Photography is a passion as well as a profession for many. Whatever bracket you place it in, photography imparts a sense of fulfillment and connect with the world around us in a very intimate sort of way.
Now photography is done using a wide plethora of gears and amongst this the tripod plays an important role. Now Tripod is a unit that is used to stabilize and elevate a camera, related photographic components. Most tripods, do not come with a tripod head. The head is a part that the lens is attached to. Thus the head sits between lens and tripod proper and getting the right kind of head is of utmost importance in getting that shot that would be kept and not rejected. As the lens gets heavier, for subjects in motion or for night/macro photography for the right image a tripod is very essential and hence comes the critical role of tripod head.
There are two types of tripod heads:
- Ball head: A ball head utilizes a lubricated steel ball to allow for unimpeded movement in any direction within a specific coordinated system. A ball head allows the lens to tilt in any direction
- Gimbal Head: A gimbal head works like a see saw, it maintains a fine balance on the lens with very moderate forces applied to one end for precise control.
I will be talking about gimbal heads and specifically about the Wimberley WH 200. If one is shooting for heavier/longer lens, no other head comes close to offering the gimbal’s stability, articulation and flexibility. The mission objective of a gimbal head is to create a perfectly balanced lens/camera combination that permits concurrent movement in both vertical and horizontal axes.
A bit if we look into the advantages and disadvantages of using a gimbal head over a ball head:
|Useful for heavy/long lenses (>/ 400 mm )||Time factor to set up|
|For tracking subjects in motion eg birds in flight||Weight considerations|
|Effortless adjustment of the camera mounted on the tripod||Tripod needs to be level to get the straight horizon aspect for a perfect shot|
|Offer exceptional stability , articulation and flexibility||Cost factor|
Now that i have built up on the background let me touch upon the model of gimbal head that I use, its known as the Wimberly WH-200 (Version II).
This is father of all gimbals on the market today. Arguably one of the very best, it has its reputation worth justified. It is legendary for its quality, durability and simplicity of design which have made it extraordinary. Considered by many to be the industry standard when to comes to gimbal heads, it is designed to accommodate the heaviest of lens available in the market by any lens manufacturer.
An all metal construction, beautiful black powder finish which it its trademark look, it uses sleeve bearings for moving components along with high quality thrust bearing on the swing arm. Made from the best of the best material, it comes with a standard Arca swiss style lens platform.
Supplied in a simple brown box, the unit comes in two parts: the main gimbal head and the height adjustable platform with a built in Arca swiss style plate mount along with a detailed instruction booklet as to how to set up the unit as well as work out the correct positioning of the lens on the unit so as to extract the maximum potential of the Wimberley.
Setting to Work(STW). The unit is simple to set up, with a detailed booklet as to how to rig it up, as it works on the principle of counter balance, it is important to set the center of gravity of the lens and camera body right prior to start of the shoot. Once this is done and locked, a 600 mm lens on a full frame body can be handled with just two fingers.
The Version II is designed as stated to support the heaviest of the lens. It never feels strained and the joints operate smoothly as when they are not under load. Lock it down and there is not even the slightest bit of movement or droop. Used in conjunction with a world class tripod like the Gitzo series, there is nothing that will beat this setup in the world in my opinion.
There are only minor downsides to this product that I have felt:
- Weight considerations: only the gimbal head weight 1.4 kg
- Price considerations. It also sets a benchmark in pricing in the market as of today (hardly anyone comes closer).
However, if you wish to have a worthy companion for the 500 mm lens and the full frame camera body out in the wild landscape of nature, then you must definitely not settle for anything less than the Wimberley WH 200 (Ver II)