I was planning to wait and do a full review on this product but i’m so impressed by it that I just cannot wait to share with you how great this particular piece of equipment is for surveillance photography!
What is it?
A gimbal head is a mount for your camera, they balance your DSLR and lens at their natural centre of gravity. If you try to use a large telephoto lens and camera on a ballhead you have to fight the natural tendency of the equipment to want to tip over due to gravity.
I am in the fortunate position of having a full-time, established observation post (OP) that allows me to quickly test and assess new purchases so as soon as I have done the unboxing thing I inserted in to the OP and established myself with the D7000 mounted on the 393. Putting the gimbal together was simple. Old head off, 393 on, locator plate fastened to camera body and then simply slide on the receiver and fasten down. Making sure that the camera is weighted properly takes seconds. Simples.
The 393 looks like it should be heavy and indeed many of the reviews suggest just this. I am not sure if these reviews are old or written by people without any strength at all but the Manfrotto 393 is surprisingly lightweight, it does look like it should be heavy but in reality it is not! The weight of the 393 would not deter me from using it in a Green OP that required several miles to insert in to. It is certainly more bulky than other gimbal heads such as the Wimberley Sidekick but once again this would not deter me form finding a place for it amongst my kit and equipment. The really impressive thing about this mount is the fluid movement that it has in all directions, it is quite simply beyond reproach! Need to track a subject left to right? No problem. Have the need to go up and down? Again, the 393 handles this with ease.
This quick test was carried out using a Sigma 70-200 with a 2 x converter fitted and it felt right at home. I would feel more than happy placing a 300mm on this mount and quite possibly a 400mm such is the manufacturing of this product.
My intended use for the Manfrotto 393 is in static rural and urban observation posts whilst conducting surveillance operations. It will definitely also be deployed when taking images of wildlife which is a hobby but a great way to avoid skill fade as the skills involved in capturing wildlife are not dissimilar to that employed in certain types of commercial surveillance.
Ok, my first impressions are that this is an awesome piece of kit and great value for money! I shall conduct further testing and hopefully be able to feedback its use in low light situations and other challenging scenarios.