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Thread: Cine City Gimbal Head

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    Default Cine City Gimbal Head

    The use of gimbal heads for long lenses has always been the way to go. That’s why the professionals use them. Unfortunately they are specialty gear items that few manufacturers make which makes the prices rather exorbitant. Wimberly is considered the king of gimbals and I’m sure that they are finely crafted tools. But realistically who is going to spend $600 plus for a head to mount a $1,000 lens on? If I had the $7,000 300 2.8 then it wouldn’t be a conundrum I suppose but why spend money you don’t have to? The Jobus have been out for awhile and they are at very slightly lower price points. Going for the sidekick style saves some money but loses a large reason for the gimbal in the first place and that’s reducing shearing stress by having the mount under the lens not off to the side.


    I learned of the CineCity gimbal in one of the threads here. A discussion on tripods will always turn to heads at some point. I’d never heard of it but at a cost of $219 plus $30 for shipping I was intrigued. The fact that it uses Arca-Swiss style plates and they include one with the purchase rather than making you fork out another $40 was a real bonus.


    Looking at the website you really don’t have any indication of where they are located. It turns out they are in India. That $30 standard shipping put it at my door in Arizona in 5 days. Pretty impressive. It was well packaged and had a bag of Allen wrenches for tightening things up and extra screws which is a huge plus in my book. The instructional manual is pretty sparse but there’s not really that much to these heads so it is adequate. Also, most people who would purchase a gimbal head will already be familiar with how they work.


    This head weighs 4.3 pounds and has a load rating of 17 pounds. It’ll handle just about anything you want to mount on it. They say it was designed to handle a 600mm f4 so my measly little Bigma is easily handled by it.


    Fit and finish:


    The finish isn’t something finely polished. Tool markings are quite visible on the head. The alignment markings aren’t as neatly done as they are on my Giottos ball head. This is a purely aesthetic thing and has nothing to do with it’s functionality so it is a non-issue for me. I imagine that the Wimberlys and the Jobus are much prettier but I doubt that the bird I am photographing cares any more than I do.











    The fitment of the pieces are good quality and it performs as advertised. A turn of each knob will take you from firmly locked down to free-wheeling. Little force is needed to get a firm lockdown. The horizontal and the vertical pivot points ride on nylon bushings. On my unit I have noticed an occasional snagging when panning in the horizontal plane. I may need to adjust the screw in the center of that knob or I might have to apply some lithium grease to make it glide better without any points that catch a bit. The vertical pivot point works effortlessly with no snagging at all. It does take a little getting used to as at first I found myself loosening the knobs more than necessary. This caused some play and loss of stability but once I started making sure I was only doing the turn the stability was what I expected.

    The idea is to find the perfect balancing point for your camera and lens rig. Rather than sliding the mounting plate back and forth you adjust where the mounting plate rides on the vertical pivot arm. The locking knob here secures it tightly with no play at all.











    Once it is balanced, you can point the camera in any orientation and let it go. When properly balanced it will stay put right where you left it. In one of the tripod/head threads in the forum someone questioned how far you can point the camera upwards before you run the bottom of the camera into the head itself. You can see in the third photo here that with my rig it is mounted high enough to get the balance correct that I can point it almost straight up and my HLD-4 battery grip still didn’t make contact. I should point out that in all these photos the knobs are unlocked and the lens is freely hanging. I’d have to climb into the tripod to see through the viewfinder at this point so it is more than needed. Good thing the E30 has the flippy LCD should I ever need to take a photo at this angle.















    One thing to remember is that if you are working with a zoom lens like my Bigma pictured here is if you change the zoom you change the balance point. The first day out I pulled the zoom in to move and it flopped on me because I did not lock the vertical pivot point first. No harm, it just flipped back a little and made me feel foolish. If your zoom does not extend, such as the 90-250 I suspect this would not be an issue.






    One advantage a ball head has over a gimbal head is that third axis of adjustment. Exactly leveled tripods aren’t really necessary because you can account for this on the ball. Gimbal heads only have the two axis of movement so if your tripod is not level then neither is your camera.






    An easy way to account for this is to simply rotate the lens in it’s collar.







    If you rotate the lens in it’s collar as a quick fix though if you pan around you will find yourself cockeyed in the other direction.







    Having the tripod leveled is really the best way to go but if you are slightly off, who will know? Since the majority of people using lenses for gimbals are doing wildlife or sports photography there’s rarely a horizon in the shot to make the internet experts go all horizon police on you. A slight tilt can be easily fixed in post anyway. My Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod has a built in bubble level so I’ve found that by adjusting one leg I can get pretty close to level very quickly.

    I’ve heard people talk about resting their off hand on top of the lens for stability. I think though that I’ve found out the reason for those finger grooves on the lens foot.











    With the head fully unlocked when I have my off hand there it is rock solid when it comes to stability. There are absolutely no jarring scenes through the viewfinder that you get with ball heads. Rock solid plain and simple.

