So who is getting the new Gitzo Gimbal Fluid Head?....

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#41
Most fluid heads less than ~ $1k have fixed fluid dampening and friction adjustments... mine is due to be delivered today.
....I'm sure that others here as well as myself, will be interested to hear your first impressions.
 
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#42
Hope you both get out to try your new toys on Friday. Weather is looking good for me (South Wales) so I will be off Bittern hunting - fingers crossed!

If you do manage to get out I would be interested in your thoughts on this Gitzo Gimbal.
 
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#43
Hope you both get out to try your new toys on Friday. Weather is looking good for me (South Wales) so I will be off Bittern hunting - fingers crossed!

If you do manage to get out I would be interested in your thoughts on this Gitzo Gimbal.
....I've already got very positive thoughts from playing around with it indoors - It's very ergonomic and tactile.

Good Luck with those elusive Bitterns!

BITTERN IN ITS HABITAT
by Robin Procter, on Flickr
 
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#44
It will be going back... I don't know if I got a dud or not, but on quick overview I've found several things I don't like. Most are pretty small, some are more significant. I haven't quite decided if I'm going to do a video review before sending it back or not, so I'll list what I found starting with the minor stuff.

  • It's bulky, but not overly heavy. It's made from two castings held together with only 3 screws that I can see.
  • The panning bar is on the short side for video at only 11 inches. With my camera/lens as tested the angled arm can only be used pointed down, when pointed up it contacts the camera body and is useless.
  • With no friction on the tilt adjustment the vertical swingarm has a slight amount of lateral play.
  • The level of fluid dampening is very different between the pan (light drag) and tilt (moderate drag). I would prefer more dampening on the pan azimuth, others will feel differently; but there is no adjustability.
  • The friction knobs turn way more than is useful... the actual control range for them is about 1/2 turn. That makes it pretty hard to fine tune any additional friction drag if desired, but friction drag seems smooth enough.
  • I get the feeling the friction knobs are meant only as "locking knobs" due to the way they're implemented... especially the panning friction block which is exposed from below and *will* collect grit if you're not careful.
  • The tilt friction knob came off in my hand... maybe they forgot the loctite? (I was trying to reduce the friction/dampening because it was cold)
  • There's a lot of grease/lubricant used everywhere... not a surprise being it's a grease (fluid cartridge) head. But I'm not at all confident it's sealed well enough to keep grit out of the grease. Definitely need to clean the grease off of the sliding parts/pins of the clamp or it will be full of grit in a hurry.
  • Under the panning pivot cap there is a screw that adjusts the panning drag, but it's adjusting against an open roller bearing in a lot of grease... hmm...
  • The fluid drag resistances are significantly affected by temperature getting quite stiff near/below freezing (mine was very cold when first delivered). Again, there's no adjustability as such.
  • I can hear/feel mechanical drag in the panning azimuth, a kind of light grinding noise/vibration bearings sometimes make... that shouldn't be there in a fluid head.
Offhand I don't think any of those things makes it a bad gimbal head, but it's not a great head IMO. Given the price, I might consider it over the Wimberley... maybe... the variability due to temperature could be a big problem for some.
 
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#45
@sk66 Steven, I think you must have a dud!

I have been out with mine today and absolutely have not experienced many of the problems you describe and actually don't agree at all about some of the features you find negative.

If this list is your "minor stuff" I can't help wondering what on earth your major stuff is.

I will answer your points individually later but am busy right now (or about to be in 5 minutes).
 
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#46
@sk66 Steven, I think you must have a dud!
I do wonder if I messed the panning function up by playing with it when it was cold... the specified minimum temp is 14*f and it was warmer than that. Either way, that's a problem for me... I was out in colder conditions earlier this month.

The manual also states that the tilt axis has "fluid cartridge with fixed drag" and the pan axis has "1 step plus variable PTFE friction," but they don't explain that the PTFE friction is adjusted with the screw under the cap and *not* with the locking knob. Based upon what I have seen and what they describe I consider the knobs to be locks and not drag adjustments.
 
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#47
It's bulky, but not overly heavy. It's made from two castings held together with only 3 screws that I can see.
....Agreed that it's bulky and not overly heavy. "only 3 screws" need not be a concern when you don't know the female fixing depths nor the glue used < Gitzo usually have high standards of manufacture.

