Also, I will add to this that when setting a heavy lens and camera body combo into the clamp... it is much more secure when you set it down onto a horizontal mount then when you have to hold it to a vertical mount with one hand and tighten the knob with the other. Peace of mind that you are not balancing some expensive gear while clamping it in...
That's actually my main concern. Just to be clear, I'm not at all considering the Wimberley Sidekick. The only side mount I'm considering is the RRS PG-02 LLR
, which is the same base and vertical arm as their PG-02 Full Gimbal
, but the clamp is attached to the top of the vertical arm, whereas with the full gimbal, there's an additional vertical rail attached at the top of the vertical arm, and the cradle clamp (bottom mount) attached to that.
2) Side mount systems like the sidekick, RRS sidemount, Wimberley Side mount actually introduce vibration into the system. There is a lot of cantilever leverage by mounting on the side that does not dampen vibration the same way a full gimball like the WH200 does. ... I compared IQ between the sidekick +RRS BH55 and the WH200 and found that IQ actually improved by 10% with the full gimball that supports from below. I was able to repeat this result with both a 600mm f4 and a 300mm f2.8 lens.
I wonder how much of that is due to the side mounting, vs. how much is due to the Sidekick mounted to a ballhead? What I'd be most interested in is a comparison between the RRS side mount and the RRS full gimbal.
Can you provide more details on the cantilever vibration, and whether it would be similar with the RRS side mount? It seems to me that the increased torque of having the force transfered via the vertical rail from below the pivot point, rather than having the weight attached directly to the pivot point, would lead to more vibration, not less.
If you are on a budget then the sidekick will do what you need.... if you can afford the full WH200 or the more expensive RRS full gimball then it is worth the added cost many times over.
It's not about the cost. In fact, since one reason I prefer the RRS gimbal over the Wimberley II is the flexibility to use it as a pano head as well, there's not a huge difference in cost. The full gimbal is more expensive, but conversion to a nodal multirow pano setup requires only a clamp, which is cheaper than the nodal slide needed for the side mount gimbal conversion - I think there might be all of $50 difference between the two complete rigs.
Rather, I'm trying to balance (pun intended) the facts that the side mount is:
- simpler (one less clamp)
- easier to break down for travel
- lighter and more compact to carry (two less parts)
- has extra space under the lens when mounted
- able to directly accept a camera mounted via L-bracket for shots with non-collared lenses (full gimbal needs the cradle clamp swapped out for a regular clamp or needs to be swapped for a ballhead), which is useful because the places I find birds/wildlife are also usually nice for scenic shots
vs. the fact that the full gimbal is:
- safer to use while mounting the lens into the clamp
As I said, RRS themselves recommend the side mount over the full gimbal (despite the fact that the former makes them less money). I've discussed with a photographer who's work I admire, who just went with the RRS side mount for his 500 II, and he's quite happy with it. It's worth noting that with the lever release on the side mount, setting the lens in the clamp and half-closing the lever will hold it in place, and it can then be balanced before full locking.
Any additional thoughts appreciated - thanks!