The multipurpose gimbal head!

What better way to describes the Zenelli CARBON ZC Carbon Fiber Gimbal Head than multipurpose.Made of carbon fiber and CNC milled aluminium Zenelli takes the definition of the gimbal head, shrinks it down to a much smaller than regular size and adds a bunch of features you seldom see on a modern gimbal head. – How does it work out?

Full disclosure:
I was giving this product by the manufacturer, not to review it but to try it out and see what my thoughts was. I’ve travelled with it quite a lot and used and abused it the way I see fit. I was not obliged or encourages to write a positive review nor does it have any impact on my relationship with the manufacturer whatever outcome this review will have. I have no personal relationship with Zenelli. All I know is they make killer products ūüėČ

Why another gimbal head?

Different strokes for different folk’s. The Carbon ZC is to most extend a much smaller head than the Carbon ZX (that Zenelli also produce) meaning it leaves a smaller footprint when you’re travelling light or using smaller telephoto lenses.
With the latter in mind do note that even the large 500 F4’s and even larger 600 F4’s of tomorrow is getting so compact and light that some day in a near future the full-size gimbal will be obsolete. In the last 20 years the size of the 600 F4 has almost lost half of its weight and long gone are the day where anything from 600mm and larger were plus 6 kg’s.

Birdwatchers like to travel far, light and compact and that’s where a product like the Zenelli Carbon ZC carbon fiber gimbal head comes into its own right.


The Zenelli Carbon ZC carbon fiber gimbal head boasts compact size with a number of features and well tought ideas.
In addition it’s also a products that does more than it’s larger sibling.
In another world closely resembling to the photography one is the digiscoping world with telescopes and smartphones as the go to tools to¬† spot and capture everything from distant wildlife to rare birds. And the that realm there’s a change happening.
You see digiscoping and birdwatchers have always been used to the small somewhat underwhelming and lackluster video head from the likes of Manfrotto and Velbon mainly because birdwatchers never really needed ultimate stability all photographers strive for. And that’s despite spottingscopes offer FAR more magnification than whatever telephoto lens you can buy.
But with digiscoping and phonescoping (essentially the same) that has changes.
Birdwatchers like to travel far, light and compact and that’s where a product like the Zenelli Carbon ZC carbon fiber gimbal head comes into its own right.
The Carbon ZC carbon fiber gimbal head does only satisfies the needs of most nature photographers it also fills a void in the birdwatching society.

Eyecandy

Even before receiving the gimbal by mail I had a hunch about the feel and quality. Back when I reviewed Zenellie Carbon ZX the overall buildquality and feel blew my mind, I mean just take another look at it and you’ll see what I’m all about.
So expectations were high and I had no doubt that Zenelli would deliver.

Thankfully I was not disappointed!
The white branded Zenelli box came with cleverly cut holes in where lens plates and carbon fiber gimbal rested in.
But the box is less of importance right? If you ever unwrapped a box of high end Zeiss binoculars you’ll find a luxury box with large printed bird and almost watchbox-like interior.
The Zenelli box was good but not at that level. Either way substantially better than a box from any of the camera manufacturer which always feels cheep and some you’ll just throw out. In all in does it really matter?..

As with the larger ZX brother the ZC looks stunning. The CNC aluminium to carbon fiber ratio is a bit less but still made with impeccable finish. Despite having a beefier core the ZC weighs less than it’s bigger sibling. Especially the part where the swingarm connects with the rest of the gimbal is a lot thicker. I suspect it’s so because it carries the load higher up the head than the taller brother. The size difference between the two is noticeable and Zenelli even managed to shave up a couple of hundred gram of an already class leading low weight gimbal.

It does not however feature a level quick-release lock and does away with the old turn style knob which might not be as fast, but still does the job as well as you like.

Zenelli CARBON ZC Carbon Fiber Gimbal Head is more modular than you might expect.

There’s a noticeable size difference for those who would use smaller lenses and be less noticeable for curious eyes but also leave a lot smaller footprint when traveling light.
A GREAT partner for lenses such as 200-400 F/4, 400 F/4, 500 F/5.6 and 150-600 super-zoom lenses.

It just works?!

