heads: ball, 3-axis, gimbal


I want(need?) a gimbal head (70D+120-400mm=rather heavy and unbalanced thing).

I currently have an entry-level tripod (10€ in a garage sale, a long time ago) with a built-in video/3-axis head, so I need a new tripod as well. So looking for a tripod and two heads

Gimbal head

What is the price point below which that thing is unusable/unreliable? On amazon, from 40€ to 700€. What should I look for?

2nd head

Ball or 3-axis? The 3-axis I have lets me do portrait shots, but is not practical to set up. What do you use?

(darix) #2



However even though you can somehow balance the camera+lens by sliding the plate, this only holds for small angles, at larger angles the CoG is no longer above the rotation axis and the whole thing requires a lot of friction to not tip over (in a gimbal head the CoG remains near the axis). He also needs an additional bracket for portrait shots. However he has a point when comparing to a ballhead.

His tripod also seems to have some kind of built-in ball-mount to ensure that the head is exactly level?


I have no experience with gimbals, but apparently the Wimberley ones are by far the best for rigidity, which is important when using supertele lenses.

I use a ballhead, an Arca-Swiss p0. It’s an ergonomic wonder, and the action is smooth and buttery.

For portrait orientation, I use L-brackets.

For tripod legs, check out https://thecentercolumn.com/ with the caveat that there’s a certificate issue at the moment…

(darix) #5

he explains how he keeps the head level


Yes, at 06:48… But there is a ball in the tripod?

(darix) #8


Yes, a video leveling ball.

They’re available for ‘systematic’ tripods where you can swap out the plate for a socket or a center column.

I’m not sure, but I believe that serious video heads come with the corresponding ball that goes directly into the tripod’s socket.


If you have tripod collar for your 120-400mm, it should balance well on tripod. I have Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod (pictured) and it has served well and has nice features. Used ones have great value. If you shoot a lot outdoors in windy weather, maybe you should look for a sturdy carbon fiber tripod.

Ball head is fast to adjust but not so easy to set precisely. I didn’t like ball heads, so I bought Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head (pictured) for food and macro photography and it has been a good buy, albeit not the cheapest one. For portrait work I have never used a tripod.

Hope this helped!


OK, so I fell for a Manfrotto. It came with a 3-axis head which isn’t really fluid (still light-years better than my previous kit…). So I’m still looking for a better head. And an L-bracket. I note that most L-brackets have built-in Arca-Swiss plates, and plenty of gimbal heads use Arca-Swiss plates, but fluid heads with Arca-Swiss plates seem fairly rare. Any recommendations?

(lee) #12

See 3:45 in the video referenced above where he mentions the Arca Swiss clamps, and the link in his comments below (you may need to “Show More”) to one brand of adapter clamps that will also fit your 410 Manfrotto geared head. Many companies make those. I have both the 410 geared head and a version of that Manfrotto fluid head that both work with the kind of Arca Swiss clamps mentioned. I also have a wooden Berlebach tripod that has the leveling spherical-section built in. These all work well in the appropriate combinations, and I also use a ball head with ArcaSwiss style plates. All have their use cases.


Yes, I am getting one of these adapters too, but I’m trying to use the strict minimum, otherwise from top to bottom:

  • tripod legs
  • center column
  • levelling adapter
  • head
  • Manfrotto quick plate
  • Arca-swiss clamp
  • Arca-swiss plate (or L bracket)
  • camera

And try to maintain some semblance of stiffness and accuracy :slight_smile:


Eventually received the levelling adapter, L-bracket and clamp. And since the levelling adapter rotates and can have a 15° tilt, in many cases I can forego the 3D head.

I must add that after playing two weeks with the new tripod, there is no comparison with the flimsy thing I used before. The center column can be put in a horizontal position, which I find very useful to create a makeshift copy stand.