Wimberley gimbal head and what tripod?
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Old 03-15-2012   #1
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Question Wimberley gimbal head and what tripod?

I will be acquiring a Wimberley gimbal head (WH-200) to handle a 600mm lens I also plan on buying later this Spring, but I am not sure which tripod would be the "best", or a good match for this head and lens combo - it would be mainly for bird and wildlife photography. Two of the Gitzo models - 3541LS and the 5541LS have been suggested by a couple of my colleagues, but I am still interested in what others experience is. For those who have this head, what tripod do you have that goes well with this head and a large telephoto lens. I am also interested in any suggestions for a ball head that you have for the same tripod for those situations where you do not need the Wimberley, e.g., using a macro lens for close-up work. Any insight or thoughts that folks would care to share will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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WesternGuy

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Old 03-15-2012   #2
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Default Re: Wimberley gimbal head and what tripod?

Are any of these tripod features important to you?

Tripod weight (heavy vs. light)

Maximum load weight

Material (aluminum vs. carbon fiber vs. wood)

Tubular leg design vs. Channel leg design


Leg locks
  • twist locks
  • clamping lever locks
  • wing nuts
Number of leg sections

Individual leg angle adjustments

Height (maximum / minimum)

Compactness (collapse to smaller size)



Center Column
  • none
  • sliding
  • geared
  • reversible
  • vertical movement only
  • horizontal and vertical movement
Head
  • fixed
  • removable
  • none
Feet
  • fixed non-slip
  • fixed spike feet
  • retractable spike feet
  • suction cups
  • snow feet
Screw
  • 3/8 inch (European Standard)
  • inch (American Standard)
Quick Release Feature
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Old 03-15-2012   #3
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Default Re: Wimberley gimbal head and what tripod?

Gitzo's 3-series is not enough to support a 600mm lens reliably with the Wimberley head, except maybe if you're using the new super lightweight 600mm f/4L IS II from Canon. Even then, I'd prefer the 5-series tripod regardless. Even a 400mm f/2.8 is best on a 5-series tripod, IMHO.

I used to run a Nikon 600mm f/4 AF-S II on Wimberley head with a Gitzo 3-series tripod because it was what we already owned, and it was terrible. It got worse if we tried to mount a flash bracket or other accessories. We ended up having to move to a Gitzo 5-series equivalent in the form of a Really Right Stuff Versa 3 tripod (back then it was the only Versa tripod, but now there is Versa 1, 2, 3...).

Really Right Stuff's Versa 3 tripod is about equivalent to a Gitzo 5-series. If I recall correctly, the RRS weight is somewhere in between the 3 and 5 series Gitzos (been a while since I looked at the numbers), but the RRS easily supports a 600mm with flash arm, teleconverter, heavy "pro" body, etc. the RRS also comes in various heights so you can pick the size that works best for you.

An added plus is that RRS has a more secure method of securing the base (leveling or plain) that the gimbal head screws onto; Gitzo uses one externally-capped screw to tigthen and loosen the base, which inevitably loosens itself when stalking through the brush, sending your stuff crashing into the ground if you're not careful, though I guess you can quickly swap in different bases if you desire. RRS uses three set screws, which is slower to remove, but more secure (and it happens to resemble the Feisol tripods, incidentally). Your base and head won't come off of the tripod unless you want it to.

As for ball heads, I like the Kirk BH-1 and Really Right Stuff BH-55 for full size set-ups. The Kirk is more traditionally laid-out and a little cheaper, but the Really Right Stuff head is probably a little better in terms of precision, and they make a host of macro accessories to spend your money on.
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Old 03-16-2012   #4
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Default Re: Wimberley gimbal head and what tripod?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Narsuitus View Post
Are any of these tripod features important to you?

Tripod weight (heavy vs. light) As light as is feasibly possible, given that it will have to hold a 600 mm lens (Canon 600mm f4/L IS II USM) and a Wimberley head + camera (1D X).

Maximum load weight - yes - Canon lens weighs about 4kg and the Wimberley weighs about 1.5 kg - add a few extra kg for anything else that might be loaded on - flash bracket, etc.

Material (aluminum vs. carbon fiber vs. wood) - carbon fiber

Tubular leg design vs. Channel leg design - tubular




Leg locks - either of the first two, although the first one is preferred.
  • twist locks
  • clamping lever locks
  • wing nuts
Number of leg sections - 4

Individual leg angle adjustments - yes

Height (maximum / minimum) - not sure about this , I am 5'10", so not to big for me - max about 120 to 140 cm(?)

Compactness (collapse to smaller size) - compact enough to fit in my suit case without the head on it, say less than 50-55 cm or so.







