Pages: [1]   Go Down

Author Topic: telephoto lens contraption for birdshooting  (Read 1754 times)

Ivo_B

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1063
    • www.ivophoto.be
telephoto lens contraption for birdshooting
« on: April 24, 2018, 02:01:30 pm »

Hi All,

A friend of my is a beginning nature (bird) photographer and is looking for a tri pod and gimbal thing. I'm not in this kind of photography but I know he should buy the best he can afford (tripod wise) Only, what is price quality the gear to consider?

What is the best option to mount a camera with a supertelephoto lens on a tri pod to shoot birds in the air?

A Sidekick? Gimbal style of cradle?
Wimberly? RRS? Or are there other valuable options?

Cheers

Ivo
Logged

Robert DeCandido PhD

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 271
    • http://www.BirdingBob.com
Re: telephoto lens contraption for birdshooting
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2018, 05:54:57 pm »

OK your friend is on the slippery slope to insanity ;) - bird photographers never seem to have a long lens long enough...I'd get a Carbon Fiber Benro tripod or similar (Sirui) three section...I'd avoid the brand names to save money and look to buy used - save money and use the savings to do things in the field.

I prefer to shoot birds hand-held. It gives one mobility. These days I shoot a Canon 5Ds with 400 F2.8 II and 600 F4 II - hand-held. I just put these lenses down a lot (stand them on the ground). I don't use a lens hood to save weight and space...If I were starting out today I'd get the Nikon D500 and their 80-400 F5.6 II lens...see if he likes shooting birds. My best bird photos come from understanding where/how the bird will fly (land) - and not necessarily the biggest "rig." If you have a great image it does not matter what make/lens/equipment you used - it is the image that matters.

Look for migration hotspots and concentrations of birds (pelagic trips chumming the water for seabirds for example).

There are so many Facebook groups for bird photography - join those. And save your money on brand name equipment and use it to do things...trips and free time can be funded with savings. Finally, write articles using your photos - you'll make some money that way. Good luck and remember to learn about the birds you are photographing - express visually but keep your mind involved with plumage details and especially the behavior/ecology of what species you are shooting...ask "Why" a lot.
Logged

tom b

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1471
    • http://tombrown.id.au
Re: telephoto lens contraption for birdshooting
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2018, 08:29:12 pm »

My humble opinion for anyone starting out on bird photography is to check out the latest Ultra-Zoom digital cameras.

Lots of bang-for-your-buck, lightweight and stabilised. Hey, you can even use them for other everyday photography tasks.

If your friend likes bird photography after using the Ultra-Zoom camera he can decide wether he wants to spend thousands of dollars on highly specialised photographic gear or stick to the basics.

Cheers,
Logged
Tom Brown

stever

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1250
Re: telephoto lens contraption for birdshooting
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2018, 03:13:50 am »

from my personal experience and a couple workshops with professionals, i'd recommend that unless you're going to dedicate a great deal of time, effort, and money you're better off shooting birds in the air hand-held. 

even for many professionals, the keeper rate hand-held is much higher

i prefer the Canon 100-400 on the 7D2 with a 1.4 extender if necessary (and there's enough light).  in lower light and if i can get close enough a full frame like the 5D4 will give better images.  a well stabilized zoom is much easier to frame and focus a moving subject than a long lens on a gimble
Logged

David Sutton

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1345
    • David Sutton Photography
Re: telephoto lens contraption for birdshooting
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2018, 03:47:53 am »

Most bird photographers I know hand hold, as the others have said.
If your friend wants support for the camera I'd recommend the Manfrotto 685B NeoTec Pro Photo Monopod
You can raise or lower it with one hand and I feel it gave me much more flexibility than any tripod based system.
The trick is to tighten every screw in it to give a solid platform.
I used to fully dismantle it to get it in my suitcase for overseas travel. Must have really liked it to spend the first few hours in a foreign hotel trying to remember where all those bits went.
David
Logged

NancyP

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2513
Re: telephoto lens contraption for birdshooting
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2018, 11:27:54 am »

I have a budget birding ensemble for hand-held shooting that works relatively well, and components are available cheaply used. My original kit was the Canon 400 f/5.6L and Canon 60D APS-C, I have had many good photos, the image quality of the very simple (and non-image-stabilized) 400 f/5.6 L matches any Canon lens at 400 mm except for the USD 5,000 and up Big Whites.