The panning bar is on the short side for video at only 11 inches. With my camera/lens as tested the angled arm can only be used pointed down, when pointed up it contacts the camera body and is useless.
....Whether I use a Canon D-SLR with battery grip or not, the panning bar has a very full range of adjustments to both length and angle. I so far prefer mine shorter and there is no compromise of control as a result.
As I hoped and expected, using the panning bar at the same time as the levelling base's T-joystick (Gitzo) to find level without faffing around with the tripod (Systematic) leg lengths, saves a lot of time and is very easy even with a heavy lens onboard. The panning bar is invaluable in this respect.

With no friction on the tilt adjustment the vertical swingarm has a slight amount of lateral play.
....No lateral play whatsoever on my unit. The fluid resistance on the tilt simply doesn't need further adjustment - You just run the knob close to locking and use some finesse when you want to lock/unlock. It is extremely stable and remains at whatever angle you let go of it and therefore very usefully holds your precise composition on target subject. This is additionally very helpful if you want either or both hands free such as when focussing manually.

The level of fluid dampening is very different between the pan (light drag) and tilt (moderate drag). I would prefer more dampening on the pan azimuth, others will feel differently; but there is no adjustability.
....I would describe it as different rather than "very different" and such that your subconscious muscle memory very quickly adapts and you simply 'drive' it by feel rather than conscious calculations. Both are what my photographer gimbal-using companion today kept repeating as "silky".

The friction knobs turn way more than is useful... the actual control range for them is about 1/2 turn. That makes it pretty hard to fine tune any additional friction drag if desired, but friction drag seems smooth enough.
....There is no reason to turn the knobs any more than what is required to lock and unlock. If the gimbal has been properly set up for the camera and lens being mounted, you don't need to further tune friction drag and it responds more than adequately to the lightest of touch on the panning arm or camera body.

I get the feeling the friction knobs are meant only as "locking knobs" due to the way they're implemented... especially the panning friction block which is exposed from below and *will* collect grit if you're not careful.
....I think so too - The knobs are intended only as locking knobs. Mounted on a Gitzo Systematic Levelling Base I see no exposure below.

The tilt friction knob came off in my hand... maybe they forgot the loctite? (I was trying to reduce the friction/dampening because it was cold)
....Why did you keeping turning the knob so many turns that it came so loose and came off? It's functionality simply doesn't require you to turn it even one whole revolution.

There's a lot of grease/lubricant used everywhere... not a surprise being it's a grease (fluid cartridge) head. But I'm not at all confident it's sealed well enough to keep grit out of the grease. Definitely need to clean the grease off of the sliding parts/pins of the clamp or it will be full of grit in a hurry.
....No visible grease or excess of on my unit.

Under the panning pivot cap there is a screw that adjusts the panning drag, but it's adjusting against an open roller bearing in a lot of grease... hmm...
....I didn't read anything in the Gitzo instructions to suggest that a user would need to or should delve under the panning pivot cap.

The fluid drag resistances are significantly affected by temperature getting quite stiff near/below freezing (mine was very cold when first delivered). Again, there's no adjustability as such.
....Gitzo's enclosed booklet warns against temperature effects and states a range. I think it was -30C as the coldest? Personally I don't enjoy doing anything in climates colder than -20C and so am ok.

I can hear/feel mechanical drag in the panning azimuth, a kind of light grinding noise/vibration bearings sometimes make... that shouldn't be there in a fluid head.
....Nothing heard or felt in my unit whatsoever like you describe.
Offhand I don't think any of those things makes it a bad gimbal head, but it's not a great head IMO. Given the price, I might consider it over the Wimberley... maybe... the variability due to temperature could be a big problem for some.
....Yes I can see that temperature might be a problem for some.

There are quite few major pluses about this head as far as my own use is concerned but I have a full day tomorrow using it and can report further then.

Mine is definitely not going back.
 
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#48
There are quite few major pluses about this head as far as my own use is concerned but I have a full day tomorrow using it and can report further then.

Mine is definitely not going back.
I took it apart and figured out what was wrong with it's pan azimuth. In the process I found that I was wrong and it uses proper "finned" fluid (grease) cartridges in both the pan and tilt movements (I was expecting something more basic). On mine the grease cartridge was providing way too mach resistance, which caused it to always be in "break away" mode where the roller bearings do all of the work. I also think it may have cause an internal fixing screw to come slightly loose letting things slip earlier than it should.
So I cleaned it out and repacked it with silicon grease. Reassembled as it should be, and now it's acting/sounding much better.

I'm going to post another thread with a bunch of pictures.

