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Thread: Look at Gimbals as an alternative

  1. #1

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    Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    I am known for my us of Gimbals, I have Manfrotto b/s heads and Manfrotto Pan tilts but rarely use them, to me nothing and I mean nothing beats a Gimbal for nature or for me sports photography.

    On all four of my tripods I use gimbals, because they offer stability and panning and tilting unsurpassed by any other head when shooting fast moving action like power boat raking, also when you "learn to use them" you can up/down and let/right with just the two fingers and thumb of the left hand and shoot with the right, the camera stays where you leave it when you let go and it is instantly available when you start again.

    When I looked into getting one, I checked out many and took six months researching them before buying, the cheap Indian/Chinese steel imports were immediately ruled out as they are rust traps when shooting in rain or salt air, and need stripping and re building before initial use to get rid of unwanted grease. (and yes I have tried every gimbal I looked at) If you are looking to get a new head think carefully, don't always believe that more means better either.

    I tried Benro, Wimberley, Indian and Chinese as well as the unusual Manfrotto lens "bracket", When all was done I chose a "Lensmaster RH2", I am NOT associated with this company.

    All Gimbals have the same main thing in common, to work smoothly remain rigid and provide good firm support. Some do this better than others, but unless you need a Ferrari or a "status" symbol a Ford or Renault is perfect.

    Wimberley was too expensive for what they offer, ok well made, so are Benro and others.

    Lensmaster however are "hand made" from start to finish, and British, produced by an engineer in this country who is also a photographer. I recently ordered a new one (I have as I said four now), the first three were finished in gloss black the ne ones are a truly professional textured matt black, the quality parts as I said are hand made, and it shows, right down to the signed for box it arrives in.

    If you are seeking a new head for your tripod, check out gimbals, you will never look back. Here is a photo of my two main ones the NEW RH1 and the RH2
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by JR1; 13th March 2014 at 03:01 PM.

  2. #2

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    Re: Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    I have the Manfrotto gimbal that I use with my Sigma 150-500 lens, and it is a dream to use for wildlife and birding. Of course, the head alone weighs nearly four pounds -- but the lens is heavy, and so are the Induro legs that I use with this set-up. Nonetheless, the set-up could support a house and is easy to use once it is trucked into the site...

    I also have focusing rails mounted on an old one-piece tripod that I bought over two decades ago. This set-up is ideal for macro as I do it. Everyone ought to use focusing rails for everything, too...

    I also have a light travel tripod with a ball head. It is a dream to carry -- it attaches to my backpack or camera bag and I don't notice the additional weight, and it provides a perfectly stable platform for all my lenses other than the birding lens. It is a dream to swing around and line up with my usual camera/lens combos. Everyone ought to use a travel tripod with a ball head for everything, too...

    I have a monopod with a ball head that I find useful when I'm hiking with my camera and that I can usually get past museum security guards if I walk in using it like a cane (it helps that I'm a retiree I suppose.) It goes places my travel tripod can't and is a dream to use in some less-common situations. Everyone ought to use a monopod with a ball head for everything, too...

    I'm glad you found a system that works for you. Gimbal heads are certainly worth being aware of, and often are just the ticket. I just couldn't resist twisting your tail a bit. No offense.

    ETA: More seriously, there are different things that different heads do best. Focusing rails are a pretty obvious example, but ball heads do some things well that gimbals are just not designed for. For example, I use a ball head on my monopod because the way that a monopod gets used often leaves it at an odd angle. Ball heads can quickly be set for odd angles. My gimbal at least, is designed to pan and scroll on a level surface. If that isn't true of the gimbal you mention, I would be interested in knowing that. Also unlike my ball head, my gimbal can't flip between portrait and landscape orientation -- again, if the one you recommend has that capability, it would be interesting to know. Otherwise, it really does seem like different heads are best for different common photography situations. FWIW
    Last edited by tclune; 13th March 2014 at 02:52 PM. Reason: Add more serious discussion

  3. #3

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    Re: Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    I should have added a reason why "I" would not go for Manfrotto.

    I leave my camera un attended and shoot wildlife from a distance a lot of the time, wireless remote, WITH a flash attached, see photo.

    Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    The Manfrotto does not have the ability to allow a flash to be attached

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    Re: Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    Oh I don't mind, I use rails in macro, but I didn't say "only" use a gimbal just that people rarely even know they exist and buy the same old same old, I said "I" use it for everything there is a difference

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    Re: Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by JR1 View Post
    I leave my camera un attended and shoot wildlife from a distance a lot of the time, wireless remote, WITH a flash attached, see photo.

