Tripod / head for big lens

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Brian Stirling, Oct 27, 2004.

  1. I'm thinking about making the big plunge for a 600mm f/4.0 lens and
    would appreciate any advise on tripods and heads to go with it. I
    want to be able to carry this on back-country hikes and am leaning
    towards a carbon fiber tripod such as the one below as listed at B&H:

    Gitzo G-1548 Tele Studex Mk2 Performance Carbon Fiber 4-Section Tripod
    - Supports 33.1 lb (15 kg)

    The total weight of camera + lens + 2x Extender + gimbal head should
    be less than about 20 lbs so it should be suitable for the task, BUT,
    if there is any reason this tripod would NOT be appropriate please let
    me know.


    As to the head ... I'm planing on the following head also listed at
    B&H as follows:

    Wimberley Tripod Head Gimbal Type

    They also make a model with quick release:

    Wimberley Tripod Head, Gimbal Type - with C30 Quick Release Base

    Since the only setup I would imagine using this head with is the 600mm
    f/4.0 I don't think the extra $100 (US) for the quick release would be
    needed but I'm open to feedback on this point.


    As I see it now the head would be left connected to the 600mm lens and
    when using another lens setup the gimbal head would be removed from
    the tripod and my ball head mounted -- again, any feedback on doing
    this?


    Lastly, if there is any other tripod/head arraignment that you can
    recommend please let me know bearing in mind that I do plan on hiking
    this equipment into the back-country.


    Thanks,

    Brian
    Brian Stirling, Oct 27, 2004
    #1
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  2. Brian Stirling

    Bill Hilton Guest

    >From: Brian Stirling

    >I'm thinking about making the big plunge for a 600mm f/4.0 lens and
    >would appreciate any advise on tripods and heads to go with it.
    > (I) am leaning
    >towards a carbon fiber tripod such as the one below as listed at B&H:
    >Gitzo G-1548


    I shoot a lot in long-lens hotspots like Denali, Bosque del Apache and south
    Florida. Most guys with 500 and 600 f/4's are using either the Gitzo 1325/1329
    or the 1548 so you're looking at the right gear ... I use the 1325 with my 500
    f/4 but would probably get the 1548 if I had a 600. Here's a link to bird
    photographer Art Morris' comments on long-lens tripods, basically saying get
    one of these two Gitzos ... http://www.birdsasart.com/faq_tripod.html

    >The total weight of camera + lens + 2x Extender + gimbal head should
    >be less than about 20 lbs so it should be suitable for the task, BUT,
    >if there is any reason this tripod would NOT be appropriate please let
    >me know.


    Should be perfect for the job, though I think it's a bit more than 20 lbs. My
    500 is right at 20 lbs with the 1325 or 1329 and the gimbal head and I think
    the 600's are 3 lbs heavier.

    >As to the head ... I'm planing on the following head also listed at
    >B&H as follows:
    >
    >Wimberley Tripod Head Gimbal Type


    This is the right one for the 500 or 600, no doubt about that. The lens pans
    weightlessly when set up right on this head and it's a joy to use.
    http://www.birdsasart.com/faq_ballhead.html

    We also have/use the Wimberley SideKick, which mounts to a ballhead, but only
    take it on trips where we have to bring a ballhead for shorter lenses and can't
    pack both due to weight or space limits, like going to Alaska. But the big
    gimbal head is easier to use with a 500 or 600 or 400 f/2.8.

    >They also make a model with quick release:


    I think this is new, I haven't seen anyone using it much.

    You want the long plate from Wimberley with the Arca-Swiss base, I think it's
    the P-50. It has two screws for the tripod foot so it won't twist and also has
    stops at either end for when the lens starts to slide out of the jaws.
    http://tripodhead.com/products/lens-plates-main.cfm

    >As I see it now the head would be left connected to the 600mm lens ...


    Just put the P-50 plate on and remove that from the Wimberley, it's much less
    hassle. It even fits in the case with the tripod plate on.

    >when using another lens setup the gimbal head would be removed from
    >the tripod and my ball head mounted -- again, any feedback on doing
    >this?


    No problem, takes a minute to swap the Wimberley gimbal head for the ballhead.
    The hassle is carrying it, the gimbal head is about 4 lbs and awkward to carry
    when not mounted on the tripod, and the ballhead is probably 2 lbs. We usually
    carry one or the other, not both :)

    >Lastly, if there is any other tripod/head arraignment that you can
    >recommend please let me know bearing in mind that I do plan on hiking
    >this equipment into the back-country.


    I mentioned the SideKick, which is OK with a 500 mm lens but maybe a bit weak
    for the 600 ... the advantage is that you can take it off and have the ballhead
    already in place. The disadvantages are the tripod foot is to one side instead
    of at the bottom so it's easier to have the lens pop off when changing
    something. For backpacking it might be worth looking into though, I use mine a
    lot in Alaska when I can't justify bringing the gimbal head too.

    One other thing, you might check the prices at the Wimberley site. They are
    good guys (father - son team) to work with and if you are a customer will ship
    you stuff to try for free. http://tripodhead.com/index.cfm

    If you're shooting mostly birds (judging from your user name) you'll find a lot
    of good info on long lenses for birds at Art's site ... www.birdsasart.com ...

