I have been using the Wimberley I for over ten years, and I have to say that it has been absolutely trouble free. In fact it’s never even been disassembled, lubed or anything else. I realize the Wimberley II is lighter, but I like the panning center knob because it rests comfortably in the palm of the hand, and I often carry the whole rig inverted. Now that I’m over 70, I’ve decided that the Sidekick not only makes for a lighter weight alternative, it’s great for being able to pair it with a ball head on occasions where the ball head alone is beneficial.
I have an Acratech unit that is Acra-type compatible, also a Manfrotto RC2 ball head as well. And I know there are conversion options where the RC2 can be adapted to Arca-type use. For any of you who have used the Sidekick, I’d be interested for you to comment on any caveats, and any other advice for that matter. Thanks much in advance.
I’ve been with Whimberley since Dave shipped out prototypes of his original for testing, and of course tested the Sidekick for him before he put it on the market. I still have that old original gray Whimberley prototype, but darned if he didn’t want the prototype Sidekick back for evaluation. I went right out and bought another the moment he put it on the market. So no, I’m probably NOT objective.
Even so, I have to say the Sidekick gets virtually all my use now, especially for travel but even around the house. It’s that good, and that much more convenient than the original full size version. Though Dave originally rated the Sidekick for lenses only as big as the 300 f/2.8, mine has had years of use with my Nikkor 500 f/4 and more recently the Nikon 200-500 f/5.6. Never a wobble or a glitch. The ballheads are mostly ancient Arca Swiss B-2’s on big tripods, but for the last couple of years I’ve been using the Sidekick on the tiny RRS BH-30 head on a correspondingly small Gitzo CF travel tripod (don’t recall the model at the moment).
My only caveat in all those uses has been about the tripod rather than the BH-30 or the Sidekick. I’m tall enough that I often extend the center column (Yeah, I’m a sinner!) to ease back strain. With a 5-6# lens on top of the Sidekick on top of a lightweight tripod with the column extended, it “feels” top-heavy. Never knocked it over, but I’m sure careful. Meanwhile the Sidekick pans left/right and tilts up/down as smoothly as the full size Whimberley.
Another good clue about their effectiveness and function: Consider how many companies are imitating it in one way or another!
Hi Bill: I bought a used Sidekick three or four years ago and I’ve used it ever since. The only time I use a full gimbal any more is in my blind. My only caveat would be the quality of the ball head has to be pretty good. The first one I used it on, while a very high end unit had a sticktion point in the rotation axis that was extremely annoying. I’ve relegated that to the Macro/landscape tripod where it doesn’t matter and bought the heavy weight RRS ballhead which has worked extremely well. The only trick for birding is that I have to get the knobs on the lens side when I mount the camera-otherwise I get interference . That probably isn’t an issue for everyone, but I’m using the relatively light weight Sigma 150-600 C and I have a battery holder on the 7DII so my center of gravity is closer to the camera than most. I also went with the old fashioned knob tightening apparatus for the clamp and on the BH 55 that sticks out a long ways.
Thanks @Hank_Pennington and @Dennis_Plank for the encouraging comments and the details of your experience as well. The the Acratech is compatible, and the Manfrotto MHX Pro can be adapted to Arca type using the Pro Media Gear C60 plate. I think either will work fine, although I’m more confident about using the Manfrotto. I will likely use the Sidekick option over the Wimberley I in situations where a bit of hiking is needed. Again, I really appreciate your valued input, guys.