    Look at Gimbals as an alternative
    You should try that in the Kgalagadi. Remember to take two of each!

    http://petapixel.com/2012/11/26/phot...led-by-a-lion/

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    Re: Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    I'm looking for a Gimbal myself and recently came across this Company - even better, they're only a short car journey from me. I'll probably only use a 300mm lens and extender so the RH2 looks good to me.

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    Moderator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by JR1 View Post
    Lensmaster however are "hand made" from start to finish
    This is usually "code" suggesting that production quantities are so small, it does not make sense to invest in more sophisicated (code for better and cheaper) production techniques. It is also patently untrue. Machine tools have been used to cut, shape, pierce and bend the metal. This level of metal work certainly involves more than basic hand tools.

    Quote Originally Posted by JR1 View Post
    British, produced by an engineer in this country who is also a photographer.
    I have no problem buying "local" and I thoroughly support the idea of supporting local business this way, but for me, the UK is hardly local and the exchange rate is brutal. Perhaps I should start designing and building high end photo gear some time in the future.

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    Re: Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    Gimbals are great!

    I really like my Manfrotto 393 Gimbal. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...FYeUfgodDUsALQ

    When I purchased mine, many years ago, the price was about 60% of what is being charged now. It was a fantastic value at the time and isn't so bad right now!

    Unfortunately, IMO, Manfrotto has the poorest marketing of any company I know of... They have changed the numerical designator of this mount several times and have also changed what the mount is called at least twice. They now call it a Heavy Telephoto Lens Support... And it is called either the 393 or 3421.

    I can adjust my Manfrotto Gimbal so that only a finger pressure is needed to move the camera lens. And, as far as weight capacity: just take a look at this image from Romy Ocon, the great Philippines Bird Photographer. Now that's a load to support
    http://www.pbase.com/liquidstone/image/59586426

    Here are shots with a Canon 30D camera wearing a 400mm f/5.6L lens and using the Manfrotto Gimbal...
    Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    Other hydroplane images...
    http://rpcrowe.smugmug.com/Sports/TH...2007/i-pmbf79N

    Jeremy: you posted: "The Manfrotto does not have the ability to allow a flash to be attached" THAT'S WHAT MANFROTTO SEEMS TO THINK ALSO!

    As an example of pretty poor marketing; early in my career with the Manfrotto Gimbal, I contacted Manfrotto asking how I could use this unit with a flash. The Manfrotto Gurus, in their ultimate ignorance, assured me that use of a flash with their gimbal was not possible because you cannot switch the camera to the portrait configuration with a flash attached. This image proves that the Manfrotto "experts" are certainly not "expert" and are certainly not cognizant of the capabilities of their unit...
    Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    That flash bar was fabricated from a piece of aluminum stock. If I were doing Manfrotto's marketing, I would have a flash bar available as an accessory, rather than telling customers that the unit could not be used with a flash.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 13th March 2014 at 04:35 PM.

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    Re: Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by NigelD View Post
    I'm looking for a Gimbal myself and recently came across this Company - even better, they're only a short car journey from me. I'll probably only use a 300mm lens and extender so the RH2 looks good to me.
    As I say I now have 4, including their video one

  10. #10

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    Re: Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    Gimbals are great!

    I really like my Manfrotto 393 Gimbal. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...FYeUfgodDUsALQ

    When I purchased mine, many years ago, the price was about 60% of what is being charged now. It was a fantastic value at the time and isn't so bad right now!

    Unfortunately, IMO, Manfrotto has the poorest marketing of any company I know of... They have changed the numerical designator of this mount several times and have also changed what the mount is called at least twice. They now call it a Heavy Telephoto Lens Support...

    They also persist in illustrating the head with the camera attached in this manner. http://www.manfrotto.us/heavy-teleph...ct-plate-357pl

    I and anyone I know that has used this head always mounts the camera in this configuration. http://www.nikonians.org/reviews?ali...1-lens-support
    See the two images with the camera mounted "over" not "under" the swinging U-shaped support.

