Long lens witout a tripod

Discussion in 'Nature' started by lou_buenaflor, Sep 17, 2007.

  1. Hello all.

    I finally have it, a Nikon 500mm f/4 P to match with a f100, and a Gitzo 1325
    tripod. My problem is that funds for more equipment IE: Ball Head, are not
    available, for some time.

    I am wondering what other setups have people used in a similar situation?

    If it is a bean bag solution, what do I put the bean bag on.

    I am looking for a temporary solution, that will provide acceptable results, so
    I can try out this lens.

  2. Maybe try a solid monopod and use the lens in sunlight with at least 400 ISO film.
  3. Do you have any kind of head at all for the tripod? There are expensive ball heads that cost $300-400 or more, but Bogen makes all kinds of heads under $100, some for less than $50. Even the most basic head would head would let you make use of the tripod, then you could replace it with what you really want later. (And yes, Bogen heads will work on Gitzo tripods. They take the same 3/8 thread as Gitzo heads.)
  4. I used the Manfrotto/Bogen basic ball head for several years to hold my 500 f/4 P Nikkor. While it is a little more difficult to align, and can slip if not properly tightened, it is still a good head. Eventually you will want to get the Wimberley Sidkick, or something similar. (The Sidekick does require a ball head.)
  5. "...what do I put the bean bag on."

    The top of that Gitzo 1325, for starters. For action shots it can actually be faster, more solid and more convenient that any ball or panning head. I did that at a few airshows.

    After that, fence rails, tree stumps, limbs, boulders, cars, truck beds, tractor seats, the top of your backpack, you name it: if it doesn't move, it's a potential camera support.
  6. Craig

    No, unfortunately, I have no "head" of any type for this tripod. The money for the head went to purchase an Xpan.

    I did realize that when I bought the 500mm that I would have extra expense to use it but I was unprepared for another 300-400 + plates.

    Will a $50 head support a lens / camera combination of this type safely?
  7. Rand

    Do you happen to use a flash as well?

    I want to take pictures in a stand of pines. There is sunlight coming through the canopy, but not a lot early in the morning when I would be shooting. Can I mount the flash right on the shoe?
  8. 500mm and on-camera flash? Yeah, it can be done, maybe. It depends on the flash unit and the distance to the subject. With an unmodified shoe-mount flash, if you are 100 feet from the subject (and if you're not, why use the 500mm?) you'll need an ISO100 guide number of at least 400. There's not an inexpensive portable flash I know of that cranks out that kind of power.
    However, you can position an inexpensive plastic lens in front of a smaller flash and get the same effect. Look here and here for starters, then search on 'fresnel flash'.
  9. I can't be the only one thinking this: You have an expensive lens, an expensive tripod, and a very expensive panoramic camera, yet you cannot spring for a decent head? Dude, what's another $400 on the Visa card when you already have this much stuff?
  10. Erik, he has enough self control to make it this far, done tempt him (more?) into the red....

    I shoot with a cannon FD 400 4.5 lens without a tripod. Most shots are acceptably sharp, i usually try for atleast 1/250 if i am awake, 1/500 if i am getting tired. I suggest getting some cheap film, running it through, and seeing if you can do it. I bet you can. Now, if you primarily want to shoot in trees, you may be a bit sol and others will know more than me, as i know nothing about tripods... Just that a 400mm can be shot handheld, so i imagine a 500 can be...
  11. Using an adapter screw, you can attach the lens foot directly to the tripod base, but you cannot easily move it once attached unless you move teh whole tripod.
    You really need a robust ball head like a Kirk BH-1 and a long lens plate from Wimberley like the P-40. See them here:

    This lens balances quite well on the BH-1. I used it this way for years on my 1325. Joe Smith
  12. Erik I suppose you are right. After all the expense I could but a BH-55 and if I wanted to sell it I could recoup a large portion of my "investment."

    I think I'll try Joseph's suggestion with an adapter screw. I wasn't aware that this could be done. If I like lugging all of this stuff around, plus the applying all necessary techniques I'll get a good ball head.

    Thanks to all for the input.
  13. I bought 1 of these new on auction for $100 and it can easily hold your lens. It's what I use for birds high up in the trees (allows me to get under the lens without hurting my back). SLIK PRO 700 DX

  14. Lou, I believe the lens foot has two screw holes and the tripod has one screw. With an adapter screw, it will be a very weak link. The last thing you want to do is have your lens and F 100 fall of the tripod. Exercise caution! Look on ebay for some sort of tripod head/arm like the one on the Silk tripod. Joe Smith
  15. Hi Lou,
    I use this lens on a D-70 and D-200 with a Bogen/Manfrotto 488 ballhead with a RRS clamp on Bogen 3021 legs. Given the crop factor of the digital cameras, any weakness in the support system would be more obvious than with a 35mm set up. I get good results but the set- up does require good long lens technique. I'm not sure how much the RRS clamp and lens plate contribute but the head can be had at B&H for under $90.
    I'm sure you'll find the lens is great.
  16. I'm having the same thoughts as Erik (buying a 500 mm without an effective way to mount it
    on a tripod is kind of silly), but what are you shooting? If you can stick to very high shutter
    speeds (faster than 1/1000), you can probably hand-hold this lens. For a 500/4, it's not very

    Otherwise, brace it against a tree, rock, fencepost, car window, or anything solid.

    You may find a ball head a bit awkward with a 500 mm lens, depending on your subjects, so
    you might consider one of the less-expensive gimbal heads (Mongoose, Jobu, etc.).
  17. www.cabelas.com for a "shooting stick". Sort of works.
  18. If you must have the original, you must pay for it. Otherwise, there are considerably cheaper knock-offs available from places like Amvona. Ive compared their Dynatran ATH 918 directly with the Manfrotto 222, and can see little difference aside from the price. The list price from Amvona directly is about US$72, but I got mine for much less on eBay (with a little patience).
  19. Ball heads are nice but hardly necessary. I use a Tiltall tripod, which has a non-removable altitude-azimuth plus tilt head. It is both reasonable light (about 5 lb.), sturdy (I use it with my Linhof Technika 4x5 on hikes), and cheap (about $100 new from B&H, etc.). The best ones are the originals manufactured by Marchionni (sp?) in Rutherford, New Jersey. I found one on e-bay for about $35. The tripod is so good for it's intended purpose (I also have a heavy-duty tripod for studio use) that I see no reason to upgrade to a multi-hundred dollar high-zoot version. It also works fine with my DSLR and telephoto lenses for wildlife, although a ball-head would work a little faster.

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