BTW, I almost guarantee they all have the lateral play in the swingarm... they have to as it's a side effect of the design. It's quite small and "fluid" more than "slop" because it's due to the interface of the fluid cartridge halves... you might call it "flex" or "give" rather than play.
 
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#49
I took it apart and figured out what was wrong with it's pan azimuth. In the process I found that I was wrong and it uses proper "finned" fluid (grease) cartridges in both the pan and tilt movements (I was expecting something more basic). On mine the grease cartridge was providing way too mach resistance, which caused it to always be in "break away" mode where the roller bearings do all of the work. I also think it may have cause an internal fixing screw to come slightly loose letting things slip earlier than it should.
So I cleaned it out and repacked it with silicon grease. Reassembled as it should be, and now it's acting/sounding much better.

I'm going to post another thread with a bunch of pictures.

BTW, I almost guarantee they all have the lateral play in the swingarm... they have to as it's a side effect of the design. It's quite small and "fluid" more than "slop" because it's due to the interface of the fluid cartridge halves... you might call it "flex" or "give" rather than play.
....It's interesting how your approach to this product is quite different to my own. It seems that you are inclined to want to understand its inner workings in much greater detail than myself, as if you are an industrial designer keen to develop it further and improve it. Whereas my approach is that I am just interested in how it feels to use and whether it might further enable my potential.

Judging by your Flickr pages (some excellent and very individual style Snowy Owl images) I think you operate in a much colder climate than I do and I can see how this Gitzo head might have temperature related limitations. I hope not but this may the Achilles heel of fluid action equipment - I am guessing and don't actually know.

Tomorrow (I left all my gear in the car locked in the garage ready for an early start) I shall check out "the lateral play in the swingarm" but I hadn't so far noticed any to be conscious of. It certainly wasn't interfering with my ability to very quickly grab photos. So far, I think I am seeing a higher rate of sharp images but it is early days. It feels absolutely solid when shooting, even on a hillside with wind.
 
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#50
Tomorrow (I left all my gear in the car locked in the garage ready for an early start) I shall check out "the lateral play in the swingarm" but I hadn't so far noticed any to be conscious of. It certainly wasn't interfering with my ability to very quickly grab photos. So far, I think I am seeing a higher rate of sharp images but it is early days.
It's definitely minor... I don't think it will inhibit sharp images, but some will notice/comment so I figured I should mention it.

I didn't take it apart just because I wanted to, but because something was seemingly quite wrong... I could (probably should) have just returned/exchanged it. But yeah, I'm rather technically/mechanically inclined.
 
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#51
I'm learning quite a lot about it from you, Steven. [I can't find the simple thumbs-up smilie]
 
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#52
A snap of it on my iPhone :

The camouflage tape is only to reduce the cold feel of metal. LensCoat tell me that they will be offering a neoprene cover and also pouch after they receive their unit.

I prefer my mounting to have the gimbal column on the lefthand side, others prefer the righthand side. It is very easy to change the position and length of the panning bar while set up.

It does look bulky as Steven says and is 10 inches tall.

 
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#53
Different observations from different users - sounds very much like a "Try Before You Buy".

Currently I am very happy with my Wimberley 2 (don't do video) but I am intrigued by this head - I will wait for the camera shop to get one in so I can play.

Nice shot Robin!
 
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#54
Different observations from different users - sounds very much like a "Try Before You Buy".

Currently I am very happy with my Wimberley 2 (don't do video) but I am intrigued by this head - I will wait for the camera shop to get one in so I can play.

Nice shot Robin!
Now that I've fixed mine it's doing what I wanted and the damping levels are much more similar... I'm keeping it for now. The rest was just minor QC issues easily rectified, or slight quirks that don't really matter.

If you're used to using a gimbal fully loose it would probably take some getting used to, but I can pretty much promise that it will help. I always tried to add friction dampening to gimbal heads, but it was never terribly smooth/consistent... that's part of why I quit using them.
 
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#56
Picked up one of these today. First impressions are good. Much better than my other gimbal.
 
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#57
Picked up one of these today. First impressions are good. Much better than my other gimbal.
....That's good to hear because I wouldn't feel happy recommending a product which no-one likes!

Having now shot about 1,200 images on it over the last couple of weeks I continue to be very impressed and it has definitely helped me nail a higher rate of sharp inflight photos. Its damping means I can now more comfortably use IS mode-3 (on my Canon 500mm F/4L II often with 1.4x) which automatically switches off all IS until the shutter is released - I shoot Back Button Focus. On other heads, switching IS off results in an uncomfortable 'wobbly' image in the viewfinder which interferes with both ease of tracking and composition - The longer the lens focal length the more this is exaggerated. The advantage of switching IS off via mode-3 is that the lens has to do less work internally and consequently can track and autofocus faster.

