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best tripod head for 200-600mm?

  
 
Dustin Gent
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · best tripod head for 200-600mm?


As I am starting to acquire equipment geared more specifically for wildlife/nature, I forgot that my current tripod head may not be the "best" option for my endeavor. The gear I have right now is:

A7r4, Sigma 24-70 ART, 200-600 (on Tuesday!!), RRS TVC 34 II and an Acratech GPP something, which i really like. I just remember when I had the Sigma 150-500, it was not the most ideal head to use for fast moving birds, etc.

My question now in regards to a gimbal style setup. Ive never personally used one, but was watching a Mark Smith video on wildlife settings he uses on his A7r4, and he had a 600mm mounted on a Wimberley style gimbal head. It looked pretty sweet, and got me thinking. I would rather have one mount that will work with all styles of photography that i do, but i am most likely gonna have to split up the genres, as the Wimberley is probably heavy and cumbersome to hike with lol.

Anyways, sorry for all the newbie questions.



Nov 24, 2022 at 09:15 AM
AGeoJO
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · best tripod head for 200-600mm?


For fast flying/moving birds you may want to either use a gimbal head and not a ball head, or a monopod with a monopod gimbal head (Wimberley and Leofoto make that) or just hand hold it for a short period.

Wimberley’s gimbal head, among others, is nice but it is fairly big and heavy. I had that when I was shooing DSLR combined with a heavier DSLR lens. I would get the smallest/lightest gimbal head that can support my GM 600mm plus TC. I chose a Jobu Jr about 3 years ago. I am sure there are other comparable ones. Lately, I am relying more and more on monopod plus a monopod gimbal head. You can even mount the monopod gimbal head on your existing ball head and the combo will function as a regular gimbal head although the movement is not as smooth as a full-fledge gimbal head.



Nov 24, 2022 at 09:32 AM
ICee
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · best tripod head for 200-600mm?


For fast flying birds there is only one head to use and that's a gimbal.

Edited on Nov 24, 2022 at 09:41 AM · View previous versions



Nov 24, 2022 at 09:39 AM
Newenglandrocks
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · best tripod head for 200-600mm?


I really like the Fotopro Eagle. It is great for landscapes as well. I particularly like it for ICM shots like the one below.






ICLE-9  200-600G  600mm  f/22  1/25s  ISO50






ICLE-9  200-600G+1.4TC  840mm  f/9  1/500s  ISO2000



Nov 24, 2022 at 09:41 AM
naturephoto1
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · best tripod head for 200-600mm?


Dustin Gent wrote:
As I am starting to acquire equipment geared more specifically for wildlife/nature, I forgot that my current tripod head may not be the "best" option for my endeavor. The gear I have right now is:

A7r4, Sigma 24-70 ART, 200-600 (on Tuesday!!), RRS TVC 34 II and an Acratech GPP something, which i really like. I just remember when I had the Sigma 150-500, it was not the most ideal head to use for fast moving birds, etc.

My question now in regards to a gimbal style setup. Ive never personally used one, but was watching a Mark Smith video
...Show more

Hi Dustin,

One of the best Gimbal Heads that you can get for the size and weight to support your 200-600mm G lenses is the Fotopro E-6H Eagle Series Gimbal Head which has unfortunately gone up in price since my purchase but is on sale right now at B&H photo for $449 with the $80 instant savings from $529.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1452509-REG/fotopro_e_6h_gimbal_head_black.html

An even better price with an instant savings of $100 for $429 is available from Joe Brady Photography Land, Sea, and Sky website:

https://www.joebradyphotography.com/joe-s-favorite-photo-gear

Look for the link to the E-6H

I purchased my head from Joe on his website almost 2 years ago. Great head and can be used for landscape as mentioned above.







You may wish to replace the foot of your 200-600mm G lens with an Arca Swiss type QR such as the Kirk or the RRS, Kirk foot:

https://kirkphoto.com/lens-mounting/sony/200-600mm-f-5-6-6-3-fe-g-oss/replacement-foot-for-sony-fe-200-600mm-f-5-6-6-3-g-oss-lens.html







Additionally to swap tripod heads more quickly and more safely, I attach an Arca Swiss type QR clamp to the tripod and Arca Swiss plates to the bottom of the heads. Yes it adds a little weight and cost.

