PIX 2015

Full gimbal head for shooting portraits?

Started Feb 2, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Full gimbal head for shooting portraits?
Feb 2, 2013

I'm not sure which forum this belongs in, but since there seems to be more talk of tripod heads here than in the portrait or studio forums, I'll try here...

What do you think of using a full gimball head like a Wimberly or a RRS PN-02 FG for shooting portraits either outdoors, with natural light indoors or in a studio with strobes?

Usually these types of tripod heads are associated with long lenses like 500mm for birding and such. However, it seems to me they would also be really nice with a more modest focal length like a 70-200 for shooting portraits, as it would allow for faster recomposition and more hands free operation than a ball head. For example, it would be easier to continually shift the lens axis slightly to keep the subjects eyes right on the selected focus sensor. And not having to lock down the head before letting go would also make it easier to step back frequently from the camera to help direct the subject or model on their pose.

I know in the studio usually hand held is good enough due to strobes freezing motion and therefore not that many people use a tripod in that scenario. But what about with natural light or outdoors? I tend not to use my tripod and ball head for portraits even though I love my RRS BH-55. It's great for landscape work but I just find it just gets in my way when trying to capture the best angle and pose in a portrait shoot.

Would I be happy with a full gimball head for this purpose? They are too pricey just to try it without some due diligence before purchasing. On the other hand I love all my RRS "toys" and a full gimball head would be a really cool new toy indeed. However I couldn't justify its cost for the rare times I rent a big telephoto. Unless it helped with my portrait work it likely wouldnt find its way into my own toy collection.

Does anyone out there use a full gimball head this way, or is this a crazy idea? I would like to hear opinions on both sides....


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