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Does anyone have personal experience which would enable them to meaningfully compare the quality/robustness of the gimbal heads that retail on eBay for £65 -£70 and the visually identical models that UK "big name" retailers sell at £220 - £260?
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you wont be dissapointed
Mines a Manfrotto 393 and It's ideal...exactly the same as this
If you're looking for something similar consider this...solid and steady on good tripod...great for tracking birds / aircraft.
....unfortunately very heavy...you wouldn't want to carry it far.
The '393's are excellent.
I bought an Indian gimbal head, similar to this, for £75 ish.
It was constructed with quite basic nylon washer bearings, which made the pan/tilt quite notchy.
I replaced the nylon with home made PTFE washers and plumbers tape(where necessary), and pan/tilt is now very smooth.
Been using the Indian version for 3 years now, I won't complain it performs as it should and at a fraction of the cost, copes with my sigma 120-300mm 2.8 and various tc's with ease.
It is not as nice a finish as the original but who really cares.
Forgot to say most of them supports are not much use for small lenses. What lens have you in mind to put on it.
Nikkor 600mm f/4
haha wil be fine then, better not tell the wife or she will want another compact,,,
As stated previously it's the bearings and tolerances that are below par. There are solutions such as arhc has done. It may even be possible to find bearings of the right size to replace them. Lots of bearing suppliers out there.
If anyone has some pics of a disassembled one showing the bearings and housings I would be interested to see them. Quite fancy trying to modify one to get it running properly.
Unfortunately the top end Gimbals are actually almost double the £220-£260 you mention, see HERE for instance. A cheaper alternative to the full Wimberley, if you already own a good quality ballhead, is the Wimberley Sidekick which works particularly well and will support a 500mm prime lens no problem at all. It also has the added advantage of being removed in a second, leaving you the option of just using the ballhead if you want to switch to a smaller lens.
I alternate between using the Wimberley Sidekick/Arca Swiss B1 and a Manfrotto 501 video head. The video head is just as stable as the Sidekick and is preferable if you alternate between shooting video and stills. It's also considerably cheaper than the Sidekick/ballhead combination.
I can also recommend the Manfrotto 393.
I use it with my Canon 500mm.
Nice smooth action and a lot less cost than Wimberleys.
Thanks for all that food for thought.
I got a superb Nikkor 600mm f/4 AI-S manual focus lens very cheaply on eBay but it is so heavy that I think some sort of gimbal head would be an advantage.
With that Nikkor, please do not stint on the head so that u can get the best from the lens and u have got the head forever. Pardon the pun. Cheap when u count the cost over the years. Was in similar dilema a few years ago, got the wiberley Mk2 and have not looked back
I have the Manfrotto 393 - which is currently £120with a plate from WEX
Ignore the WEX illustration - most use the 393 with the top "U" in the down position.
Prior to Chinese versions it was the 393 or a little more convenient to use USA gimbal at £500+.
I have no experience of the e-bay offerings - but the 393 from Manfrotto with WEX back up seems a good deal to me.
The Manfrotto is big - 8.5 inches wide excluding knobs. I can confirm it easily holds a Nikon 500 AF-s so there should be no problem with your 600.
I have the Lensmaster RH-2. Good quality at a reasonable price and made in the UK. Can't fault it.
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