Heavy lenses and light cameras, how to balance them

Posted by Jobu Tech Team on 9/20/2013
Having a frustrating time trying to balance your camera and lens? The solution is often much simpler than it appears at first glance.

Here is a typical scenario, which I'll outline since it just happened again 5 minutes ago with a walk-in customer. Our customer bought a brand new 'old' lens, the Canon 500mm F4.5, and planned to use it with a new Canon 70D or 5D MK3 body. (The photo below is a similar setup, 500F4 with a Canon 7D, even with a flash on the body, it still points down).

So first thing she does is put the NX2 lensplate on the lens foot. We place it in the Jobu Jr.3 with the 70D installed, and ta-da! We're not even close to balance. We need about 3" of extra lensplate to make the kit balance out. The old, heavy lens is very forward-heavy, even the lens hood has some serious weight. The new 70D feels light and airy, its just about 1 lb. Coupling an old, heavy lens with a modern plastic/magnesium/titanium camera will put the balance point about 3-6" in front of the manufacturer's lens foot. The 2 products are 20 years out of sync, cameras have gotten much lighter over the years.

The initial reaction (from the customer, and the store that sent them to us) was to use a very long NX4 plate (7" long). It is easy to see why you would suggest this. You pull the lens back to try to balance it, and the plate stops it short of being able to balance. A longer plate will solve the problem, right?

Well, yes and no. Install the NX4, slide it back, confirm balance... but the plate bangs into the base of the gimbal head when tilting up. We can't even achieve 45 degrees.

So what do you do? The key is to RE-BALANCE! Move the Centre of Gravity, don't try to adjust it's position with longer plates. How do you do this?

We solved our customers problem by using a moderately longer plate (the SF-NX3) and a hockey puck JP-75G. This offers a lot of leeway for moving things around when adding converters or flash.

1. Use a JP-75G hockey puck. Or 2. Or 3. However many you need to push the balance point back.

2. Use a battery grip, or heck, use a Pro size camera body.

3. Add a flash to your camera. Even if you don't use flash, it is a super easy way to add weight to the back of the camera.

4. Our L brackets are lightweight, but even they may be just enough to help push things around.

5. Add a teleconverter! This will move the balance point back more than many other options.



Bob Loveless
Date: 5/8/2014
I love my Jobu Pro2 Gimbal head. I get perfect balance using either my D300 with grip or my D4s with my AF-S 200-400mm f/4G ED VRII lens with 1.4x teleconverter. You just have to be sure not to raise the mount too high on the gimbal head which I did once.

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