Canon 400 mm f/5.6L no-image-stabilization lens, 1.2 kg, ~750 USD used (OR, used Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS version 1, USD 750 used)
Any Canon APS-C camera of the 7D original (used USD 400-500), 60D (used USD 300), or later X0D, SL1, SL2.
Don't like buying used on Ebay or from KEH, Midwest, etc mail-order used? The Canon refurbished store will have suitable kit, slightly more expensive, but does come with limited warranty. eg, 400 f/5.6L USD 1,000 , SL2 or similar USD 400.

Logged

NancyP

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2513
Re: telephoto lens contraption for birdshooting
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2018, 12:02:30 pm »

P.S. A full-size tripod would be recommended. My first tripod, and a good value for money, is Manfrotto 055 series aluminum, of which there are a zillion available used.  For stationary shots at nests, any head will do. For follow shots on a tripod, a gimbal head will be best. Jobu junior gimbal (used) is an excellent one for a camera + lens weighing ~ 3 kg or under (local bird photographer). Or, if the photographer already has a good tripod and very good full size ball head, a "Side-kick" type half-gimbal (Wimberly, Custom Brackets, and maybe others) is good. Flip ball head stem into slot at 90 degrees, oriented with Arca-Swiss clamp long axis vertical - fasten half-gimbal to clamp - leave pan function on ball head loose - effective gimbal action for lens+camera ~3 kg. Ball head by itself is terrible for following birds in flight.

People shooting shore birds often use a ground pod and ball mount or gimbal mount, to get on the bird's level (yes, that means photographer is lying in mud or sand). This could be a DIY project: 1 cheap aluminum 12" frying pan with rounded sides from Goodwill, 1 wood block ~ 4" tall, one 3/8" (or 1/4") bolt. Drill hole through pan, and through block, insert bolt through pan and block, cut bolt so that bolt sticks out above the block no more than 1/4", polish cut edge of bolt, screw your head onto the bolt so head is snug against the wood. If you have the tools, that's about USD 10. of materials - or you can buy the "Skimmer" for USD 100.. Another supercheap way to shoot at ground level, or out the car window or roof, is the store-bought or home-made sandbag, filled with sand, plastic beans, or rice. Piece of insulation foam cut to fit car window can work too.

That being said, I still shoot hand-held 90% of the time, mostly because I like walking, and I like the freedom of shooting birds-in-flight handheld - no worry about not being able to get overhead shots. Monopod with simple tilt head is a good thing to have on hand if I want to sit and wait, also a folding 3 leg stool (full size Walkstool, made in Sweden, is most comfortable and sturdy, but a USD 15. stool will do also)

The other approach is to go with the superzoom bridge cameras no tripod needed - these are hugely popular with birders - look at the Sony 10X IV - rave reviews from many birders, apparently handles birds-in-flight well.
Logged

Ivo_B

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1063
    • www.ivophoto.be
Re: telephoto lens contraption for birdshooting
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2018, 02:01:31 pm »

Thanks all for the good advise, I'll revert the posts to him and I hope he will join here.....


Cheers

Ivo
Logged

NancyP

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2513
Re: telephoto lens contraption for birdshooting
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2018, 06:56:19 pm »

The main thing is practice, practice, practice. BTW, for the heavier lenses, or even for the 1 to 2 kg lenses, it does help to maintain arms and shoulders with a little exercise - I contracted "golf elbow" (medial epicondylitis) once, after having used my light 1.2 kg, 10" long lens and its camera for the first time in several months - repetitive motion injury from swinging camera up to eye level.

There are many bird photography guides out there. One of the best: http://www.digitalbirdphotography.com/contents.html   Free, brand-agnostic, practical, covers important but seldom mentioned technique tips.

Where to go? Join your local Audubon Society or other nature study group, if no Audubon Society branch active in your area. Look at "eBird" site: https://ebird.org/home
Logged

Ivo_B

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1063
    • www.ivophoto.be
Re: telephoto lens contraption for birdshooting
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2018, 12:22:33 pm »

The main thing is practice, practice, practice. BTW, for the heavier lenses, or even for the 1 to 2 kg lenses, it does help to maintain arms and shoulders with a little exercise - I contracted "golf elbow" (medial epicondylitis) once, after having used my light 1.2 kg, 10" long lens and its camera for the first time in several months - repetitive motion injury from swinging camera up to eye level.

There are many bird photography guides out there. One of the best: http://www.digitalbirdphotography.com/contents.html   Free, brand-agnostic, practical, covers important but seldom mentioned technique tips.

Where to go? Join your local Audubon Society or other nature study group, if no Audubon Society branch active in your area. Look at "eBird" site: https://ebird.org/home

Golden tip, TX!
Logged
Pages: [1]   Go Up