    Bill
    Bill Hilton, Oct 27, 2004
    #2
    1. Advertising

  3. On 27 Oct 2004 20:56:59 GMT, dy (Bill Hilton)
    wrote:

    >>From: Brian Stirling

    >
    >>I'm thinking about making the big plunge for a 600mm f/4.0 lens and
    >>would appreciate any advise on tripods and heads to go with it.
    >> (I) am leaning
    >>towards a carbon fiber tripod such as the one below as listed at B&H:
    >>Gitzo G-1548

    >
    >I shoot a lot in long-lens hotspots like Denali, Bosque del Apache and south
    >Florida. Most guys with 500 and 600 f/4's are using either the Gitzo 1325/1329
    >or the 1548 so you're looking at the right gear ... I use the 1325 with my 500
    >f/4 but would probably get the 1548 if I had a 600. Here's a link to bird
    >photographer Art Morris' comments on long-lens tripods, basically saying get
    >one of these two Gitzos ... http://www.birdsasart.com/faq_tripod.html
    >

    Thanks, I think I'll go with the 1548...

    >>The total weight of camera + lens + 2x Extender + gimbal head should
    >>be less than about 20 lbs so it should be suitable for the task, BUT,
    >>if there is any reason this tripod would NOT be appropriate please let
    >>me know.

    >
    >Should be perfect for the job, though I think it's a bit more than 20 lbs. My
    >500 is right at 20 lbs with the 1325 or 1329 and the gimbal head and I think
    >the 600's are 3 lbs heavier.


    Well I have not actually handled a 600mm f/4.0 so I can't say with
    certainty what the weight actually is, but the specs on the B&H
    website lists the weight of the lens at 11.8 lbs (Canon EF 600mm f/4.0
    IS USM AF). The camera with battery is about 3.5 lbs. The 2x extender
    is about 0.6 lbs. And the Wimberly head is about 3.7 lbs. (All based
    on spec on the website). If these numbers are correct then the total
    would be about 19.6 lbs.
    >
    >>As to the head ... I'm planing on the following head also listed at
    >>B&H as follows:
    >>
    >>Wimberley Tripod Head Gimbal Type

    >
    >This is the right one for the 500 or 600, no doubt about that. The lens pans
    >weightlessly when set up right on this head and it's a joy to use.
    >http://www.birdsasart.com/faq_ballhead.html
    >
    >We also have/use the Wimberley SideKick, which mounts to a ballhead, but only
    >take it on trips where we have to bring a ballhead for shorter lenses and can't
    >pack both due to weight or space limits, like going to Alaska. But the big
    >gimbal head is easier to use with a 500 or 600 or 400 f/2.8.
    >
    >>They also make a model with quick release:

    >
    >I think this is new, I haven't seen anyone using it much.
    >
    >You want the long plate from Wimberley with the Arca-Swiss base, I think it's
    >the P-50. It has two screws for the tripod foot so it won't twist and also has
    >stops at either end for when the lens starts to slide out of the jaws.
    >http://tripodhead.com/products/lens-plates-main.cfm
    >
    >>As I see it now the head would be left connected to the 600mm lens ...

    >
    >Just put the P-50 plate on and remove that from the Wimberley, it's much less
    >hassle. It even fits in the case with the tripod plate on.
    >
    >>when using another lens setup the gimbal head would be removed from
    >>the tripod and my ball head mounted -- again, any feedback on doing
    >>this?

    >
    >No problem, takes a minute to swap the Wimberley gimbal head for the ballhead.
    >The hassle is carrying it, the gimbal head is about 4 lbs and awkward to carry
    >when not mounted on the tripod, and the ballhead is probably 2 lbs. We usually
    >carry one or the other, not both :)
    >
    >>Lastly, if there is any other tripod/head arraignment that you can
    >>recommend please let me know bearing in mind that I do plan on hiking
    >>this equipment into the back-country.

    >
    >I mentioned the SideKick, which is OK with a 500 mm lens but maybe a bit weak
    >for the 600 ... the advantage is that you can take it off and have the ballhead
    >already in place. The disadvantages are the tripod foot is to one side instead
    >of at the bottom so it's easier to have the lens pop off when changing
    >something. For backpacking it might be worth looking into though, I use mine a
    >lot in Alaska when I can't justify bringing the gimbal head too.
    >
    >One other thing, you might check the prices at the Wimberley site. They are
    >good guys (father - son team) to work with and if you are a customer will ship
    >you stuff to try for free. http://tripodhead.com/index.cfm
    >
    >If you're shooting mostly birds (judging from your user name) you'll find a lot
    >of good info on long lenses for birds at Art's site ... www.birdsasart.com ...
    >


    Actually I do plan on doing a good deal of bird shooting in south
    Florida this winter and the 600mm lens would be put to good use for
    that purpose, but I also plan on using it for more general wildlife
    photography.


    >Bill
    >
    >



    Thanks for your feedback -- it helps!


    Thanks,

    Brian


    PS: I wouldn't mind talking to you a bit more about where and when
    for birding in south Florida -- if so it might be better to do it via
    email.
    Brian Stirling, Oct 27, 2004
    #3
  4. Brian Stirling

    Bill Hilton Guest

    >>Should be perfect for the job, though I think it's a bit more than 20
    >> lbs. My 500 is right at 20 lbs with the 1325 or 1329 and the gimbal
    >> head


    >From: Brian Stirling
    >
    >the specs on the B&H
    >website lists the weight of the lens at 11.8 lbs (Canon EF 600mm f/4.0
    >IS USM AF). The camera with battery is about 3.5 lbs. The 2x extender
    >is about 0.6 lbs. And the Wimberly head is about 3.7 lbs. (All based
    >on spec on the website). If these numbers are correct then the total
    >would be about 19.6 lbs.