I added the Hejnar adapter to the bottom of my Fotopro E-6H:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/333217917389







Kirk also offers their system of parts for a clamp and plates as:

https://kirkphoto.com/tripod-monopod-heads/tripod-head-quick-disconnect-system.html

https://kirkphoto.com/tripod-monopod-heads/tripod-head-quick-disconnect-system/large-tripod-head-quick-disconnect-system.html

A Gimbal head will team up best when using it with a leveling base which can be gotten in a number of sizes including those by Leofoto.

Rich




Edited on Nov 24, 2022 at 10:23 PM · View previous versions



Nov 24, 2022 at 09:45 AM
psharvic
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · best tripod head for 200-600mm?


I sold my Wimberly and dedicated tripod soon after I sold my Canon 600 I. I replaced it with a Wimberly sidekick which worked fine with the Canon 600II and even better now with my 200-600. I use a 3 series Gitzo with the large Kirk BH. If you like your ballhead and tripod I see no reason to go to a dedicated gimbal. Since I've shifted mainly to BIF my tripod doesn't get nearly the use as before.


Nov 24, 2022 at 10:24 AM
CJMiller
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · best tripod head for 200-600mm?


I believe Mark Smith has been using equipment made by ProMediaGear. Their gimbals and tripods are among the best you can buy. I have been fortunate over the last few years to shoot with one of the owners several times. Last January we spent a week in Minnesota at Sax-Zim Bog. I currently use a ProMediaGear carbon fiber tripod and the Katana Jr Gimbal. I also have their replacement foot for the Sony 200-600. Top-notch stuff and great guys to work with.

Chris

Edited on Nov 24, 2022 at 01:20 PM · View previous versions



Nov 24, 2022 at 10:40 AM
Maxxus46
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · best tripod head for 200-600mm?


Agreed. I use the Promedia gear Katana Jr. gimbal and it has been fantastic. Its solid and remains smooth even in sub zero temps .. an area where other Gimbals I've used fail. It's also very lightweight and can easily be modified into a sidekick version. They are pricey, but I feel it's worth the extra over similar models as the quality is outstanding. Oh and there's a black Friday sale ; https://promediagear.com/products/gkjr-katana-pro-gimbal-tripod-head
And a great review of various Gimbal heads here: https://shuttermuse.com/best-gimbal-tripod-heads/#in-a-hurry

CJMiller wrote:
I believe Mark Smith has been using equipment made by Pro Media Gear. Their gimbals and tripods are among the best you can buy. I have been fortunate over the last few years to shoot with one of the owners several times. Last January we spent a week in Minnesota at Sax-Zim Bog. I currently use a Pro Media Gear carbon fiber tripod and the Katana Jr Gimbal. I also have their replacement foot for the Sony 200-600. Top-notch stuff and great guys to work with.

Chris




Nov 24, 2022 at 10:47 AM
tsdevine
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · best tripod head for 200-600mm?



I have one as well, very happy with it.

Maxxus46 wrote:
Agreed. I use the Promedia gear Katana Jr. gimbal and it has been fantastic. Its solid and remains smooth even in sub zero temps .. an area where other Gimbals I've used fail. It's also very lightweight and can easily be modified into a sidekick version. They are pricey, but I feel it's worth the extra over similar models as the quality is outstanding. Oh and there's a black Friday sale ; https://promediagear.com/products/gkjr-katana-pro-gimbal-tripod-head
And a great review of various Gimbal heads here: https://shuttermuse.com/best-gimbal-tripod-heads/#in-a-hurry





Nov 24, 2022 at 11:02 AM
ps09
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · best tripod head for 200-600mm?


I too have promedia gear gimbal and tripod. At 53 years old, I know they will last my lifetime and more.

This year I am excited to chase eagles and owls with the promedia gear tomahawk
https://promediagear.com/products/gt1-tomahawk-gimbal-head-attachment-for-ball-head

The tomahawk with a monopod has been great for shooting run and gun this fall with the a1 and Sony 600f4.

If their products aren’t great enough, the fact that it is designed and made in the USA by US citizens should seal the deal. To truly support them, buy it through their website instead of giving the big boxes a big cut.



