Best Gimbal Tripod Heads in 2021 Compared

A gimbal is a type of tripod head that allows you to perfectly balance the weight of your camera so that it can be moved effortlessly both vertically and horizontally. With a perfectly balanced gimbal, you can move even the heaviest setups, such as a 600mm lens and pro-sized camera body, with just the tip of your pinky finger and almost no effort at all.

A camera on a gimbal is always ready to go because you can just take your hands off it without needing to lock any pan or tilt knobs as you do with a ball head. Then, when the action starts, all you need to do is grab the camera and spin it quickly towards your subject.

A good gimbal will have incredibly smooth bearing cartridges in it, or even a fluid cartridge to add resistance and make smooth panning shots much easier.

Gimbals come in a variety of shapes and sizes. In this gear guide, we’ll examine the top options on the market today, at a variety of different price points, and I’ll make recommendations for the one that will best suit your photography.

Photography Gimbal Vs. Video Gimbal – NOT the same!

A DJI video gimbal for hand-held shooting. This is NOT what we are talking about in this guide!

Googling the word ‘gimbal’ can be quite confusing these days because you’re going to get a mix of results talking about both photo gimbals and video gimbals. If this is your first gimbal purchase, you definitely don’t want to get the two confused. Even if you search ‘gimbal’ on B&H Photo you will see a huge number of video gimbals int he search results. To help you, the better search term is ‘tripod gimbal‘, because video gimbals are not designed to go on a tripod, whereas photography gimbals are exclusively designed to go on tripods.

A photography gimbal – what we are discussing in this guide – doesn’t have any electronic parts inside it. It’s designed to be put onto a tripod, and at that point, you balance your camera on it. If you were to make a significant movement of your tripod’s orientation, you might find you need to re-balance your gimbal because they are designed to be used statically from the tripod.

A video gimbal is a stabilizer to hold your camera level while you move it around. It contains motors, rotating gyros and a ton of electronic wizardry that are designed to resist the inertia of your camera while you move it, and keep things straight and level. They work hand-held, or sometimes attached to a moving vehicle, but there would be no need to have one on a tripod. They also require power in order for them to keep the camera level, and generally, they have much less weight capacity than a photo tripod gimbal.

TLDR; if you are shooting photos, do not buy a video gimbal from DJI or any other similar product. If you are shooting video, only buy a video gimbal if you actually want to move around with the camera. If you want to shoot video of wildlife, with a long lens from a static tripod position, use a photo gimbal with a fluid cartridge (discussed later in this guide).

Gimbal Heads: Side Mount Vs. Cradle Mount

Gimbal heads come in two different mount styles and it’s important to understand the pros and cons of both of them when making your decision. Some manufacturers offer both mount styles for the same gimbal so that you can get exactly what you want, for example, the RRS PG-02 and the RRS PG-02 FG with the former being a side mount style and the FG “full gimbal” being the cradle mount. Induro does the same thing with the GHB1 side mount gimbal and the GBH2 cradle mount gimbal, as do ProMediaGear with the fantastic Katana Jr. and Katana Jr. Side Mount and Wimberley with the WH-200 and WH-200 Sidemount. Fotopro’s excellent Eagle E-6H actually comes with both side and cradle mount options in the box and a simple Arca clamp to swap between modes in the field.

The more traditional style is definitely the cradle mount, where the foot of the lens is mounted on an L-shape arm that comes down from the vertical pivot point and cradles the lens foot underneath the lens. The side mount style of gimbal does away with the L-shaped cradle and puts a clamp directly on the vertical pivot. This means the lens foot is 90 degrees off from where it is with the cradle mount.

Not that long ago there weren’t many gimbal options on the market and the vast majority of people used a Wimberley WH-200 head. Wimberley’s Sidekick head was probably the first gimbal I saw that used a side mount, and this was followed by the RRS PG-02. In the last few years though, the popularity of side mount gimbals has definitely increased and as a result, we have seen more and more companies producing these variations of their existing gimbals.

What’s the difference then?

Gimbals with a cradle mount are heavier, bulkier and usually at the very least $100 more expensive than a side mount version of the same head. At this point, I would usually want to counter the negative points with some positive ones, but I honestly can’t think of any! Cradle mounts are not any more stable, and in fact, the L-shaped arm could add instability if it isn’t made solidly enough. Often they just add more joints, bends and clamps, each of which can add to the overall flex of a head.

So why do most people use cradle mount gimbals? And why are some manufacturers like Gitzo only producing gimbals with a cradle mount?

Well, the later has to do with the former I’m sure. Most people use a cradle, therefore, Gitzo (or other) simply cater to that need. Unfortunately, the main reason people choose a cradle mount is out of some misguided belief that it’s safer to use than a side mount. A someone who has used both, and chosen to go with a side mount gimbal for my own head, I can tell you that it is definitely just as safe as a cradle mount. You are every bit as likely to miss-clamp a lens foot on a cradle mount as a side mount, and both would end in equally disastrous moments for your gear if that happened.

The second factor in this divide of purchasing preference is likely that Wimberley WH-200 heads are still incredibly common to see because a gimbal head will last a lifetime if you take care of it. When people decide they want a gimbal, they naturally look around to see what their friends and favourite pro photographers are using.

My own side mount RRS PG-02 gimbal and super telephoto Canon lens.

Thirdly, people seem to have concerns about the forces that are put on the lens foot and mounting points when a side mount is used. Telephoto lenses from any of the major camera manufacturers are more than capable of withstanding the torques and other forces on the lens foot connection which are created by the lens weight “hanging” sideways off a side mount gimbal. For some people, I can appreciate that this might look like a scary way to clamp your $10,000+ lens, but they are designed to withstand their own weight at any angle, and I haven’t ever heard a single horror story.

Simply put, side mount gimbals are safe, and it’s my belief that if there is a side mount version of a gimbal that you like, then it’s the side mount version you should probably be buying.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that all cradle mount gimbals should be off the shortlist of buying options. There are some manufacturers, notably Gitzo, that simply don’t make a side mount version of their gimbal. In that case, it’s possible that the benefits those heads offer you might outweigh the fact that it’s not a lighter side mount design.

In a Hurry?

The ProMediaGear Katana Junior

If you’re in a hurry and need a quick solution, you can’t go wrong with the exceptional Katana Junior gimbal from ProMediaGear. This gimbal was a real revolution for me! When I created the very first version of this gimbal guide some years ago, I wasn’t aware of PMG. Thanks to some readers who highly recommended their products, though, I was able to get my hands on one of these gimbals for some long-term testing. And boy was I glad that I did. This is an incredibly lightweight gimbal (2.4lbs), and yet it will easily hold any size of lens and still maintain perfectly smooth motion. The weight to performance ratio of this gimbal is unmatched, so it makes it an easy recommendation that will suit most people’s needs.

The Katana Jr. is available in both black and red from PMG with free shipping in the US, and very reasonable shipping rates to anywhere else in the world. For best service, I would always recommend buying direct if you can (also nice to support the little guys), but if you can’t for some reason, you can also get it from Amazon, B&H Photo and Adorama.

