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07-06-2017, 03:53 AM   #1
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gimbal heads - cost, value and usage

[ it looks like there hasn't been much recently on gimbals ]

there appears to be two basic types of Gimbal heads

$$$$

$$

is the old story true: "you get what you pay for"

in other words, does the price generally reflect quality when looking at gimbal head supports for DSLR and telescopic lens?

______________________________________________________

when I was recently out at the Gran Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks ( if you love scenic views, birds and wild life, get there if at all possible ) I occasionally mounted my K 3 ( with battery grip ) + HD Pentax-D FA 150-450mm F4.5-5.6 ED DC AW ( and on occasion I added the HD Pentax-DA 1.4x AW AF Rear Converter ) to my Joby Ball X head on my Benro Go Travel 1 GA168T Tripod .

it was said that the camera and lens didn't look very well supported and I was very careful with the set up.

__________________________________________________________________________

I saw several more stable set ups (different tripods) and most had gimbal heads as opposed to ball heads

my problem is that I usually don't use a tripod, have never used a gimbal and I am trying to figure out if the costs of a " good " gimbal would be worth it for my purposes

and yes I know that I should use a tripod more often, it could greatly help my photography

so any thoughts folks:

on value vs. cost

what to consider when looking to buy a gimbal - weight, how it is made, gearing, acra swiss compatibility etc, etc, etc, and so forth and so on

on usage ( any top secret tips [ of the " If I tell you, I might have to injure you " type ] you experienced people want to share )

or your own experiences

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

my hope is to learn and perhaps have a new thread where other members of the forum can learn as well.

thank you in advance


Last edited by aslyfox; 07-07-2017 at 03:10 AM.
07-06-2017, 05:38 AM   #2
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I have a Beike. It does the job for the few times I use it.
07-06-2017, 05:46 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by dcshooter Quote
Depends on the lens you are using. I have a cheap (<$75) Chinese Beike that is great for most lenses and supports Arca plates. Not quite at the level of the big boys, but soooooo much cheaper. I did do a couple of easy mods to smooth out the kinks a bit.

The F 600mm f/4 does put a little strain on it though....
currently the largest set up I would have would be using is the K 3 [ 800 g 28.2 oz. ] + with battery grip [ ??? ] + HD Pentax-D FA 150-450mm F4.5-5.6 ED DC AW [ 2325 g (82.0 oz.) w/ hood & tripod mount ] and the HD Pentax-DA 1.4x AW AF Rear Converter [ 126g (4.4 oz) ]

3200 grams + ( 7 lbs +)

QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
I have a Beike. It does the job for the few times I use it.
which one???

Last edited by aslyfox; 07-06-2017 at 05:54 AM.
07-06-2017, 06:02 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aslyfox Quote
which one???
The Beike BK-45. I paid about $75 on evilBay direct from Hong Kong...

I use it with my Sirui 5-section aluminum tripod. I'm pretty sure it's the T-1005x...which has a load capacity of 22 pounds. With my K-3 & Sigma 150-500 it is pretty stable. But it brings the weight up to more than 8 pounds...I will haul it around the zoo or use it in static situations, but I'm not hauling it around in the field. The nice thing is that you can use slower shutter speeds and keep the ISO down.

07-06-2017, 07:00 AM   #5
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I use a Jobu Jr3 deluxe . It's rated for 12lbs and handles my Bigma with ease. Cheaper ones usually have plastic bushes and the more pricey ones will have
proper sealed bearings. It's like you say, you get what you pay for.
07-06-2017, 07:12 AM   #6
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I have three. One is from Nest and is carbon fiber. You can get them for about $300. Mine has been a good solid performer. I also have a Lensmaster RH-2 which is made by a guy in England. Solid. basic and very easy to disassemble and clean. Supports 100 pound too. Right now they are about $265 US delivered to the states. Mine arrived 7 days after I ordered it. I also have a Promaster GH-10 that I got at a camera store in B1smarck, ND. Seems to work fine with my Sigma 300 f2.8 and D FA 150-450. No idea how robust it is for the long term. All use ARCA plates.

As to tripods, I own two Vanguard carbon fiber tripods. One medium weight and one beast. The beast is in the photo of me with wtlwdwgn and dwalt that was taken in May at Yellowstone. It has the Nest gimbal head on it. As I got older tripods seem to be earning a larger and larger place in my outdoor photography. Why Vanguard? Because B&H Photo had some killer sales (some 50 plus % off) on them and they had received good overall reviews. I recently got a Vanguard monopod the same way. Big stout aluminum one for $45. Fully extended it is 71" or so. Supports 22 pounds.
07-06-2017, 08:27 AM   #7
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I use a Benro GH2 gimbal head. I think it's about $350 USD. I use it on a Benro Mach 3 tripod. I wish the head had a friction adjustment for panning, but otherwise I like it. Both the head and the tripod hold the lens steady and otherwise just stay out of my way, which is all I expect. It gets a lot of use, including in the winter, and has been trouble-free. My longest lens is actually a 600mm f/7.5 ED telescope that is long and fairly heavy, and the head and tripod hold it quite still. I sometimes use it for astronomy, too!