Nov 24, 2022 at 11:38 AM
 


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jeffbuzz
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · best tripod head for 200-600mm?


A true gimbal is always the best solution for very large, heavy lenses (i.e. 600 f/4). By "true" gimbal I mean a cradle style mount with the foot at the bottom and the lens center of gravity aligns with the vertical panning pivot. The Leofoto PG-1 (clone of PMG) is more than enough. My favorite small gimbal is the Jobu Jr. Deluxe. The Jobu fits the 200-600 perfectly and the "Deluxe" style arm is super stiff.

Mid sized teles like the 200-600 work nicely on some of the side-mount gimbals like the PMG Tomahawk or Wimberley Sidekick. Monopod half gimbals like the Wimberley MonoGimbal and Leofoto MPG-01 are OK with the 200-600 but for me the lens is on the cusp of being too heavy. I like the monopod side-mount gimbal for the 70-200/100-400 size lenses. I prefer the 200-600 in a cradle mount so the foot is properly at the bottom. Balance and panning is much better.

You cannot put a camera plate directly in most true gimbals. So you either need to carry a ballhead with you or be OK hand holding your wide angle setup. You can use an L-bracket to side mount a camera in heads like the Tomahawk.

Another option is the pseudo-gimbal double ball head devices like the Flexshooter. I have one and really like it because I can also put a camera with a short wide angle lens directly on it like a ball head or switch over to a bigger lens mounted foot. You can't take your hands off the camera like you can with a real gimbal but it does have respectable counterbalance when properly centered.

Beware of some of the mini gimbals like the Fotopro E6 size because the vertical arm is often too short for larger lenses to balance properly unless you use a super low profile foot. I tried the Eagle E6 once with the 200-600 on a Hejnar foot and the gimbal arm was too short in cradle configuration. The center of gravity of the lens was above the pivot. You might be able to side mount it on that gimbal and get proper balance but I'd still prefer a true cradle mount.



Nov 24, 2022 at 12:31 PM
Maxxus46
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · best tripod head for 200-600mm?


This--> "made in the USA by US citizens should seal the deal" -- couldn't agree more and it played a role in my final decision to purchase from Promedia gear

ps09 wrote:
I too have promedia gear gimbal and tripod. At 53 years old, I know they will last my lifetime and more.

This year I am excited to chase eagles and owls with the promedia gear tomahawk
https://promediagear.com/products/gt1-tomahawk-gimbal-head-attachment-for-ball-head

The tomahawk with a monopod has been great for shooting run and gun this fall with the a1 and Sony 600f4.

If their products aren’t great enough, the fact that it is designed and made in the USA by US citizens should seal the deal. To truly support them, buy it through their website instead of giving the big boxes a big cut.




Nov 24, 2022 at 01:06 PM
naturephoto1
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · best tripod head for 200-600mm?


jeffbuzz wrote:
A true gimbal is always the best solution for very large, heavy lenses (i.e. 600 f/4). By "true" gimbal I mean a cradle style mount with the foot at the bottom and the lens center of gravity aligns with the vertical panning pivot. The Leofoto PG-1 (clone of PMG) is more than enough. My favorite small gimbal is the Jobu Jr. Deluxe. The Jobu fits the 200-600 perfectly and the "Deluxe" style arm is super stiff.

Mid sized teles like the 200-600 work nicely on some of the side-mount gimbals like the PMG Tomahawk or Wimberley Sidekick. Monopod half gimbals
...Show more

Hi Jeff,

My Fotopro E6 is fine with either the cradle mount or the side mount with my Kirk replacement foot for my 200-600mm G lens with my A1 or my A7rIII. Also, the Fotopro E6 has additional abilities over most other gimbals and will travel packed much more easily in a smaller package when traveling by air. In my case, though, like Dan Carr, I also have my old RRS PG-02 Full Gimbal with the cradle.

Rich



Nov 24, 2022 at 01:38 PM
galenapass
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · best tripod head for 200-600mm?


Dustin Gent wrote:
As I am starting to acquire equipment geared more specifically for wildlife/nature, I forgot that my current tripod head may not be the "best" option for my endeavor. The gear I have right now is:

A7r4, Sigma 24-70 ART, 200-600 (on Tuesday!!), RRS TVC 34 II and an Acratech GPP something, which i really like. I just remember when I had the Sigma 150-500, it was not the most ideal head to use for fast moving birds, etc.

