. The 500$ Wimberley is not in the budget!
  2. Assuming you are buying new, the only gimbal head that I know of in that price range is the Manfrotto. It's not a bad gimbal head, but it's not as smooth as a Wimberley.

    I've owned both but packing a full gimbal head is too unwieldly. I prefer the versatility of a reliable ballhead (I have an A/S Monoball Z1) complemented by a Wimberley Sidekick ($250 new). That's what I would recommend, assuming you already have a sturdy ballhead. Also, note that the best gimball in the world is not going to do any good if you have a wobbly tripod, so make sure you've got a good tripod as well.
  3. I have a relatively inexpensive Neewer gimbal, and was amazed at how well it works for long lens work.
    For any moving target/subject it works much better (for me) than a ball head or a loose pan head.

    As it currently is, I would NOT recommend the Neewer gimbal. They use a STICKY STIFF grease that makes it VERY HARD to move.
    I had to clean and regrease the upper bearing, but could not open the lower bearing to regrease it. Lighter fluid made it easier to move, but not as good as a regrease.
  4. I got curious and there are a number of gimbal knock-offs for $100± at Amazon, especially (Movo, Beike, and others).

    I personally use a U-form Manfrotto 393 head for heavy lenses. New, it sells for just over $200 at B&H, but used ones are available on eBay for less.
  5. Jobu Design offers a smaller gimbal for around $350 - whether or not it is suitable for your use depends on which lens you are planning on using with it. For about the same cost, Acratech offers a long lens head - might be worth a look.
  6. Belatedly, the 393 is annoyingly big and heavy (and not quite as adjustable as some), and of course it has a Manfrotto proprietary mount on it, but it's cheap and reasonably solid. I used one with my 500 f/4 without feeling it was the weak link in my system.
  7. True enough, but it really is steady with a solid (Iron Boy) tripod and with telephotos ranging from 2000mm to 4000mm equivalents.
  8. That's pushing my focal length limits a bit, but thank you for checking. :) (And the 393 won't take my Dobsonian, which is only 1200mm.)

    I used it with the 500 f/4 and a Manfrotto 055CXPro, tried doing a long exposure, and that's when I decided to buy the RRS tripod...

    My biggest concern with the 393 is that it's only useful if you've got it with you. If you live near the things you like to photograph, great. If you have to fly to get to them, not so handy!
  9. FWIW, here is a 1920mm equivalent - A Sigma 600mm mirror +2X converter+APS-C (1.6X) body on Manfrotto 393 and heavy tripod. Sigma-1920mm-cum-Argus-C3.jpg

    Inset: same view from the same spot with an Argus C-3
  10. Andrew
    I found that I have to use my larger tripod with my gimbal. I would not be comfortable using it on my smaller tripod.
    I usually travel with a smaller/lighter tripod, that I can pack and carry.
    So using a gimbal increases the tripod requirement for me.
  11. Agreed, Gary. I have a Velbon REXi that I'll carry when I need a half-decent but relatively small tripod. When I need something more substantial, my RRS 3-series comes with me (which is light for what it is, but that's not saying much; it sits across the diagonal of a suitcase). Having seen the stability difference, my old Manfrotto is now mostly used as a lighting stand, although the swing-out column can be useful for macro.

    I've definitely considered getting a more direct Wimberley clone to facilitate carrying the thing on aircraft.
  12. And after not using it for a few months, the grease in the lower bearing got sticky and stiff again :(
    So I have to give it another treatment of lighter fluid.

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