The Shortlist (in no particular order)

This table shows you the list of products that I’m going to be reviewing further in this guide. I didn’t choose these products blindly, so if it made it as far as being included in this gear guide at all then it has already shown some merit. If you don’t have time to read the in-depth guide then these links might save you some time.

If you’re reading on a mobile device, the table might look better if you rotate your screen horizontally.

ProductAmazonB&H PhotoAdoramaDirect
ProMediaGear Katana Jr.Check PriceCheck PriceCheck Price$549.95 - Free US shipping. International shipping available.
ProMediaGear Katana Jr. Side MountCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price$434.95 - Free US shipping. International shipping available.
Fotopro Eagle E-6HCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceN/A
Really Right Stuff PG-02 - Highly RecomendedN/ACheck PriceN/AN/A
Really Right Stuff FG-02 - Best for videoN/ACheck PriceN/AN/A
Gitzo GHFG1 Fluid Gimbal - #1 ChoiceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceN/A
Oben GH-30Check PriceCheck PriceN/AN/A
Wimberley WH-200Check PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceN/A
Wimberley SidekickCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceN/A
Wimberley MH-100 MonoGimbalCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceN/A
Induro GHB1N/ACheck PriceCheck PriceN/A
Benro GH5CCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceN/A
Sirui PH-20Check PriceB&H - Sirui PH-20 GimbalCheck PriceN/A

Fotopro Eagle E-6H

Fotopro is a Chinese manufacturer that has a broad portfolio of support products. Unlike most companies, they haven’t chosen a pricing sector of the market to concentrate on. Instead, they manufacture everything from sub-$200 tripods all the way up to $1400 tripods. This is a very different way of doing things. Imagine if Gitzo or Really Right Stuff made sub-$200 tripods as well as their top-of-the-line offerings, or if Ferrari made a cheap 4-door sedan?

I don’t think this approach helps people’s perception of the brand’s products, but I’m here to tell you that their high-end Eagle Series products are the real deal and any qualms should be firmly put aside. The Fotopro E-6H is a phenomenal gimbal head that easily ranks among the top 5 tripod heads – not just gimbals – that I have ever used. This head deserves your attention.

The E-6H gimbal is tiny. It’s roughly half the size of any of the other gimbals in this guide, and it’s easily the lightest at 911g with the cradle or a mere 700g in side mount mode. Despite its small size, it has the smoothest pan and tilt motions of any gimbal in this guide. In fact, it’s so smooth that I actually had to ask Fotopro if it used fluid cartridges because it’s considerably smoother than the Gitzo Fluid Gimbal. As it turns out, it does not. But you certainly wouldn’t know it by using it.

This gimbal is packed full of features that simply don’t exist on other gimbals. Firstly it has click stops that can be engaged on the panning base for panoramic photographers to get perfectly repeatable results. Secondly, the whole vertical arm can we swivelled forwards or backwards up to 180 degrees. This means you can shoot straight up to the night sky, or straight down to the ground for macro work. Alternatively, simply fold it down for more compact travel (see photo below).

Other unique features include the option to swap between cradle mount or side mount whenever you want, with no tools. As well as locking screw-lock knobs on the Arca-Swiss clamps. These require a button to be depressed in order to unscrew them from the locked position. It even comes with a panning handle so that you can use the head for filmmaking. And yes, this head is smoother than a lot of cheap video heads, so that’s an entirely plausible scenario.

Quite simply, this is the Swiss Army Knife of tripod heads, and it does it in the smallest and lightest package on the market. But there is a small downside. The load rating for this gimbal is 10KG (22lbs) which is a little less than some of the larger gimbals out there.

In my opinion, this is the best gimbal head on the market for people using medium-sized telephoto zoom lenses such as the Sony 200-600mm, Canon 100-500mm, Tamron 150-600mm or Nikon 200-500mm. It’s also the best gimbal for panoramic photographers who will appreciate the portability and the click stops that can be engaged in the panning base. If you have a larger super-telephoto lens such as a 300mm f/2.8 with extenders, a 400mm f/2.8, 500mm f/4 or 600mm f/4 you would be better off with one of the larger options detailed in this guide. For more details, read my detailed Fotopro Eagle Gimbal review.

Really Right Stuff PG-02

RRS have updated the design of the locking knob on the PG-02. The new design can be seen here. Some of my images contain the older design with the larger knob.

The PG-02 from Really Right Stuff is a modular gimbal head that can be constructed with both a side mount or cradle mount to suit your preference. I’ve discussed that choice earlier and my feelings are pretty clear: The cradle mount is pointless. Save some money and weight in your pack and just use the side mount if this is the gimbal you want, it’s solid as a rock. I should know, I’ve been using one for many years!

The thing that first attracted me to the PG-02 is the two-piece design with the horizontal rail and the vertical arm. You can take the two pieces apart and clip them together parallel to each other to make it easier to transport. This modular design also means you can use the horizontal rail as a nodal slide for panoramic photography, simply by adding the FAS clamp to it. You don’t even need a panning clamp on your ball head because the panning base is built into the PG-02’s horizontal arm. Simply mount it to your existing ball head, use that ball head to perfectly level the horizontal arm and spin it around to create your panos. In fact, I owned the horizontal arm for a couple of years just for panos, before I decided to add the vertical arm to create the gimbal! It’s nice to be able to build your kit up in that way, piece by piece.

Everything about this gimbal screams quality. The design and machining are beautiful and the movement of the gimbal is buttery smooth, even with the heaviest of camera setups. The PG-02 is rated up to a 50lb load, but with even a 600mm lens on a pro body barely tipping the scales at 12lbs, you are never going to need that kind of capacity. Suffice to say, whatever gear you put on this thing, it barely breaks a sweat and vibration dampening is extremely good.

In terms of build quality and robustness, the Really Right Stuff gimbals are the absolute gold standard but you do pay a price for that. At $766 for the side mount version, you’re looking at a couple of hundred dollars more than some other excellent options like the Gitzo or Wimberley. I do not think that spending that extra money over those two well-regarded options will get you better photos. Once you reach the higher end of the pricing bracket you are generally getting a very high-quality gimbal, but what you do get with the RRS gimbal is the useful 2-piece modularity, and the ability to build on top of that to make a multi-row panoramic head.

Adding a nodal rail such as the MPR-CL II to the PG-02 side mount version of the gimbal will turn it into a multi-row panoramic head. This is only possible because you can adjust the horizontal position of the vertical arm so that the lens’ optical centre is exactly over the point of rotation. Simply adding a nodal slide to a regular gimbal, such as the Gitzo or Wimberley, doesn’t work. With that, you would only be able to adjust the fore and aft positioning of the optical centre, but unless you can move the camera left and right, as you can with the PG-02, then you can’t use it for panos.

The RRS PG-02 is by far the most flexible gimbal design, and I know of several people that actually prefer using it over a regular ball head. Unlike a ball head, the pan and tilt motions are entirely disconnected so this gives an experience that is somewhat similar to using a geared head or a 3-way pan/tilt head. If I’m packing light and don’t want to take both a ball head and a gimbal head with me on a trip, this is the one that comes with me.