    I was adding in the tripod legs, which adds about 6.75 lbs for the 1548,
    bringing you to over 26 lbs ... wait until you find you need to add a 550EX for
    fill-flash, a Better Beamer, off-camera flash bracket and a Quantum Turbo
    battery pack to power it (grin).

    Good choice of gear, but heavy for backpacking very far, I've found.

    >Actually I do plan on doing a good deal of bird shooting in south
    >Florida this winter


    Maybe we'll see you at Ding or the Anhinga Trail or the Venice Rookery ... good
    luck!

    >PS: I wouldn't mind talking to you a bit more about where and when
    >for birding in south Florida -- if so it might be better to do it via
    >email.


    Change .comedy to .com and drop me an email, I shoot almost the same gear as
    you ... here are a few bird shots from Alaska this July to show you what we
    like to shoot ... http://members.aol.com/hiltonfotography/pribilofs/murre.htm

    This is what we were shooting last month up there ...
    http://members.aol.com/bhilton665/D3882_wolf.jpg
    http://members.aol.com/bhilton665/W1037_bear.jpg
    http://members.aol.com/bhilton665/D4025_grizz.jpg

    Roger Clark also has some fine shots from south Florida and from Alaska but I
    think he's passing on south Florida this winter ...
    http://www.clarkvision.com/galleries/gallery.bird/index.html (many of the first
    ones from Bosque, the wading birds nearer the bottom from Florida, most from
    the Venice Rookery) ... and these bear shots from a trip we took to Alaska 2
    months ago ... http://www.clarkvision.com/galleries/gallery.bear/index.html

    Bill
    Bill Hilton, Oct 28, 2004
    #4
  5. >>From: Brian Stirling
    >>
    >>the specs on the B&H
    >>website lists the weight of the lens at 11.8 lbs (Canon EF 600mm f/4.0
    >>IS USM AF). The camera with battery is about 3.5 lbs. The 2x extender
    >>is about 0.6 lbs. And the Wimberly head is about 3.7 lbs. (All based
    >>on spec on the website).


    Hi,
    If your are planning on hiking with the 600mm, consider you also
    will likely need a number of miscellaneous items, ranging from
    the backpack weight, other lenses, spare batteries,
    spare camera, water, rain gear, and the list goes on. The pack
    you'll need for the 600 is something like the full lowepro,
    and that must weight about 10 pounds (look up specs for exact
    specs).

    The other thing to consider is, do you want to travel with this
    lens? Travel on airplanes? If so, then you'll have to check it
    or ship it separately. I faced this decision a few years ago
    and ultimately decided on the 500 f/4 L IS instead. For 20% less
    focal length, the size and weight make it much easier to move
    around. With the lowepro phototrekker AW, I can get the following
    in this aircraft carry-on legal bag: 500 f/4, 300 f/4, 28-135 IS,
    24mm, Canon 10D with 5 spare batteries, 1D Mark II with 2 spare
    batteries, lots of compact flash and miscellaneous other items.
    Carry-one weight is under 40 pounds. (By the way, does anyone know if
    this is carry-on legal on Air New Zealand?). The further advantage
    of the 500 is you can get by with a gitzo 1325 series carbon fiber
    tripod, which further reduces weight.

    So that ~35 pound airplane carry on pack, translates to about 45 pounds
    on a hike when you include the tripod. To reduce weight, you start
    leaving potentially important stuff behind.

    Finally, moving around in the field is a lot easier with a 500 +gitzo
    1325 than a 600 + 1548. I originally wanted the 600 mm lens for a
    specific purpose, but decided on the 500 and am glad I did because
    of the added flexibility it gives me with only a minor loss in focal length.

    Hey Bill, I still hope to go to Florida this winter for birds, assuming
    the hurricanes didn't do too much damage to habitat, and assuming
    I can find time between all my other trips.

    Hope this helps.

    Roger
    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Oct 28, 2004
    #5
  6. Brian Stirling

    Bill Hilton Guest

    >From: "Roger N. Clark

    >Carry-one weight is under 40 pounds. (By the way, does anyone know if
    >this is carry-on legal on Air New Zealand?).


    Hi Roger,

    On one of our marlin fishing trips to Cairns we missed our United connection to
    LAX in Sydney and they wanted to put us on an Air New Zealand flight which was
    leaving 3 hours later. The ANZ carry-on limit was 7 kilos (!!!) ... all we had
    were one light bag with bathing suits etc (don't need much living on a boat)
    and one small camera bag with two bodies, film and three f/2.8 L zoom lenses.
    There was no problem at all flying with this as carry-on via LAX-SYD on United
    and SYD-Cairns on the local Ozzie carrier, Ansett. But Air New Zealand
    wouldn't let us carry-on either bag! Not even the camera bag, the lady weighed
    it and it was 18 lbs ... couldn't believe it. I think they have the British
    Air disease.

    I told Carol "to hell with this, let's wait overnight and catch a United flight
    tomorrow ... hope they can still get us seats in business class" ... at the
    sound of the phrase "business class" (we had used FF miles to upgrade) the ANZ
    lady's ears perked up and she said the weight limit for BC was 20 kilos (or
    something like that) and we were able to carry-on everything after all.