I am enjoying results from using this Gitzo Fluid Gimbal Head so much that I am now happier to lug it around on its tripod with levelling base.

Gaz, which other gimbal do you prefer your new Gitzo to please?



^ An example shot @ 700mm on Canon 5D4 on Gitzo Fluid Gimbal
 
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#58
The other one is a Benro. It's always been just ok. Difficult to find a setting on the Benro that provides enough drag but still retains its smoothness. Loosen it to far and it becomes sloppy. The Gitzo seems to have less range of adjustment but even backed right off it has a lovely smoothness and control on it.
 
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#59
The other one is a Benro. It's always been just ok. Difficult to find a setting on the Benro that provides enough drag but still retains its smoothness. Loosen it to far and it becomes sloppy. The Gitzo seems to have less range of adjustment but even backed right off it has a lovely smoothness and control on it.
....That finesse of control is exactly what I like about it. The faster you swing it, the looser it feels < It's quite subtle and there's no real need to take it apart and analyse it because it simply works. If it works, don't mend it!

I find that it doesn't need any friction adjustment like non-fluid gimbals have and locking on and off is very smooth. Even the Arca-Swiss profile clamp's knob works very smoothly and inspires confidence - I'm a much bigger fan of quick release levers such as on Really Right Stuff and Acratech clamps but am very happy with this Gitzo knob.

LensCoat tell me that they will be offering both a neoprene pouch and gimbal wrap. The magnesium column is cold to the touch and that's why I have temporarily wrapped it in gun tape (see photo in my earlier post). Sometimes I use the panning lever, sometimes the camera body, and sometimes the column to aim on the target.
 
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#60
The faster you swing it, the looser it feels
When the fluid drag increases to a certain point it "breaks away" and the friction/drag is then provided by PTFE washers. You can adjust how much friction is applied by the PTFE washers, and how easily/early it breaks away with the allen screw under the center cap.
 
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#61
When the fluid drag increases to a certain point it "breaks away" and the friction/drag is then provided by PTFE washers. You can adjust how much friction is applied by the PTFE washers, and how easily/early it breaks away with the allen screw under the center cap.
....Isn't that a factory adjustment not presented as a user option?
 
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#63
I don't think so... they describe it as being "variable PTFE friction," and it's only variable in the sense that it is adjustable. But it is not described in the manual. You can't hurt anything by adjusting the screw, just don't loose it.
....It may be adjustable but as adjustability is not mentioned in the manual and there is no visible user-friendly and obvious way of removing the centre cap to access that screw, and the whole head performs very well as it is anyway (in my opinion), then I personally am not inclined to tinker with it. Furthermore, the Gitzo Fluid Gimbal Head may be very reasonably priced but I am also not inclined to risk invalidating my warranty should any future problem occur. Signs of customer tinkering will usually invalidate a warranty and quite fairly so, in my opinion.

It will of course be interesting to hear how Gitzo respond to your admission to them that you have been doing some 'in-depth exploring' (spelt 'tinkering') :D
 
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#64
....It may be adjustable but as adjustability is not mentioned in the manual and there is no visible user-friendly and obvious way of removing the centre cap to access that screw, and the whole head performs very well as it is anyway (in my opinion), then I personally am not inclined to tinker with it. Furthermore, the Gitzo Fluid Gimbal Head may be very reasonably priced but I am also not inclined to risk invalidating my warranty should any future problem occur. Signs of customer tinkering will usually invalidate a warranty and quite fairly so, in my opinion.

It will of course be interesting to hear how Gitzo respond to your admission to them that you have been doing some 'in-depth exploring' (spelt 'tinkering') :D
They haven't responded at all...
I think you are being a bit overly concerned/cautious, but if it's ideal for you as-is then no reason to mess with it. BTW, there is no tool for installing/removing the center cap so it's not installed very firmly, only "hand tight." Because of that it might be prone to coming loose over time. Nothing to worry about IMO, just something to keep an eye on... wouldn't want to loose it.
 
