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11-22-2018, 11:40 AM   #1
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Supporting a D FA 150-450mm lens: Use existing Arca-Swiss ball head or get a gimbal?

So... I'm looking to get a Pentax D FA 150-450mm lens (and a Wimberley P-40 QR plate to go with it) within the next few months (funding permitting), and I'm wondering if I can get by with my existing Arca-Swiss Monoball Z1+ sp or if I should get a gimbal head:
  • The Arca-Swiss Monoball heads are better-behaved than most ball heads with heavy lenses due to their aspherical ball making them less likely to tip over with a very heavy load. But I'm getting the feeling that a gimbal is still a better option. Is the 150-450 large or heavy enough to justify getting a gimbal?
  • An intermediate option is the Wimberley Sidekick, a gimbal attachment for ball heads. However, Wimberley states that they do not recommend using the Arca-Swiss double-decker clamp (which is what my Monoball Z1+ sp has). What potential issues might arise with this arrangement?
  • A standalone gimbal head is generally considered the best option; however, it's expensive and quite bulky. The Manfrotto 393 isn't an ideal substitute because it uses a proprietary QR system which is not Arca-Swiss-compatible. Is a Wimberley WH-200 worth it?
In all cases, the camera, lens, and head will be placed on a Manfrotto MT055CXPRO3 tripod (carbon fiber, 9 kg/19.8 lb capacity).

Your thoughts?

Draco


Last edited by bwDraco; 11-22-2018 at 11:50 AM.
11-22-2018, 11:51 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by bwDraco Quote
The Arca-Swiss Monoball heads are better-behaved than most ball heads with heavy lenses due to their aspherical ball making them less likely to tip over with a very heavy load. But I'm getting the feeling that a gimbal is still a better option. Is the 150-450 large or heavy enough to justify getting a gimbal?
That's quite a nice head you have there.

Long story short, your ballhead will have no PROBLEM supporting the lens. Not at all. When testing, I used the Sirui T-025X travel tripod with a Sirui K10X head without trouble. The lens is big but not a giant.

A gimbal will make things much easier if you plan on tracking moving subjects. For that, a ballhead works, but a gimbal shines.

I suggest you try the lens with the kit you have, then decide if you find it limiting.

QuoteOriginally posted by bwDraco Quote
A standalone gimbal head is generally considered the best option; however, it's expensive and quite bulky. The Manfrotto 393 isn't an ideal substitute because it uses a proprietary QR system which is not Arca-Swiss-compatible. Is a Wimberley WH-200 worth it?
Take a look at the Oben GH-30 gimbal. It's very high quality, and a bargain when compared to the big names. It's mostly identical to the Wimberley V2 gimbal.
11-22-2018, 12:03 PM   #3
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Thanks for the advice. I'll probably just get the lens and plate, and add accessories as needed.

As for the gimbal, the GH-30 looks really nice for the money. I'd suppose it's just a small step down from the WH-200 in terms of build quality.

I have no reason to doubt the integrity of my Arca-Swiss head (it's designed to cope with upwards of 100 lbs of weight), but what's your experience with using a ball head with a large lens? The 150-450 is a bit larger than Canon's 100-400 II, and I'm seeing people use both ball heads and gimbal heads with the latter.

Draco
11-22-2018, 12:19 PM   #4
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I don't have the 150-450, but I have the 70-200/2,8 which os in the same ball park weigth wise, though obviously less magnification and less extension, (internal zoom and focus) a,d it's absolutely rock solid on an Arca Swiss monoball. I originally bought te head to use with the 67 and lenses upto 300mm, and again. rock solid. As bdery says, you might want to consider a gimble for tracking, but for general stability, the monoball just says 'is that allyou got?' whatever I stick on it.

11-22-2018, 01:53 PM   #5
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The way to use a long lens on a ball head is to put the shaft on the ball head down in the slot, put your lens foot on the side of the lens. Here is the best picture that I could find. Imagine that your lens foot is held like this

Gitzo's new high-tech ball head - DPNow.com Discussion Forum

Having a long lens on the top of a ball head is very unstable. If you loosen the ball, it will fall over potentially pulling your tripod over.
11-22-2018, 01:59 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by bwDraco Quote
As for the gimbal, the GH-30 looks really nice for the money. I'd suppose it's just a small step down from the WH-200 in terms of build quality.
I haven't tested the Wimberley extensively, but have played with a few gimbals in-store before testing the Oben thoroughly (expect a review sometime in the future on pentaxforums's homepage).

Long story short, I don't find the gimbal lacking in any way.

QuoteOriginally posted by bwDraco Quote
I have no reason to doubt the integrity of my Arca-Swiss head (it's designed to cope with upwards of 100 lbs of weight), but what's your experience with using a ball head with a large lens? The 150-450 is a bit larger than Canon's 100-400 II, and I'm seeing people use both ball heads and gimbal heads with the latter.
I've tested both the 70-200 and 150-450, and I now own an old Vivitar 120-600mm. These can all be used with a ballhead (using the technique of placing the top plate in the side slot is a good idea if your lens' collar can rotate). For tracking distant subjects with a monopod and ballhead I sometimes simply tilted the monopod as needed

QuoteOriginally posted by derekkite Quote
Having a long lens on the top of a ball head is very unstable. If you loosen the ball, it will fall over potentially pulling your tripod over.
With a ballhead and a heavy lens you need to tune the friction.

