Yelango A17 Gimbal Head Review by Tony Beck
In the past, I rarely supported big lenses on a tripod. Instead, I hand-held my camera while adopting various field techniques that facilitate image sharpness. I only used tripods in low light situations where slow shutters were necessary. Sometimes I’d go for the flexibility and convenience of a joystick head on a monopod. But, other times, especially if the light was tricky, rather than bring out a cumbersome tripod, I’d simply abandon the opportunity of losing a potentially prize winning-photo in the process. However, since playing with the Yelango A17 Gimbal Head, I’ve delightfully expanded my photographic prowess.
The day I received the A17, I went straight to a nearby parkland where I expected lots of cooperative wildlife. Within minutes, I realized several distinct advantages of working with this versatile head.
I fastened the A17 to a Vanguard Alta Pro 283CT tripod. I attached the mounting plate to the AF-S Nikkor 500mm F5.6 PF ED VR lens that was connected to a Nikon D850. Well under the head’s 55 lbs load capacity, this camera/lens combo anchored securely onto the head, even with the tripod over my shoulder as I trudged through precarious tangles of a dense cedar swamp.
Right off the bat, the system felt relatively light, well balanced and responsive. The carbon fibre legs with aluminum alloy head combined with the Nikkor’s lightweight 500mm PF telephoto lens made for a fairly stress-free, easy-to-carry setup that allowed me to work quickly in situations with active wildlife.
Most impressive was the gimbal’s smooth operation. Its fluid panning ability was perfect for friction-free movement while photographing birds in flight. This kind of versatile performance is what I’d expect from a quality head designed for video, or for scanning with a spotting scope. Although I normally kept the lock and tilt knobs loose for rapid response, when my subject became stationary, with a few simple twists, I quickly locked the head into precise position. Even with actively changing subjects during freezing temperatures, I was able to respond with effortless speed.
Most of the time, I’d work with all knobs loose, including my lens’s tripod collar. This allowed me to easily swivel the system around into a level position. I could even do this single-handed, with only my index finger on the shutter while the rest of my hand gripped the camera body. This came in handy when I needed to take photos while my left hand extended out to feed the friendly chickadees – so simple, and so much fun!
After a couple of weeks of playing with this wonderful wildlife combo, I conclude that gimbals are the ultimate tripod head for big lenses, especially when the action is frantic and dynamic. The quick, smooth, solid and affordable Yelango A17 Gimbal Head is a remarkable tool that compliments any wildlife photographer’s arsenal.