Jobu Gimbal Identification, History, and Basics

Posted by Jobu Tech Team on 11/5/2015

We are often asked about how to identify the various products Jobu Design has created over the years. So let's look at a brief history of what we made and where we are today!

Perhaps you are looking at a used gimbal from one of your friends, or an Ebay listing- hopefully this guide can help you out in your decision making, and hopefully you can get a small laugh out of it, too.

Our first gimbals were truly in the "back-yard", "garage-engineer" mindset. The "heck, I can do that!" stage when someone looks at a product and thinks it is far simpler than it really is.

Truly, it was not really something that could be done in a typical garage, or without adequate engineering and design. But the idea was already in place and there was no stopping it.

You will never, ever find this product anywhere. Well, maybe in our "Jobu Museum" of relics, as we like to call it.

The BWG-LW, the Lightweight.

This was more or less the first commercial version of a gimbal head we produced. Sold all over the world successfully.

To identify it, look for the welded construction, the large 5 or 6 lobed handwheels, and stainless steel shafts.

This was about as simple as a gimbal could get, however it did have shortcomings. If you have one of these, we recommend:

  • Remove the locking pin. Just don't use it. Some of these could inexplicably fail in the field. Not even due to an impact or collision, they would just plain 'fail'. Since the component is not something we could control (it was made by another manufacturer), we stopped using it entirely.
  • If the handwheels become stiff (feel like they only go on/off) then add a 3/8" small washer under them.
  • If the tilt motion is sticky, then remove the shaft and check the keyway (where the pin installs) to check for any damage. It can be filed and polished smooth and re-installed.

The BWG-HD was our first "top-mount" swing-arm design. The meaning of this was that lenses were loaded from the top-down, dropped into the quick-release.

Repair and tech notes are the same as above. Overall, it was basically the same product, but with the addition of the swing-arm.

The Jobu Jr.1

A blast from the past. This product was immensely popular - so popular that several other manufacturer directly copied us, thank you very much. How do we know they copied us? Their parts were interchangeable with ours entirely! Thanks for the flattery.

That being said, a flat-bar style gimbal is overall a poor choice for cross-sectional stiffness. For small lenses, this was a great product, but stiffness needed to improve for larger lenses.

The Jobu Jr.2

Wildly successful, this product sold in the thousands. What our customers loved about the product is what we hated. It was quite inexpensive meaning everyone was buying one, and usually for the wrong reasons.. A simple, easy to design gimbal, easy-to-assemble, and easy to care for was inadequately stiff for larger lenses and the brake mechanism was never meant to handle big loads.

Our customers continued to buy our smallest gimbal heads for use with large 600 F4 lenses and Pro bodies, quickly damaging these gimbals, ignoring our size and weight limitation guidelines. Tsk, tsk.

Case-in-point: People will continue to buy the lowest price-point products no matter what they are told.


Pro is where you go when all else fails.

The mighty BWG-Pro gimbal design was spurred by customers that brought us frighteningly large lenses like the Sigmonster (Sigma 300-800 zoom), which is about 12 feet long and 900 pounds, give or take. Every gimbal we had vibrated under this massive load, the torque from such a long lens was never seen before.

The Sigmonster lens quickly lost popularity, but we learned enough to make the first incarnations of the BWG-Pro gimbal from the design requirements it brought to us.

There are a few versions of the BWG-Pro over its manufacturing cycle:

  • The first ones had a plastic brake/bushing in the base. Ball bearings in the tilt were always standard, and continue to be.
  • Later the base panning motion was improved with ball bearings as well. The picture to the left is the BB version.
  • The swing-arm on the original Pro head was like the image on the left. This cast aluminum arm was very stiff, but prone to failure from accidents.
  • The later versions have a billet aluminum swing-arm with a more trapezoidal shape (the photo on the left shows the curved natural flow of the cast arm version). The billet version was basically unbreakable. If you have an older Pro head, consider calling us up to replace the cast aluminum swing-arm.

There are actually quite a few more versions of gimbals in our mid-range sizes. The LW2, HD2, LW3, HD3 were more or less the same products based off the same platform. Size-wise, they were almost identical, other than the HD versions shipping with a swing-arm.

The only fundamental difference between the LW2 vs. LW3, and HD2 vs. HD3 is the position of the top-tilt knob.

The axial-pulling knob (as shown to the left) is the superior version. If you have an LW2 or HD2 gimbal, we can easily upgrade it to the axial-pull brake style.

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