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Tripod with Gimbal, Ball or Fluid Head?

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Old Friday 21st February 2014, 15:39   #1
Rapala
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Tripod with Gimbal, Ball or Fluid Head?

I'm looking for a tripod to use with my Fuji S8200 or HS50 (if I get one) and I'm not quite sure what kind of head to look for. Gimbals look kind of pricey (just from a quick search), and more heavy-duty than what I need. Ball heads and fluid heads look like they'd work well for what I wanted (videos and picture), but I wanted some advice from birders/photographers who have used them in the field. Is one type better than the other? Opinions?
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Last edited by Rapala : Friday 21st February 2014 at 19:31.
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Old Tuesday 25th February 2014, 18:53   #2
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Hi Rapala,

Gimbal heads are excellent for large spotting scopes and telephoto lenses, but they are expensive. Ball heads are excellent for photography, but dreadful for video. Fluid heads are excellent for video and spotting scopes...you can take photos as well, but you often don't have the freedom to flip the camera from landscape view to portrait view.

The tripod is very important for stabilizing the camera, especially when there is low light or the telephoto lens is zoomed out. If you are using the camera viewfinder to track birds that you are filming or shooting, then you want a pan head that is very smooth so that you can zoom in and not lose the bird or animal you are trying to track.

I work for a tripod manufacturer and there are several models that have incredibly smooth pan heads, that are not too heavy duty (perfect for your Fuji cameras) and retail for less than $200

You won't be pleased with a lower end tripod, because it will not be as stable and the head will not be smooth enough.

If it's not worth using a tripod, then the picture probably isn't worth taking!
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Old Wednesday 26th February 2014, 23:52   #3
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Thanks Tripod Guru

Mainly I want the tripod for video, but I'd like to use it for some photos as well. You said that fluid heads don't flip from landscape to portrait very well, and that's okay with me- I take most of my pictures landscape anyway. Do you have any suggestions on different models I may be interested in? I've ruled out Gimbal heads (due to price and I won't use it for what it's made for because of the type of my camera), and your statement on how dreadful ball heads are for video have pretty much ruled that out as well. I'd be using the tripod for video more than pictures anyway.


I have a three-way pan tripod that has an awful pan-tilt system. I've tried oiling it, but to no avail. When I try to make minute movements (ie- to follow the movement of a bird) the head jumps forward too far, so I'm looking into a new tripod. Do you have any suggestions?

And welcome to BirdForum!
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Old Thursday 27th February 2014, 04:27   #4
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You may like to try this rig:

http://youtu.be/wQE8046Z01M

I'm very happy with it for spotting scope use - its action is very smooth.
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Old Thursday 27th February 2014, 13:04   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasquier View Post
You may like to try this rig:
http://youtu.be/wQE8046Z01M
Yes, but looking at the price for the duo (approx. $1000) is a bit out of my budget.

The tripod I have (a Kalimar 3CLB) I suppose would work fine if I only replaced the head. Only it's getting old and isn't very stable in windy conditions, so....

After a quick search on eBay I came across this, but I'm unsure about the quality because of the low price. It's also made of aluminum, not carbon or anything else, so does that make a difference? I've also been looking at SunPak and Slik tripods, but are they good brands? I know they're probably not as high quality as Manfrotto or Gitzo. Thanks
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Old Thursday 27th February 2014, 17:43   #6
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A new head should be fine.

You can stabilise your tripod by handing a bag etc under the centre post.

Another point is not to extend the centre post at all - or remove it if possible - as it is a source of vibrations.

BTW - I got my Gitzo head cheep on Ebay….
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Old Thursday 27th February 2014, 17:44   #7
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PS I have a very old silk tripod which has served me well for ≈ 30 years…..

There is not always a need for cutting edge carbon tech.
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Old Thursday 27th February 2014, 19:46   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasquier View Post
BTW - I got my Gitzo head cheep on Ebay….
Okay, I'll look there.

As for Slik, I've seen a few tripods (reasonably priced) that might be options.
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