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Tripod Head for Super Telephoto Lenses — Wimberly WH-200
If you’re shooting a large lens like 600mm f/4 or 800mm f/5.6 or a 400m f/4 or f/2.8, then moving that lens around demands an entirely different approach from a regular tripod head. Even a 300mm f/2.8 can be a chore.
Enter the Wimberly WH-200 (about $594). While testing the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS, my regular tripod head even with some specialized support from Really Right Stuff was still very difficult to use: maneuvering the lens around was a chore.
But the Wimberly WH-200 solves all that. Mount the lens and adjust it for perfect balance, and it becomes not just easy, but enjoyable to aim the lens in any direction instantly. Hugely better than a conventional head for big lenses.
I did some research on vibration, using the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS . While the Wimberly WH-200 head mostly eliminates vibration as compared to a conventional head, even my monster Gitzo 1548 tripod showed resonance in the legs (weight is not the issue, resonance is key). Tripod resonance is a source of image-blurring movement, even at 1/1000 second with an 800mm lens. For more on such issues, see The Sharpest Image, in DAP.
You’ll need to assess your own tripod setup carefully. Test for leg resonance by giving the lens a tap. While the lens might immediately settle down, the legs can be felt with a light touch to resonate, and this is a problem. Applying weight (eg a sandbag or similar) might help with this serious issue. Check things out carefully, because long telephoto lenses are very demanding of rock solid stability.