Does the modularity and flexibility of the PG-02’s design justify the higher price tag for you? If you ever shoot panos, I suspect it probably does, because one less head to bring is always nice. If you’re already invested in the Really Right Stuff ecosystem of Arca-Swiss compatible products, such as accessory rails and clamps, then again I suspect that the higher price is probably going to be worth it to you too. I have a closet full of RRS parts and I’m always Frankensteining fun solutions together.

What About The Smaller PG-01?

I wish I could tell you that the PG-02’s smaller brother, the PG-01, was a viable contender in this best gimbal comparison, but it’s simply not. RRS call these heads “Pano Gimbal” (PG) heads, and the PG-01 is a fine pano head, but it just not a good option to be used as anything but an emergency gimbal. It’s not smooth enough or rigid enough with telephoto lenses. It has its place in the RRS catalogue, but don’t buy it if your primary purpose is to use it as a gimbal.

Note: If you’re interested in other heads from RRS, I have written a giant guide and comparison of all the Really Right Stuff ball heads and gimbals, as well as a guide to Really Right Stuff tripods.


Really Right Stuff FG-02

RRS FG-02 with optional video pan handle.

The FG-02 has many of the same features and design characteristics of the PG-02, so I’m not going to waste time repeating myself on all those points. The main difference is that the FG-02 uses fluid cartridges in the horizontal and vertical panning joints, which makes the gimbal movement much smoother. This smoother movement is hugely beneficial when shooting video because even the slightest jitter in your pan or tilt can be amplified to a massive degree when shooting with long focal lengths.

The resistance of the movement is also adjustable in four steps, which is definitely useful when making long sweeping pans for a video, compared to small adjustments when looking through the viewfinder for stills photography. The resistance is cleverly controlled by two buttons. Pressing them individually gives you two different resistances, then you have a third when they are both pressed, and a fourth when neither are pressed. An elegant solution that adds very little bulk to the design.

The FG-02 is available in several different versions including a regular side mount with a 60mm clamp for stills only, side mount with a video panning handle for video or stills usage, or a full cradle mount for stills (no panning handle). At $1340 for the cheapest of these options, you’re looking at a serious purchase here! That said, it can potentially negate the need for a separate video head in your kit, which can easily cost the same amount of money. In fact, you could very well argue that this FG-02 is the most versatile tripod head of any kind on the market. It can be used in place of a ball head if you add the MPR-CL II rail that was discussed earlier in the PG-02 section, it can replace a fluid video head, it can be used as a multi-row pano head and of course, it’s also your long lens gimbal for wildlife photography.

You really can use this head for almost everything you could ever do with a camera on a tripod. Now the high price doesn’t seem so bad, does it?

Note that due to the higher price and specialist nature, the FG-02 is usually built to order,  so don’t leave it until the last minute to order one before your next big trip or you might be disappointed if there’s not enough lead time.


ProMediaGear Katana Jr. Gimbal

ProMediaGear Katana Jr. gimbal with a Sony a9II and Sony 200-600mm G.

At only 2.4lbs (1.08kg), the Katana Jr. gimbal from ProMediaGear is one of the lightest gimbals on the market despite being made from aluminum and not carbon fibre. As you can see from the photos, this is achieved by machining a skeleton-like structure out of a solid block of aluminum. Despite the weight-saving design, the Katana Jr. gives up nothing as far as support stability is concerned. This head will easily hold the biggest lenses on the market such as your 600mm or 800mm. Equally, it’s at home when paired with much lighter options such as the Sony 200-600mm lens seen in the photos, or a 100-400mm.

Not only is the Katana Jr. light, but it’s also relatively compact compared to heads like the Wimberley WH-200 or the Gitzo Fluid Gimbal. If you opt for the cradle mount version, the cradle is easily removed from the head to help with packing it into your bag. For ultimate portability, there is the side mount version of the head which drops the weight down even further to 1.8lbs, making it by far the lightest and most compact gimbal on this list.

This gimbal is definitely a personal favourite of mine because the weight to stability ratio is unmatched by any other gimbal on this list. If you’re someone that travels with your gear or wants to carry both a gimbal and a ball head, then weight and packability are always a concern. It’s amazing to me that the light weight doesn’t seem to compromise any other aspect of the gimbal. It easily managed heavy loads, and the smoothness of the bearings in the pan and tilt mechanisms easily matches the other top gimbals on the market.

This gimbal is definitely a personal favourite of mine because the weight to stability ratio is unmatched by any other gimbal on this list.

The gimbal is delivered with a 6″ long Arca compatible plate, the PX6, that attaches to you lens foot and allows for a wide range of balance point adjustments for various sizes of lens.

The Katana Jr. is available in both black and red from PMG with free shipping in the US, and very reasonable shipping rates to anywhere else in the world. For best service, I would always recommend buying direct if you can (also nice to support the little guys), but if you can’t for some reason, you can also get it from Amazon, B&H Photo and Adorama.


Gitzo GHFG1 Fluid Gimbal

Canon 400mm on the Gitzo Fluid Gimbal.

The Gitzo fluid gimbal is the newest head on this list and it is surprising in a few ways. Firstly this is a fluid head which means that rotational resistance at both the horizontal and vertical panning joints is dampened by a fluid cartridge. Fluid heads deliver a much smoother panning motion as we discussed in the section about the RRS fluid gimbal above. A panning bar is included in the package to aid with smooth motion when shooting video with a long lens.

Gitzo GHFG1 Fluid Gimbal with included panning bar.

The second surprising thing about the Gitzo head is the relatively low price point. Gitzo products are known to be of the highest quality and many photographers aspire to own them, but the price point can sometimes be prohibitive. In the case of their GHFG1 gimbal, the price is actually something of a bargain when you compare it to some other models in this gear guide. It’s much less than half the price of Really Right Stuff’s fluid gimbal, and it’s cheaper than the most popular non-fluid gimbals, the Wimberley WH-200 and the RRS PG-02.

The main downside of this gimbal is that they do not offer a side mount version, which would have saved a little weight and size. The overall design is also significantly bulkier than many other options such as the more-than-capable ProMediaGear Katana Jr or the Fotopro Eagle.

I also wish that they had put a bubble level on it so that you can easily ensure a level panning motion. Some tripods have a bubble, or perhaps you’re going to use it with a leveling head that has a bubble, but it still would have been a nice improvement. Again, something that is offered by the PMG Katana Jr, the RRS gimbals, the Fotopro E-6H and more.

This is a gimbal that would be a good choice for someone who wants to shoot both photos and videos but doesn’t want to pay the significant premium to buy the RRS FG-02. Or just someone that loves the Gitzo brand and aesthetic. I don’t think it’s the best on this list, but at the middle-of-the-road price point, it shouldn’t be. You can get more info on this gimbal by reading my Gitzo Fluid Gimbal review.


Wimberley WH-200

The Wimberley WH-200 design has been around a long time and it’s popular with many photographers. The design is bland as heck, but they are among the very smoothest gimbals on the market and their durability and general robustness have been proven by time.

Honestly though, if I had $550 to spend on a gimbal, these days I would opt for the cheaper Gitzo Fluid Gimbal. You save some money, it’s slightly lighter, it comes with a video panning handle and it’s a fluid head so the resistance when moving the head is far smoother than the Wimberley. You could even go with a full carbon head like the Sirui PH-20 if weight is your priority.

