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Tripod head for 200-400mm f4 vr

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by jgburton1, Jun 27, 2007.

  1. jgburton1


    Jun 7, 2007
    I have just purchased the Nikon 200-400mm vr and need to get a tripod head for it. Is the Wimberly Sidekick ok for this lens or is the Wimberly Head II a better choice.
    Jim Burton
  2. sidekick will do well with that lens if it is mounted in a heavy enough quality ball head.
  3. Dave is correct, but if you have the funds you won't regret getting the full Wimberley.

    Congrats on getting one of Nikon's finest.

  4. jgburton1


    Jun 7, 2007
    I have the Kirk BH1 which according to the Wimberly website should be adequate, but never having used a lens this large, I want to be sure I end up with enough stability.
  5. The BH-1 will do the job very nicely.
  6. Doug


    Jan 17, 2006
    East TN
    The sidekick can be a little more time consuming at times for setup, and it can be a little more limiting as far as positions allowed by camera/head vs a full wimberly I am sure. But for me, no more than I used mine, it was fine.

  7. strawman


    Mar 24, 2006
    Missoula, MT
    I used the Sidekick/BH-1 combo with my 200-400 and it worked perfectly.
  8. I would really recommend the full Wimberley. The setup would be much faster, I think, and since getting mine for my 300 2.8 and TC's my keeper rate has increased dramatically. And, congrads on the new glass!!

  9. There is an aspect of this that many tend to not mention and this is feeling safe with your super expensive lens. I would never go back to a ballhead after using the full Wimberley. I can let go and the lens and camera just hangs there suspended in the air, and I can move it with ease just using a pinkie. Nothing dampens vibration that I have tried like a proper Gimbal head

    Do you self a favor, get a full Wimberley, if the II is to expensive get a used version I. Doesn't matter how ugly - They are virtually indestructible.

    And also I recommend you get a replacement foot with an Arc Swiss mount built in, RRS or Kirk both are fine, and make sure you put the screws in at the ends of the foot so that the lens can't accidentally slide off, another cheap safety feature....

    And if you have any money left get a carbon fiber Gitzo 3550 or even better a 5540LS, and you have just bought your last tripod, with the leats vibration you can get unless you go to a multi thousand dollar Sachtler.....

    In order to get the best possible Image quality this is what I did for all my long lenses and it makes a huge difference
  10. jgburton1


    Jun 7, 2007
    Thanks to all for your responses. Is the full Wimberly usable with my shorter lenses or do I need another setup. And yes I am thrilled to have the 200-400mm. Debated a long time between the 300mm 2.8 and the 200-400 and decided the versatility of the zoom would best suit my photography.

  11. I have used a 300mm F2.8 AFS-II with a long RRS foot on the Wimberley I and now the II and it works just fine. I don't think anything smaller will work because the lens foot length is too short to reach a banance point
  12. Another option...

    Want to save some cash? Want a super sturdy head? Don't mind some extra weight? Try this...
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Bogan Gimble head. (Manfrotto 3421-inspired by Graziano Ferarri, Made in Italy) with SEALED METAL bearings for smoother (like butter!) panning.
  13. imageswest

    imageswest Guest

    Yikes! That's over $1600 tied up in a dedicated tripod and head that would only be used with that one lens - in addition to the other expensive tripod and ball head I would need for my camera bodies and all my other lenses.
  14. While I think that the Wimberly Products are absolutely fantastic, I was introduced to the Sidekick by Ron Reznick who was using one on an Acratech with a Nikon 500 f4 at the time, there are other options. I used a Sidekick for quite some time, then decided to move to a Gimbal and made a couple of lousy choices, until I found these units from Jobu Designs. I use the full Black Widow Heavy with the horizontal piece for my 400 f2.8 and the "original" Jr. for my 200-400 and my Sigma 120-300. Rock solid, without a doubt.

    What I like about the Jobu is the ability to use it as a Sidemount, see the Lightweight version, or add the Horizontal to have a "Full Wimberly" type of gimbal. Jobu and Wimberly leapfrog each other for light weight and features, both are incredibly well built, and I would not hesitate buying any of these products. I have zero concern with stability having a D200 with 200-400 mounted on the Jobu Jr., I have the one that is on sale for $199.99, the newer one looks perhaps a touch more rigid, hard to say as I have not seen one. But Jobu gives you quite a wide range of options. Given the cost of a ball head and a Sidekick, both the Jobu Jr. and the Lightweight are quite cost effective as well.

