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Question on tripod and tripod head for wildlife , bird photography

Sanjay Chaudary , Dec 18, 2007; 02:30 p.m.

Hi, I have gone through couple of posts in here on tripods and tripod heads and I am still confused.

I basically do a bit of macro work and very rarely do architecture. For macro, I use a sunpak 2001 UT with 3 way head ( I got this when I started photography).

Macro lens is canon 100 mm f2.8 usm. I was thinking of getting a macro rails, maybe a bit later.

I recently got a canon 400mm f5.6 lens , canon 1.4x extender and a Eos 3 body. I already have Eos 30 body.

I would like to shoot wildlife and bird subjects. I might get eos 1v in future (not decided) and maybe 500 mm lens (not too sure on this, as its too expensive)

1) It looks like ballhead is best option for wildlife and bird photography.?

I plan to use canon 400mm f5.6 lens , canon 1.4x extender and a Eos 3 body.

Wimberly head or sidekick may be good options along with acratech or arca swiss. But, my current budget, after spending on lens, extender and body is stretched.

I am thinking of buying a Manfrotto tripod and manfrotto ballhead. It looks like I will be having an approximate maximum load requirement of 7.5 lbs (400mm lens) to 13.5 lbs (500 mm lens) with extender, excluding wt of head.

2) I have checked the manfrotto site and there are heads with grips which give control to the adjustments.

Are the normal ballheads good or ballheads with grip action better?

3) I live in India and my local store has 055 tripod and 190XB and professional versions of both.

what would you suggest?

4) The 400mm lens comes with a tripod collar. If I understand correctly, the tripod head must attach to the collar or it must have a quick release to attach to the collar. I am wondering if the hole in tripod collar is of standard diameter? sorry , I am bit new to tripods. I see two diameters mentioned in tripod specifications.

Thanks in advance

Responses


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Sanjay Chaudary , Dec 18, 2007; 02:31 p.m.

P.S: I am 5 feet 9 tall.

Frank Dzambic , Dec 19, 2007; 04:47 p.m.

I'll try to answer some of your questions. Yes, typically you would attach a quick release plate to the collar on the lens. If you buy a tripod head that accepts quick release plates, odds are you'll get a quick release plate included with it. The hole in the collar is usually 1/4" I believe, or possibly 3/8" on larger lenses. The 400 f/5.6 isn't a larger lens. I wouldn't worry too much. I'd be pretty confident in saying that whatever quick release plate you end up getting with whatever head you end up getting will more than likely screw into the lens collar just fine.

A Manfrotto 055 would probably do the job just fine with a 400 f/5.6 (the lens itself is under 3 lbs), but there's no way it'll handle a 500/4 if that's what you end up getting later on. For that, I'd suggest a nice (very expensive) carbon fiber Gitzo. Just check the specs of the maximum weight capabilities of the two tripods you mentioned, add up the weight of the equipment you're going to use, and see if they're capable of supporting that weight.

I've never used a ballhead so I can't comment on those.

Frank Dzambic , Dec 19, 2007; 04:49 p.m.

Oh, and as far as your height, again the 055 would be very adequate for that. When you look at the maximum height of a tripod, you also have to remember to add in the additional height of any head you attach to it (figure at least 4"-6"), as well as the additional height of the lens collar (another couple of inches).

Dave Weber , Dec 20, 2007; 01:13 a.m.

I too use a 400mm 5.6 lens with 1.4x extender - mine is a Nikkor and yours is a Canon.

I used to have a much larger lens and used an expensive ball head with the Wimberly Sidekick to support it. It worked well, but was obviously very expensive.

Now, I use the new Acratech ballhead which has a build in Gimbal head for my 400mm f/5.6 lens. You can read more about it here - (link)

I have this on a lightweight carbon fiber tripod. I like this Acratech ball head and the Gimbal mechanism certainly does work well with a lens of the 400mm f/5.6 size. Although I don't think that I would want to put a lens much bigger on this set up. It works just as good as the expensive ball head with the Sidekick on it. Just a set up is perferred over just a ball head alone for flying birds.

Craig Gillette , Dec 20, 2007; 05:07 p.m.

"1) It looks like ballhead is best option for wildlife and bird photography.?"

Better option, not that you couldn't use pan/tilts. Sometimes the pan/titlt might be less expensive for the same capacity, but more awkward to deal with.

"2) I have checked the manfrotto site and there are heads with grips which give control to the adjustments.

Are the normal ballheads good or ballheads with grip action better?"

Although the newer 322rc2 has higher rated capacity than the 3265, I'd suggest that other types of heads are more readily adjusted for grip if you're are getting into using heavier loads. With a pan/tilt or usual ballhead, you can crank down more to grip more.

"3) I live in India and my local store has 055 tripod and 190XB and professional versions of both.

what would you suggest?"

The 055 is rated for more capacity, of those two series, I'd go for the 055s.

"4) The 400mm lens comes with a tripod collar. If I understand correctly, the tripod head must attach to the collar or it must have a quick release to attach to the collar. I am wondering if the hole in tripod collar is of standard diameter? sorry , I am bit new to tripods. I see two diameters mentioned in tripod specifications."

The attachment for camera - or lens - to tripod and/or qr plate is almost always 1/4" (I think it's 1/4x20 but don't know the exact designations.). I suppose a few really big or specialized cameras may not but what you are looking at would be the essentially standard 1/4."

There are two common thread sizes for attaching tripod heads to the leg sets, the same 1/4" and a 3/8."

Douglas Stemke , Dec 20, 2007; 10:17 p.m.

Just to add to what is here.

If you like to do a lot of macro and you like to get really low, quickly a very nice device to get is a Manfrotto Super Clamp with a stud (it has both the 1/4 and 3/8th threads on it) that will accept your ballhead. It is very inexpensive and you can get right down parallel with the ground in no time.

I went through a lot of quick release systems, chepie ones, Bogan rectangular, Stroboframe, and Arca Swiss (Markins). When I travel I like the Stroboframe, but normally for nature work you can't beat the Arc Swiss system. I can't guess what you have access to in India, but these are truely the most stable systems I have personally used.

Sanjay Chaudary , Dec 21, 2007; 09:31 a.m.

Thanks for all the answers. The dealer has 055 ProB and 055 XProB. one is 2006 and other is 2007 model. I am using 35 mm equipment and I dont think I will switch to medium format.

I calculated approximately 11 lb to 15.6 lb with camera, flash and lens. I guess I forgot to take in account the weight of the ballhead. If I were to use Wimberley, load bearing capacity of 055 may not be sufficient. I looked at arca swiss quick release system and it looks a bit expensive. I will keep it on my wish list and look at it in the future. I think I will take a Bogen ballhead with bogen tripod for now.

Maybe add arca swiss quick release later. thanks for all the suggestions.

Sanjay Chaudary , Dec 21, 2007; 02:22 p.m.

By arca swiss, you are talking about the plate right and not the ballhead? I think the arca swiss ballhead is bit expensive for me at this point.

Larry Greenbaum , Dec 27, 2007; 12:06 a.m.

Sanjay, For the fun of it - you may buy one - check out Induro tripods and ballheads at www.indurogear.com I recently purchased the C214 tripod and the DM23 ballhead. Both are great. There's a review of the Induro tripod at www.luminous-landscape.com This is Gitzo quality stuff at a much lower price. The carbon fibre is touted as being much stronger than Gitzo. The tripod comes in a great case with tools for changing the ends of the legs. You may want the shorter stem for getting in real close on macros. I don't have it and got the legs down almost horizontal which get me within about 15 inches.


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