    Moral of this is don't fly coach if you want to carry on anything with Air New
    Zealand :)

    >Hey Bill, I still hope to go to Florida this winter for birds, assuming
    >the hurricanes didn't do too much damage to habitat


    Ah, I thought you told me earlier you were going to pass this year ... I've
    already been checking the bird counts at Bosque, I think I'll slip over before
    T-giving ...

    Bill
    Bill Hilton, Oct 28, 2004
    #6
  7. On Wed, 27 Oct 2004 20:05:29 -0600, "Roger N. Clark (change username
    to rnclark)" <> wrote:

    >>>From: Brian Stirling
    >>>
    >>>the specs on the B&H
    >>>website lists the weight of the lens at 11.8 lbs (Canon EF 600mm f/4.0
    >>>IS USM AF). The camera with battery is about 3.5 lbs. The 2x extender
    >>>is about 0.6 lbs. And the Wimberly head is about 3.7 lbs. (All based
    >>>on spec on the website).

    >
    >Hi,
    >If your are planning on hiking with the 600mm, consider you also
    >will likely need a number of miscellaneous items, ranging from
    >the backpack weight, other lenses, spare batteries,
    >spare camera, water, rain gear, and the list goes on. The pack
    >you'll need for the 600 is something like the full lowepro,
    >and that must weight about 10 pounds (look up specs for exact
    >specs).
    >
    >The other thing to consider is, do you want to travel with this
    >lens? Travel on airplanes? If so, then you'll have to check it
    >or ship it separately. I faced this decision a few years ago
    >and ultimately decided on the 500 f/4 L IS instead. For 20% less
    >focal length, the size and weight make it much easier to move
    >around. With the lowepro phototrekker AW, I can get the following
    >in this aircraft carry-on legal bag: 500 f/4, 300 f/4, 28-135 IS,
    >24mm, Canon 10D with 5 spare batteries, 1D Mark II with 2 spare
    >batteries, lots of compact flash and miscellaneous other items.
    >Carry-one weight is under 40 pounds. (By the way, does anyone know if
    >this is carry-on legal on Air New Zealand?). The further advantage
    >of the 500 is you can get by with a gitzo 1325 series carbon fiber
    >tripod, which further reduces weight.
    >
    >So that ~35 pound airplane carry on pack, translates to about 45 pounds
    >on a hike when you include the tripod. To reduce weight, you start
    >leaving potentially important stuff behind.
    >
    >Finally, moving around in the field is a lot easier with a 500 +gitzo
    >1325 than a 600 + 1548. I originally wanted the 600 mm lens for a
    >specific purpose, but decided on the 500 and am glad I did because
    >of the added flexibility it gives me with only a minor loss in focal length.


    Well I might just give the 500mm f/4 a look for all the reasons you
    mention. I do have some experience with backpacks over 50 lbs
    (several day hiking not photography) and while it does take some
    getting used to it is not that bad if the weight is properly
    distributed and the backpack is well designed.

    My current kit with tripod and head weighs about 35-40 lbs and I've
    hiked that as much as 18 miles per day (Mount Saint Hellens in June
    04) using only a Lowepro shoulder bag. This is not the best setup as
    the weight is borne entirely on one shoulder versus both shoulder and
    waist, and if I do get a 500mm or 600mm f/4 lens I will HAVE to
    upgrade my backpack setup.
    >
    >Hey Bill, I still hope to go to Florida this winter for birds, assuming
    >the hurricanes didn't do too much damage to habitat, and assuming
    >I can find time between all my other trips.


    I moved to Florida in February this year (Stuart FL) but have been on
    the road in my RV since April. The house I'm staying at in Stuart
    (actually Hobe Sound) was damaged by direct hits from Francis and
    Jeanne but my brother (owner of the house) needed a new roof anyway so
    the net cost should not be too bad.

    I plan on returning to Florida by late January 05 and will be looking
    to do my bird shooting after that. My work thus far has been mostly
    landscape and have noted the need for longer reach than my current kit
    offers.

    I should say that my time this year has been spent traveling the
    country on an extended photo safari and am currently waiting out the
    rain in Kanab, UT for the next opportunity to hit "The Wave" and
    Coyote Buttes. I will travel to Las Vegas from here then plan on
    moving into California for the early winter with the goal of hitting
    Death Valley in December/January.

    I have taken over 20K pictures with my current kit (Nikon D100/F100)
    along with 7 lenses). I have been waiting to see what Nikon was going
    to offer with the D2X but since they seem committed to the APS sized
    sensor I am seriously thinking about biting-the-bullet and switching
    to Canon. I do this with more than a little trepidation as the D100
    is a better body than many think and the expense to switch will be
    significant.

    Later,

    Brian

    >Hope this helps.
    >
    >Roger
    Brian Stirling, Oct 28, 2004
    #7
  8. Brian Stirling

    Gadgets Guest

    Do you think you could get away with a monopod, or would you like to be
    ready for low light/max DOF shots? Certainly for bird shots the monopod
    would be easier to manouvre. In some situations you could strap mono to a
    tree/post too. For improvised hiking monopods, some people mount a screw
    thread into the top of a walking pole or ski stock too...

