SunwayFoto Gimbal Head Review – Catching Birds in Flight!

One of the coolest tools in our arsenal of photography gear is the Sunwayfoto GH-01 Gimbal Head for our tripod.

SunwayFoto GH-01 Gimbal Head Tamron 150-600 mm lens Nikon D500 camera-min

SunwayFoto GH-01 Gimbal Head with Tamron 150-600 mm lens mounted on the gimbal and Nikon D810 camera affixed to the lens.

We first saw a gimbal head in action last year on the Wildlife Loop Road in Custer State Park, South Dakota, when we were photographing prairie dogs alongside professional wildlife photographer Steve Perry. As Mark and I both struggled to get our tripods positioned properly so we could follow these little guys scampering in and out of their burrows, Steve effortlessly swung his mammoth lens all around, while keeping it under perfect control, and he captured great shots.

We decided then and there that if we were going to use long telephoto lenses to capture images of distant birds and four legged critters, then we had to get gimbal heads for our tripods.

Photography with the Sunwayfoto GH-01 Gimbal Head Nikon D500 and Tamron 150-600 lens-min

The Sunwayfoto gimbal head makes it easy to maneuver a long lens.

With an ordinary ballhead, the camera can rotate in every direction, but the part that pivots is just a small ball. A big ungainly lens is hard to control on a small ball, and it is a bit like having the tail wagging the dog.

With a gimbal head, the lens is held very securely in place on the tripod and the movement of the camera and lens in every direction is smooth and easily controlled via three different knobs.

We decided to go with the gimbal head from Sunwayfoto because we have been extremely happy with our other Sunwayfoto camera gear. We use the SunwayFoto TC240 C tripod and both the Sunwayfoto XB-52 ballhead and Sunwayfoto XB-44 ballhead. And we use their L-brackets on every camera (an L-bracket allows you to switch the camera between portrait and landscape orientation on a tripod).

As with the Sunwayfoto ballheads, L-brackets and tripod legs we use, the machining is very high quality on the Sunwayfoto GH-01 gimbal head. One of the things that sets it apart from more expensive but better known gimbal heads is that it is made of carbon fiber rather than aluminum.

Sunwayfoto GH-01 Gimbal Head-min

The Arca Swiss foot on the collar of a long telephoto lens fits into the plate on the gimbal head.

Sunwayfoto GH-01 Gimbal Head review-min

There are three knobs to control the movement in three dimensions.

Sunwayfoto GH-01 Gimbal Head-min

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Another thing that sets the Sunwayfoto GH-01 Gimbal Head apart from more expensive units is that it comes with a canvas suitcase with foam cutouts inside to protect the two components. It is really nice to have a good place to store the gimbal head when it’s not in use.

Suitcase for Sunwayfoto GH-01 Gimbal Head-min

The SunwayFoto GH-01 gimbal head comes in a convenient suitcase.

Suitcase layout Sunwayfoto GH-01 Gimbal Head-min

The two components of the gimbal head are protected by foam.

The Sunwayfoto GH-01 Gimbal Head is made up of two parts that fit together.

Two parts Sunwayfoto GH-01 Gimbal Head-min

There are two parts to the SunwayFoto GH-01 gimbal head.

Assembly Sunwayfoto GH-01 Gimbal Head-min

The plate supporting the lens slides up and down.

In addition to being able to swing the gimbal around in any direction smoothly and easily, one of the best things about using a gimbal head rather than a conventional ballhead is that you can set it up so the camera and lens are perfectly balanced, even in an odd position.

For instance, the camera can be aimed at a branch in a tree where a bird is sitting, and even without tightening everything down super hard, you can take your hands off the camera and it will stay in that position.

Sunwayfoto GH-01 Gimbal Head with Nikon D500 and Tamron 150-600 lens-min

The beauty of the SunwayFoto gimbal head is that the camera and lens move freely, and if there is slight tension on each knob, the camera will stay in place.

Likewise, if the camera is pointed at some baby big horn sheep cavorting at the bottom of the hill, the camera can be aimed in that direction and left that way.

Sunwayfoto GH-01 Gimbal Head with Nikon D500 and Tamron 150-600-min

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When the Arca Swiss foot on the lens collar is attached to the gimbal head, the collar can be loosened slightly to add another degree of flexibility. Simply rotate the camera within the loosened lens collar to switch between landscape and portrait images. Everything else stays put.

Portrait Orientation Sunwayfoto GH-01 Gimbal Head Nikon D500 Tamron 150-600 lens-min

By loosening the collar on the long lens, it is easy to switch between portrait and landscape orientations simply by rotating the camera.

The most enjoyable way to use a gimbal head is to find a quiet spot where there is some wildlife roaming around and just sit and wait. When something interesting happens, swing the camera to follow the action and click away.

We had a lot of fun with our gimbal heads recently while we were camping lakeside in Utah. We watched loons and cormorants, ducks and seagulls doing their thing out on the water.

Photography fun Sunwayfoto GH-01 Gimbal Head Nikon D500 Tamron 150-600 lens-min

Mark waits for the action on the lake.

One afternoon the water was like glass, and Mark got some fabulous photos of a seagull coming in for a landing and then taking off. The gimbal head made it easy to follow the gull’s movements and capture the reflections with great clarity.

Reflection of seagull on water photographed with SunwayFoto GH-01 Gimbal Head-min

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Seagull reflection photography with SunwayFoto GH-01 Gimbal Head-min

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Water landing seagull photography with SunwayFoto GH-01 Gimbal Head-min

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Takeoff from mirror water seagull photography with SunwayFoto GH-01 Gimbal Head-min

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There are several brands of gimbal heads on the market, some for nearly $600 and others for as little as $200. The Sunwayfoto GH-01 Gimbal Head delivers top quality engineering and construction at a reasonable price and is available at Amazon for about $390.

SunwayFoto GH-01 Gimbal Head Tamron 150-600 mm lens Nikon D810 camera closeup-min

The SunwayFoto gimbal head has been a fabulous addition to our arsenal of camera gear!

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Sunwayfoto GH-01 Gimbal Head at Amazon

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8 thoughts on “SunwayFoto Gimbal Head Review – Catching Birds in Flight!

    • Wow!! Thank you, Sharon!! Definitely grab your camera and go outside and have fun. Some of our best hummingbird shots ever were with our first Nikon D40 entry level cameras of a little hummer that hung out in our back yard. This was before we started traveling and before we had studied photography!!!

  1. Emily,
    Great review. Wonderful wildlife images. But that male model you hired to demonstrate the product? Well… I suggest putting a bit extra money in the budget and getting a different guy. 😉
    Bob

    • Thanks, Bob! Sure wish there was more money in the budget for supermodels. I’d asked Buddy if he’d model for this post, but his prices have gone through the roof. Just crazy! So I had to settle for the guy you see here…!!

  2. Nice, carbon! I had a Wimberley that was stolen in the Tetons along with my carbon gizto tripod. Then bought and induro setup.
    Welcome to the world of more gear to lug around lol.

    • Very funny!! Our camera gear is taking over our trailer one cabinet and one horizontal surface at a time. Between that and dog toys and dog food there’s hardly room for us any more!! Too bad your Wimberly and Gitzo legs were stolen at the Tetons. What a bitter blow at such a beautiful place. Hopefully the Induro setup has been a good replacement…

  3. I enjoyed reading the article about your life and travels in the latest Escapees magazine. Now I’m enjoying your website. You are a great inspiration for the rest of us. Thank you!

    • You are welcome! We love our life and enjoy sharing the highlights both here and in various RV magazines. Thank you for reading and appreciating our efforts and for dropping us a line too. Happy travels!!

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