    I can adjust my Manfrotto Gimbal so that only a finger pressure is needed to move the camera lens. And, as far as weight capacity: just take a look at this image from Romy Ocon, the great Philippines Bird Photographer. Now that's a load to support
    http://www.pbase.com/liquidstone/image/59586426

    Here are shots with a Canon 30D camera wearing a 400mm f/5.6L lens and using the Manfrotto Gimbal...
    Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    Other hydroplane images...
    http://rpcrowe.smugmug.com/Sports/TH...2007/i-pmbf79N

    As far as pretty poor marketing goes, early in my career with the Manfrotto Gimbal, I contacted Manfrotto asking how I could use this unit with a flash. The Manfrotto Gurus, in their ultimate ignorance, assured me that use of a flash with their gimbal was not possible because you cannot switch the camera to the portrait configuration with a flash attached. This image proves that the Manfrotto "experts" are certainly not "expert" and are certainly not cognizant of the capabilities of their unit...
    Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    That flash bar was fabricated from a piece of aluminum stock. If I were doing Manfrotto's marketing, I would have a flash bar available as an accessory, rather than telling customers that the unit could not be used with a flash.
    Yes but look at "my" flash setup, which I need for strobe effect, with the Manfrotto it is almost impossible to add anything on the side of cameras

  11. #11

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    Re: Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    This is usually "code" suggesting that production quantities are so small, it does not make sense to invest in more sophisicated (code for better and cheaper) production techniques. It is also patently untrue. Machine tools have been used to cut, shape, pierce and bend the metal. This level of metal work certainly involves more than basic hand tools.



    I have no problem buying "local" and I thoroughly support the idea of supporting local business this way, but for me, the UK is hardly local and the exchange rate is brutal. Perhaps I should start designing and building high end photo gear some time in the future.
    "Code for!!! "

    They are hand made, also code for "personal high quality personal service as anyone who has called at the mans home knows only too well

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    Re: Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by NigelD View Post
    I'm looking for a Gimbal myself and recently came across this Company - even better, they're only a short car journey from me. I'll probably only use a 300mm lens and extender so the RH2 looks good to me.
    call him and pop along

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    Moderator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by JR1 View Post
    "Code for!!! "

    They are hand made, also code for "personal high quality personal service as anyone who has called at the mans home knows only too well
    Excellent customer service to boot; now that is really worth something as well!

  14. #14

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    Re: Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by JR1 View Post
    call him and pop along
    Sounds like a good idea - just a 20 minute drive over the Humber Bridge.

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    Re: Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    Excellent customer service to boot; now that is really worth something as well!
    Don't get me wrong I was not having a go at you, it's just that finding someone who makes the items as an engineer, from home, cottage industry, and is well respected on birding forums, is a rarety these days, as opposed to box shifters.

    You can vivit this mn at home, see the works, and buy.

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    Re: Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    I agree with most of what you've said regarding the benefits of gimbal heads. Once you become accustomed to using one there is no substitute for shooting action/wildlife. When weight isn't a concern I typically leave mine on my large tripod and use it as my preferred gear for local shooting any subject matter when a pod is called for. When traveling, hiking, etc, not so much.

    A few years back when I finally invested in a gimbal head, I researched the market pretty thoroughly but don't recall running across this one. The basic design is not a difficult concept to implement so the various models tend to be "better mousetrap" marketing driven differences. So for me my main concerns were user friendliness and durability. When I went through the exercise prices among the various versions were much of a muchness so I just bought a Wimberly since it was the proven "industry standard". The downside is that they are large and heavy.

    The Lensmaster looks like a solid design, is about a pound (30 percent) lighter than comparable Wimberly, comes with several Arca style plates, and is substantially lower cost. Clearly an attractive alternative.

    I suspect, as Manfred suggested, this guy's production capacity is limited and you're not doing this guy any favors by brining international attention to him. Reputations go down the tubes pretty quickly when people can't get timely delivery regardless of ultimate quality. Consumers are fickle creatures regardless of country/culture.

  17. #17

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    Re: Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    Oh when I say about production, I have not waited more than two weeks for one, that is the only possible problem, people want things "now" these days

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    Re: Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by AB26 View Post
    You should try that in the Kgalagadi. Remember to take two of each!

    http://petapixel.com/2012/11/26/phot...led-by-a-lion/
    Remember the Canon being eaten by a lion anybody?

    edit next day or so ....Just remembered I have some nice slippery plastic so must have a go at making a gimbal ... a late resolution for 2014
    Last edited by jcuknz; 25th March 2014 at 10:35 AM.

  19. #19
    New Member Traingineer's Avatar
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    Re: Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    Really Right Stuff have some pretty gud gimbal head options
    Last edited by Traingineer; 19th April 2014 at 04:33 AM.

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    Re: Look at Gimbals as an alternative

    I've been considering a gimbal for a couple of years but haven't yet come up with the justification. When I do it will be the Jobu Design Jr. 3. For those of you in Canada (and the US) it's a great option.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBg5igilaD0

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0esFkGdKdXQ
    Last edited by Andrew1; 19th April 2014 at 04:29 AM.

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