Tag Archives: Gimbal heads

What makes your head turn?

On today’s Blog we talk about what makes your head turn.

A tripod is always a great start to a sturdy work foundation for your end product. But what allows the creative part is the head that you place on top of the tripod that counts. Again many people in the beginning stages of photography like to keep the cost down so they buy inexpensive parts like the head. Well let’s put this into a easy term so you can understand what a head is and does. The tripod is like your body, it supports your weight and carries you throughout the day. But the head is just like your head or neck except it can’t think hehe ­čśë It’s purpose is to move in all directions to allow your eyes to see more.

Many different styles of heads are out there for you to use for photography, it’s just what one is Best for your application?. Let’s talk about what we have to choose from and give some pros and cons from what I have found in the field. We have Ball heads, 2 way heads, 3 way heads and Gimbal heads. All of these serve a different purpose but I guess in the end can somewhat be used for the same thing “taking pictures”.

46387131_0First lets talk about Ball heads, Ball heads can be used in many applications for photography but for the most part they are a great easy to use weapon for shooting landscapes. My go to head for landscapes has been a Ball head for quite a while now as I love just how easy it is to move around in every direction 360 degrees. Ball heads come in many forms for there adjustment or locking mechanism, from geared to hydrostatic to a simple locking lever. I use a Sirui K30x and just love it!!. It has three knobs to adjust different parts. One is to adjust the pan feature so the base moves around 360 degrees which is a great choice for doing panoramic photography. Second is the locking gear for the ball head, now the ball head can move 360 degrees as well as up and down 180 degrees. This allows a huge range for your choice of positioning. The second knob also has an adjustment screw for how much tension can be put on the ball head when its loose. Now some people may think well why is this even a selling feature? To me its a big deal cause it helps insure me that if I have a heavy lens on my tripod and I loosen that adjustment knob if I don’t have a good hold on my camera its not going to slam down onto my tripod leg (Always think about tomorrow not today!) Third knob is for the Arca-swiss plate that holds my camera to the head. Again it keeps tension on the side of the plate to help keep it locked into place. One added piece about Sirui is they have a little button you need to press to allow the plate to slide off the head. Let me tell you that this is a big feature on this head cause if you forget to lock you plate in the camera will not slide out of the grooved holder and hit the ground.

Picture 064Next I will talk about 2 way and three way heads. Basically a two way and a three way head will almost do the same thing as a ball head but can be a little more limited in a portrait position due to the arms getting in the way on some models. I shot with a 3 way for a year and although I got use to it after time, I still felt it was a cluster to always be turning one knob or another to change your positioning. A two way is the same but with one or1019202 two knobs or leavers for adjustment. Most companies sell a two way for a inexpensive price but I find the quality is usually lacking in the design somehow. In my opinion these were once the tripod head that cornered the market for years for photographers. The design was created more for video applications and is very basic but over time the three way design took the more advanced approach for photographers.

682023 As for Gimbal heads well I have a bias opinion about them. Working as an instructor for North of 49 Photography I am sponsored by a company called Jobu. Jobu has provided us with all there models of gimbal heads to promote the use and help get them in the hands of other people. But the perks are I get to keep one :) Yay me! The main use of a gimbal head is for large lenses to rest on for sports, wildlife or possibly landscape photography. So let’s talk about how it works, on the base of the head it has a knob that can control the side to side movement. This allows the hole unit to be rotated 360 degrees. At the top of the arm you will see another knob, this one is used for the arm. The arm is attached to the base plate of the head making it work in a motion just like a swing would. And last is the knurled knob to remove the base plate that’s attached to your lens.1544347_10153724224450301_2029136590_n Most large lenses 300mm to 800mm can be hand held but only for a short period of time. That’s why the gimbal was created to allow people comfort while using a large lens. All large lenses have a arm or collar that is attached to the lens, this is what you would put the base plate on, not the camera. This arm will have an adjusting screw that clamps around the body of the lens. Basically once you attach the lens to the gimbal head you would loosen this adjusting screw to aid in your side to side movement. Now you have free flowing movement to follow and track your moving subject. Also this allows you to use lower shutter speeds in some cases due to the stability.

So let’s do a quick re cap on why we need a good head for our tripod. The head allows a range of motion for our camera, this motion is imperative to getting the proper angle of your view. Another key element is the size of the head that matters the most. Almost every model of head comes in different sizes and the reason for that is supporting weight. If you put a 20lb lens and camera on a 15lb supporting weight head you are likely to find the unit will have complete failure one day or ware out a lot faster then expected. Again think about lugging this head around on your tripod for trips or hiking. The key is to having something that is light weight but yet being able to provide the job or task as needed. If you ever have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask as I will always give you my honest answer. Below are some links to the gear I use, thanks for reading today’s blog!