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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Telephoto Lens Gimbal
Jeffrey Nycz, Photographer
Warsaw | IN | USA | Posted: 7:34 PM on 01.21.15
->> Is there any evidence to support that "hanging" a supertelephoto lens/camera construct on a gimbal vs. on some type of ball head will reduce camera vibration?
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Max Waugh, Photographer
Bothell | WA | USA | Posted: 7:52 PM on 01.21.15
->> I may be misinterpreting the question, as I'm not sure if you're referring to an actual gimbal head (e.g., Wimberley) or a more generic setup.

Though it won't necessarily dampen all camera vibration--in fact, with my IS on I can still get a bit of "lens drift" even with the head tightened down--I still find my gimbal head to be a sturdier base than any of my ballheads.

The main ballhead option folks might use these days with a large lens is the RRS BH-55, which can support large lenses pretty well. But I use a 500mm + Gimbal combo for the majority of my shooting, and I find it much smoother to pan and easier to operate. Sometimes I'll go with the Wimberley Sidekick combined with the BH-55 (when I'm concerned about weight or space on a trip), but it's slightly less stable than the full gimbal head I have.
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Mark J. Terrill, Photographer
Simi Valley | CA | USA | Posted: 7:56 PM on 01.21.15
->> It depends. Not if it's locked down, but absolutely if you plan on moving it and shooting at the same time. The picture in the link below was shot at 10,000 iso on a Nikon D3S with a 600mm at 1/40th at f4 attached to a Wimberley Head.

http://www.apimages.com/metadata/Index/YE-Oscars/0d3847108f1f4cd1b593b9a699...
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 8:41 PM on 01.21.15
->> If locked down, any tripod head will reduce/negate vibration. It is when they are used to follow the subject that variables arise.

As to vibration itself, that is mostly determined/negated by the sturdiness of the tripod itself. A lightweight tripod for hiking trips won't handle long glass like a 400mm or 600mm. Even the new carbon fiber ones are not as sturdy as a 40-year-old steel Gitzo that I have which has spikes on the tips of the legs. It will hold an 8x10 view camera rock solid in a 20 mph wind. The down size is its weight.

As to heads, I find the ball head the least sturdy because once it is loosened it can go in any direction which means one is constantly fighting gravity to keep it straight. The next sturdiness one is the standard pan/tilt. While it will swivel and tilt front/back it will not fall to the left and right that a ball head does. Many pan/tilt heads have either multiple holes or a track slot so you can balance the lens/camera. However, the camera is still on top so if you let go it will either fall forward or backward if not careful. The hanging gimbal type though uses gravity to settle down instead of fighting it with the pan/tilt and ball heads. When weight balanced, no matter if you have it looking up or down, letting go will bring the lens/camera to a safe, horizontal position.

While the gimbal can provide the steadiest mount, it is moot if it attached to lightweight legs. So both must be heavy duty for maximum vibration reduction.
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Jeffrey Nycz, Photographer
Warsaw | IN | USA | Posted: 9:32 AM on 01.22.15
->> Thanks to all!

My inquiry was pertaining to shooting professional baseball from long distances, I.E., 400' +. I generally use a carbon fiber tripod and a free floating head (not a ball head) but it is mounted directly directly on the tripod much like a ball head. I have been using a 600 F4 with a full frame body but recently purchased a 7D MKII for the additional reach of an APS-C sensor. Since the image will now be 60% more magnified than a full frame, I'm interested in reducing vibrations to a minimum. I shoot fast most of the time (1/1600 minimum) to compensate for movement but always looking for an advantage. I understand the issue with a rock solid tripods but at some point weight becomes an issue when hauling a tripod in the outfield stands and dodging 10,000 fans.

Thanks again.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 11:21 AM on 01.22.15
->> Jeffrey...

By "free floating head" that sounds like a fluid head for shooting video. That too will dampen much more than a ball head because you're not fighting gravity. I use a fluid head sometimes -- especially when I want maximum stability while swinging side to side for smooth pan shots. Because of the fluid nature of the head you give up flexibility of quick moves such as turning the lens from second base to the right field wall for the HR denial leap by the fielder. And loosening the left/right swing to do that defeats the purpose of the fluid movement. The gimbal's advantage is that it is moveable not only horizontally, but vertically with great ease. This makes it a dream for bird photography or sports that go up and down such as pole vault, ski jumping, etc. But for baseball where you have very little up/down movement then a standard heavy duty tilt/pan head works best for movement and vibration reduction.

Maybe just me, but buying "a 7D MKII for the additional reach of the APS-C sensor" is convoluted logic. The sensor's real estate is exactly the same as cropping a full frame sensor's real estate to that size provided the FX is higher resolution. For example, a cropped 24-MP FX frame to a 16-MP image area would make it equal an uncropped 16-MP APS-C frame. While the APS sensor is giving you the same scene, you are losing the advantage of the FX's additional real estate when you need those extra pixels.

I now shoot with the Nikon D810 which is 36-MP. In DX crop mode the recorded center area is 18-MP which is more than the full frame 16-MP D4s. If I need that extra "reach" I can do two things: first, I can shoot in FX mode and crop down to a DX frame or smaller or second, shoot in DX mode and crop more from there if need be. Both methods result in the same number of megapixels. The two advantages of switching to DX mode in the D810 is first, it naturally reduces file size since only the center portion of the chip is used and second, because I'm using less megapixels my frame rate boosts from 5 FPS to 8. I thought of buying a DX chip camera for the same reason as yours, but found it would be too constricting. A FX camera that can go to DX mode gives me both cameras in one body.
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Jeffrey Nycz, Photographer
Warsaw | IN | USA | Posted: 8:06 PM on 01.22.15
->> I'm anxiously awaiting the rumored 50MP Canon version but I'm sure the frame rate will not be acceptable for sports.

When shooting from center field with a 600 F4 I have to crop the 1DX full frame image 30-50% to get the framing I desire. I tested a setup using a 1DX cropped image and, at the time, a 70D on loan from Canon (1.6 crop) that required zero crop for the final image I need. The 70D uncropped image was the clear winner over the cropped image of the 1DX as far as image quality. My point is I hope to get closer with a APS-C sensor camera that dosen't require cropping while maintaining image quality, all with an $1800.00 body vs $13,000.00 for an 800 F5.6. A 600 F4 will now capture an image equivalent to a 960mm F4 and at 20MP of the 7D MKII, stil have room to crop if necessary. The kicker for me is, my minimum is 10 FPS as I'm spoiled by the 1DX at 12 FPS.
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Thread Title: Telephoto Lens Gimbal
Thread Started By: Jeffrey Nycz
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