Wimberley is a smaller company that really had a lockdown on the gimbal market a decade ago, but with so many new designs and advancements from other companies, they need to step it up and update this head if they still want to be relevant in a few years.


Oben GH-30

The Oben GH-30 deserves a spot on this list because it brings gimbals down to a price point that makes them accessible to many more people. At just $250, this is a nice beginner option for people that don’t do a huge amount of wildlife photography but want something that will make life considerably easier for them on the odd weekend excursion. It’s also a good budget option if you have booked a very expensive wildlife photography vacation and suddenly realize that you should be taking a gimbal with you, but don’t want to break the bank.

One thing I will say about this gimbal is that I do not recommend that you take the 44lb load rating at face value. I’m not saying that it’s not true, I don’t doubt that it could hold 44lbs, but a maximum load rating is definitely not the same thing as a recommended usable rating.

With very heavy camera setups, the Oben GH-30 starts to lose some of its smoothness. It’s fine with something light such as a 70-200mm, 100-400mm, 200-500mm or Nikon 500mm PF, but if you have anything larger then I would recommend you spend a little more and at least look towards the slightly beefier Induro GHB1, which is also much lighter.


Wimberley Sidekick

The Wimberley Sidekick is an interesting design for someone that needs to carry both a ball head and a gimbal head. Instead of switching heads entirely, this handy gizmo converts your existing ball head into a gimbal. To do this, your ball head will need to have a separate panning base lock knob and an Arca-Swiss compatible clamp on it.

All you do is release the ball lock and flop the clamp into your drop notch, positioning it vertically, then tighten the ball as much as you can. Now clamp the Sidekick into the now vertical ball head clamp and loosen the ball head’s panning base lock knob to rotate the gimbal.

There’s obviously some weight savings with this setup if you were planning to carry both a ball head and a gimbal, but the stability of the setup will be hugely reliant on the quality of your ball head. If you do decide to go down this route, don’t skimp on that part of the equation! Something big and beefy like the RRS BH-55 would be my personal pick if you plan to use big super-telephoto lenses with it.

It’s also worth noting that the weight of a solid ball head, plus the weight of the Sidekick, is actually more than the weight of most of the gimbals that are mentioned in this guide. In other words, the only way you are saving weight on your back, or in your bag, is in situations where you positively must have a ball head with you for some reason. At that point, a ball head+Sidekick is obviously lighter than a ball head+full gimbal.

At about $250 you save a significant chunk of change with the Sidekick compared to the full Wimberley gimbal ($550), but it’s only really a saving if you already own a high-end ball head to pair it with. If you have to go out and buy a new ball head, then your total bill is certainly going to be larger than the cost of the Wimberley Gimbal or the Gitzo gimbal and maybe even more than the RRS gimbal too! A really great ball head can easily set you back $350-$500.


Induro GHB1

The Induro GHB1 is my budget gimbal of choice ($349), even though it’s not the cheapest on the list. Let me explain…

The Oben GH-30 is $100 cheaper than this gimbal, but I believe the GHB1 performs better with heavier loads. If you don’t currently use anything bigger than a 100-400mm or 200-500mm lens then this might not matter to you now, but do you plan on upgrading your lens at some point?

Most people aspire to own something like a heavier 300mm or 500mm prime (or more) and with the cheaper Oben GH-30, I feel like you’d need to upgrade your gimbal as well. Not so with the Induro GHB1, though. This is a nice, no-frills, robust gimbal that can take a seriously heavy camera setup and will be able to stick with you along your own equipment upgrade path.

The load rating for this head is 22lbs, but these kinds of numbers are notoriously cloudy to understand. Does that represent a number past which they do not recommend using it? Or does it represent a number past which it will break? Who is making the decisions on what is “usable” smoothness? I mention the rating because if I don’t, someone will ask me for it, but I personally think that you can’t make a decision based on that number alone because every manufacturer has a different way of coming up with those numbers.

Another reason to consider the Induro, over the cheaper Oben GH-30 is that the Oben head tops the scales at 3.2lbs, whereas the Induro GHB1 with its side mount style weighs just 1.7lbs. That’s a significant difference if you’re travelling with the gimbal, whether it’s in your backpack or your checked luggage!

If the side mount style really freaks you out, there’s also the cradle style GHB2.


Sirui PH-20

The Sirui PH-20 is carbon head so the weight is relatively low, at 2.4 lbs. This can be lightened even more by removing the cradle clamp and installing the additionally included clamp directly onto the gimbal arm to create a side mount gimbal, which I much prefer. For some reason, the fact that it comes with this additional clamp isn’t mentioned in the description and specs on B&H Photo, but it does indeed come with it in the case.

That’s right, it also comes in a nice zippered case, and in there you’ll also find a very generously proportioned Arca-Swiss lens plate to use with the gimbal. Something which Wimberley and Really Right Stuff do not provide with their heads.

All in all, the Sirui (pronounced sooray) PH-20 is an incredibly good value at $470 when you consider the accessories that come with it, and the carbon construction. If your budget extends that far, it’s a noticeable jump up in quality from the Induro GHB1, and frankly the smoothness of its pan and tilt motion is absolutely on a par with the Wimberley WH-200.

In terms of price competition, many people will probably be considering it alongside the Gitzo Fluid Gimbal which is only $30 more. The Gitzo wins that battle if you want to shoot some video, where the fluid cartridges and pan handle give it the edge. But if weight and compactness is your priority, I have to give it to the Sirui PH-20 with its carbon construction and optional side mount configuration with the included second clamp.

One annoyance with the PH-20 that is worth knowing about is a quirk with the panning lock knob. For some reason, Surui used a geared locking mechanism for this which means that the panning base can only be locked in certain positions. When you lock the panning base, the teeth slide into the nearest slot and this can cause some movement. Unfortunately, this makes it useless for landscape photography, but it probably won’t worry wildlife photographers too much. When I’m using a gimbal I never lock the panning base unless I’m picking the tripod up to move it to a new location. If you do lock your panning base as part of your own routine, then this isn’t the head for you.


Wimberley MH-100 MonoGimbal

A very unique product from Wimberley

This product is something of an outlier in the gimbal guide, but I don’t think the guide would be complete unless I told you about it. The WH-100 MonoGimbal is designed primarily to act as a small gimbal for your monopod, although the base of the head itself is an Acra dovetail which means you could attach it to a regular ball head to give it some gimbal characteristics as well (see photo below).

While I would never pitch this product as a total replacement option for a regular gimbal, it is an excellent addition to your kit if you already own a gimbal for your tripod, and appreciate the style of movement and stability that it gives you. Essentially the MonoGimbal allows you to have that on a lightweight monopod, and it has totally rejuvenated my love for using a monopod and “going light”.


Protect Your Gimbal

If you’re planning on buying a gimbal for wildlife photography, you might also want to pick up a camouflage gimbal cover from LensCoat. They have recently started to make covers for a much larger range of gimbal heads, including my top pick, the PMG Katana Jr., and also the Gitzo Fluid Gimbal, Oben GH-30, Induro GHB1, Wimberley WH-200 and several others. For about $40 I think they are a great idea.