    Final conclusions:

    These probably aren’t final as I have only spent two days out with the new rig. But for now call me completely satisfied. The stability is fantastic. Being able to just step away for a moment without locking everything down is worth more than I would have thought. The free range of movement allows you to keep your hands on the camera and the lens, not the head, which makes for fast target acquisition. I picked up quite a few shots the first day out just because of this.

    Considering the tripod I’m using when it’s all added up this is a heavy rig. I did spend about four hours out with it each day but obviously I wasn’t just carrying it around the whole time. I didn’t find it to be too much to deal with, although the area I went to is pretty flat. I generally don’t like using tripods for birds because too many shots are lost while spreading the legs, setting it down, and getting oriented. The head certainly helps with the last part but some opportunities were still lost as the little bugger flew off as I got the last leg spread. I intend to give this head a shot on my monopod in the future to see if I like it better than my grip action joystick head.

    The bottom line here is that this head does everything the major brands do at about half the cost. My jeans don’t have little tags on the back pocket to make me feel better about myself, I don’t need big names on my camera gear for that reason either. I just need it to work. I would buy another of these heads without a second thought.
    Good People Drink Good Beer - Hunter S. Thompson

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    Default Re: Cine City Gimbal Head

    I'm glad you posted this, good information.

    The reason you place your hand on top of the long lens is to absorb vibration.

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    Default Re: Cine City Gimbal Head

    Thanks rexy. With my hand on the foot I don't seem to have any vibration problems. Of course the bigma is not the 300 2.8 so maybe the lower weight makes that less of an issue.

    One more small update:

    I was just out playing with the head in my backyard and the part about it having slight catches in the horizontal movement is gone. I didn't adjust or grease anything so it was likely just new gear stiffness that caused it. It is now perfectly smooth in both travel directions.
    Good People Drink Good Beer - Hunter S. Thompson

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    Default Re: Cine City Gimbal Head

    I've always wanted to take one of those pictures where you use a slow shutter speed and track a moving object so the end result shows the motion blur then the object in focus. Difficult to do with a ball head or hand holding, this head would be perfect for that. I'm not sure it's something I would use all the time since I like my 12-60 mm lens but the price is right.

    As for vibration, Moose Peterson had a video on how to use a zoom lens which was really worth watching. I think he also talked about setting the wimberly head. Wish I could find the link again as it was really worth watching. The vibration is caused when you press the shutter and it goes out the lens and with the hand on top it stops the vibration from returning to the camera, or something like that.

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    Default Re: Cine City Gimbal Head

    Thanks rexy, I'll have to look for that. Someone here just recently posted a link to something by Moose Peterson. How can you not like a guy that does wildlife photography with the name of Moose?

    Any trick I can use to get better image quality at 500mm focal lengths is worth looking into.

    Found it:

    http://www.moosepeterson.com/blog/?p=3723
    Last edited by AbeakerZ; 01-07-2011 at 05:23 PM. Reason: Found link
    Good People Drink Good Beer - Hunter S. Thompson

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    Default Re: Cine City Gimbal Head

    I'm glad mine wasn't the only one I saw the tool markings on but like you said it doesn't affect functionality.. I am not sure why they bother with the hash marks anyway without putting a degree number on them? I was the one that asked about swinging it to shoot straight up but I didn't realize you could move the mount up and down, I found that out fast.. I got mine on ebay for a slightly less price but had to wait out auction, it is definitely worth the 210 bucks and like you said I got it in 5 days also as they ship fed ex international for 30 bucks..only thing they left off it should have is the locking pin for release plates just in case you accidentally loosen the clamp.

    Here are a couple shots of mine with my Tam 300 F2.8 it handles it easily and balances out nicely..



    Last edited by JimUSNY; 09-20-2011 at 11:45 AM.
    OMD EM-1, m12-50MM, OLY 12-60MM, OLY 50MM macro, EC-14, Nikon D7200 and D7100, Nikon 300MM F4 PF Nikon 1.4X II Nikon 80-400MM AF-S- G, Sigma 150-600MM C, Sigma 17-50MM
    Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimusny/

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    Default Re: Cine City Gimbal Head

    That's a really great review - many thanks!

    I've been considering a gimball head for motorsports and wildlife, but the price/quality equation has previously been just too far out of my reach.

    I'm still going to wait a little longer, though: would you please post a progress report after a month or two?

    I've bought several mid-range ballheads in the past and generally regretted it after a few months when the bearing got sloppy and the screws wore in their threads. In contrast I coughed up for a Markins ballhead 18 months ago and, to quote the nice Honda salesman, "Don't you like it when things just work!".

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    Default Re: Cine City Gimbal Head

    I agree, really nice review.

    Concerning those finger grooves on the lens foot, I think they're for carrying the lens (whether on the camera or not) - i.e. upside down, you use the foot as a handle.
    Rich
    Olympus E-M10; Panasonic GM5
    m4/3 lenses: Oly 75-300; Oly 14-42 f3.5-5.6 II R; Oly 17 f1.8; Oly 40-150 f4.0-5.6 R; Oly WCON-P01 adapter; Rokinon f7.5 fisheye; Sigma 19 f2.8; Pan 20 f1.7; Pan 12-35 f2.8; Pan 12-32

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