A gimbal head is an essential gadget for nature photographers and their long lenses. Will Cheung tries one of the latest models, the Custom Bracket Gimbal-LS
Gimbal heads are guaranteed to make a nature photographer’s lot a much happier one. It will support your camera and long lens on a solid tripod, but the key thing is that it gently holds the combination in its natural centre of gravity. This means that when you spot your subject, from a standing start, you can be smoothly panning with a bird in flight. It will not only improve your nature photography but it will avoid the fatigue of trying to hand-hold a long lens.
Features and handling
The CB Gimbal LS has a workmanlike appearance, but don't let this fool you. The LS is a beautifully engineered support that is solid and positive in use.
The only minor criticism I have is that I would prefer to be able to totally lock-down the lens platform to prevent it swinging back and forth. There's a retaining screw but there's still play when it and the main knob are fully tightened. This isn't an issue in terms of using the gimbal head but means there's the chance of some movement during set up.
In normal gimbal operation, the unit performs really well. I tried it with a Nikon D3S as well as a D300 and MD10 power grip fitted with a Nikon 300mm f/2.8 telephoto lens. Stability is excellent and the controls are large enough for gloved hand use. The lock for the lens plate is especially impressive and you can get maximum leverage for a secure fixing.
The combination of first-rate materials and quality engineering has produced a very solid, stable gimbal head that handles and performs well.
Custom Bracket LS: Verdict
The Custom Bracket LS is competitively priced at £401. It's cheaper and slightly lighter than rivals like the Jobu BWG-Pro which we tested recently and it should work perfectly well with fast aperture 500mm lenses. At £401 for a full gimbal head, it is very good value and is worth serious consideration.