    For full disclosure, I am in NO WAY affiliated with Jobu as anything other than a very satisfied customer.
  15. If you read Thom Hogans article and think it through it is better to buy the right stuff now instead of having to trade upwards later. YOu will loose money doing that, I know I did. I read but didnt listen to Thom's arguments and had to trade upwards. Cost me a whole lot more.

    If you are serious about getting sharp shots with these lenses this is what you need. The tripod and head is what makes the difference between sharp shots and marginal.

    • First of all this tripod can do it all, it is so light, it's all I use.
    • Second, you can get a cheaper smaller ballhead for portraits etc, I have a Chinese one in carbon fiber that I bought for 170 USD on Ebay, works fine for me, for lanscapes and portraits.

    As for Joby Black Widow , their Heavy duty version looks just fine. The light weight one, I would not recommend becasue you are hanging the super expensive lens from the side, it is much harder to mont properly and if something goes wrong and the grip loosens, it will fall, and it is a lot harder to mount then the one that mounts with the clamp below the lens foot, this is my opinion at least.

    Thats all I will say, your choice :wink:

  16. Andreas, you, I and Ron will just have to agree to disagree on the issue of Side-Mount gimbals. As noted, I saw, and then purchased, the Sidekick after seeing and using Ron's with the Nikon 500mm f4 mounted. I have mounted my 400 this way as well, and that is certainly one heavy lens. Yes, you DO want to be more careful.

    As to the stability of these, last February my wife Nancy and I were out shooting Snow Geese together. Had a D200 with the 200-400 mounted on the Jobu Jr. for Nancy. Her tripod got set down in a not very stable manner and the whole lot tipped over. Luckily, it landed smack on the back of the D200. You figure out what the velocity factors involved are with a 7 lb lens driving the whole thing down. It basically ruined the innards of the D200, hooray for Insurance, no damage to the 200-400, the Jobu Jr suffered no ill, and the camera and lens were still mounted rock solid when I set it back up. Needless to say, the next images I shot were rather, well, "ugly" ... :biggrin:

    Point being, my experience with sidemounts, the Sidekick, the Jobu Lightweight and the Jobu Jr. have all been quite positive, and that is over a 4 year period. Yeah, I do think the horizontal mounts are more stable, as well as somewhat easier and safer to mount, but obviously the side-mounts are no slouches either. What I DO think is incredibly important, and not yet mentioned, is to be sure, ABSOLUTELY SURE, that whatever lens foot/plate you use has safety stops at each end so that the lens cannot slip out of the base plate of whatever you do choose. I did have that almost happen one time, and quickly remedied that.

    Last comment on the Sidekick. If you do get one, be sure that the foot/plate combination you use will keep the lens/camera centered over your ballhead. With that weight, if you are off-center you have the possible of overbalancing the whole rig, and that is not good. The Wimberly site has, I believe, more information on this as well.
  17. dgh3


    Mar 13, 2006
    Syracuse, NY
    I want to chime in and second the Bogen/Manfroto 3421 as an excellent choice. My 200-400 is even now sitting on this item and ranging over my birding area. I love it. Solid, very fast moving and flexible. When you point it somewhere and take your hand off, it just stays there - no need to over/under shoot to correct some kind of rebound. I also like using in on my monopod.
  18. Guest-002

    Guest-002 Guest

    Jan 14, 2006
    Worcester, MA
    Jim asked a question that's still unanswered, one that I'm also courious about. If you go with a full Wimberley what do you do about short lenses like wide angles for landscapes? With the Sidekick, you still have the ballhead readily available for when you want to use the body's L-Plate, but with the full Wimberley you'd have to swap heads.
  19. rsprouse


    Jan 25, 2006
    Encinitas CA
    I use the following combo: D2Xs, 200-400 VR, Gitzo 1327 (turned into a "super Gitzo" as recommended by Nikonians by removing center column and adding a Markins baseplate and replacing the rubber feet with titanium spikes) topped with a Markins M20L ballhead, RRS Lever clamp and the Sidekick.

    I am very happy with this setup, as it allows me to use the ballhead with all my other lenses. It seems very smooth and stable. However, I have not used a full Wimberley gimbal head so I cannot say whether I would prefer that. I am told you can mount the camera with shorter lenses to the gimbal by adding a long perpendicular plate such as the RRS PLL-DVTL (which I have as it came with the panning clamp setup I bought).

    Anyone have a full Wimberley they can loan me so I can compare? :tongue:

    -- Russ
  20. Yes you need a ballhead for the smaller lenses. However that is not really a drawback (except financially). since (at least I) don't go out with all my lenses on a trek, it is just plain to heavy, If I go birding I bring the big guns and the Wimberley, if I g landscape I justbrintg the smaller lenses and my ballhead....

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