Author Topic: Tripod head for lightweight long lens application  (Read 14647 times)

Ilkka Nissilä

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Re: Tripod head for lightweight long lens application
« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2019, 19:54:07 »
I am late here - and the decision is already made

Well, yes and no. For the time being I'm using the Sidekick but plan on revisiting the purchase of a new head at a later time. I figured I needed more experience with the lens and so I'm using what I could find in my closets.  ::) Thanks for the advice on the Acratech.

Ilkka Nissilä

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Re: Tripod head for lightweight long lens application
« Reply #16 on: March 18, 2019, 17:20:10 »
I got a chance to try out the Gitzo GHF2W at a camera fair and it was offered at a discounted price so I ordered it. It seemed to offer very fluid movements and I generally liked the design of it. I noticed there was a safety pin to prevent accidental slipping of the plate so in order to remove the lens from the head the locking screw had to be opened up more fully. I guess this might not be compatible with third party A-S compatible plates and feet. Hopefully the pin can be removed.

Once I get it I will report back on how it works with the 500 PF in practical use.

CS

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Re: Tripod head for lightweight long lens application
« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2019, 17:45:16 »
I got a chance to try out the Gitzo GHF2W at a camera fair and it was offered at a discounted price so I ordered it. It seemed to offer very fluid movements and I generally liked the design of it. I noticed there was a safety pin to prevent accidental slipping of the plate so in order to remove the lens from the head the locking screw had to be opened up more fully. I guess this might not be compatible with third party A-S compatible plates and feet. Hopefully the pin can be removed.

Once I get it I will report back on how it works with the 500 PF in practical use.

The Acratech clamp that I recently bought for my monopod head has a detent pin in it and that pin is compatible with my RRS L plates. Plus, it's spring loaded so it will collapse, if need be, negating compatibility issues. The Acratech website says "Compatible with Kirk, Arca-Swiss and many other Arca-Swiss style quick release plates".  I like the added safety of the pin to prevent my gear from inadvertently sliding out of the clamp. HTH
Carl

Ann

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Re: Tripod head for lightweight long lens application
« Reply #18 on: March 19, 2019, 02:04:04 »
Some (but not all!) Arca-style clamps have a recessed channel that prevent the camera- and lens-plates from slipping-out provided that you have inserted two little safety screws to the under-side of the lens-plate.

All my clamps and plates are of this type but I was horrified when I rented a $10,000 lens that it arrived with a plate without those retaining screws.
 
Even though I had bought insurance, I immediately changed the rental company's plate for one of my own.

For safety reasons, I prefer to use camps which close with a screw instead of using a quick-release lever.

CS

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Re: Tripod head for lightweight long lens application
« Reply #19 on: March 19, 2019, 02:41:47 »
Some (but not all!) Arca-style clamps have a recessed channel that prevent the camera- and lens-plates from slipping-out provided that you have inserted two little safety screws to the under-side of the lens-plate.

All my clamps and plates are of this type but I was horrified when I rented a $10,000 lens that it arrived with a plate without those retaining screws.
 
Even though I had bought insurance, I immediately changed the rental company's plate for one of my own.

For safety reasons, I prefer to use camps which close with a screw instead of using a quick-release lever.

I too like the screw clamps, but the Acratech lever clamps have a safety catch on them to prevent accidental release.
Carl

Ilkka Nissilä

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Re: Tripod head for lightweight long lens application
« Reply #20 on: April 09, 2019, 11:27:28 »
I finally got the Gitzo GHF2W. I had to remove the stud in order for the Kirk plate for my 500mm to fit. I'm a little concerned about Gitzo's implementation of the Arca-Swiss compatible QR system as the dovetail is really shallow and I have to look carefully to convince myself that it will hold, which it does. I could of course use the Gitzo plate on the 500mm but it doesn't have a feature which would ensure that it doesn't rotate at all (the Kirk plate does); the Gitzo has this strips of softer material which goes against the tripod foot and makes it easier to screw it tight without a tool. I think the design is quite elegant though.

It seems to hold the 500mm really steadily, I can't see any vibration in the viewfinder and panning and tilting are very smooth. The head is really lightweight (about 0.6kg) and feels sturdy.

There is an internal counterweight system with +-3 steps available. Using my 500 PF + D5 I set it one step forward and it seems to be close the correct balance (2 steps is too much). However, I noticed that if I want to really lock the head so that there can be no drift at all, it requires turning the locking knobs with a firm grip. I guess it is not really designed for long exposures.

Interestingly in the Manfrotto web site product page for the head, they mention lenses up to 200mm can be used. ;-) Although I have 2.5x the specified focal length, the weight is about the same as a 70-200/2.8 would be, so I should be safe in that respect. I don't see any problems so far with the 500mm but it is raining or snowing and I am not able to put it to a field test yet.

My overall impression is quite positive, I am impressed with how smooth the movements are and how steady it seems to hold the lens.

Ilkka Nissilä

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Re: Tripod head for lightweight long lens application
« Reply #21 on: April 16, 2019, 23:38:55 »
A few additional comments about the Gitzo head. I think I now understand why they specify it up to 200mm.

With the 70-200, it really behaves very nicely. With 500 PF, if I use both hands to hold and steer the lens and camera, it is smooth to pan and tilt and for viewfinder AF it is precise enough. However, if I use live view and pinpoint focusing, the image is a little "drifty" at that magnification (with 500mm). This impression is accentuated if the TC-14E III is also used.

Here is a shot at 700mm, f/8, 1/500s, EFCS, Qc, ISO 2000 (D850, 500 PF, TC-14E III), the image is cropped by approximately 2x (so the field of view is like you'd get with a 1400mm lens without cropping). I used pinpoint focusing on the eye, well at least I attempted to. I think the image quality is acceptable but I would say getting the shot was tricky. I used live view to focus because it allowed me to be more selective about where the focus is placed and the bird wasn't moving much about.