My Gimbal of Choice?

For many years I have used an RRS PG-02. It’s built like a tank, but also has the exquisite finishing that we have come to expect from RRS. I also love that it can be broken down into two pieces for packing. More recently I have also been using the ProMediaGear Katana Jr. If you read the whole guide and didn’t just skip down to the bottom, you’ll know that I really love how lightweight that gimbal is. After testing many gimbals, these are the two that I still keep in my closet, and I have to say that the PMG Katana Jr is definitely getting more use these days. The lightweight design makes it an easy pick if I know I have to hike anywhere. I also have the Wimberley MonoGimbal for my monopod because that thing is awesome!

Which Tripod Gimbal Do You Use?

I spent a great deal of time testing and researching gimbals to find what I believe to be the best solutions on the market right now, but it’s always great to hear from other photographers about their experiences. What kind of tripod gimbal head are you using right now, or which one are you thinking of buying?

Leave a comment below and let me know!

Photo of author

Dan Carr

Professional photographer based in Yukon, Canada, and founder of Shutter Muse. His editorial work has been featured in publications all over the world, and his commercial clients include brands such as Nike, Apple, Adobe and Red Bull.

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85 thoughts on “Best Gimbal Tripod Heads in 2021 Compared”

  1. Hello,

    I have a Wimberley WH-200 gimbal head that I use with a Really Right Stuff tripod. I primarily use it with my Sigma 500mm F4 Sport lens. It is an older design, but it works well and is dependable. The weight and size make it cumbersome for air travel. I’m surprised you didn’t include a Jobu design gimbal in your review which are made in Canada and I’ve heard good things about.

    Reply
    • Yes Wimberley is certainly dependable. I would like to get my hands on some Jobu gimbals at some point to see how they are, yes.

      Reply
  2. I use a Jobu Design HD4 gimbal head (for my Canon 200-400mm). It’s great. Prior to buying, I had narrowed it down to that or the Wimberley. Specs were basically the same for mine and not a lot of difference in price but the Jobu was (is) much, much lighter (about 1kg vs 1.4kg). Easy decision in the end. I ruled out the RRS gimbal mainly on cost but also because it was even heavier again (about 1.6kg?) and I couldn’t quite get my head around the side-mount design.

    Reply
  3. You should also get your hands on the ProMediaGear GKJr. Katana Junior Telephoto Lens Gimbal Head. At 2.4 pounds, it can handle up to a 600mm as per their website. I used my Canon EOS EF 500mm on it prior to selling it in favor of the new Canon EOS EF 500mm f/4 DO IS II. I have found both work excellently on it and my Wimberly flash brackets are easily compatible and attachable to it as well.

    Reply
    • I was very enthusiastic when i first heard about the Gitzo fluid head and ordered it right away (since the price of the RRS fluid is quite a steep).

      I was very disappointed. Either something was wrong with my copy, or i would not call it very fluid. Not any significant difference to my “normal” gimbal head.

      And the cradle being off axis is maybe not a dealbreaker, but certainty annoying. Especially sitting in a hide with already limited lens movement.

      And the cradle does not have “slots” for stopping screws on your arca swiss.
      So you either need to have a really long plate on your lens, or remove the stopping screws.

      Other than that i like the build, and the knobs.

      Currently using a Promediagear Katana Jr, which is really nice, buy still thinking about the RRS fluid one 😁

      Reply
      • I’m testing the Katana Jr right now. I’m going to be adding it to this guide. I’m impressed with it so far, it’s a nice size.

        Reply
  4. I currently use a LensMaster RH-2 which I really like but it doesn’t allow for changing the vertical height to balance my 600 F/4. I see that you show a picture of the new Benro PL100LW in your link but no review. Did you get a chance to test the Benro?

    Reply
    • Good spot, John. I actually created the header graphic a long time ago and at that time I thought I was chatting to Benro about borrowing some gear to test out. For some reason they have since gone quiet and I haven’t yet been able to get it in my hands. I guess that’s on the to-do list maybe for a 2019 update to this article…

      By the way, you don’t need vertical adjustment to balance a lens… Vertical adjustment is only useful because it allows you to make small changes to the viewfinder height without adjusting the whole tripod. Personally I use a side mount gimbal which by design has no vertical adjustment, and I don’t miss it one bit.

      Reply
      • The vertical adjustment on gimbals like the Wimberley WH-200 is definitely functional. If you leave it low and remove all tension, the lens will (if properly balanced front-to-back) tend to go horizontal, even if you point it significantly above or below the horizon.
        If you raise the camera so its center of gravity is at the pivot point, the camera has no natural tendency to return to horizontal. You can as readily leave it include 45 degrees up or down, to the limits of travel.
        Thanks,
        John

        Reply
  5. Hi Dan.
    Thanks for this article, very interesting comments about the side mount, my only observation is that apart from the RRS style of construction (multiple sliding joints) there is no adjustment to bring the axis of the lens over the rotational axis of the gimbal which would add a side load to that bearing which could cause the gimbal to be less smooth. The cradle type solves this by having the centre line of the clamp over the rotational axis.
    I have the Benro GH2 aluminium (magnesium?) gimbal. I was at a show where Canon had a Wimberley gimbal to display their 600 f4 lens and lent another lens (possibly only a 500 f4) to the Benro stand directly across the isle, I went back and forth between the two gimbals and with my toolmakers head on I was not able to find enough difference in the quality of the movement of the two units for my photography heart to justify spending the extra for the Wimberley gimbal.
    Several years of amateur use and I’m still very happy with my choice,

    Cheers, Graham.

    Reply
    • “would cause the gimbal to be less smooth” If you have a good gimbal with good bearings, that’s a non issue. I guess it could be a problem with a very cheap one, but it’s not one I have ever heard of. I never ever adjust the side position of my RRS even though I could if I wanted to. I see no discernible difference in smoothness however long the leverage is.

      Glad to hear the Benro GH-2 is working out great for you. Hoping to test some Benros soon! Thanks for your input.

      Reply
  6. No gimbal for photography, but really pleased to read the side-mount comments as I’ve been oscillating back and forth between the comfort of the familiar design and the weight/size benefit of side-mount.

    Have a powered Pan and Tilt system on the way soon (hopefully – Kickstarter project) – so gimbal has to wait for now but good input for that selection process. Thanks for the article.

    Reply
  7. Some of the side mount gimbals look as though it might be a bit more awkward to attach the lens.
    And I’m not a fan of quick release – I feel more secure taking the time to screw a conventional ARCA clamp – I’ve seen articles that described the unfortunate result of attaching gear or removing it, with a quick release clamp. I guess this is all in the mind – “quick release” doesn’t mean being careless, and my only rationale for my preference IS just being more careful, so it’s probably no more than “personal preference”.
    Living on the opposite side of the planet from B&H, the range available in my camera store is more iimited – and I had been looking at the Benro/Induro GH2. (For some funny reason the company calls their stuff Benro in some countries and Induro in others!) Now I’ll have to do some more thinking!

    Reply
    • Benro and Induro are two separate companies! Some of their products look similar, but they are not the same.

