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Author Topic: Opteka Gimbal Head Review  (Read 3480 times)

Mt Spokane Photography

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Opteka Gimbal Head Review
« on: October 17, 2013, 12:26:53 PM »
I was wanting a low cost but sturdy gimbal head to try my new Nikon 200-400mmG with.  I've previously used the big Wimberly head with my Canon 600mm f/4, so I know how a gimbal head should work.
 
At $150 on Amazon, the Opteka was reasonably priced, and with a 30 lb rating, certainly heavy duty enough to hold my 9 lb combination of lens and camera.
 
I received it and sure enough, it was heavy duty, plenty big and strong for my purpose.
 
That's where my positive comments end.
 
This was a piece of junk.  Nothing worked right.  I did not expect a Wimberly head, but I did expect something useful.  I could have pried out the silly plastic compass thingy which likely covers a adjustment screw, but the swing mechanism was binding at some points, so even loosening up the screw would not fix the mis-machining.  They obviously did not intend for it to be adjusted, I'd have to damage the cover seals to pry them out and adjust it.  Really amateur construction, all heads need adjustment eventually.
 
I posted a review on Amazon, so I'll quote from it here:
 
Here are some of the things I saw.

1. Very stiff for swinging a lens vertically, even with the tightening know loosened, it was stiff and I could not move the lens. No need to balance the lens, even my heavy Nikon 200-400mmG stuck in whatever position I left it.

2, Very Stiff horizontal panning, again, pretty much useless.

3. Machining of the swing arm and vertical slider was rough and so loose that it would catch when trying to raise or lower it, with or without lens.

Its really useless for tracking a bird in flight, and so jerky that its difficult to get it pointed at a stationary object.

 
Being a optimist, I ordered another low cost Aluminum Gimbal Head from Amazon.  I'll post my comments when I use it.

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Opteka Gimbal Head Review
« on: October 17, 2013, 12:26:53 PM »

Drizzt321

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Re: Opteka Gimbal Head Review
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2013, 12:34:51 PM »
Thanks! Very useful, as I don't expect I'll often need a gimbal head, but it might be handy to have one that works OK on hand should I need to rent a BWL.
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Eldar

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Re: Opteka Gimbal Head Review
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2013, 12:45:44 PM »
Same story, one believes one bought something cheap and functional and it ends up being just cheap ...
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ftico

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Re: Opteka Gimbal Head Review
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2013, 12:46:15 PM »
I had a pretty much similar experience... but unfortunately due to traveling I could not return it. So I fixed it the best I could, oiled it a bit, stiffened some screws and loosened others, trimmed a bit extra plastic cover that introducing friction. Now the horizontal panning is reasonably smooth, the vertical still a little stiff but less so.

All in all, it is now usable, but:

When you loosen the knob for the vertical panning, the arm lowers a bit. With a 400mm with an extender on a crop body, it forces you to recompose.

For me, this is the worst feature of the head.
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Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Opteka Gimbal Head Review
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2013, 12:47:05 PM »
Thanks! Very useful, as I don't expect I'll often need a gimbal head, but it might be handy to have one that works OK on hand should I need to rent a BWL.
You can rent a head along with the lens. 
 
I wanted something cheap to try out the lens which I will likely sell.  It might be useful for a 100-400L or something like that as opposed to a ball head.  I usually use mine handheld or with a monopod, so I was not planning to get one for that, but for birds in flight, it might be useful.

Drizzt321

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Re: Opteka Gimbal Head Review
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2013, 12:56:37 PM »
Thanks! Very useful, as I don't expect I'll often need a gimbal head, but it might be handy to have one that works OK on hand should I need to rent a BWL.
You can rent a head along with the lens. 
 
I wanted something cheap to try out the lens which I will likely sell.  It might be useful for a 100-400L or something like that as opposed to a ball head.  I usually use mine handheld or with a monopod, so I was not planning to get one for that, but for birds in flight, it might be useful.

Yea, but if there's a decent enough gimbal for $150-200, over the years can be the same. And just as useful with somewhat shorter lenses at need. Like I imagine I'll get the 100-400 eventually (maybe the v2 will be out by then ::)), and I probably won't have a real need for a top end gimbal head, but a decent one that's a lot cheaper would be just fine for me. That is...until I decide I might want to get into BIF, lol.

