Thursday, July 29, 2010

Induro Gear Guide Part 4 - Induro GHBA Gimbal Head

Welcome to part 4 of my Induro Gear Guide. In this part we'll take a look at the Induro GHBA Gimbal Head. Which I'm sure stands for Gimbal Head Bad Ass because it totally is :). According to the Induro web site it weighs 1.1 pounds and for lenses up to 300mm. But Zack you're using it with a 400 are you stupid or what for exceeding the lens focal length recommendation? Well here's the scoop on that. I bought the GHBA before Induro added the the focal length recommendation. When I read this on the web site I contacted Induro asking for clarification. I'll summarize the response I received from Induro and then move on with my discussion of the GHBA Gimbal Head. The short direct answer is: it works with the 400, don't sweat it. :)

The longer answer is: Seems a lot of folks were asking Induro about a maximum focal length or lens weight for the various Gimbal Heads so Induro added this information to their web site just recently. Because there are so many different factors that come into play: camera body/lens combo, battery grip installed or not, flash attached or not, the length of the lens, etc they decided using a focal length was the best way to make a recommendation.

While I was waiting to hear back from Induro I did some of my own investigation. I wanted to see how the weight of my EF 400 lens compared to the EF 300 f/4 and EF 300 f/2.8. According to the specifications I found on the B&H Web Site my 400 weighs 2.8 pounds. The 300 f/4 weighs 2.6 pounds and the 300 2.8 weighs 6 pounds. Let's assume the camera body weighs another 2 pounds that would put my 400 with body at 4.8 pounds, the 300 f/4 at 4.6 pounds and the 300 2.8 at 8 pounds. Based upon that I would say as long as your camera/lens combo weighs 8 pounds or less the GHBA Gimbal Head should support it just fine. One very important caveat is that you are using a lens that has a tripod collar and you're mounting it to the GHBA Gimbal Head using that and not trying to attach it using the camera body.

Here's what I'll do since I'm such a nice guy. If you have any doubt that your camera/lens combination will work with the GHBA Gimbal Head send me your camera and lens for testing and I'll let you know if it works or not :)

With the Ballhead quick release plate locked into the groove on the side of the ballhead you slide the GHBA Gimbal Head into position and lock it down as shown below. You'll also want to tighten the main tension knob on the Ballhead. You don't want the Gimbal Head moving around in the Ballhead socket while you're trying to use it.

Induro GHBA Gimbal Head on BHD3 Ballhead
One thing that concerned be before I bought the Gimbal Head was how is it held in position so that it can't accidentally slide out of the quick release clamp if it should accidentally loosen up. See those two little tabs in the picture below -- that's how it's done. What you do is open the quick relase clamp and insert the Gimbal Head then slide it down until the tabs are resting against the side of the clamp and the securely tighten the tension knob to lock it into place. Once that's done you're ready to mount your camera/lens and start shooting.
Locking Tabs
Depending on who you ask you'll get different answers to the question -- Which side should be used when mounting the lens? According to famed wild life photographer Moose Peterson you should use a right side mount as pictured below. His reasoning is this allows you to rest your left hand on the lens for proper long lens technique. He recommends placing your left hand on top of the lens when shooting. He may be on to something since he routinely shoots with 500 and 600mm lenses but he's also using a different Gimbal Head so perhaps that has something to do with it as well.
GHBA Gimbal Head with Canon EF 400 Lens Right Side Mount
My preferred method is to mount the lens as shown below. Instead of resting my hand on the lens I normally rest it on top of the "T". This allows me to accomplish three tasks without removing my hand from the shutter button: (1) I can manually focus the lens, if needed, (2) I can loosen/tighten the tension knob on the lens if I want to change orientation, and (3) I can control the tension on the main tension knob if it needs adjustment. So who's method is better? Well mine of course, but seriously it doesn't really matter which method you use. Try them both and see which one works best for you. If you're currently using this style of Gimbal Head I'd love to hear if you use a righty or lefty mount.
GHBA Gimbal Head with Canon EF 400 Lens Left Side Mount
One thing you'll read about when researching Gimbal Heads is how they provide a near weightless feeling when your camera/lens are mounted and balanced properly. (Probably balance can be achieved by sliding the lens forward or backwards in the quick release mount. That's why I have a long lens plate attached to the EF 400). What they say is true, it's not marketing hype. I resisted going with a Gimbal Head because I felt there was no way that it would work for me. I felt I would be too constrained using it. My background is in sports photography so I'm used to being able to move the camera into any position I want as the action changes to get the shot. I don't feel the least bit constrained using the Gimbal Head and the set up you see above his now how I shoot most of the time.

I am 100% certain my birding photography has improved since I've started using a Gimbal Head. That being said is do I have any dislikes or regrets about buying it? Yes but again my dislike is one that I probably shouldn't mention but will anyway. I'm slowly incorporating flash into my birding photography and right now there isn't any kind of accessory bracket available that would allow me to mount my flash above the camera like you can with similary style Gimbal Head manufacturered by a different company. I have a son that is currently serving as an Aircraft Mechanic in the Marines (Quick shout out to all service men and women in all branches. A huge THANK YOU for your service) and I'm going to see if he can use his sheet metal skills to fabricate something for me. Of course the ultimate solution would be if Induro made one for all of their Gimbal Heads. That would make me one happy camper.

I also have one regret after buying this Gimbal Head. Had I known in advance that I would enjoy using it so much I wouldn't have bought the BHD3 BallHead and GHBA Gimbal Head. I would have gone right for either the GHB1 or GHB2 Gimbal Head instead. Using a Gimbal Head has changed my game that much that I always want to shoot with it. For now, though the combination of Ballhead and separate Gimbal Head gives me the best of both worlds. When I do get that Canon Super Telephoto I'll probably buy the GHB2 Gimbal Head to go along with it but we'll see by the time I can buy that lens Induro may have come out with a GHB3 or something else that would work better for me.

Cost for the Induro GHBA Gimbal Head - $204.00. The link below is for the Ballhead on Amazon. If you use it to purchase one I'll receive a little commission and you'll get an easy to use Gimbal Head that you'll love as much as I love mine.


  1. Great review Zack - Been looking at the Induro Gimbal Heads for a while...thinking about the GHB1 or GHB2.

    I've got the Wimberly sidekick now (attached to a RRS BH-55) this combo but I've found that I rarely take the sidekick off so why not just go with a full fledges gimbal head. Love my Induro CT 314 tripod and their gimbal heads look pretty darn good.

    About your flash issue...there is a solution!

    Wimberly makes a flash mount that attaches to the Lens Foot while your lens is in the gimbal.

    Go see it here ->

    I have the F-6 sidekick perfectly. Found mine on ebay.

  2. Eric,

    Thanks for the info about the flash solution. I will check into it. Unless you're going to go longer than the 500 I would probably go with the GHB1 since it mounts in a similar fashion as the GHBA and I'm used to that. I'd love to try both before picking which one would work better for me.