For viewfinder photography with the 500mm PF without TC, I think the head works quite well but perhaps it is at the upper limit of its capabilities, and sometimes one can get some unintended drift in the image if the head is not locked tight (when mounting the QR plate it is difficult to balance the rig so precisely that there is no drift in any tilt position). I do appreciate the light weight of the head and the smooth controls.  I think I will continue to use the Arca Z1 + Wimberley Sidekick as my main head for tripod use of the 500 PF, but this is a  lightweight alternative when weight is a priority and if one is careful, it can work, but it's not quite as carefree in use as the gimbal setup.

Ilkka Nissilä

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Re: Tripod head for lightweight long lens application
« Reply #22 on: July 18, 2019, 18:41:43 »
I just wanted to report that I've found the Gitzo fluid head is quite easy to work with when photographing divers taking off with the 500mm lens. The head provides the right amount of resistance to avoid jerky movement and a good amount of support. I really like the counterbalance system also, it permits me to adjust to the presence of lighter or heavier camera body quite easily. However, if using the lens with 1.4X extender, to get 700mm focal length, I find the head is not so easy to work with - in fact I find that no head that I've used is easy with 700mm. I guess it is just a challenge that must be met with improvement of skills.

Anyway I find most of the time I'm shooting mammals with the 500 hand held or by supporting my left elbow on the car door. Setting up the tripod will quickly make deer run away before I have time to take a picture. With birds, I find that I'm more into waiting for the bird to do something and then get some shots and the fluid head seems to work well for that kind of use. Here is an example with red-throated diver taking off (500mm, f/5.6, 1/2000s, ISO 3600, Gitzo GHF2W head and 3-series legs):

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ilkka_nissila/48290896661/in/dateposted-public/

I quite like the 500 PF because it makes it easier to get to the location carrying only so much weight - if I had a 500/4 or 600/4, I suspect my body would quickly start to complain about the necessary hiking in a rocky forest to get to the location. With the weight of the kit that I have this is quite manageable. However, I admit the f/4 would be useful for background separation as well as working in lower light.

I am quite happy working with the tripod for this kind of shots, as there is often quite a long period of waiting before something happens and during those periods I use a slower shutter speed to capture more static shots of the birds (something like 1/200s). Once the bird takes off or is landing I must be quickly ready to take shots with higher shutter speed (1/2000s seems to work well for sharp shots, slower speeds could be used to show movement but I haven't really mastered that). I quickly grew frustrated with the hand-held approach for bird photography, even though it seems very popular now that light weight superteles are around.

Ilkka Nissilä

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Re: Tripod head for lightweight long lens application
« Reply #23 on: July 28, 2019, 02:05:21 »
After several days of photographing red-throated divers in a particular location, finally as I packed up my gear and was ready to go home, one surfaced quite near my position at 10.22 pm. I took out my gear again and was able to get my first close-ups. The light was nice in quality, but not so much in quantity: ISO 12800, f/5.6, 1/100s. I squeeze off some frames and this was one of the ones that came out quite sharp. D850, 500 PF, processed with DxO Photolab 2 PRIME. I cropped about 10% off two sides to recompose the shot. I think for swimming birds, and large birds taking off and flying over the water, the fluid head makes it easier for me to hold a steady velocity during panning and following the movement.

Øivind Tøien

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Re: Tripod head for lightweight long lens application
« Reply #24 on: July 28, 2019, 07:55:09 »

Beautiful light on the neck of the loon, very well done considering the ISO.
Øivind Tøien

Ilkka Nissilä

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Re: Tripod head for lightweight long lens application
« Reply #25 on: July 28, 2019, 15:32:35 »
Thanks.

beryllium10

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Re: Tripod head for lightweight long lens application
« Reply #26 on: July 29, 2019, 07:06:41 »
Ilkka, That's a beautiful photo, and seems to have remarkable color and dynamic range for ISO12800.  I don't think I'd expect such a result with the D810, despite the fact that I've always thought of it as being a very good camera in low light.  One other question - was this taken with VR on or off?   I'm not sure if the 500mm PF has the kind of VR that can be used on a tripod.
Cheers,   John

PeterN

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Re: Tripod head for lightweight long lens application
« Reply #27 on: July 29, 2019, 13:16:45 »
I agree. It is a beautiful capture. Attention is immediately drawn to the bird. The background and the reflections benefit the main subject. Wonderful!
Peter

Ilkka Nissilä

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Re: Tripod head for lightweight long lens application
« Reply #28 on: July 29, 2019, 14:48:01 »
VR was OFF. Since the bird was swimming, the sharpness of the shots was mainly affected by how well I was able to maintain the position of the bird in the frame while following the movement. I don't find there to be much vibration with this setup (Kirk lens plate, Nikon original tripod foot, the GHF2W, and 3-series Gitzo Systematic legs at 500mm focal length). I did some lunar eclipse shots with the fluid head with VR NORMAL, SPORT, and OFF, and found the VR OFF shots were slightly sharper than the others, however, this is a bit different shooting condition as I was using a remote release whereas the bird images are shot with my right hand on the camera. With VR NORMAL, the image drifts a bit too much for my taste so I think SPORT is the preferred mode if you want to use VR on tripod. However, I use VR OFF with the fluid head.

When using the Sidekick + Arca Z1, there is a bit more vibration and to counter this, VR SPORT may be used (especially if the tripod is used at full height, and a TC is mounted). VR SPORT makes composition and focusing easier in this case (especially at 700mm). However, I haven't investigated what effects the VR may have on the image sharpness (negative or positive) with the gimbal head. I used it because it made the focus point more steady on the subject!