Anyway, my thought is I'd prefer to own as long as I can get good enough quality, unless it's something I'll use once in a year or two.
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GuyF

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Re: Opteka Gimbal Head Review
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2013, 01:18:21 PM »
You might want to check out LensMaster. Pretty cheap and does the job. I'm happy with the RH-2 I bought from them.

http://www.lensmaster.co.uk/index.htm

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Re: Opteka Gimbal Head Review
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2013, 01:18:21 PM »

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Opteka Gimbal Head Review
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2013, 05:35:04 PM »
You might want to check out LensMaster. Pretty cheap and does the job. I'm happy with the RH-2 I bought from them.

http://www.lensmaster.co.uk/index.htm

I don't think they sell them in the US.
 
I was out using the Opteka today, and cussing it out a bit.  It could be a great buy with just a bit more care in manufacturing.
 

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Re: Opteka Gimbal Head Review
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2013, 01:21:50 PM »
Spokane - they will ship anywhere as far as I'm aware. Send 'em an e-mail.

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Opteka Gimbal Head Review
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2013, 09:02:17 PM »
Spokane - they will ship anywhere as far as I'm aware. Send 'em an e-mail.

I'm trying a second model, it just arrived 10 minutes ago, I haven't even opened it.  If its junk as well, I'll either try the one you mentioned, or consider dismantling the Opteka and adjusting it.

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Re: Opteka Gimbal Head Review
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2013, 09:49:47 PM »
I just opened the box, this head is everything that the Opteka was not, nice finish, tightly machined parts that fit and operate smoothly.  Its Aluminum and light, but obviously very strong.  It was packed in foam (Not Styrofoam), so it could withstand a lot of mishandling in shipping, while the Opteka was in a bubble bag in its box and could bounce around in shipping.
 
I did not need to mount it to see the huge difference in build quality, but I'll be testing it.
 
The only weird thing is that the Arca Swiss clamp did not open wide enough to install the AS plate they supplied with it.  This was noted on a review I read, apparently, its a simple set screw adjustment to allow it to open further.  It is missing snap-in  covers for the adjustment screws, I'm wondering if they were left off for a reason.  It would look nicer if it had them, I'll try asking the dealer why it doesn't have them.
 
The head has a nice instruction sheet written in clear English telling how to setup your lens and balance it.  It also covers adjustment of the head components for tightness and to remove any play. (The Opteka had none)  The instructions makes reference to a Wimberly pate and head, so someone missed cleaning up the terminology, since it is obviously not remotely related to Wimberly.
 
 
Now, for the best part, it cost $99.95 and is shipped by Amazon Prime in the USA while the Opteka was $150.
 
http://www.amazon.com/CoralPix-CPGH-Aluminum-Arca-Swiss-Release/dp/B00D3UBO0E/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1382147057&sr=8-2&keywords=gimbal+head
 
I'll do a more complete review with images once I have used it a bit, and confirm my initial observations about the quality. 
 
 

neuroanatomist

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Re: Opteka Gimbal Head Review
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2013, 09:53:05 PM »
Great find, thanks for sharing!
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wickidwombat

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Re: Opteka Gimbal Head Review
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2013, 10:00:37 PM »
i got the benro gimbal for my 600 fd lens and its great have a look at them

whoops replied before i see you got something else :)
« Last Edit: October 18, 2013, 10:09:49 PM by wickidwombat »
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Re: Opteka Gimbal Head Review
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2013, 10:00:37 PM »

privatebydesign

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Re: Opteka Gimbal Head Review
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2013, 10:30:23 PM »
Sorry guys, I just bought the last one!

P.S. Thanks Mt Spokane for the heads up.

P.P.S. If anybody is interested it seems Sears have them for $165 too

http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_SPM7875831202P?ci_src=184425893&ci_sku=SPM7875831202&sid=IDx20130125xMPALLx028
« Last Edit: October 18, 2013, 10:42:59 PM by privatebydesign »
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Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Opteka Gimbal Head Review
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2013, 10:50:07 PM »
Sorry guys, I just bought the last one!

P.S. Thanks Mt Spokane for the heads up.

P.P.S. If anybody is interested it seems Sears have them for $165 too

http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_SPM7875831202P?ci_src=184425893&ci_sku=SPM7875831202&sid=IDx20130125xMPALLx028

I'm wondering if its also marketed for a higher price as a brand name item, but I haven't spotted one.  Hopefully they will be back in stock for $99 on Amazon..

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Re: Opteka Gimbal Head Review
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2013, 10:50:07 PM »