I was thinking of an used Wimberley head but with the new version coming I hesitated a bit and started to think about the sidekick. I had experiences with the Wimberley head but have not put my hands on the sidekick. Can anyone share experience with it? Is it as safe and steady as the head? Is it as easy to use as the head?
I have both the Wimberly Head and the Sidekick and use the Sidekick whenever I am traveling via plane or hiking in lieu of the Head. Used on a Markins Ball head the Sidekick works fine with my 500mm F4 AFS and F5. Of course the head has more mass and it feels more secure but I probably use the Sidekick more often.
The Sidekick on a Markins M20 is a breeze to use. The often missed advantage of this setup is that the M20 can be used with and without the sidekick, which doesn't occupy that much space. It takes good care of lenses from the 70-200mm AF-S VR, the 80-400mm VR, to the 500mm f/4 AF-S and the 200-400mm AF-S VR as per the image below from the 5th ANPAT.
It is only with the monster 600mm f/4 AF-S that I would consider a dedicate tripod with a full Wimberley head.
There are two situations where a full Wimberly would be preferable: Whemn using a 600mm (or similar) as jrp mentions, or if you use any big lens a large percentage of the time and can justify a second set of legs and the added weight of the full head. For most situations, the Sidekick is easier, and definitely lighter weight. It works great. The shot here is the 200-400 VR.
Thanks all. Sounds like the Sidekick is an useful accessory even if one has the full head. I may get the side kick first and buy a full head once the version II comes. Will mount the sidekick to a G1325 for a 300mm f2.8 and the full head to a G1548 for a 400mm f2.8.
Bob, I am surprised to see you carrying the lens on top of the tripod that way. I tried the 400mm f2.8 on a Markins M20/G1325 and I did not feel comfortable to carry it that way hence the thoughts for a Wimberley head.
A note about the sidekick: Might seem obvious but really tighten the control knob on the ballhead all the way. I had my arca swiss set to about 9 (goes up to 12) and I picked up the whole rig (D2X, 300mm 2.8, 2X tele, B1, sidekick, legs) only to have the ball twist out of the drop notch. I thought I'd picked it up vertically and it seemed to defy gravity jumping out of the notch as it did! Scary moment but nothing broken - lesson learned for me....
I've never had it move *that* much, but when setting it down again I infrequently notice it's slipped slightly which does give you an occasion to be thankful for the stop screws in the Wimberley plate, but otherwise no real problem.
Ah - but you have a Markins M20 with a spherical ball. I have an Arca Swiss B1 with an aspherical ball. The ball has more resistance at greater zenith angles - quite a bit greater in the notch! When it starts to move out of the notch, the resistance drops and the ball accelerates out of the notch position.