When The Doc asked if I’d like to look at a new Slik Gimbal Head at Focalpoint, I jumped at the chance, always willing to try out new “toys”.
Gimbal Heads are designed to provide smooth movement when using a long lens when photographing wildlife. I currently use a Kenro Gimbal, also purchased from Focalpoint, finding it ideal when photographing with either the Canon 400mm f/4 or the 600mm f/4 mounted on the Canon 5D Mk IV with a battery grip, so it would be interesting to see how the offering from Slik compared.
The Slik SGH300 Gimbal is described as a Compact Gimbal Head and it certainly lives up to the name. It is 160mm high x 210mm long and weighs just 800g. Compare this with the Kenro Gimbal, dimensions which are 235mm x 247mm with a weight of 1500g, and it’s easy to see why it’s called a Compact Gimbal Head. Impressed with the size and weight (an important factor when we can travel abroad again) I mounted the Slik Gimbal on my Carbon Fibre Manfrotto 055. The SGH300 has a 3/8” thread, but is supplied with a 1/4" threaded adapter, so can be mounted on any tripod with a 3/8” or 1/4" stud for the head. The Slik Gimbal has an Arca Swiss type quick release plate, so is compatible with other systems that use the Arca Swiss type plates. I mounted my Canon 400mm f/4 on the Gimbal with its existing Arca Swiss plate, but found the Slik Gimbal’s Shoe locking knob wouldn’t tighten enough, and the lens and head slid along the mounting platform. I don’t have this issue with my existing Gimbals, so changed the plate for one my spare plates and the lens was then mounted firmly. Having moved the lens backwards and forwards to get the balance point, I started to pan and tilt. The movement wasn’t as smooth as I would have really wanted, but there was a reason. I was actually “pushing” the Gimbal outside of its specification. Due to the light weight and compact nature of the Slik Gimbal, the maximum loading is given as 3kg. My Canon 400mm f/4 and camera weigh in at over 4kg – good job I hadn’t tried the 600mm f/4 which weighs 5.4kg!
I swapped the lens for my 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6, a much smaller and lighter lens than the 400mm f/4. What a difference, the Slik Gimbal was now very smooth and would hold the lens in the tilted position. It was possible to pan and tilt just with one finger as shown on the video clip. By sliding the Camera Platform up the Vertical Plate, tilting became very easy, ideal for following birds in flight; with the Camera Platform in it's lowest position, tilting was restricted.. One thing I did have to remember though was to make sure that when I was unlocking the Pan Knob, I didn’t unlock the Arca Swiss plate. The two locking knobs are the same size and are both located close together, so without care it could be an expensive mistake!
What’s in the Box?
The SGH300 comes with a soft pouch (a good idea especially if you use different heads, as it keeps the Gimbal clean and scratch free), a 3/8” to1/4” thread adaptor and an Allen key to tighten the Mounting Screw on the Arca Swiss plate and also to tighten any loose Allen bolts on the head.
If you are looking for Gimbal to use with a telephoto zoom (in the 100-600mm range) and without a battery pack on your camera, or with a mirrorless or macro 4/3rds body, then Slik’s SGH300 Compact Gimbal Head is well worth investing in. For anyone using Prime lens such as a 300mm f2/8 or a 400mm, 500mm or 600mm f/4 then the Slik will not cut the mustard.