    For a chuckle, you might like to see how to extend a short, crappy tripod to
    see over fences! (90KB)
    http://www.jaswebpics.com/tripod.jpg

    Cheers, Jason (remove ... to reply)
    Video & Gaming: http://gadgetaus.com
    Gadgets, Oct 28, 2004
    #8
  9. Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark) wrote:
    >>> From: Brian Stirling
    >>>
    >>> the specs on the B&H
    >>> website lists the weight of the lens at 11.8 lbs (Canon EF 600mm
    >>> f/4.0 IS USM AF). The camera with battery is about 3.5 lbs. The 2x
    >>> extender is about 0.6 lbs. And the Wimberly head is about 3.7 lbs.
    >>> (All based on spec on the website).

    >
    > Hi,
    > If your are planning on hiking with the 600mm, consider you also
    > will likely need a number of miscellaneous items, ranging from
    > the backpack weight, other lenses, spare batteries,
    > spare camera, water, rain gear, and the list goes on. The pack
    > you'll need for the 600 is something like the full lowepro,
    > and that must weight about 10 pounds (look up specs for exact
    > specs).


    One alternative is an image stabilised point-and-shoot camera - for about
    1lb weight you can get an 8MP Nikon 8800, 5MP Panasoniz FZ20 etc....

    David
    David J Taylor, Oct 28, 2004
    #9
  10. Brian Stirling

    Guest

    Brian Stirling <> wrote:

    > Well I might just give the 500mm f/4 a look for all the reasons you
    > mention. I do have some experience with backpacks over 50 lbs
    > (several day hiking not photography) and while it does take some
    > getting used to it is not that bad if the weight is properly
    > distributed and the backpack is well designed.


    Lowepro sells alot of soft, carryable, very expensive containers for
    photo-goop. Though some of them have harnesses, straps, help-belts
    and their marketing department has used the word "pack" in their
    advertising, do not be misled: they do not sell any backpacks worthy
    of the name. Truly! You would do _alot_ better to buy a real
    external frame pack and just tie one of the many lowepro/tamrac/etc
    filing cabinets directly to it. But before that...

    > My current kit with tripod and head weighs about 35-40 lbs and I've
    > hiked that as much as 18 miles per day (Mount Saint Hellens in June
    > 04) using only a Lowepro shoulder bag. This is not the best setup as
    > the weight is borne entirely on one shoulder versus both shoulder and
    > waist, and if I do get a 500mm or 600mm f/4 lens I will HAVE to
    > upgrade my backpack setup.


    I just finished what you are starting. My solution (so far):

    EF 500/4 IS. Because the 600/4 has ~twice the mass, ~twice the price,
    for a marginally less return. Arthur Morris recommends the 600/4 only
    if you have a major fetish for tiny birds and the physical stamina
    necessary to carry the thing, and its flotilla of support equipment.

    Gitzo 1325 CF (no center column). You can get the monster 1548, but
    the 1325 is _more_ than enough for a 500/4.

    Wimberley gimbal head. GET ONE: that is a direct order! You might
    as well buy it now at www.tripodhead.com. Honest to Bob, this is
    _not_ an option! Some people say that a high-end Arca-Swiss or Kirk
    or even an Acratech ballhead is fine, but these people are deluded.
    Loco! I've tried using the 500/4 on a ballhead and it's, just, like
    so _awful_ in comparison to the Wimberley.

    If you haven't already done so, you'll have to choose a quick-release
    system. Arca-Swiss style dovetail is de rigeur. Absolute mandatory
    feature: a retention mechanism to keep the lens plate from sliding
    out of the clamp when the lock is accidently released. I know that
    Wimberley's Arca-Swiss style clamps/plates has one, as does Acratech's
    (maybe the others). I went with Acratech's, as I already had one of
    their ballheads. Irritation: Acratech clamps are rather short. I
    wish they made a longer one! (If they ever do, I'll buy one.)

    If you are going to be birding with your lens, you'll need a flash
    extender ("Better Beamer") and a flash bracket (RRS, Kirk, Wimberley,
    etc). I'll recommend Wimberley again, because they make brackets that
    fit onto their head, and other shapes. In fact, since I like to macro
    stuff at times, I got their reticulated "arm" bracket instead. A bit
    of a pain aiming the flash when on the big head, but much more useful
    when roaming around with a "lesser" lens.

    You may also need some extension rings as subjects get closer to the
    500/4; I'll probably be ordering some Kenko's soon.

    Now, the business of the "backpack". As mentioned, all Lowepro packs
    are garbage as backpacks: if your back is like mine, it will be a
    pretzel within a few kilometres of the car, even with moderate 10-15kg
    loads. With some ingenuity at the outdoor stoor, you can probably
    jury-rig a container for your monster lens and strap it to a much more
    comfortable/adjustable/wearable external frame pack; I did as much
    for a recent trip with some sleeping-pad foam and duct-tape.

    I've since ordered a bunch of stuff from Kinesis
    (http://www.kinesisgear.com/). A belt, the L511 long-lens case,
    various harnesses. About the same price as the largest Lowepro (the
    one needed to hold a 500/4), but (a) much less dead-weight and (b) it
    doesn't warp my back into a knot when loaded. You can hang stuff from
    the belt, strap it to the harness or the lens case.

