How To Properly Balance A Gimbal Head

“Hey! You’re doing it wrong!”

That’s what I want to shout pretty much every time I’m out and spot other wildlife photographers with gimbal heads. It seems that well over half of them believe they have their gimbal properly balanced when they really don’t. It’s a shame too – a properly balanced gimbal head is so much nicer to work with than one that’s only half way there.

In the video below, I show you how to balance a gimbal head properly. Even if you think you have it right (you’ll know in the first couple minutes), it’s worth a look to be 100% sure. Check it out:

~Steve

PS…

If you enjoyed this post, I think you’ll REALLY like my e-books, Secrets To Stunning Wildlife Photography and Secrets To The Nikon Autofocus System. They’re filled with hundreds of pages of information just like this. Check ’em out – click here (hey, it’s free to look 🙂 )

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This entry was posted in Techniques, Using Your Gear, Wildlife.

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31 Comments on "How To Properly Balance A Gimbal Head"

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Graham
Guest

Masterly presentation as usual Steve, always enjoy and most always learn something new. One thing you didn’t comment on – or did I miss it? – was mounting the lens on the side which allows access to lens controls. I see guys in hides using gimbals where the gimbal support arm prevents easy access. Your video shows what I always think is the correct side to mount but again, your video was really about balancing the head…

Pat johnston
Guest

Steve,
why or what is better fluid head or no.

Darrell R
Guest

Steve, thanks for the presentation. Any tips for those of us who have only occasional needs for a gimbal head and use compromises such as my Wimberley Sidekick? Obviously they lack that last crucial vertical adjustment.

Ken Miracle
Guest
WOW … it really works. I watched this last night and ironically a Really Right Stuff cradle clamp for my Wimberly arrived today. You were right I should have gotten that before. Attached the clamp set out the tripod here in my digital dark room and watched the video again. After a few small ups and downs I am balanced. Today a Nikon D500 with battery grip with a Tamron 150-600 G2. My D850 is at Nikon and we are going back and for about why there are pits in the right corner of the “sensor” they are not saying… Read more »
FPD Cotterill
Guest
This is Great Steve. Thank you. Your key lesson on the vertical adjustment is not well known ie to set the CofG as centrally as is feasible. There seem to be all the more options for gimbals available but the cheaper models skimp on allowing vertical adjustment. Most seem to be chinese clones. I use the Jobu Jnr 3 Deluxe as it is lighter but it does not allow for vertical adjustment. One that does is the South African made GimPro Gimbal Head MK II – extremely good quality machining, and on v smooth bearings. The carbon fibre Zenelli CARBON… Read more »
Lew
Guest

Thanks, Steveorino. I don’t have a gimbal, but now I understand their purpose how the are used.

Tim+Karels
Guest

I have had a long lens and a gimbal head for about year and a half and I just now learned that I was among those who weren’t doing it correctly. Thanks a ton for posting this.

Dan Brown
Guest

This was so helpful. Someone told me that my lens and camera was not set up correctly BUT they didn’t tell me what to do. Now I know. Thanks.

Joe T
Guest

Steve, I really appreciate your detailed explanation to achieve perfect balance gimbal heads. I made quick adjustment in the field when I add a teleconverter or a different/heavier body. Once it is done, I can focus on the subject for (sometime) hours.

Winston Shaw
Guest

Your videos and ebooks are always full of useful details and clear as a bell! I can’t wait for your publication of your ebook on exposure.

Tom Walters
Guest

Well done, Steve, as always. Greatly appreciated.

Bob Pease
Guest

Great video Steve, I always learn something new from you, keep up the good work.

Mark Fagan
Guest

Steve, I thought that I knew everything there was to know about setting up my Wimberley… now I find out that I was one of the guys that would set it to always come back to level… your way makes much more sense, thanks so much for all of your videos. I can’t wait for your new book to come out, I have the others and they are a wealth of knowledge! Nikon should be hiring you to write their manuals for them!

Gary Irwin
Guest

Steve, I never thought about adjusting on the vertical to achieve optimum balance on my gimbal. Duh! [face palm]. Great stuff…keep it coming!

Ian Mackenzie
Guest

I have the remarkable GimPro head from South Africa. Because it runs on sealed engineering bearings it is even more demanding of accurate balance but your advice is spot on.

Sumangala+Rajapakse
Guest

My Dear Steve Perry…Once again you have done a very great work. Very good information. Nicely presented. I Love your you tube site Nikon Wildlife Photography informative videos a Lot. I am learning many things from your esteemed site. Then your Two e-books are very very useful to Me. I am frequently referring to the books. Thank you very much for all your nice Presentations. Best Regards.

Bob
Guest

Very informative! Thanks!
(I found that placing a few small strips of white gaffers tape on the Wimberley horizontal and vertical slides makes it easy to quickly mount telephoto lenses (with or without extenders) once their proper balance point is found.)

Dave Obrien
Guest

No joke…”Thanks, I needed that!”

Keep the items coming!

Bruce
Guest

I have used the Wimberley gimbal head and switched to the Custom Brackets as it has a safety lock so the front of the lens does not crash down after removing the camera and forgetting to tighten the head. Now using the new Gitzo gimbal head with fluid dampening and it is a big improvement and balancing is not so critical, and athough I got it to be able to do smooth video shooting it has turned out to be the perfect gimbal head for still shooting as well.

Charles Harrison
Guest

Thanks for such a clear explanation of what is easy to get right and even easier to get wrong! I think I have been doing this right but it’s nice to see it explained so methodically. All I have to do now is to practice following birds in flight….

Bob
Guest

I have the Kirk gimbal head and it also is very easy to set up. Once you realize what it is you are trying to do the setup becomes intuitive. Adding a small amount of drag can help with the minor movements when you add hoods, teleconverters etc.

I’m curious as to what advantage the swinging arm adds in a gimbal setup versus the Sidkick version of the Wimberly head (I have the same option with the Kirk gimbal)? Both seem to end up with the same motion, movement, range, etc.

Janet Cook
Guest

Once again a perfectly explained lesson. You are the best!

Federico Marconi
Guest

This was excellent explanation of properly balancing a gimbal head. I was told just to balance it to zero and have it free float to center position. Definitely after listening your presentation center position is not correct. Thanks.

Steve Carn
Guest

Your videos are always a joy to watch and I appreciate you sharing your knowledge. It is great to learn from an expert. By the way, I enjoyed reading your e-books and refer to them often.

Patrick
Guest

Thanks Steve. Another great explanation. I always wondered how to set that second knob. Now I know!

Georg
Guest

Excellent advice. Can you consider to use video head as I do?
best
Georg

Gary Haigh
Guest

Nice tips Steve, worked well on my Benro Gimbal