Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How Not to Spend $600 or More on a Wimberly or RSS Gimble Head

I'm often pennywise and pound foolish. I'll spend a crapload of money on a long lens and skimp on a mount. Here's how I got a great gimble head to work with more industry standard Really Right Stuff foots and plates for less than a Wimberley.

After I bought the Nikkor 500mm f4 VR G lens last fall, I knew I'd need a good gimble head for those time where I would be hanging out rather than hiking around. The gold standard for gimble in wildlife photography is the Wimberley. I'm sure it's a great head but it runs about $600. I settled on the great Manfrotto 393 Long Lens Monopod Bracket.  It's built like a tank and holds the lens where I want it while fluidly tracking whatever I'm shoot. Plus its only $174 as of today.  I don't know why they market this as a monopod bracket. It would be very awkward in that capacity. I much prefer my Really Right Stuff MH-01-40LR head for my monopod.

And therein lies the rub.  The Manfrotto and RSS products require different mounting plates.  I decided to get the RSS replacement foot for my 500mm lens so I needed a way to attach it to the Manfrotto gimble.  I contacted Really Right Stuff customer service and received a prompt answer and suggested solution.  Get the RSS B2 LR II:  60mm LR clamp with dual mount.  That was a great suggestion.  The Manfrotto plate has a screw that fits into one of the holes in the plate.  The safety catch on the plate fits in one of the other holes.  At RSS's recommendation I used some blue loktite to make sure the screw doesn't come loose.  I had to trim the rubber padding on the plate so I could close the clamp and the clamp lever won't open or close while the plate is mounted to the gimble but that's not a problem.  I quickly mount the plate/clamp setup on the lens and slide the whole thing into the 393 lickitysplit.

The whole setup is rock solid and I love it.  No more plate switching when I go from monopod to tripod and back.  Gotta be quick with wildlife photography and this helps a lot.

Here is the RSS Clamp mounted to the Manfrotto plate mounted to the 393 gimble.

Manfrotto 393 Gimble with RSS Clamp D7K_3700

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