      I wouldn’t recommend a screw-knob clamp on a side mount gimbal because it would require you to hold the lens with one hand while repeatedly screwing the knob around.

      Also, it might be worth checking shipping options from B&H. I don’t live in the US either, but it’s often still the cheapest and easiest way to get gear. They ship basically anywhere.

      Reply
      • Quick release vs screw mount – good point,Dan – obviously it WOULD be awkward on a side mount.
        I did go ahead with the Benro – bought their GH2C carbon fibre gimbal (from B&H) – it’s fine, for my purposes.
        You may well be right about side mounts – it’s a bit tricky shopping for gear like this on line, instead of being able to see the different choices “in the flesh”. I was looking for two things – stability (obviously), which is available with either side or crade mount (just a question of tightening the screw) – and flexibility/movement, which – I think I can now see (having had the opportunity to actually use my own gimbal) – is actually available with both. With moving subjects though, I suspect that flexibility/movement of the camera in the gimbal to track the subject is easier with a cradle mount. But you would know far better than I do – I haven’t even seen a side mount, let alone tried one out.

        Reply
        • Yeah it’s tough shopping like that, I agree! A good side mount still has all the same angles of movement as a cradle so it really shouldn’t be any different. I can’t say I have ever been left wanting with my side mounts 🙂

          Reply
    • It’s not about economic structures. It’s about relative pricing vs. quality. For what you get, yes, $500 is well priced. If you were able to find a Ferrari for sale for half price, that would be a well priced Ferrari, right? It would still be expensive, but it would be a good price for product you are buying. The Gitzo is several hundred dollars cheaper than the similar RRS gimbal.

      Reply
    • Thanks Dan great detailed review. The Gitzo is fantastic and is a real bargain, Induro and Benro are from the same one Chinese company I was told, they infringe on so many patented tech snd also produce One Legged Freak and about 50 other brands, no morals no research and development, everything is stolen design. Although I do have a mini Induro Gitzo systematic ripoff tripod that is wonderful, flawed and faulty which I managed to fix as their support is non-existent unlike the great RRS and Gitzo, I support and love my gitzo bits but they dont make this mini systematic version but Gitzo did manage to make sure Induro cannot be sold in Europe/UK, it’s a start I guess in blocking these hacks from selling their theft, I bought from B&H had shipped here to the UK . Great site Dan thanks.

      Reply
      • Interesting information. Thanks for taking the time to comment and thanks for the kind words. I have wondered if Benro and Induro are the same company… but never found a real answer to that.

        “One Legged Freak” do you mean 3 Legged Thing? If you do, that is definitely incorrect as they are a British company and I have direct contact with them. I am not aware of a company called One Legged Freak.

        Reply
  8. Hi Dan,

    Excellent article. Several years ago and after much research, I opted for a Wimberley Sidekick. I had tried using my Canon 500 mm lens on just a ballhead, RRS BH-55, but there were some limitations and issues.

    Now I mount the Sidekick on the BH-55 when using the 500 mm lens on a tripod and have been well pleased…….until last night!

    I was photographing the lunar eclipse and found myself acting like a contortionist trying to aim the lens almost 90 degrees up. The camera was blocked by the ballhead.

    So, please cure my ignorance and tell me there is a solution that I was not ingenious enough to figure out. Is there a way to configure the BH-55 and Sidekick mounted on a tripod so that a 500mm lens on a 5d mark iii can shoot almost vertically?

    Thank you for your time and best regards,

    Rodger

    Reply
    • Hey Rodger. Thanks for the kind words, and sorry to hear of your troubles! Unfortunately I can’t think of a solution. By design, and for stability, a camera should be directly above the tripod legs. If you want to point the camera up, or at least close to 90 degrees, then the tripod will always get in the way unless you have a tiny camera. Likely the best solution is to shorten one leg to get some angle from the tripod, but you’d certainly not want to let go of the rig!

      Reply
    • Normally the Sidekick is mounted to be vertical. To provide more clearance between the camera and the ball head, try tilting the top of the Sidekick slightly back towards you. A small amount provides a bid increase in available vertical angle.

      Reply
  9. Hi Dan;
    Have you had any experience with gimbals in salty sandy environments (shore birds). Was wonder if carbon fiber (the SIRUI or benro) would be a good consideration for that kind of exposure.

    Reply
    • Hey Jim. No need to choose carbon for that reason. Firstly, your biggest issue is going to be sand in the bearings and joints and not any corrosive problems, which I guess is what you’re getting at? The metal heads are aluminum so they won’t rust, but if you do get them salty you should wash them off in clean water. If you are really concerned you could use a rain cover to prevent blowing sand getting into the cracks https://shuttermuse.com/best-camera-rain-covers/

      I have used my RRS gimbal on many beaches and never encountered issues.

      Reply
  10. Thanks for the excellent review, Dan.

    Question: When I’m out and about I often mount my lens (Canon 500mm) directly on a sideways facing ballhead (one that pans), so the ballhead itself functions as a Sidekick – is this considered a safe and proper way to use a ballhead or is it a set up no one would contemplate?

    I picked up a Nest NT-530H gimbal on Ebay a couple of years ago. It’s well made, very strong, controls are smooth and I love it. I think Nest have produced 2 versions, mine is the MK1, which is not arca compatible so I have an arca clamp permanently mounted on the Nest bespoke plate, it’s a bit cumbersome but it works and I’m used to it. The MK2 is, I believe, fully arca compatible.

    Reply
    • Have not heard of the Nest but I’ll check it out when I update this guide in 2020.

      As for your question about the ballhead… I actually meant to do a post about this. If you only want to travel with a ballhead then it is a somewhat viable way to use a lens in a pinch. The two main downsides are that the (heavy) weight is not centred over the middle of the tripod so it makes the setup a bit unsteady if you take your hands off it. Secondly, there will be much more stiction in panning, and particularly tilting, with this setup compared to a very good gimbal. I would say that it is a reasonable solution if you are trying to save weight and not have to travel with both a ballhead AND a gimbal.

      Another solution is to buy the vertical arm of the RRS gimbal only, and mount this on top of a ballhead. Then you use the panning base of the ballhead for panning, and the tilt of the RRS vertical arm to get your tilt. This is my own weight saving technique that I use when I know I need to travel with both gimbal and ballhead and have tight weight constrictions.

      Reply
  11. Hi, great review. Happy to note that side mount ones are gaining ground. I’m from India and here availability is an issue. I use the Wimberley WH 200′ one of the brands which are easily available, and very happy so far. Hope it lasts a lifetime ?

    Reply
  12. Thanks for a good article, Dan. It’s one of several I have read in the course of researching my next big photo purchase. I will be needing a gimbal for my old Nikkor 800mm f/5.6 manual focus, a real beast of a lens coming it at nearly 12lbs. I believe an advantage of a cradle mount is that it adds another dimension of balance adjustment. The forward-backward positioning of the rig on the plate, as is what you do with both the cradle and side mount, is for horizontal balance such that the camera-lens rig tends to return to a horizontal position when it is tilted up or down. This is where the vertical adjustment offered by the cradle comes in. When proper up-down position of the gear rig is achieved, it will stay right in position when hands are removed, instead of tipping upward or downward to return to the static horizontal position achieved with the first adjustment. I can see how this is not important for some, but I have decided it will make it easier for me to move, point, and keep the lens exactly where I want it. Thanks again!

