Keeping the Big Guns Steady

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by BradleyK, Dec 19, 2013.

  1. BradleyK

    BradleyK Subscriber

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    An avid outdoors person and (surprise) landscape photographer, I often times find myself grabbing shots of wildlife when out trekking around. Needless to say, when doing so, the long glass (400mm and 600mm typically) comes into play. While I have experimented with various tripods to use with longer glass, I still find myself, from time-to-time, battling the wind; keeping the long glass steady - and the pictures sharp - especially in conditions of diminishing light, can be a bit of an ordeal. Camera-wise, I will often switch to an F2 or F3 so I can lock up the mirror and use a cable release; nonetheless, bracketing, and hoping for a moment's stillness, is often the only way to be sure of getting a usable image or two out of the effort. So, a question, any thoughts on steadying the rig to ensure a high(er) percentage of success. BTW: I use the old trick of suspending the camera bag under the tripod and I often use a Manfrotto )56 tripod...
     
  2. franknepomuceno

    franknepomuceno Member

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    I would attach a monopod under the camera and stake the monopod into the ground. Or use another tripod under the camera using 2 of the legs.

     
  3. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Just like hunters will use trees to steady their rifles, I probably would use the "V" of a tree trunk or a sturdy branch to steady the barrel of a long lens while the camera is on a monopod or tripod. You could even bring along a small beanbag or cloth to keep the lens clean.
     
  4. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I don't know if your long lenses have a tripod bracket. I use medium format and have a 350mm lens that is one heavy lens and it doesn't have a tripod socket so when using it under windy conditions or coupled with a 2x it can be an issue even with my heavy tripod. I solved the problem by having a machine shop make me a removable fitting that attaches to a tripod quick-connect and around the lens barrel. It is made out of aluminum and was inexpensive. It attaches so that the weight is evenly distributed over the center of the tripod.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  5. 2gman

    2gman Member

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    I am both a hunter and photographer. Here is what has worked for me. My 20-200 zoom doesn't have a teipod bracket so I use what hunters call shooting sticks. These are two sticks joined to form a X. You could rest your long lenses in the X to steady them. When not using the sticks for this purpose they make geart walking sticks. You can find these sticks at almost any outdoor equipment store that sells hunting gear or just look on line and then build your own.
     
  6. Jim Taylor

    Jim Taylor Member

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    I've had the same issue, the tripod stays stock still (with the camera bag suspended below it), but I was getting a small amount of play around the QR plate.

    I solved this problem by:

    and sitting it on top of the rig to push it down firmly into the QR mount.

    HTH.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 19, 2013
  7. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    You need two firmly-set tripods with lenses that long, one of which is attached to the collar of the lens, another attached to either the base of the camera or resting in a 'V'-shaped cradle at the front of the lens. Or get down on the ground with the camera on the ground and the lens supported by one or two polystyrene bean bags.

    Attaching a weight to the center column can introduce twisting with even the slightest breeze.
     
  8. Nikon Collector

    Nikon Collector Member

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    Back in the 60's and 70's I mounted a 600mm lens to a slr and mounted both to an old rifle stock, it was surpisingly steady and quick to aim. I don't know the availability or ease of purchase of one today, it's a different world out there
     
  9. Pioneer

    Pioneer Subscriber

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    If I'm not mistaken Zeiss Ikon built a rifle stock mount for their Contax cameras and lenses that were used by sports photographers at the 1936 Summer Olympics. You can probably still find something similar but I would personally avoid them.

    I used to have a 3rd party tripod mount that would attach to your zoom lens. Can't remember the brand but it was a handy little gadget.
     
  10. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Suggestions:
    Use a tripod or set the camera down
    Use a faster shutter speed
    If hand holding the camera do not breath and stop your heart from beating​
     
  11. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Additional suggestions:
    Work out more
    Cut back on caffeinated beverages or alcohol
     
  12. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    WTF!!!
     
  13. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    I'm assuming you're already using a tripod. If not, that's the first step. Second, if you already are using a tripod, try a gimbal head for your long lens - the camera/lens combo will mount to the gimbal head via the lens' tripod mounting block, and the whole assembly will be mounted at more or less the balance point, instead of at one extreme, which will tend to induce vibration and motion.
     
  14. LiamG

    LiamG Member

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    That's what I would advise as well. I think there are some commercial products (like the manfrotto 359 long lens support) that brace the camera against the legs of the tripod itself.
     
  15. mopar_guy

    mopar_guy Subscriber

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    Actually, the theory that the exact balance point will allow vibrations to resonate for a longer period, so most long lenses are designed with the tripod mount slightly in front of or behind the balance point.

    More information here:

    http://www.tripodhead.com/

    http://www.the-digital-picture.com/reviews/Wimberley-Tripod-Head-II-Review.aspx
     
  16. BradleyK

    BradleyK Subscriber

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    A six-times weekly workout is the norm for me and has been for almost two decades (I am both a 24 Hour of Adrenalin ((solo)) alumnus as well as a ((solo)) Death Race alumnus). Cutting back on coffee is a no-go; my typical work days (5X12 hours with an additional 8 hour day often thrown in for "good measure" - perhaps why I am so selfish/short tempered when it comes to my leisure?) require I stay jacked and focussed. As for alcohol? I doubt I spend more than $200.00 a year on the stuff (morning comes too early!). I think, Brian, the solution to the unsteady lens issue is to be remedied in the choice/modification/customization od equipment... :D
     
  17. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    I stand corrected and should have prefaced my comment with, "When I'm feeling unsteady holding a camera I ought to consider...". :laugh:

    But seriously, I have been an avid user of monopod or tripod on all cameras for many years. They help a lot.