I am always on the lookout for new gear that I can recommend to all of you that I would use myself. Every once in a while a product comes along that catches my attention and the Induro GHB2 Gimbal Style head is one such product. For over 7 years I have used the Wimberly v1 Gimbal Style head and have enjoyed it very much. Frankly, I am not sure why Wimberly decided to change the design as in my opinion; the v1 version really didn’t need any! But someone at Wimberly decided they needed to make changes and when I tried the v2 version, I immediately felt that the “improvements” were a step back…..although not a big one. Even though v2 was a significant weight savings over v1, the smoothness and fluidity of motion were just not there when compared to the older v1 version, especially in the panning movement. Many people who switched to v2 agree with me, but there were no other alternatives….until now!
Induro has now come along and introduced their version of a Gimbal style head for those of us who use long glass. I couldn’t wait to test my beloved Sigma 300-800mm lens on it to give you all an alternative to Wimberly. Given that the lens is one of the heaviest on the market, I felt that if the Induro performed with it mounted on the head, than most lenses on the market today would perform well using it. Appearance wise, both the Induro GHB2 and the Wimberly v2 look similar. Both heads have a quality finish and build; with the Induro having an additional clearly marked scale to aid you when setting up your lens. Remember, with all Gimbal style heads, proper set up to perfectly balance the camera/lens combination is critical to fluid operation! I have provided some easy assembly instructions at the bottom of this review for those of you who decide to purchase the head for easier set-up.
The included quick release lens foot plate is the first major difference when comparing the Induro GHB2 head to the Wimberly head. This may seem trivial….but given that Wimberly charges over $50 for their quick release foot plates……that is a significant savings.
After I adjusted my body/lens combination, I took the entire set up out into the field, photographing birds on the beach, to compare how it performed in every range of motion. The first thing I noticed when I was carrying the whole setup over my shoulder, locked down, was how solid it was with no worries about it flopping or falling. I decided to try and leave the tilt knobs unlocked and carry it over my shoulder as I often did that with my Wimberly head when trying to reposition myself quickly out in the field and found that the Induro didn’t flop forward or backward nearly as quickly as my Wimberly v1 version did. The v2 performed better than the v1 in that regard. As I put the Induro through the mornings shoot, it wasn’t quite as smooth as the Wimberly v1 in the vertical/tilt movements but was definitely the equal of the Wimberly v2 in that regard. The Induro’s panning motion was the equal of my v1 head but clearly performed more smoothly than the Wimberly v2 head. A few more days of testing and retesting confirmed what I found on that first day.
Now, I am not saying that the Wimberly v2 isn’t a quality product but I always strive to give everyone choices when it comes to purchasing gear and this is where the second major difference comes in……the price!!! The Induro GHB2 comes in around $100 less than the Wimberly. Factor in the lens foot plate, which is not included in the Wimberly, and you can save yourself about $150 or more in total.
Even if you call my un-scientific tests equal in performance between the Wimberly v2 and the Induro GHB2…….if I was in the market today for a gimbal style head …… I would definitely choose the Induro GHB2 because it performs as well or better than the Wimberly v2 and save myself the $150 too!!!
Assembling the Induro GHB2 Gimbal Style Head
Those of you with no prior experience may find initial set-up a little tricky, but I have to give you a simplified version for you to help make set up a bit easier. Once you do it a few times, you will become a pro at it. First, mount the lens foot plate on your lens. Make sure it is secure! Mount the base unit onto your tripod. Make sure the tilt knob and pan knob are also locked down. Attach and lock the quick release mount platform to the vertical adjustment rail roughly in the center of the scale. Keep the quick release locking knob loose and place the camera/lens combo with attached foot plate on the platform base…..roughly center it…..then lock it down. It helps to have someone give you a hand the first time you try to adjust the height of the mounting platform as it can be difficult to hold a lens….especially one as heavy as the “Sigmonster” when tightening the platform lock knob in place. You are trying to align the center of your lens with the center of the tilt knob that controls vertical movement. Grab a firm hold of your camera/lens combination then slightly loosen the platform lock knob. Once you have the lens centered with the tilt knob center, lock it down tightly. I recommend you periodically check that knob to make sure it remains tight! Unlock the tilt knob a bit and slightly loosen the quick release locking knob. Evenly distribute the weight of your camera/lens set up, front to back, on the foot plate so the combination doesn’t flop forward or backward. Securely tighten the quick release locking knob. Your camera and lens combination are now perfectly balanced. Having done this setup more than a few times myself, I found it was just as simple as it was with my Wimberly head.
***Remember*** If you change camera bodies, change the camera/lens combination, put on the 1.4x or 2x teleconverter, add a battery pack or flash unit that this will change the weight distribution and you will have to rebalance the entire set-up on the foot plate.