    Reply
    • Glad you found it helpful Ken. I must admit that I still don’t follow your logic on vertical position. I can’t see how vertical position effects the balance at all, but as long as you’re happy with your chosen solution that’s all that matters 🙂

      Reply
      • Here’s a thought experiment for you.
        Mount a 1/4″ bearing on a wall so its axis is horizontal. Like a coat peg, but nearly frictionless.
        Now take a wooden ruler and drill 1/4″ holes in it down its center, every 1″.
        When you mount the ruler on the bearing using the center hole, you can rotate the ruler to any orientation and it’ll stay there. But if you put the bearing in any other hole, there is a tendency to hang in one specific orientation that grows as you approach the ruler’s ends.
        If your camera was mounted to that ruler in the same manner as a camera on a cradle-style gimbal — like on a shelf attached to the face of the ruler at 6″, so the camera faces left when the 1″ mark is up and the 12″ mark is down — you will find the same thing happens as before you added the camera. If you attach the ruler to the bushing exactly at the center of gravity, you can easily point the camera in any direction up or down and it’ll just stay. But if you lower the camera and put the bushing into the hole at the 1″ mark… the camera will swing down and point horizontal always.
        I hope this helps!

        Reply
  13. Thanks Dan

    I’ve bitten the bullet and ordered a Nikon 200-500mm after my test trip to BC and now am looking at a gimbal head.
    The RRS PG-02 and Gitzo Fluid Gimbal both fit my budget and look like winners.

    Quick question — I do a small amount of video and fair number of panoramas that I stitch together in Photoshop,
    For this use case which one would you lean towards if it was for yourself?

    The Gitzo is available in Toronto for a great price right now, and I was wondering if both of these gimbals are competent for both tasks.

    Appreciate the help — very informative post.

    Tom

    Reply
  14. Additional accessories?

    Bit of a neophyte question — are there any additional accessories I need to purchase to attach the Nikon 200-500mm to either the RRH pG-02 or the Gitzo Fluid Gimbal, such as a mounting plate? Or are they both ready to go out of the box?

    Cheers

    Tom

    Reply
    • The Gitzo gimbal comes with the mounting plate, the RRS gimbal does not. You could ask RRS which of their plates bests suits that lens and they will tell you. That said, the RRS gimbal, and most others, use the Arca Swiss standard so any brand of plate would work if you don’t want the RRS plate for some reason.

      Reply
      • Thanks Dan

        I did check with the companies directly.
        In the end, with the Gitzo product, would you feel comfortable shooting video?

        It’s on sale in Toronto and significantly cheaper than the RRS at the moment (<$600 CDN) — but that might be false economy if I end up buying a separate gimbal for video.

        (This is completely new territory for me, as you can probably tell.)

        Hope you're getting lots of great shots up in the big wild!

        Reply
        • I guess it depends how important the video is to you. If it’s your business, then I think you would end up with a different head at some point. The Gitzo head is ok for video, but the biggest issue is that it uses slightly different fluid cartridges for the pan and the tilt. This gives it a slightly different feel and resistance when panning or tilting and I suspect that would have an effect on the fluidity of a camera movement that includes a certain amount of each one. That said, it’s far from terrible and the price you have found is good. If it’s video for personal use, on occasion, then it would probably be sufficient. If the store has a good return policy you could always give it a try?

          Reply
    • I guess that’s true. But in all my gimbal use I can’t say this has been an issue. Note that when he begins to set the vertical he suggests starting off with the point of rotation lined up with the centre of the lens. This is exactly where it is on a side mount gimbal at all times. With a tiny bit of friction from the locking knob, my lens stays in place when I let go just as it does with a cradle. I still don’t think the potential benefits outweigh the weight difference.

      Reply
  15. I found this information very helpful. I do not have a gimbal and need one. I currently have a 150-600mm but will be upgrading to a 500mm within the upcoming weeks. I know I will need to use a tripod a lot more with this beast of a lens. Since I am dumping a ton of $ into the upgraded lens, I don’t have too much extra to spend on other particulars. This is probably a stupid general question, but do you need certain gimbal heads for certain tripods? I have a decent Manfrotto tripod. I am entrusting a very expensive investment on top of 3 legs. So I want to be sure I get the right thing.

    Reply
  16. Dan, try to get your hands on the Flexshooter Pro (or the Mini) to test, I think you’ll love it. It is a ballhead / gimbal all in one with a double ball design which also allows you to forget about needing a leveling base. There is absolutely no lens creep whatsoever. So much easier to travel with too given form factor and the fact that you no longer need to also carry a ballhead for landscapes. I have given up using my 4th Generation Mongoose and my Wimberley 2H-200 gimbals completely.

    Reply
    • I have read a lot about this. I’m definitely curious! I’ll ty and get one for review. Thanks for sharing your experience with it. What size of lens are you using with your one?

      Reply
  17. I’m quite surprised that you didn’t include the well made but relatively inexpensive lightweight (2.125 lbs) Canadian made Jobu Design Heavy Duty Mk IV gimbal in your list. I own a prior version of this model and I’m quite pleased with it and at the current price of $549 CAD its a steal.

    Reply
  18. Dan,
    Lately I’ve been using a Sidekick, for the reasons you suggest, and I’ve been pretty happy. But just the other day I noticed that my K-40W Sirui ball head now has a little (very little) rotational play when the ball is locked down. It appears the connection between the mounting plate and the ball (small cylindrical neck w/ allen head bolt) has been slightly compromised. My set-up is heavy (Tamron 150-600mm G2 – Sony A99ii – Sidekick – Sirui K-40W on a Benro Mach3 carbon), but I expected the ball head to handle the load. Considering this situation I’m wondering if the Sidekick’s lateral connection produced a rotational load, a torque, that the K-40W couldn’t accommodate. NOTE: Sirui is being great and honoring their 6-year warranty.
    Thanks,
    Scott

    Have you heard about anything like this before ?

    Reply
    • Hey Scott, I haven’t heard of anything like this before. I’m glad Sirui are sorting it out for you. I also wouldn’t really consider your setup to be that heavy compared to some other long lens rigs so that’s a bit disappointing to hear the Sirui could not handle it.

      Reply
  19. Hi Dan,

    Super informative article! Can you please tell me what tripod is in the pics? It has no centre column, and the legs fold out to 90 degrees allowing the camera to get almost to ground level.

    thanks

    Reply
  20. I may be a little late to the party but i was wondering if you could tell me why the RRS PG-02 Pano-Gimbal Head is no longer available?

    Reply
    • I actually wasn’t aware of this, but after you pointed it out I went and looked around. I see that it’s no longer listed on the B&H site. But on the RRS website I found a clue… they are “Currently re-designing the part.”

      I have no idea what they might be redesigning about it. It was/is already a most excellent gimbal so I wouldn’t expect to see much of a change. Should you still wish to purchase one, shoot me an email! I have a brand new one still in the box. I have been meaning to put it on eBay but would be happy to sell to you if you’re interested.

