Black Widow HD2 (BWG-HD2) Gimbal Head by Jobu Design

I have alwasy enjoyed using semi-fluid tripod heads and have had a number of Manfrotto ones over the years. Models 501, 503 and the latest was a 516 I think. I find them very smooth when following a subject and the fact I can let go and it stays put is brilliant. Their weakness is they do not last and every year need servicing. They either go too tight, due to the dirt and muck that I find myself working in, or too slack and they start to wobble.

Finally I have given in to fashion and gone for a Gimbal type head. They are very popular with wildlife photographers and I see them everywhere. From America I have bought the Black Widow by Jobu.

Now I am wondering why are they so popular. There were no controls on my Manfrotto head, you just pushed the lens where you wanted it to go, let go and it stayed still. Now I have to adjust two controls everytime I start. One for up and down and one for panning left to right. I find it a real pain to have to do. With fine tuning I can set it so I can let go and the whole thing does not tip over, but it takes time. When I pan the movement is nowhere near as smooth as with my fluid heads. The Manfrottos were dampened and I found quick movements to compose the picture much easier to do. With the gimbal I go past the point and have to return.

I still have an old German fluid head in my cupboard. It is very old, high quality head and the tripod is past its best, but if I can find some new legs maybe this is the way to go. For now I will try and get used to the gimbal.


Published by mikelane81

Wildlife Photographer

2 thoughts on “Black Widow HD2 (BWG-HD2) Gimbal Head by Jobu Design

  1. I’m sure many purchase Gimbal heads as a fashion statement. It’s amazing how many ‘starter’ wildlife photographers go straight for these rather than trying fluid heads which are a fraction of the price too! Like you, I own a 501 and find it perfect for most situations especially when a slow, smooth pan’s required on a shy bird. The old saying, “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Though it may need servicing 🙂

  2. Mike, I have used a Wimberley Mk11 gimbal head for 2 years and it is superberby engineered with roller bearings. Once a camera lens combination is `balanced` you have virtually no more adjustment. I use a Nikon 600 VR lens with 1.4, 1.7 and the latest Nikon2 x converters. Adding these does marginally affect the balance point but in practice this is sorted the same time as you attach the lens to the clamp. Yes there are two knobs (to adjust the pan and tilt axis but I permanently leave them just slacked off to allow a free movement. The solid assembley and the weight of the tripod and lens etc cuts out any vibration. In practice therefore the only adjustment comes when mounting the lens. I did try a cheaper gimbal head at a conference but it was not as smooth as the Whimberly. Enjoyed you show at Houghton, Carlisle a year back.
    John Williams

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