    > I have been waiting to see what Nikon was going to offer with the D2X
    > but since they seem committed to the APS sized sensor I am seriously
    > thinking about biting-the-bullet and switching to Canon. I do this
    > with more than a little trepidation as the D100 is a better body
    > than many think and the expense to switch will be significant.


    http://www.birdsasart.com/bn140.htm

    "TEN IMPORTANT BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY FACTS (that you may or
    may not want to hear...)"

    [...]

    "#9: Canon is light years ahead of Nikon as far as digital camera
    bodies and long Image Stabilized and Vibration Reduction lenses
    are concerned. Why? Canon is a huge company who can afford to
    spend lot of $$ on R&D (research and development). Nikon is a
    much smaller company that can only afford to try and catch up...
    (Sorry, those are the facts.)"

    If you have never used one, these huge, fast, lenses (Nikon or Canon -
    both are just as good optically) are an eye opener. Eye popper
    perhaps: my EF 500/4 is easliy the best optic I have ever looked or
    imaged though. You can even perceive the quality through the cruddy
    Canon 10D viewfinder; when the image snaps into focus you can almost
    hear the ground-glass ping. A totally different world, and though I
    have thoroughly slagged my credit card (~$7500 to date), it's going to
    be a long time indeed before the shit-eating grin is wiped off my face
    ....
    , Oct 28, 2004
    #10
  11. Gadgets wrote:

    > Do you think you could get away with a monopod, or would you like to be
    > ready for low light/max DOF shots? Certainly for bird shots the monopod
    > would be easier to manouvre. In some situations you could strap mono to a
    > tree/post too. For improvised hiking monopods, some people mount a screw
    > thread into the top of a walking pole or ski stock too...
    >
    > For a chuckle, you might like to see how to extend a short, crappy tripod to
    > see over fences! (90KB)
    > http://www.jaswebpics.com/tripod.jpg
    >
    > Cheers, Jason (remove ... to reply)
    > Video & Gaming: http://gadgetaus.com


    If you've ever handled one of these big lenses, you would know it
    is not what you would want to do, at least for very long.
    Stability becomes critical as the focal length goes up.
    A 500mm lens on a Canon 10D camera (7.2 micron pixel spacing)
    translates to about 3 arc-second pixel spacing. One would
    not be able to hold a monopod steady for very long.

    Roger
    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Oct 29, 2004
    #11
  12. wrote:

    > Brian Stirling <> wrote:
    >
    >
    >>Well I might just give the 500mm f/4 a look for all the reasons you
    >>mention. I do have some experience with backpacks over 50 lbs
    >>(several day hiking not photography) and while it does take some
    >>getting used to it is not that bad if the weight is properly
    >>distributed and the backpack is well designed.

    >
    >
    > Lowepro sells alot of soft, carryable, very expensive containers for
    > photo-goop. Though some of them have harnesses, straps, help-belts
    > and their marketing department has used the word "pack" in their
    > advertising, do not be misled: they do not sell any backpacks worthy
    > of the name. Truly! You would do _alot_ better to buy a real
    > external frame pack and just tie one of the many lowepro/tamrac/etc
    > filing cabinets directly to it. But before that...


    I used to use regular backpacks for my camera gear, including carrying
    the 500mm, as well as large format gear. In my opinion, the lowepro
    backpacks are adequate. Perhaps not the most spectacular backpacks,
    but quite adequate. I have and use the largest 2 packs in the lowepro
    line and have no problems with them at all. I have even carried about
    75 pounds of photo gear in the largest lowepro pack, hiking in the
    Tetons with the 500mm, 2 DSLRs, and a 4x5 camera. My back was fine.
    It was a strain on my 51 year old hip joints, though that said
    I was nuts. Now I limit to no more than about 60 pounds.
    But I only use the lowepro packs now as the organization is much
    better than trying to strap camera gear into a regular pack.

    Roger
    >
    >
    >>My current kit with tripod and head weighs about 35-40 lbs and I've
    >>hiked that as much as 18 miles per day (Mount Saint Hellens in June
    >>04) using only a Lowepro shoulder bag. This is not the best setup as
    >>the weight is borne entirely on one shoulder versus both shoulder and
    >>waist, and if I do get a 500mm or 600mm f/4 lens I will HAVE to
    >>upgrade my backpack setup.

