Gim­bal heads

If you need to sup­port a bulky set-up, no other type of tri­pod head will do

NPhoto - - Gear Zone -

ra­di­tional ball tri­pod heads are ver­sa­tile, and a geared head is great for pre­ci­sion work. But as this is­sue’s Ap­pren­tice ex­plains (see page 8), when it comes to sup­port­ing full-frame bod­ies and long tele­photo lenses, you need a big head… or, rather, your tri­pod does.

Sim­ply us­ing a larger ball head isn’t ideal, as hav­ing the weight of a 400mm-plus tele­photo lens and an FX Nikon perched on top means a pre­car­i­ous bal­anc­ing act. A gim­bal head en­ables you to lower your Nikon’s cen­tre of grav­ity so it ef­fec­tively hangs along­side the head, rather than sit­ting on top.

When set­ting up, you’ll need to spend a minute or so align­ing your lens so it bal­ances on the head’s mount­ing plate; and if you go for a gim­bal with ver­ti­cal ad­just­ment, be sure to set this so the cen­tre line of the lens is par­al­lel with the gim­bal’s tilt axis. Once you’ve found the sweet spot, your Nikon and lens will be per­fectly bal­anced, and should feel al­most weight­less.

Here we’ve se­lected five heads. All use the same ba­sic de­sign, but as we’ll see, the de­tails sep­a­rate the best from the rest...

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