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Finding a cheap Gimbal Head

I was looking for an inexpensive tripod gimbal head. I had a look at 3 candidates:

In Munich where I live there's a Calumet shop near to me, so I went in, cash in pocket, to get it. Sadly, the demonstration didn't go so well - the friction on both of their stocked units was locked too tight, and the sales person didn't want to try to open the inner adjustment himself, cursing the bad design and telling me that he'll return the units, letting the maker fix them.

Next, I mail-ordered the Walimex model. That one appeared to be crooked in the upper axis because the alignment was off. See this picture: Walimex Gimbal. When I returned it and asked for a replacement I was told that they're out of stock (it was also hinted that this was a known problem with this model), and I was refunded my money.

And then suddenly this obscure model appeared when I looked on eBay: It had no name, but later turned out to be named "Beike". I mail-ordered it and received it today.

Overall, this Beike model satisfies me, considering the low price.

Here's a summary:

  • It has no friction control - it's either fixed or, when loosened, fairly stiff. I've seen a comment by someone opening the stiff Walimex model, finding fairly bad grease inside. After cleaning and replacing the grease it worked much better. Maybe the same can be done to the Beike model, although I could not open its bearings by simply unscrewing the handle as it's possible with the Walimex.
  • Other than the name plate with "Beike" on it, there's no indication where this comes from. The box is generic, showing only an image of the unit and the words "Gimbal Head". No small print, no barcode, no instructions or warranty card inside.
  • The plate uses the common Arca-Swiss connector. The removal plate's screw has a handle and now a slot like most of these plates on Gimbal Heads I've seen. Works for me. Also, the plate has guides so that, while it's loosened, can't slide out accidentally. However, the guides are different from those used by my Cullman tripod system, so I better not lose that one.
  • The slider on which the camera sits can not be moved down very far. At its lowest position there's still a two finger gap towards the bottom attachment. If I attach my Sigma 150-500mm to it, its center is just at the level of the upper axis. At least it's not higher, as that would defy the idea of a gimbal head (which is supposed to be able "hang in" so that it can rest in a neutral horizontal position).

Finally, here are a few images and videos to give you an impression of the Beike unit.

BTW, for more reviews, see this thread on the Camera-Enthusiast forum. The Beike model is mentioned in it, too.

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Page last modified on 2012-04-24, 19:12 UTC (do)
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