When I was tuning my octo I put a dummy payload of similar weight in roughly the same location as the real payload would be. Hard mounting is the way to go for autotune, the slop of a big gimbal/weight moving around will confuse the autotune process.
You can tune without a fake payload but you’ll find that once you put the weight on there it might change the characteristics of the airframe enough that it doesn’t work well, especially if it shifts the center of gravity.
Definitely a dummy payload with the center of mass approximate to the gimbal location. We tune our Centurion MK VIII-C octa with a load that simulates the Sony F65 + Lens+ Recorder + Gimbal. Weight for that payload is 22 Lb’s bringing the copter with energy to 54 lbs
Without a payload after tuning it is twitchy but safe to fly with no perceived oscillation…though we don’t recommend our customers make a habit of it…