Not to my surprise the gimbal worked as advertised. With the Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM plus various extenders the gimbal was as good as any I’ve tried and operated flawlessly.
It’s very easy to find the right balance which is essential when using a gimbal head, even with a lens this compact. A BIG plus for¬† those of you who would like to use your super-zoom lens on the gimbal. The stepless craddle along with the included lens plates makes centering and balancing easier to find than most of the competitors. All the knobs you’ll see are a joy to use.
Zenelli CARBON ZC Carbon Fiber Gimbal Head is more modular than you might expect.
Meaning if you want to go ULTRA-light (slightly above 0,5 kg / 1 pound) and only use it for photo you can just as well place the lens in the craddle mount (Arca-Swiss standard – THANK YOU Zenelli) rather the using the whole craddle and pivot arm setup.¬† Not only is it the worlds LIGHTEST gimbal it’s also the worlds MOST COMPACT.

You could argue it’s close to the ultimate birdwatchers tool

And there’s a HUGE bonus!
Let’s say you’re first and foremost a bird-watcher that likes to take decent photographs. You most certainly have a high-end telescope and probably a superzoom lens on a smaller camerabody. The¬†Zenelli CARBON ZC is the perfect companion for that because of the moduler design.
Slap on the craddle-mount your telescope, lock the head slightly to get to tension and use the pivotarm to find and look for your “target”.
You could argue it’s close to the ultimate birdwatchers tool. Suddenly there’s a bird flying towards you. Quickly half-a-turn on the knob, remove the telescope / craddle setup and slap on your telephoto lens / camera combo, half-a-turn on the knob again and you’re suddenly photographing the incoming subject. This can literally be done in seconds and makes the difference between night and day. Gone are the times where you missed heaps of shots due to you fumbling with the gear – It’s truely a solution that just works.

Surprised!!

There have never a good product with a pleasant surprise and that came when I slapped on the mighty¬†Sigma 300-800mm F5.6 EX DG HSM. Sure you could argue that it’s a dated as a navel battleship, but in the right place at the right time there’s no better tool for the task.

When you’re already lugging 8 kg camera equipment as well as a sturdy tripod you’ll choose the lightest Gimbal possible and when it’s a well functioning as the Zenelli CARBON ZC it was an easy choice – Everytime!

I wasn’t too keen how it functioned when I used the craddle mostly due to the fact that you couldn’t mount it low enough (remember this is a small gimbal head) and nowhere did the specifications say a lens as big as the¬†Sigma 300-800mm F5.6 EX DG HSM was supported.
So I removed the craddle and mounted the lens just as I did the aforementioned Canon and voila. Not only was it buttersmooth but it also handled the much bigger than recommended lens almost as good as the larger brother (Zenelli Carbon ZX)

In fact I liked that setup so much I CHOOSE it instead of the ZX version due to the very small size and therefore small footprint especially working from my small portable blind.
A waterproof poncho does many thing and the birds didn’t mind that screaming blue color.
When you’re already lugging 8 kg camera equipment as well as a sturdy tripod you’ll choose the lightest Gimbal possible and when it’s a well functioning as the¬†¬†Zenelli CARBON ZC it was an easy choice – Everytime!

Bird-watcher Deluxe

As a bird-watcher you’re probably not used to gimbal heads or the name Arca-Swiss for that mater.
Most if not all bird-watchers has perhaps even higher demands when it comes to weight and travelling and you’ll find more bird-watchers settling for smaller scopes and binocular wellknowing they’re sacraficing lightgatering ability for low weight.
The¬†Zenelli CARBON ZC is a godsend mostly due to the ultra low weight and modular design that fits in almost any smaller backpack along with the scope and set of binoculars. The pivot arm helps smooth tracking even when using extremely long focal length and would be a dream partner for spotting scopes the likes of¬†Swarovski ATX 85mm Scope which I’ve reviewed some time ago. Got the greatest scope money can buy and to ditch the abysmal and way to small Manfrotto 128RC head and use one that upholds the standards your scope demand.

Conclusion

How do you rate a product that does almost everything in one class and sets standards in another..

The Zenelli CARBON ZC Carbon Fiber Gimbal Head is truly multipurpose.
If you’re both a¬† bird-watcher and photographer it’s a no brainer – The Zenelli CARBON ZC Carbon Fiber Gimbal Head is as good as it gets.
If you’re first and foremost a photographer the larger sibling the Zenelli ZX is probably the one for you.
For me the conclusion was easy as I found the ZX stayed at home and the ZC stayed in my backpack and that’s saying a lot. I was more than impressed how well it functioned with one of the largest lenses you can buy and how awesome it handled the smaller spotting scope AND disassembled could easily be tucked away in the backpack.
All this makes me wonder – How could you ever improve this?

 

Author

Nature lover turned 35, Avid Nature Photographer and fan of all things living. Every second spend outside with or without a camera is a second for me to grow and learn. Got question, requisitions or just in for a chat shot me an E-mail or connect me on Facebook or Twitter

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