Tripod/Ballhead/Gimball For Light Birding Setup


cichlid

Senior Member
Dec 2, 2006
5,072
3
38
S'pore
#1
Hi fellow CSers

I’m looking for opinions on tripod and ballhead/gimball for my birding setup. I have a Sigma 150-500mm lens, external flash, Nikon D90/D700. The heaviest mixed on this setup should be about 4kg.

Currently, I use a Benro tripod and ballhead, they are rated 6kg (A-158) and 8kg(KS-0) respectively. After I tightened the knob, the ballhead would slack making it difficult to lock down on the focus point. What I usually do is to aim a bit higher and hope that it will slide down to my focus point. The Sigma is a slow lens, so my shutter speed is low and I need the camera to be as stable as possible.

From what I’ve read, gimball heads are good for tracking and making the camera/lens weightless. But does it help in locking down tightly to minimize camera shake. Or, a good ballhead is better for my setup?

I’ve read good reviews on the Jobu Jr 3. If I get it, is it a good match for my Benro tripod legs?

But, I might just buy another set of tripod legs. Which tripod legs are a good match for my setup (with the Jobu). I’m looking for lens plate too, any recommendation, thanks!
 

UncleFai

Senior Member
Mar 10, 2010
4,451
37
48
Singapore
#2
Hi fellow CSers

I’m looking for opinions on tripod and ballhead/gimball for my birding setup. I have a Sigma 150-500mm lens, external flash, Nikon D90/D700. The heaviest mixed on this setup should be about 4kg.

Currently, I use a Benro tripod and ballhead, they are rated 6kg (A-158) and 8kg(KS-0) respectively. After I tightened the knob, the ballhead would slack making it difficult to lock down on the focus point. What I usually do is to aim a bit higher and hope that it will slide down to my focus point. The Sigma is a slow lens, so my shutter speed is low and I need the camera to be as stable as possible.

From what I’ve read, gimball heads are good for tracking and making the camera/lens weightless. But does it help in locking down tightly to minimize camera shake. Or, a good ballhead is better for my setup?

I’ve read good reviews on the Jobu Jr 3. If I get it, is it a good match for my Benro tripod legs?

But, I might just buy another set of tripod legs. Which tripod legs are a good match for my setup (with the Jobu). I’m looking for lens plate too, any recommendation, thanks!
I used the Benro GH-1 on my Manfrotto 055CX3 - works fine with my 150-500mm siggy with a D7000. Haven't tried slapping on a flash though.
 

cichlid

Senior Member
Dec 2, 2006
5,072
3
38
S'pore
#3
I used the Benro GH-1 on my Manfrotto 055CX3 - works fine with my 150-500mm siggy with a D7000. Haven't tried slapping on a flash though.
Hi, thanks for your reply. How much does the Manfrotto cost?

I went to TK Foto today and had a look at Gitzo, the GT2830 cost $639.
 

UncleFai

Senior Member
Mar 10, 2010
4,451
37
48
Singapore
#4
Hi, thanks for your reply. How much does the Manfrotto cost?

I went to TK Foto today and had a look at Gitzo, the GT2830 cost $639.
Very long ago... can't remember... but definitely cheaper than $639. Gitzo is up-market stuff.
 

Dec 12, 2009
1,961
2
0
#5
my opinion is that gimball head is not necessary for your setup as the 150-500 zoom lens should not weigh that heavy, unlike the 400mm f2.8, 500mm f4 and above primes. If you can spend on sturdy tripod by all means get the best you can afford. However whether is it necessary is another question. Can consider sirui ballheads such as the K series, cheap and have good reviews. Tripod you might want to consider carbon fibre if you can afford as it will be light good for moving about.

I think it would be good to pair a tripod that can handle a weight near to ball head, abit no use to get a ballhead that can handle 20kg weight but your legs only handle up to 6kg.
 

cichlid

Senior Member
Dec 2, 2006
5,072
3
38
S'pore
#6
my opinion is that gimball head is not necessary for your setup as the 150-500 zoom lens should not weigh that heavy, unlike the 400mm f2.8, 500mm f4 and above primes. If you can spend on sturdy tripod by all means get the best you can afford. However whether is it necessary is another question. Can consider sirui ballheads such as the K series, cheap and have good reviews. Tripod you might want to consider carbon fibre if you can afford as it will be light good for moving about.

I think it would be good to pair a tripod that can handle a weight near to ball head, abit no use to get a ballhead that can handle 20kg weight but your legs only handle up to 6kg.
ya, the Benro is my first tripod, didn't read the specs properly when I bought it, I emphasised more on the ballhead then. So, you reckon a good tripod and ballhead will do the job. This option is also good as I can use it for macro too.
 

Last edited:

cichlid

Senior Member
Dec 2, 2006
5,072
3
38
S'pore
#7
Any Jobu users here? Please comment on the usage, thanks!
 

coolthought

Senior Member
Jun 23, 2008
2,310
1
0
#8
what a gimbal head does is that it allow you to center the centre of gravity of your setup (camera, lens and maybe flash) on its axes. Especially for the pitching axis. When it is centered and balanced, the force that you will be applying to turn it, is equivalent to the force to overcome the friction in the bearings.... basically, it should glide smoothly and allow you to point your lens with near zero effort at your target.

you probably have already checked out the Jobu Gimbal head, there are those that are meant for your setup like the junior 2 and 3 at maximum weight capacity of 8lbs and 12lbs respectively. For your need, probably the junior 3. http://www.jobu-design.com/catalog/item/2588354/7937720.htm

Can you imagine doing a panning shot on a flying bird with a ball head versus a gimbal head?

btw, one of the joy of birding, is capturing a perfect photo of a flying bird.
 

Last edited:

coolthought

Senior Member
Jun 23, 2008
2,310
1
0
#9
But, I might just buy another set of tripod legs. Which tripod legs are a good match for my setup (with the Jobu).
no recommendation for tripod legs
Just look for one that can take your heaviest setup including the head, light enough for you to carry, comfortable height and within your budget.... (your budget issit limitless? :p)
 

cichlid

Senior Member
Dec 2, 2006
5,072
3
38
S'pore
#11
no recommendation for tripod legs
Just look for one that can take your heaviest setup including the head, light enough for you to carry, comfortable height and within your budget.... (your budget issit limitless? :p)
Birding is expensive.... you sure?
Thanks guys for your tips. It's no good to have limitless budget, it takes out the fun of anticipating/deciding before buying, lol.
 

Radiant

New Member
Oct 19, 2009
239
0
0
Singapore
#12
Sirui has a "gimbal" attachment to their k series ball heads. Saw them at TK foto. you might want to ask them.
 

daredevil123

Moderator
Staff member
Oct 25, 2005
21,657
68
48
lil red dot
#13
Or you can go for system tripods. Those that have a platform with no center column. Very stable. Sirui offers them too. Can go see at TK.
 

Top Bottom