    >
    >
    > I just finished what you are starting. My solution (so far):
    >
    > EF 500/4 IS. Because the 600/4 has ~twice the mass, ~twice the price,
    > for a marginally less return. Arthur Morris recommends the 600/4 only
    > if you have a major fetish for tiny birds and the physical stamina
    > necessary to carry the thing, and its flotilla of support equipment.
    >
    > Gitzo 1325 CF (no center column). You can get the monster 1548, but
    > the 1325 is _more_ than enough for a 500/4.
    >
    > Wimberley gimbal head. GET ONE: that is a direct order! You might
    > as well buy it now at www.tripodhead.com. Honest to Bob, this is
    > _not_ an option! Some people say that a high-end Arca-Swiss or Kirk
    > or even an Acratech ballhead is fine, but these people are deluded.
    > Loco! I've tried using the 500/4 on a ballhead and it's, just, like
    > so _awful_ in comparison to the Wimberley.
    >
    > If you haven't already done so, you'll have to choose a quick-release
    > system. Arca-Swiss style dovetail is de rigeur. Absolute mandatory
    > feature: a retention mechanism to keep the lens plate from sliding
    > out of the clamp when the lock is accidently released. I know that
    > Wimberley's Arca-Swiss style clamps/plates has one, as does Acratech's
    > (maybe the others). I went with Acratech's, as I already had one of
    > their ballheads. Irritation: Acratech clamps are rather short. I
    > wish they made a longer one! (If they ever do, I'll buy one.)
    >
    > If you are going to be birding with your lens, you'll need a flash
    > extender ("Better Beamer") and a flash bracket (RRS, Kirk, Wimberley,
    > etc). I'll recommend Wimberley again, because they make brackets that
    > fit onto their head, and other shapes. In fact, since I like to macro
    > stuff at times, I got their reticulated "arm" bracket instead. A bit
    > of a pain aiming the flash when on the big head, but much more useful
    > when roaming around with a "lesser" lens.
    >
    > You may also need some extension rings as subjects get closer to the
    > 500/4; I'll probably be ordering some Kenko's soon.
    >
    > Now, the business of the "backpack". As mentioned, all Lowepro packs
    > are garbage as backpacks: if your back is like mine, it will be a
    > pretzel within a few kilometres of the car, even with moderate 10-15kg
    > loads. With some ingenuity at the outdoor stoor, you can probably
    > jury-rig a container for your monster lens and strap it to a much more
    > comfortable/adjustable/wearable external frame pack; I did as much
    > for a recent trip with some sleeping-pad foam and duct-tape.
    >
    > I've since ordered a bunch of stuff from Kinesis
    > (http://www.kinesisgear.com/). A belt, the L511 long-lens case,
    > various harnesses. About the same price as the largest Lowepro (the
    > one needed to hold a 500/4), but (a) much less dead-weight and (b) it
    > doesn't warp my back into a knot when loaded. You can hang stuff from
    > the belt, strap it to the harness or the lens case.
    >
    >
    >>I have been waiting to see what Nikon was going to offer with the D2X
    >>but since they seem committed to the APS sized sensor I am seriously
    >>thinking about biting-the-bullet and switching to Canon. I do this
    >>with more than a little trepidation as the D100 is a better body
    >>than many think and the expense to switch will be significant.

    >
    >
    > http://www.birdsasart.com/bn140.htm
    >
    > "TEN IMPORTANT BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY FACTS (that you may or
    > may not want to hear...)"
    >
    > [...]
    >
    > "#9: Canon is light years ahead of Nikon as far as digital camera
    > bodies and long Image Stabilized and Vibration Reduction lenses
    > are concerned. Why? Canon is a huge company who can afford to
    > spend lot of $$ on R&D (research and development). Nikon is a
    > much smaller company that can only afford to try and catch up...
    > (Sorry, those are the facts.)"
    >
    > If you have never used one, these huge, fast, lenses (Nikon or Canon -
    > both are just as good optically) are an eye opener. Eye popper
    > perhaps: my EF 500/4 is easliy the best optic I have ever looked or
    > imaged though. You can even perceive the quality through the cruddy
    > Canon 10D viewfinder; when the image snaps into focus you can almost
    > hear the ground-glass ping. A totally different world, and though I
    > have thoroughly slagged my credit card (~$7500 to date), it's going to
    > be a long time indeed before the shit-eating grin is wiped off my face
    > ...
    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Oct 29, 2004
    #12
  13. David J Taylor wrote:

    > Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark) wrote:
    >
    >>>>From: Brian Stirling
    >>>>
    >>>>the specs on the B&H
    >>>>website lists the weight of the lens at 11.8 lbs (Canon EF 600mm
    >>>>f/4.0 IS USM AF). The camera with battery is about 3.5 lbs. The 2x
    >>>>extender is about 0.6 lbs. And the Wimberly head is about 3.7 lbs.
    >>>>(All based on spec on the website).

    >>
    >>Hi,
    >>If your are planning on hiking with the 600mm, consider you also
    >>will likely need a number of miscellaneous items, ranging from
    >>the backpack weight, other lenses, spare batteries,
    >>spare camera, water, rain gear, and the list goes on. The pack
    >>you'll need for the 600 is something like the full lowepro,
    >>and that must weight about 10 pounds (look up specs for exact
    >>specs).

    >
    >
    > One alternative is an image stabilised point-and-shoot camera - for about
    > 1lb weight you can get an 8MP Nikon 8800, 5MP Panasoniz FZ20 etc....


    David,
    The whole point of a 500 mm f/4 is the speed of the system. No point
    and shoot, even if 500mm focal length could compete, unless it too
    is 500 mm f/4. If you were shooting still subjects, then you could
    use f/8 or f/11 and therefore a slower lens with less weight. But not
    action. Action can require 1/4000 second shutter speed at iso 400
    plus shallow depth of field to isolate the subject from the background.
    It can be a challenge with even with top end equipment.

    Roger
    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Oct 29, 2004
    #13
  14. Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark) wrote:
    []
    >> One alternative is an image stabilised point-and-shoot camera - for
    >> about 1lb weight you can get an 8MP Nikon 8800, 5MP Panasoniz FZ20
    >> etc....

    >
    > David,
    > The whole point of a 500 mm f/4 is the speed of the system. No point
    > and shoot, even if 500mm focal length could compete, unless it too
    > is 500 mm f/4. If you were shooting still subjects, then you could
    > use f/8 or f/11 and therefore a slower lens with less weight. But not
    > action. Action can require 1/4000 second shutter speed at iso 400
    > plus shallow depth of field to isolate the subject from the
    > background. It can be a challenge with even with top end equipment.
    >
    > Roger


    Yes, of course my suggestion was a little tongue in cheek, but the lens on
    the FZ20 offers 432mm (equivalent) at f/2.8, and the camera has excellent
    manual focus capability, and the shutter speed goes down to 1/2000.

