I'd like to start using one or the other. Which one should I get? Plan to photograph backyard birds and wildlife. I have a big backyard living in rural east Tennessee. I need to support a D2x or D300s/MB-D10 and a Sigma 150-500 OS, 70-200 HSM II and 300 f/2.8 HSM lenses plus Sigma 1.4 and 2.0 DG teleconverters. Lens support gear is a Induro AT-313 alloy tripod and a Induro BHD3 ballhead.
D2x, D300s, D700 & D800
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#1. "RE: Full gimbal or sidekick?" | In response to Reply # 0jacsr Registered since 08th Apr 2006Mon 31-Dec-12 04:45 PM
When I first started birding I used a Sigma 150-500 and a 1.4TC. To support this setup I used a 3541LS, M20 and sidekick. Since the lens is not too heavy side mounting was not much of an issue and easily done one handed. This setup also gave me the ability to switch to a smaller lens, remove the sidekick and use the ball head. Carrying the setup over the shoulder was ok.
When I moved to the 500/4 AF-S, I moved to a full gimbal. The 500/4 is heavier and I found it easier to mount one handed on the full gimbal. While the sidekick/ball head setup works very well, for the 500/4 I find the gimbal to work best.
I currently use the sidekick/ball head as my travel setup when I know I will be shooting wildlife/birds. The full gimbal is just too big to pack.
As for your setup I know the sidekick/ball head will work well for the 70-200 and 150-500 assuming the ball head is robust enough (the ball needs to lock tight and the pan base will need to be smooth). I do not believe you will have any issues with the 300/2.8.
I feel it is my duty to warn you that shooting birds/wildlife has a way of bringing on NAS in a BIG way, think 500/4 or 600/4. If you think you may be susceptible to this you may want to consider a full gimbal from the onset.
Both will work well, pick what you think will best meet your needs now and into the future, well as much as you can about the future need.
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#3. "RE: Full gimbal or sidekick?" | In response to Reply # 1FredB D3 Nikonian since 26th Jun 2008Mon 31-Dec-12 06:14 PM
I second Joe's advice. I started with a Wimberley Sidekick for the 300 f2.8 on a RRS BH-55 ballhead. Shortly after getting the 500 f4 (NAS reared its ever-lurking head), I got a full Wimberley. My wife and I still use both Wimberley's and lenses, so it wasn't really money mis-spent. Really.
#5. "RE: Full gimbal or sidekick?" | In response to Reply # 0
I have the Sidekick and WH-200, and use them with a Nikkor 70-200/2.8, Nikkor 300/4 AFS, Nikkor 300/2.8 AFSII and Nikkor 500/4 AFS. So my gear list is fairly similar to Joe's.
The full Gimbal is bulkier and requires a head swap when using collarless lenses with a ball head. A full gimbal is financially very dangerous because it will get you thinking about a 2nd tripod to avoid that head swapping, assuming you do a lot of collarless lens work with a tripod
Depending on the lens a Sidekick may give you more or less vertical elevation, especially if you tilt it back toward you. The Sidekick has very limited vertical travel with something like a 70-200 or a 300/4, especially if you use a body with a grip and more so if you add an L bracket or possibly just a flat body plate. It can be bad enough that it must be tilted back to be useful.
My recollection is that the 150-500 is long enough (between body and lens foot) that it works well with the Sidekick but only looked at a friend's 150-500 installed on my Sidekick for a few hours. The 70-200 geometry puts the body too close to the lens foot.
That is the one drawback of the Sidekick. But it is very lens/body combination dependent.
While the WH-200 should generally provide more vertical travel than the Sidekick, it cannot be increased since the only way to do that is to tilt the entire tripod back, which is not generally a good idea.
On the Wh-200, without a TC I can actually tilt my 70-200 fully vertical because it will swing through the mount. It's only an extra inch or so but that makes the difference.
A WH-200 better handles a flash bracket like the Wimberly system that I use. That is because the vertical platform adjustment allows it to be "de-tuned" to make up for the center of gravity problems inherent in having a speedlight mounted up high. I added the WH-200 after getting the Wimberly flash, and at the time I was mainly using the Sidekick with the 300/2.8 AFS.
Any gimbal withOUT an adjustable platform would have the same problem with flash brackets, even the WH-200 with the new platform-less configuration. So if you go with the WH-200 for flash bracket use then you want to get the old traditional adjustable platform configuration.
I kept the Sidekick for more casual use when I wanted to be able to travel lighter and/or swap quickly between collared and collarless lenses without trying to mount a ballhead on the WH-200 (possible but that is another story).
I always thought the WH-200 + 300/2.8 looked like "overkill" but I enjoyed shooting that way, even without a flash.
I have tested comparative stability. The Sidekick can actually test slightly better, and Wimberly says the same in their old written FAQ dealing with the Sidekick vs WH-200 issue. And I think they covered the issue very completely and honestly. They seemed to have replaced it with a video that will give you a good visual feel but they left out some details.
Because the Sidekick relies on teh ball head's pan base, it's performance there is solely dependent on the quality of the head. I used my Markins M10 for many years, and now usually my M20. Both are very acceptable, the M20 more so.
The WH-200 does have a very good pan base, and it is designed and "certified by Wimberly" to be used with an over the shoulder carry. I am reluctant to do that because I believe Markins does not really recommend that and our Jrp has advised against it in the past. This is a very murky issue! If over the should carries are important to you, that can and should swing you to a WH-200.
As Joe mentioned, most people are comfortable side loading a 300/2.8 or 200-400 or smaller on the Sidekick. The 500/4 is more of a split decision, and with a 600/4 most people do not want to side load onb a Sidekick. This is strictly a setup issue, in operation they are far more closer UNLESS you find the perfectly balanced action "too wild" and want to tame it down by setting the vertical platform lower than optimum.
The FAQ video includes Clay Wimberly mounting what looks like a Canon 500/4 on the Sidekick. He does it very quickly and smoothly and without drama. He obviously does it a lot . I'm not as fast with my own 500/4 but am totally comfortable doing so. A gimbal newbie might not be so comfortable right out of the box. It's an acquired taste and skill.
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#6. "RE: Full gimbal or sidekick?" | In response to Reply # 5NikonMark37814 Registered since 20th May 2010Mon 31-Dec-12 11:47 PM
Thanks everyone for your comments. I'm going to go with a Induro GHBA sidekick for now. If and when NAS rears it's ugly head and a 500 f/4 finds a way to my house I'll upgrade to a full gimbal and have both.
D2x, D300s, D700 & D800
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