Pretty soon after i got into photography i bought a tripod; A Giottos MT9251, with a MH7001 ballhead. Price/quality was excellent in my opinion. Certainly for the starting photographer. It came in a cordura carrying bag, which i still use today.
I still have the tripod and the ballhead, but they are separated these days. Ive placed the ballhead on a Manfrotto 679B Monopod, and the tripod is equipped with a Naturestuff NEK-4 Gimbal head. When i got more and more into wildlife photography, and added the 300mm F/2.8 IS USM L to my lens line-up i bought the Gimbal.
I attached my 100-400L for picture purposes;
Attaching the lens this way to the gimbal served no other purpose then to see if it was possible".
It uses regular Arca-Swiss compatible lensplates. The gimbalhead comes with one plate. If you want more, i recommend E-bay. The loose plates are a tad overpriced compared to the gimbal itself, in my opinion.
I did loads of research on the web on many brands of gimbalheads. Jobu, Redged, Wimberley... All great stuff. But at a hefty price. So, when a dutch
webshop offered these NEK-4's, i thought id take a chance. For half the money of a Wimberley i got this one. At first inspection i found it to be very well
made, with tight tolerances. Not the piece of chinese cr*p i was halfheartedly expecting, really.
After my purchase i found out the one of the dutch wildlife photographers i admire endorses this product, but under a different name.
Since then i havent taken it with me as often as i would have liked/needed it. I usually carry the monopod for quick shots. Downside of that being that
you can never take your hands of the camera. One of my 2011 new years resolutions; Carry it along more often, quite being lazy. ;)
I believe that these are made by Triopo in China. Really sucky website alert! The quality of the website does not resemble the quality of the gimbal..
If you are in the market for a gimbalhead, you might want to look at these. The difference in price is staggering.
You can get it here. Im not affiliated with this site in any way.
The Manfrotto 679B monopod coupled with the Giottos ballhead MH7001 is with me pretty much allways when im out shooting. It supports the heaviest combo that i have, a gripped 7D with the 300mm F/2.8 perfectly.