With the booming business of swing heads, it was necessary to look for a decent but cheaper alternative. Wimberley has its SK-100, more known as “Sidekick”, which might be the ideal alternative, let’s find out...
Inside the box, you’ll find the Wimberley Sidekick, a manual and a flyer of all other Wimberley products. Everything is filled up with some mousse.
For which purpose to use
The Wimberley Sidekick is used to support heavy long-focus lenses, such as the heavy primes like a 200mm F/1.8 - 2.0 or a 300mm F/2.8, but of course you can also use this product to support your 70-200mm lens. If you own a 200-400mm F/4 or 500mm F/4, I would advise you to upgrade to a full swing head, but a Sidekick can do the job if necessary. If you own a 400mm F/2.8 or 600 F/4, I would strongly recommend to use a full swing head, as f.i. the Wimberley WH-200. Click HERE to read my review about this swing head.
The main difference between the Wimberley Sidekick and full swing head is that for the Sidekick, you need to use a ball head which is not the case for a full swing head.
Placing and installing the Sidekick on your ball head is really easy. Change the direction of the ball head’s plate to the vertical position and open the enclosure. Insert the Sidekick into the plate and close the plate’s enclosure. Make sure that the Sidekick is perfectly vertical. For the picture below, I used the Markins M20 ball head.
Installing your lens on the Sidekick is as easy as mounting the sidekick on the ball head: open the Acra-Swiss enclosure on the Sidekick and insert your lens foot. Close de plate’s enclosure again.
You can easily check if your lens foot is placed correctly: turn the large knob on the Sidekick to unlock the lens moving and check if the lens stays perfectly balanced. If it isn’t, slightly open the enclosure of the Arca-Swiss plate and move the lens foot.
As Wimberley is using the Arca-Swiss plate system, you will have to foresee a special plate or lens foot. For the Nikon AF-S VRII 300mm F/2.8 (used in the picture below) Wimberley is not having a special lens foot, so I used a P30 lens plate below the original lens foot. On Wimberley’s (or Kirk’s) website, you’ll find the correct lens plate/foot for every lens.
Using the Sidekick
To move the lens with camera in every position you want, you’ll need to unlock several knobs on the Wimberley Sidekick, your ball head and on your lens. The large knob on the Sidekick will unlock the vertical movement of the lens. The small pan-knob on the ball head will unlock the horizontal movement and the small knob on you lens foot will unlock the way to tilt you camera to allow you to take pictures in portrait as well as in landscape position.
Do not unlock all knobs entirely. Open them slightly, so you can do all movements, but with some force. You’ll see that you will have less vibration while taking pictures.
As explained before, you will have to buy a special lens plate or foot for every lens you want to use on a Wimberley product. You can buy Wimberley or Kirk plates/feet. Both are compatible and both are using the same Arca-Swiss system. A special plate will cost you about 50 to 90 Euros (depending on the type of lens you use) and a special foot around 100 Euros.
To protect the Sidekick, you can buy a protecting lens coat cover, which exists in different colours/prints and will cost you about 20 Euros.
The Wimberley Sidekick is a decent alternative if you own a heavy long-focus lens (up to maximum a 300mm F/2.8). The composition quality is extremely good and it is really very smooth in usage. For about 250 Euros, the Wimberley Sidekick is yours!