Center Column - haven't thought about this yet, but I would go for none with the Wimberley, but a lot would depend on the unit itself - there are always trade-off that can be made.
  • none
  • sliding
  • geared
  • reversible
  • vertical movement only
  • horizontal and vertical movement
Head - removable
  • fixed
  • removable
  • none
Feet - fixed non-slip
  • fixed non-slip
  • fixed spike feet
  • retractable spike feet
  • suction cups
  • snow feet
Screw - American standard
  • 3/8 inch (European Standard)
  • inch (American Standard)
Quick Release Feature - yes
Narsuitus, I have tried to answer all your questions - that is a list to take note of, but a number of these things are, in some cases, really neither here not there, so to speak - my main concern is to be able to hold the Wimberley head and the camera with some "weight" to spare - I am all for a factor of safety of about 20 to 25%. HTH.

Cheers,

WesternGuy
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Old 03-16-2012   #5
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Default Re: Wimberley gimbal head and what tripod?

Michael, thanks for your detailed reply and the notes on your experience. They will definitely help.

Cheers,

WesternGuy
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Old 03-16-2012   #6
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Default Re: Wimberley gimbal head and what tripod?

WesternGuy:
I am considering the 600 II and have a Gitzo 5541LS with a Wimberly 200 head and a Fiesol CT3472 with a Acra Swiss Z ball head. Like you my main use will be outdoor wildlife and weight was not a concern as I do the majority of my shooting from our front and rear deck. I choose both models because I am slightly over 6' and height was a consideration. The Fiesol is lighter and will probably use that for packing. If I was to choose just one it would be the Fiesol mainly because of value.
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Old 03-16-2012   #7
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Default Re: Wimberley gimbal head and what tripod?

I agree with Michael re Gitzo 5-Series tripods. The Gitzo 5541LS is discontinued, but as I write this, B&H has one used in 9+ condition for $699. The current model is the GT5531S, a three-legged model (which I prefer over a four-legged, those last small sections get wobbly!).
I own the 3531, which is a great tripod...but the largest lens Gitzo recommends is the 400mm. But that's the longest telephoto that I own, anyway! I "cheat" by using a Nikon 1.4TC for a 560mm f4 equivalent. Also...replace the standard rubber feet with the rubber feet that can retract to expose "spikes". Eliminates that last little bit of wobble on hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt. Lastly, use Loc-Tite on the threads. Gitzo has a reputation for their feet coming loose, and getting lost!
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Old 03-16-2012   #8
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Default Re: Wimberley gimbal head and what tripod?

Quote:
Originally Posted by trapman View Post
Lastly, use Loc-Tite on the threads. Gitzo has a reputation for their feet coming loose, and getting lost!
So true, happened to me in Glacier National Park last year.
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Old 03-17-2012   #9
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Default Re: Wimberley gimbal head and what tripod?

Quote:
Originally Posted by UgashikBob View Post
WesternGuy:
I am considering the 600 II and have a Gitzo 5541LS with a Wimberly 200 head and a Fiesol CT3472 with a Acra Swiss Z ball head. Like you my main use will be outdoor wildlife and weight was not a concern as I do the majority of my shooting from our front and rear deck. I choose both models because I am slightly over 6' and height was a consideration. The Fiesol is lighter and will probably use that for packing. If I was to choose just one it would be the Fiesol mainly because of value.
Thanks for the insight and for sharing your experience. Feisol is not a name that I am familiar with - I do not believe any Canadian stores carry these (couldn't find any) and B&H do not seem to carry them either - I guess one has to order directly from Feisol. When you say you would take Feisol because of value, is this strictly $$ or is it value in terms of both $$ and features. I noticed from their web page that Feisol make a head, the UA-180 Carbon U-Mount, which is, I would guess, their answer to the Wimberley head. Have you any experience with this?

Cheers,

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Old 03-17-2012   #10
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Default Re: Wimberley gimbal head and what tripod?

Quote:
Originally Posted by trapman View Post
I agree with Michael re Gitzo 5-Series tripods. The Gitzo 5541LS is discontinued, but as I write this, B&H has one used in 9+ condition for $699. The current model is the GT5531S, a three-legged model (which I prefer over a four-legged, those last small sections get wobbly!).
I own the 3531, which is a great tripod...but the largest lens Gitzo recommends is the 400mm. But that's the longest telephoto that I own, anyway! I "cheat" by using a Nikon 1.4TC for a 560mm f4 equivalent. Also...replace the standard rubber feet with the rubber feet that can retract to expose "spikes". Eliminates that last little bit of wobble on hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt. Lastly, use Loc-Tite on the threads. Gitzo has a reputation for their feet coming loose, and getting lost!
Thanks for your comments on the Gitzo models and the "retractable rubber feet" and the use of Loc-Tite on the threads. I will definitely keep this is mind. Is there a specific Loc-Tite product that you use?

Looks like I will be looking at one of the GT55XXS models. I will look at both the 3 and 4 section models, but I have to be able to get it in my luggage, so that may be a deciding factor - still keeping an open mind though.

Cheers,

WesternGuy


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