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Accessory talk Those important extra system components.

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Old 16th December 2014
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Gimbal head advice & experience

I think the time has come for me to get a proper gimbal head, and the LensMaster RH-1 and RH-2 seem to offer the best balance of practicality and reliable function (much as I know I'd enjoy the quality of a Wimberley, I can buy several lensmasters for the cost should one or two of them wear out!).

I'm interested mainly in motorsports and wildlife photography (game drives and walks rather than birding, although I do a little of that) on carbon Manfrotto legs and monopod.

I shall be using an E-M1 with the new 70-150 f2.8 and converter, a Panasonic 100-300 with a R-Roesch rotating Arca-Swiss foot, and I shall probably have trouble resisting the 300 f4 when it come out. I have a RRS EM-1 L-plate.

Should I go for the RH-1 or RH-2 (or even their Traveller head)? I'm a little concerned with the RH-1 and Traveller that movement might be somewhat restricted when using it with m4/3 lenses (rather than FF or APSC), especially if I'm also using the body with an HLD7 battery pack grip.

All advice and comments most gratefully received.
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Old 16th December 2014
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Re: Gimbal head advice & experience

Mark,

LensMaster (http://www.lensmaster.co.uk/) gimbals are great value for money. I've got the RH-2 - I just feel safer with the weight bearing down, rather than hanging off the side.

Andy
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Old 16th December 2014
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Re: Gimbal head advice & experience

I use the RH1 with the Canon 7D, 400mm and 1.4x with no problems at all, I've also used it with the E-M1/HLD7 and this lens combo with no issues. Any gimbal is a substantial piece of kit and needs a substantial tripod to hold it steady enough, especially in high winds, mine is a National Geographic Expedition Carbon and copes with virtually anything the weather can throw at it whereas some lighter ones I've tried have not worked so well.

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Old 16th December 2014
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Re: Gimbal head advice & experience

I have also considered getting a gimbal head for much the same applications although birding is the one that would make me get one. So I shall be interested in hearing what folk are recommending.

However I would not have thought that any tripod/head combination would be of much use for motorsports or game drives. I consider these applications to be the domain of monopods and handheld. I have tried motorsports and game drives using tripods and they are just too limiting unless you are after one special effect. Their bulkiness however is quite restrictive. On a game drive you need the freedom to swing your camera in any direction as you can rarely predict where the game is coming from. Bean bags would be my option here.

It would be interesting what others have found or are using.
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Old 16th December 2014
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Re: Gimbal head advice & experience

Well, yes, and no

For motorsports I have used a monopod exclusively (or hand held), but my understanding is that a good gimbal head on a good monopod gives you more flexibility especially when panning with vehicles quite close or where there are level changes in the track. In positions like that, at the extremes of the pan I tend to have the camera tipped one way and then the other with a rigid monopod head.

I agree with you in the main part about game drives (which is why I mentioned walks), but it does depend hugely on the type of vehicle. Yes, beanbags are great if you're standing up in a Landcruiser in the Masai Mara.

In South Africa open landrovers seem to be the norm, and to use a beanbag on one of those you either have to be lucky with positioning of a support at the right height near your seat, or else have a double-jointed spine! Actually a closed-up monopod is quite useful and flexible on these vehicles and I've done this in the past with reasonable success, but I've seen people using a manfrotto clamp clipped to the edge of the vehicle or a seat-back with a gimbal head attached to that.

What I didn't mention, which would have been more apposite, is that we live close to Duxford aerodrome and I would like to improve my air display photography skills.
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Re: Gimbal head advice & experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by drmarkf View Post
....but I've seen people using a manfrotto clamp clipped to the edge of the vehicle or a seat-back with a gimbal head attached to that.
I have tried bird hide clamps and I would think that clamps in vehicles suffer from the same drawback which is other folk, and their moving around which ends up jarring your attempts at getting rock steady photo's

Another option if you do a lot of walking is to get a flag pole holster (40 ish) and use with a monopod mounted camera which I sometimes use with good hit rates.
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Old 16th December 2014
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Re: Gimbal head advice & experience

I haven't used/owned a gimbal since I sold my last 600mm lens. My OM 350mm is bigger and heavier than the 300mm f/2.8 but I've never considered getting another gimbal. For me the disadvantages out way the advantages.
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Old 17th December 2014
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Re: Gimbal head advice & experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by drmarkf View Post
In South Africa open landrovers seem to be the norm, and to use a beanbag on one of those you either have to be lucky with positioning of a support at the right height near your seat, or else have a double-jointed spine! Actually a closed-up monopod is quite useful and flexible on these vehicles and I've done this in the past with reasonable success, but I've seen people using a manfrotto clamp clipped to the edge of the vehicle or a seat-back with a gimbal head attached to that.
In many South African parks self drive is a viable option and has the huge advantage that you don't have to bother about what anyone else wants to do. You may not get quite the height of eye that the rear row of a nine seater gives you but the freedom more than compensates. We're doing a week self drive with a friend in the Kruger in February - three in the car is ideal and I don't have to drive which simplifies photography.

I sometimes use a bean bag but more often than not leaning against a door pillar (engine off) does the trick. I take a monopod but afterwards always wonder why.
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Old 17th December 2014
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Re: Gimbal head advice & experience

Many thanks to everyone for their thoughts so far: plenty to ponder!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melaka View Post
In many South African parks self drive is a viable option and has the huge advantage that you don't have to bother about what anyone else wants to do. You may not get quite the height of eye that the rear row of a nine seater gives you but the freedom more than compensates. We're doing a week self drive with a friend in the Kruger in February - three in the car is ideal and I don't have to drive which simplifies photography.

I sometimes use a bean bag but more often than not leaning against a door pillar (engine off) does the trick. I take a monopod but afterwards always wonder why.
Yes, for a variety of reasons we're not going back to the Kruger next June (on the SA part of the trip we're going to Madikwe, as a bit of an experiment - the landscape photo opportunities look excellent and more varied than the Kruger, but the wildlife remains to be seen!), but we shall go back there in the future and will certainly then try self-drive.

I would however recommend people have their first trip (or maybe a first game drive or two on their first trip) with a vehicle and guide so you can learn the ropes.
I've spoken to several people who did self-driving in the Kruger first, who subsequently found a couple of days staying at a good lodge and going on guided drives a complete revelation in terms of how much wildlife they saw and understanding its behavior. It does need to be a good lodge, though.
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Too much Oly gear.
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Assorted legacy lenses, plus a Fuji X70 & a Sony A7S.
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