    Whilst a professional may want to (or be forced to) carry very heavy
    lenses, I do wonder how well today's ZLR cameras might work in such an
    environment, at least for amateur use....

    Cheers,
    David
    David J Taylor, Oct 29, 2004
    #14
  15. On Thu, 28 Oct 2004 21:14:34 -0600, "Roger N. Clark (change username
    to rnclark)" <> wrote:

    >David J Taylor wrote:
    >
    >> Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark) wrote:
    >>
    >>>>>From: Brian Stirling
    >>>>>
    >>>>>the specs on the B&H
    >>>>>website lists the weight of the lens at 11.8 lbs (Canon EF 600mm
    >>>>>f/4.0 IS USM AF). The camera with battery is about 3.5 lbs. The 2x
    >>>>>extender is about 0.6 lbs. And the Wimberly head is about 3.7 lbs.
    >>>>>(All based on spec on the website).
    >>>
    >>>Hi,
    >>>If your are planning on hiking with the 600mm, consider you also
    >>>will likely need a number of miscellaneous items, ranging from
    >>>the backpack weight, other lenses, spare batteries,
    >>>spare camera, water, rain gear, and the list goes on. The pack
    >>>you'll need for the 600 is something like the full lowepro,
    >>>and that must weight about 10 pounds (look up specs for exact
    >>>specs).

    >>
    >>
    >> One alternative is an image stabilised point-and-shoot camera - for about
    >> 1lb weight you can get an 8MP Nikon 8800, 5MP Panasoniz FZ20 etc....

    >
    >David,
    >The whole point of a 500 mm f/4 is the speed of the system. No point
    >and shoot, even if 500mm focal length could compete, unless it too
    >is 500 mm f/4. If you were shooting still subjects, then you could
    >use f/8 or f/11 and therefore a slower lens with less weight. But not
    >action. Action can require 1/4000 second shutter speed at iso 400
    >plus shallow depth of field to isolate the subject from the background.
    >It can be a challenge with even with top end equipment.
    >
    >Roger



    Thanks to all that responded -- I do appreciate...


    I have decided to spring for the 500mm f/4.0 and I am investigating
    the use of extension tubes for closer in work. (Is there any pointers
    to info on using extension tubes?)

    I have also settled on the Gitzo 1325 over the 1548 as the heavier
    tripod would only be preferable with the 600mm f/4.0.

    I also plan on getting a Better Beamer but will wait until I can
    verify it will be compatible with the Canon 580EX flash.

    I will order the above items soon, but I've started with the
    following:

    1. Canon 1D Mark II body

    2. EF 300mm f/4 IS lens

    3. EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS

    4. EF 24-70mm f/2.8 IS

    5. EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

    6. Spare NP-E3 battery


    I'll have to wait till next month to get the rest of the gear as my
    credit card will need a rest... ; - )

    One more question: what about insurance? When I ordered the above
    items I added the extended warranty (Mack) but wonder if that is
    advisable -- any feelings on the Mack warranties? What about
    insurance for loss due to theft?


    Thanks,

    Brian
    Brian Stirling, Oct 29, 2004
    #15
  16. Brian Stirling

    Walter Guest

    For a large lens, you might want to look at this site,


    http://www.nikonians.org/html/resources/non-nikon_articles/manfrotto_
    393/393_1.html


    I bought one from B&H for $155, does the same job as the Wimberly does,
    a little heavier though, not as fancy, but much less expensive.

    Walter


    >>
    >>So that ~35 pound airplane carry on pack, translates to about 45
    >>pounds on a hike when you include the tripod. To reduce weight, you
    >>start leaving potentially important stuff behind.
    >>
    >>Finally, moving around in the field is a lot easier with a 500 +gitzo
    >>1325 than a 600 + 1548. I originally wanted the 600 mm lens for a
    >>specific purpose, but decided on the 500 and am glad I did because
    >>of the added flexibility it gives me with only a minor loss in focal
    >>length.

    >
    > Well I might just give the 500mm f/4 a look for all the reasons you
    > mention. I do have some experience with backpacks over 50 lbs
    > (several day hiking not photography) and while it does take some
    > getting used to it is not that bad if the weight is properly
    > distributed and the backpack is well designed.
    >


    > Later,
    >
    > Brian
    >
    >>Hope this helps.
    >>
    >>Roger

    >
    Walter, Oct 30, 2004
    #16
  17. Brian Stirling

    Gadgets Guest

    > If you've ever handled one of these big lenses, you would know it is not
    > what you would want to do, at least for very long...One would not be able
    > to hold a monopod steady for very long.


    I understand it's not the best situation, but monopods are still useful.

    I shot this with a 600mm last week - would have been almost impossible to
    get this framing without monopod (full frame shown), and more difficult to
    frame with a tripod and a randomly moving subject.
    http://jaswebpics.com/ostrich.jpg (25KB)

    Cheers, Jason (remove ... to reply)
    Video & Gaming: http://gadgetaus.com
    Gadgets, Oct 30, 2004
    #17
    1. Advertising

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