My question now in regards to a gimbal style setup. Ive never personally used one, but was watching a Mark Smith video
...Show more


I think he has said numerous times that he usually shoots handheld. I am 57 and have no issues using the 200-600 hand-held all day long. I have a ProMedia Katana Junior but I never use it - even with the 600GM. I rarely sit in a hide which is where I would use a gimbal head or some other support. I recommend not spending money until you think you need it for sure.



Nov 24, 2022 at 01:56 PM
naturephoto1
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · best tripod head for 200-600mm?


galenapass wrote:
I think he has said numerous times that he usually shoots handheld. I am 57 and have no issues using the 200-600 hand-held all day long. I have a ProMedia Katana Junior but I never use it. I recommend not spending money until you think you need it for sure.


In my case, I am going to be 69 in January, have the remnants of 2 shattered wrists in a bicyle-car accident (the car won), though I also have the Leitz 14239 universal hand grip/shoulder stock with an Arca Swiss type QR, so I need/want some support.

Rich



Edited on Nov 24, 2022 at 02:30 PM · View previous versions



Nov 24, 2022 at 02:08 PM
Craig Gillette
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · best tripod head for 200-600mm?


I haven't added a gimbal. Maybe "yet?" I haven't really tried fast moving birds a lot, even by hand.

With less dynamic subjects, I've found working with a ballhead flipped over into it's gimbal slot did quite well. With a longer replacement foot, I was able to balance the lens/body easily. Vertical tilt is smooth but not as smooth as a real gimbal with bearings? However, it's easily set and left in place. Horizontal panning is dependent on the heads panning and mine is rather heavily damped so may not be great for fast pans.

Like with a "mono" gimbal, on a tripod, there can be some close fits if tilting high/low angles. Since it's a ballhead, moving to a shorter lens/camera plate is easy, it doesn't matter that a camera plates is left/right, a long lens is front/back.

I've been trying a video head some, too. Like other pan/tilts, less floppiness than a loosened ballhead. Depending on model, adjustable drag on tilt and pan, so you can get free movement or damped to allow positioning and leaving in place or locking down. Can be taller for less interference on high/low angles. Most(?) video heads have a long non-Arca Swiss plate which assists in balancing. Also, one can put in a plate with an AS clamp aligned for lens foot use or crosswise for a camera plate, or with a rotating clamp.



Nov 24, 2022 at 02:27 PM
Dustin Gent
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · best tripod head for 200-600mm?


Wow, thanks everyone for advice!! Guess I will be ordering one this weekend. Will check out options that everyone posted over some wine later tonight. At least I don’t have sticker shock this time.

And as chance would have it, on our drive up to Jackson, WY a bit ago, I saw TWO bald eagles just chilling. My 200-600 will be here on Tuesday ….

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!



Nov 24, 2022 at 03:17 PM
Timkr
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · best tripod head for 200-600mm?


Jobu Jr iii


Nov 24, 2022 at 03:29 PM
Maxxus46
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · best tripod head for 200-600mm?


I will that I've used cheaper gimbals (vs the Katana Jr Pro) and the difference is obvious after experiencing their pros and cons. The Katana is really smooth without the occasional stickiness I've seen in models of lesser quality (usually difference is in the sealed bearings). At the end of the day , just know if your going to use the gimbal often then get the best quality you can afford. A poor quality gimbal head will leave you with a bad experience, and you will likely stop using one altogether and never realize the benefits


Nov 24, 2022 at 04:16 PM
Dustin Gent
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · best tripod head for 200-600mm?


Ok, so i am deciding between the Wimberley WH 200, PromediaGear Katana and if I can find the RRS PG-02.

As with most everyone, I don't want too overspend lol - BUT i have learned from personal experience that "Buy once, cry once" will probably work ok here. Ive always wanted a RRS tripod. I have had 6-7, and finally got an RRS!

Also Maxxus46 brought up a good point in performance in sub zero temperatures, especially since on planning to visit Yellowstone a handful of times this winter, and -30 isn't unheard of. Coldest I have been in at Yellowstone is -23ºF in October 2019.



Nov 26, 2022 at 08:16 PM
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