07-06-2017, 09:43 AM   #8
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As a first gimbal head you can't go too far wrong with the Beike BK 45, which I use with my Ks-2 and K5 with the DFA 150-450mm on the Manfrotto 055 CX pro. It does the job. There are probably smoother and more precise gimbal heads around but for the premium demanded by the Beike, one gets what one pays for. One gripe is that when you tighten the tilt head knob there is slight shift in composition. It's a tad heavy and is probably a little larger a gimbal than the DFA 150-450mm needs. Just make sure you get a good copy.
If cost is no object, the Jobu Design JR 3 looks to me to be a perfect match. It is smaller and lighter and looks to be very well made. Best acquired with the optional swing arm HM-J2 which will allow the lens to be bottom mounted rather than side mounted. Side mounted set ups can be rather more fiddly and need more caution when mounting your lens.

Last edited by Andy Fern; 07-06-2017 at 09:54 AM.
07-06-2017, 10:49 AM   #9
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I know it's not the purpose of the thread as such, but don't you have to start with why use a gimbal?

I don't, but think they're best suited to situations when you need to follow the action quickly but don't want to/can't hand hold the lens/camera for any length of time, i.e. wildlife.

If you're shooting landscape, the subject doesn't move, so an ordinary head - ball or otherwise - would surely do provided the lens/camera is well balance via the lens foot?
07-06-2017, 10:58 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by JohnX Quote
I know it's not the purpose of the thread as such, but don't you have to start with why use a gimbal?

I don't, but think they're best suited to situations when you need to follow the action quickly but don't want to/can't hand hold the lens/camera for any length of time, i.e. wildlife.

If you're shooting landscape, the subject doesn't move, so an ordinary head - ball or otherwise - would surely do provided the lens/camera is well balance via the lens foot?
It is part of the purpose of the thread and thanks for your post discussing Usage:

__________________________________

title of the thread: gimbal heads - cost, value, and usage

and at the bottom of the initial post:


on usage ( any top secret tips [ of the " If I tell you, I might have to injure you " type ] you experienced people want to share )

or your own experiences

______________________________________________

You raise good points

thanks

Last edited by aslyfox; 07-07-2017 at 03:10 AM.
07-06-2017, 01:19 PM   #11
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The LensMaster (from England) is excellent and about $265-$275. It is very rugged, and I suspect it will support you and your entire camera kit. It is a very simple design that can be easily disassembled for cleaning - very handy after a week at the shore. I have had mine for several years now. If you are interested do a Google search.

Regarding usage, a gimbal is great with a long lens, no matter what you are shooting. But is is particularly handy for moving objects - wildlife, birds, planes, etc. I frequently have mine on a car window mount for when I am driving through a wildlife refuge.
07-06-2017, 05:02 PM   #12
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I have met a couple of people who like the bk45

I recently picked up a used manfrotto 393...it seems like a bit of overkill
it was cheap so we'll see
07-06-2017, 05:29 PM   #13
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I need support for K400, K500 and K1000. Currently using a monopod or sandbags, a camp chair and a B&D WorkMate, so my subject has to be relatively parallel to the ground and stable.

Aside from the Gimbal head, I think I also need to look into HD legs and a locking brace for the K1000), plus a set of Arca plates. $1000 +/- so I'm not doing anything immediate.

Last edited by monochrome; 07-06-2017 at 05:35 PM.
07-06-2017, 06:10 PM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
I need support for K400, K500 and K1000. Currently using a monopod or sandbags, a camp chair and a B&D WorkMate, so my subject has to be relatively parallel to the ground and stable.

Aside from the Gimbal head, I think I also need to look into HD legs and a locking brace for the K1000), plus a set of Arca plates. $1000 +/- so I'm not doing anything immediate.
Well, a Benro TMA28A tripod ($160 from B&H) and a LensMaster gimbal (about $250 including an Arca Swiss style clamp and plate) gets you a really solid setup for about $410-420.

Yes, the aluminum tripod is heavier than carbon fiber, BUT... it's a helluva lot less than than a WorkMate and sandbags.
07-07-2017, 03:05 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aslyfox Quote
[ it looks like there hasn't been much recently on gimbals ]

there appears to be two basic types of Gimbal heads

$$$$

$$

is the old story true: "you get what you pay for"


And the fun part is that once you start talking with the real pro's you'll learn that gimbals are toys for beginners and you need to use fluid video heads instead. Those will make your basic gimbal (and most FF cameras) look like a cheapo side dish offer.


As with any entry thing: If you buy a gimbal used you can make your own experiences and then sell at no loss if you think you need some better stuff. So instead of jumping into the expensive stuff first, you should try a cheap one used first.
Differences between any sort of equipment in forums is regularly ridiculously exagerrated.
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