With a properly adjusted/balanced gimbal you only have to follow your subject's movements, it's perfectly natural and easy. It's certainly preferable for larger lenses, however it's an expensive accessory so not for everyone.
11-22-2018, 02:18 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
I've tested both the 70-200 and 150-450, and I now own an old Vivitar 120-600mm. These can all be used with a ballhead (using the technique of placing the top plate in the side slot is a good idea if your lens' collar can rotate). For tracking distant subjects with a monopod and ballhead I sometimes simply tilted the monopod as needed
Hmm... While I haven't had issues with using the ball head the "normal" way with my 70-200 (again, the Arca-Swiss Monoball uses an aspherical ball that is more resistant to tipping over than conventional ball heads), I'll be sure to give this technique a shot. Thanks for the hint 🙂

Draco

---------- Post added 11-22-18 at 04:44 PM ----------

You mean like this?



I tried doing this briefly and I didn't quite like it. Also, there's metal-on-metal contact where the stem beneath the clamp comes into contact with the drop notch and that would wear it down very quickly.

Draco
11-22-2018, 08:53 PM   #8
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Gimbal without a hesitation. Joby design makes some nice "affordable" ones,DWG PRO is nice.Jobu Design Gimbal History and Identification


Last edited by Ex Finn.; 11-22-2018 at 09:03 PM.
11-23-2018, 12:10 AM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ex Finn. Quote
Gimbal without a hesitation. Joby design makes some nice "affordable" ones,DWG PRO is nice.Jobu Design Gimbal History and Identification
Agree. The ball head might get you by. But the gimbal makes it effortless. I use the DFA 150-450mm with the Jobu JR3. Many gimbals are designed for longer and heavier lenses. The JR3 does the job without excess weight and mass.

Last edited by Andy Fern; 11-23-2018 at 01:32 AM.
11-23-2018, 06:38 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by bwDraco Quote
You mean like this?
Yep.

QuoteOriginally posted by bwDraco Quote
I tried doing this briefly and I didn't quite like it. Also, there's metal-on-metal contact where the stem beneath the clamp comes into contact with the drop notch and that would wear it down very quickly.
Good anodized metal will last a while this way. Some people swear by it. I did say several times that a true gimbal is better
11-23-2018, 08:27 AM - 1 Like   #11
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i would go for a gimbal, I got a Jobu Jr for my tamron 200-500/5.6. BUT.....
i found that the swing arm for bottom mount had a serious issue with vibration, and by removing it, and attaching the ACRA plate to the main pivot (side mount), the mechanical stability improved greatly



this surprised me quite a lot actually as the idea of the gimbal is to be a vibration free, balanced mount, in principle if the lens is correctly set on the mount, vertically and laterally you can let your hands off the camera and it does not move. my preference is to actually have the center of mass a little below the horizontal pivot, so the lens, if it moves tends to go horizontal, but the amount of vibration the additional arm added to the camera and lens wasn't worth it
11-23-2018, 12:40 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
serious issue with vibration
Wonder if you just happen to have the right harmonic with that combo to make it resonate? I think I'd go for the version with the arm, since it looks like you can take it off. That way there are options.

I've been looking at the Oben GH-30 also for use with my 150-450. It has a much higher (44 pound versus 10 pound) rated capacity than the Jobu, but not knowing how they are rated, it's hard to say if one really would be better than the other with this lens. Perhaps worth a call to B&H to talk to someone. I have ball and pan and tilt heads, but would like the gimbal for things like birds in flight.
11-23-2018, 01:42 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by bwDraco Quote
  • I'm looking to get a Pentax D FA 150-450mm lens (and a Wimberley P-40 QR plate to go with it)
  • A standalone gimbal head is generally considered the best option
  • The Manfrotto 393 isn't an ideal substitute because it uses a proprietary QR system which is not Arca-Swiss-compatible. Is a Wimberley WH-200 worth it?Your thoughts?
11-25-2018, 12:58 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by bwDraco Quote
So... I'm looking to get a Pentax D FA 150-450mm lens (and a Wimberley P-40 QR plate to go with it) within the next few months (funding permitting), and I'm wondering if I can get by with my existing Arca-Swiss Monoball Z1+ sp or if I should get a gimbal head:
  • The Arca-Swiss Monoball heads are better-behaved than most ball heads with heavy lenses due to their aspherical ball making them less likely to tip over with a very heavy load. But I'm getting the feeling that a gimbal is still a better option. Is the 150-450 large or heavy enough to justify getting a gimbal?
  • An intermediate option is the Wimberley Sidekick, a gimbal attachment for ball heads. However, Wimberley states that they do not recommend using the Arca-Swiss double-decker clamp (which is what my Monoball Z1+ sp has). What potential issues might arise with this arrangement?
  • A standalone gimbal head is generally considered the best option; however, it's expensive and quite bulky. The Manfrotto 393 isn't an ideal substitute because it uses a proprietary QR system which is not Arca-Swiss-compatible. Is a Wimberley WH-200 worth it?
In all cases, the camera, lens, and head will be placed on a Manfrotto MT055CXPRO3 tripod (carbon fiber, 9 kg/19.8 lb capacity).

Your thoughts?

Draco
The QR clamp on the 393 can be removed, if the holes line up you could bolt your Arca-Swiss clamp right on. I use the Monfrotto QR system myself as my 393 and Bogan 3033 tripod have had my SMC A * 400 F2.8 [13 lbs] on it for years with no issues. Try a gimbal if you have not as of yet, you will love them..
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