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#65
i wouldnt call this a proper gimble imo.

something like the CRANE 2 is a nice gimble to use. This head is just a nice large tripod head you can use to do some manual panning
 
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#66
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#67
Haha, you mean one of these https://www.amazon.co.uk/Zhiyun-Han...qid=1517826541&sr=8-1&keywords=crane+2+gimbal

Yes, that's known as a gimbal in video circles, but is a rather different animal and wouldn't take well to a 600mm lens.
....Rather like the so-called 'gimbal' heads being sold for mobile phone video photography. I made the mistake of buying one for my iPhone 7 Plus!

i wouldnt call this a proper gimble imo.

something like the CRANE 2 is a nice gimble to use. This head is just a nice large tripod head you can use to do some manual panning
....I think if you had tried out a Gitzo Fluid Gimbal Head you would be expressing quite a different opinion! The Gitzo in this thread is most definitely a true gimbal head and it performs very well indeed for stills and doubtless for video as well. Have a go with one and then post what you think.
 
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#68
They haven't responded at all...
I think you are being a bit overly concerned/cautious, but if it's ideal for you as-is then no reason to mess with it. BTW, there is no tool for installing/removing the center cap so it's not installed very firmly, only "hand tight." Because of that it might be prone to coming loose over time. Nothing to worry about IMO, just something to keep an eye on... wouldn't want to loose it.
....I tried gently exploring if the cap might be undone by hand after your earlier post about it but it was very firm and so I left it alone.

It's good to know that there is the possibility to make fine adjustments there (or cock it up!) but my first port of call for any behaviour I didn't like would be Gitzo themselves. They are a very helpful company in my experience.
 
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#69
i wouldnt call this a proper gimble imo.

something like the CRANE 2 is a nice gimble to use. This head is just a nice large tripod head you can use to do some manual panning
It's as much a gimbal head as a wimberley. And quite possibly better than a wimberley. Certainly way better than my Benro.
 
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#73
So, now that you've had them a couple of months, have the first impressions changed at all? What's it been like to live with etc.?
....I continue to be very happy with mine and find that a LensCoat improves handling in cold weather.

Two friends of mine have now bought one and they prefer it to their Wimberley 2. Also, two other friends have bought one and both are happy - One was to replace a Sirui PH-20 and the other a strange Manfrotto double 'U' head (not really a proper gimbal). They are happy too. Oh, and also a wildlife and landscape professional friend to add to his arsenal.

 
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#75
....I continue to be very happy with mine and find that a LensCoat improves handling in cold weather.

Two friends of mine have now bought one and they prefer it to their Wimberley 2. Also, two other friends have bought one and both are happy - One was to replace a Sirui PH-20 and the other a strange Manfrotto double 'U' head (not really a proper gimbal). They are happy too. Oh, and also a wildlife and landscape professional friend to add to his arsenal.

Did you get your lenscoat in the uk Robin?
 
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#76
Did you get your lenscoat in the uk Robin?
....No, I got it (and additional ones for friends) direct from LensCoat across the pond in the U S of A. I have been in contact with them about them producing this Gitzo Gimbal cover for a while.

LensCoat provide an excellent and efficient service but I hate paying the fecking UK tax and 'handling fees' (legal theft!!!!) which FedEx are obliged to charge when delivering. Wex stock some LensCoat products but it's a limited range and I wanted my cover and also protective pouch sooner rather than later.

Here's a link to their product details page :

http://www.lenscoat.com/lenscoat�-g....html?osCsid=0c33fc87bfef7ce5bd31029767b814fe
 
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#79
Have to ask though @RedRobin what on earth do you have between the tripod and the head?!
....A set up which allows me to quickly remove everything above the tripod legs and then shoot at very low level or shoot from a rock or somewhere a tripod can't be used. Consequently I can be on a 'walkabout' and have increased position flexibility according to the wildlife subjects I encounter.

It consists of a RRS long QR lever clamp attached to my Gitzo Systematic 3 tripod. The broad and long Arca profile plate from my Gitzo Fluid Gimbal Head is attached to the underside of a PlatyPod Max platform onto which is fitted a RRS Levelling Base under the Gitzo Fluid Gimbal Head.

It also works well on the shelves in hides.

The balance is fine and is more stable than it looks.

EDIT :
I have now found that if you need to be in a hurry to grab the photo opportunity it can cause delay while adjusting the screw legs. But otherwise, no problem.

 
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#80
Well, thanks to you lot I've taken the plunge and it arrived earlier in the week, definitely feels a lot 'tighter' than the Wimberley, so going to keep it and sell off the WH-200. Just got to find a hex tool to remove the screw that stops the plate coming off so I can fit it in the bag!

IMG_3577.jpg

Thanks for the info on the setup Robin, some good ideas there, you've reminded me we still have a spare frying pan here ready to make my own groundpod!
 
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