      RRS tend to be quite slow at making new products so I doubt we will see the 02 back on the open market anytime soon.

      Reply
  21. Have you tried or looked at the Fotopro Eagle Series E-6H or E-9H gimbals? Just wondering to see what you thought of them. Thanks

    Reply
    • I have not. I have tried to contact them to see if they can provide a gimbal for testing, but so far have not had a response. Your comment is a good reminder for me to follow up on this again… thanks!

      Reply
    • John, good news! I just spoke to the CEO of Fotopro and they will be sending a gimbal and a set of matching legs for me to test. I’ll publish a dedicated review, and then they will also (most likely) be added to this guide. At first glance it appears that they will do more than enough to be added to this “best of” list. So, thanks again for the reminder, and stay tuned…

      Reply
  22. Leofoto PG-1 Professional Gimbal Head – their tripods are a great value. Fairly new company that makes quality products for less. I love my carbon tripod. Anyone familiar with the Gimbal head? I think it would stack up agaainst 80% of those mentioned.

    Reply
    • Leofoto do most of their business by making copies of other existing products from other manufacturers. They do so from a country that has less laws about doing such things. It appears that the PG-1 is a carbon copy of the PMG Katana Jr head. I struggle with this way of doing business. Should brands like that be supported? What do you think?

      As a side note, I have in the past contacted them about reviewing some of their products that are not carbon copy clones of other people’s hard work. If you dig into their catalog they have some interesting items hidden amongst the clones. In some ways this infuriates me even more because it proves they have the expertise to create, from scratch, some interesting products. Yet for their ball heads and gimbals they just copy other existing heads and undercut the price of home-grown brands. I actually wish that people like B&H would stop selling the clone products.

      When I asked Leofoto, they declined to send any products for review on this site. Possibly the only brand that has ever declined. I suspect they generally don’t send products to review sites because people always point out that they just copy other people’s products and they don’t come across well from that.

      Reply
      • Thanks for this big effort reviewing all these gimbals 🙂

        Leofoto make sound products with 10 year warranty. There distribution and support is better in UK and South Africa. Their LS Ranger self-levelling tripods ad other accessories are not highly original but break new ground. As far as I know no other manufacturer who has invented a process to coat an entire carbon fibre tripod in tough camouflage. They also sell this is a kit with the GP-1.

        The Leofoto GP-1 weighs 1kg ie 0.2kg lighter than anything above including PMG Katana Jnr! Those chasing after lighter gear for hiking etc can go lighter and for less. The only lighter gimbal I’ve found is the Zenelli ZX carbon fibre, which carries a breathtaking price!

        The other Gimbal you should check out is the S African Gimpro. It’s very solid with superb bearings but heavy. Available in the UK

        Reply
  23. Hi, to save weight, you’ve suggested a side mount gimbal.
    1. Could you lighten further using a Wimberly sidekick or monogimbal on an existing pan head or ball head? I’ve tried using it on a panning base plate and it does not appear to swivel or pan well due to weight being offsite to the side.

    2. Do you have any recommendation on what ball head to couple the sidekick or monogimbal with?

    Reply
    • This would only really save weight if you were also needing to bring a ball head with you. Otherwise I think the sidekick and a good enough ball head to pan well, would actually weigh more than the lightest gimbals such as the PMG one.

      You are correct that panning with the weight off centre does cause more friction and you therefore need to have a really exceptionally smooth and robust ball head to make this work. I have done it with success using the RRS BH-55, but even then it’s not as good as a gimbal.

      Reply
  24. Another product recently recommended for those (like myself and you) who use mirrorless Sony is this Jobu Design Junior BWG gimbal

    This is very light weight and I wonder if you have any experience about this company.

    Reply
  25. Excellent site. Lots of helpful info here. I am sending it to some friends ans additionally sharing in delicious. And of course, thanks on your effort!

    Reply
  26. Thanks Dan,

    I just read your review on the Fotopro Gimbals. You are spot on as far as I am concerned. I purchased the E6-H just after asking you about it in August and really like it for the same reasons you pointed out. It is extremely versatile. I coupled it with an Innorel RT90C tripod. The tripod is a little heavier, for carbon fiber, than most but the top legs are 40mm. It is a very sturdy tripod. It came with a solid cnc mounting pan and an adjustable bowl for leveling( similar to the Foto Pro Eagle Series tripod leveling), both 75mm. The tripod was less than $350.00. I think it is well worth the money and could probably hang with the high dollar tripods. No center pole but they make one for it as an option.

    Reply
    • Aha! You must be the person that brought this to my attention then. I could not remember exactly who it was… thank you! I will have to investigate that tripod, too. Cheers!

      Reply
  27. I was searching for a comparison/review for the Benro GH-5C carbon fiber gimbal. Also wondering if the threaded mounting (to the tripod)was not sufficient. I had heard that there was only 1 thread of engagement-very unacceptable to my toolmaker’s mind. Also, does it come with a side mount?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  28. Hi Dan, Thanks for this great comparison. Which gimbal head would have the least amount of static friction for tilt rotation? So far I have been using the Wimberley Sidekick and it has very low static friction. Thanks for your insight. Best regards, Ted

    Reply
    • Good question. The RRS gimbals have extremely low tilt friction. I would say that this is the lowest. The Katan Jr is also very good.

      Reply
  29. Hey Dan, thanks a lot for this article. You’ve made a great job. I also engaged in the same topic and it would be great if you share your thoughts about it.

    Reply
    • I’m not seeing anything on your site apart from a bunch of reviews about mobile phone gimbals which are VERY different products for a different purpose.

      Reply
  30. Nice review, thorough and comprehensive. I shoot a lot of wildlife with a 600 and also use the RRS gimbal which is a fine piece of engineering but have recently been using a friend’s GimPro head and have to say that I would have bought it instead given the choice. Take a look and maybe give Ralph, the owner a call and see if you can get a review sample. Why is it so good? Engineering grade bearings make it indescribably smooth, it is billet aluminum so incredibly rigid, has options on fixing vertically or horizontally, optional extension arms for serious panning and tracking movement in a safari vehicle and can be finished in black or silver, packing down even smaller than RRS’s. Here’s the link, check out both the Gimbal and pano heads, especially the double pano heads!!: http://www.gimprogear.com/
    Regards,
    Ian Mackenzie.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sending the link, Ian. I have not heard of this company before, but I’m always on the lookout to keep this article up to date. I will certainly reach out to them and see if I can get my hands on one for some testing time.

      Thank you you taking the time to leave a comment. Your participation in the community is appreciated!

      Reply
  31. Hi was wondering if you or anyone else have tested the Gitzo GH3382QD Series 3 together with a sidekick would it hold up a canon 500mm F4?

    what is your thoughs.

    /Cheers

    Reply
  32. Hi guys. I’ve been wondering if it was possible to find some video stabilizer that supports a 400mm lens. I’m a Brazilian biologist and I’ve worked up some nature video productions at my work. But using a monopod or even a tripod, I can’t move easily and therefore I lack enough mobility when I want to put mobility and stabilized images together.

    Reply
    • There are no hand-holdable products that fit this need. Only huge multi-million dollar things that you hang under a helicopter to shoot movies…

      Reply

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