Last month I was given the opportunity to test and review one of the gimbal tripod heads made by Custom Brackets, after hearing great things about the other equipment that they offer I thought I cannot miss a chance to try something new and to see how good it is. I've been using a Wimberley Sidemount for about a year now to hold up my D3 and 600mm lens so when testing out a new gimbal I would quickly notice the pros and cons of this well-made tripod head. Whenever a company sends me a piece of their equipment to test, I always put it through its paces so that I can give it a 100% true review on how I feel the product works in the field so the viewer gets a feel for the product to see whether it is for them.
First off, lets have a look at the specs. When comparing this gimbal head to others the first one everyone will compare it to is the Wimberley WH-200 which is considered the standard requirement for the professional wildlife photographer.
The Gimbal-LS weighs 1.134kg which is 266g lighter than the Wimberley WH-200. The weight of this gimbal head was the first thing I noticed when I first picked it, due to it being thinner than other gimbal heads they've been able to loose a good amount of weight from it which makes a huge difference when carrying it over your shoulder for long distances. The gimbal is made out of Black "hard anodized" aluminum for strength, stratch resistance, and light weight.
There are 3 knobs on the side of the gimbal, the top one is used for vertical movements, the bottom one is used for panning and together they make a very fluid and smooth movement with even the heaviest of lenses. The middle knob has cleverly been put there to lock any vertical movement from the lens, this is a great addition which I've not seen before in other gimbal heads as this allows me to carry the lens over my shoulder without it moving which happens a lot with my Wimberley head due to the pressure put on it. It's also great for when changing cameras or when you're changing lenses. The knobs are well-made so I can't see them falling off at any point and they're also very easy to move and tighten.
You can also adjust the height of the arm which is very handy as if you have a short tripod and would like to get that extra height with the tripod all you do is twist the knob that you can see in the image below and then raise the arm. Like with all gimbal heads, the plate you attach to your lens has to be an Arca Swiss, one is provided when you purchase it but you don't have to just attach it to your lens, you could also attach it to your camera if you want to do some panoramic images which is where the engraved reference lines at the bottom of the gimbal really come in handy.
I spent 5 weeks testing this gimbal and I mainly wanted to test it on flying birds which is where you will see how fluid it really is. I found that it was extremely smooth, I had no problems keeping up with birds-in-flight and if it was locked-in and I wanted to quickly photograph something all I had to do was quickly move the knobs and then fire away. You can see this by watching the video at the top of this post (make sure to watch in HD) where I show myself using it on my local beach and give my thoughts on it. Carrying it over my shoulder was a big deal for me as when I'm out I do a lot of walking so I need it to be as comfortable as possible which doesn't cause any strain on my back or shoulders. And I have to say it performed beautifully at this, none of the components were digging into me and I ended up carrying it for over 4 hours one day with no problem at all!
Very well built
Great price: £399
Sometimes the knobs wouldn't lock tight enough.
That's it! I can't fault it anywhere apart from that!
Well I have to say I was very impressed in how it performed, it never once make me doubt the product which made me feel I could trust the product to work day-in day-out for many years to come! Like I said at the start of the review that many people would compare this to the Wimberley WH-200, well I can now see that there isn't that much difference except in price and the fact that the Custom Brackets gimbal has a locking knob. The Wimberley is priced (currently) at £519.99 where the Custom Brackets is at a lot lower price of £399 so there is a huge difference there which is where the Gimbal-LS could beat the Wimberley as it is more affordable to photographers that really need a gimbal head. As wildlife photographers we need equipment that delivers everyday without fail and I believe that this one of the best, lightest and most affordable gimbal heads currently on the market!
I would just like to thank Hardy at Flaghead Photographic for giving me the opportunity to review this amazing product and show it to the world.
For more info check out these links:
Make sure to click on the images for a larger view and don't forget to watch my video review at the top of the page!