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Author Topic: Africa Safari  (Read 2984 times)
kbolin
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« on: February 07, 2006, 10:00:11 PM »
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I'm off to Africa in a few months and will be taking a Canon 500mm IS lens and wonder whether to get a Gimbal mount or not.  We'll be using safari jeeps for the most part and have access to bean bags.  Michael wrote once of using a window mount with a Gimbal head.

So... do I spend the $ for the Gimbal or use a bean bag while in the jeep and use other lenses elsewhere.

Your thoughts?
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Giedo
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« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2006, 03:08:55 AM »
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I stick with bean bags. Why?
- Flexibility: what to do when you mounted it on the right side of the jeep when sth is happening at the left or the back? I think you'll get more shots with bean bags (but be sure to have at least two with you)
- Bean bags are good enough for stability in the jeeps. (but make sure they turn the engine off...)
- Bringing, mounting and using the mounts seems like a hassle compared to bean bags
- I've seen the mounts trembling when driving on safari roads with heavy 500 mm lenses attached to expensive bodies and it scared me...

And a tip: spend more time on the people that you travel with and less on more equipment. One key factor for example is a driver that knows when to stop, how to position his vehicle to the light and the subject and when to turn off the engine.

Have a great safari!
Giedo
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Giedo
michael
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« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2006, 09:06:43 AM »
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Giedo's points are well made.

But!

I would vote to have a window mount (attached to the roof railing) along with a gimbal head AND a bean bags as well. Bean bags cost next to nothing and add no bulk or weight when travelling (buying beans locally of course).

Mounts are expensive and bulky, but here's why I think they're important for safari shooting.

A large lens, like a 500mm F/4 or bigger, is heavy. Even when resting on a beanbag it needs to be balanced. Effective wildlife shooting can mean patience, sometimes waiting hours for the right moment. After 5 minutes you'll tire of standing, supporting the camera and lens on the beanbag. You'll then put it on your lap or on the floor of the Landrover. Then, when the moment for the shot happens unexpectedly (which it will), you'll miss the shot.

With the camera and lens mounted on a gimbal you can relax, watch the scene though binoculars, and then be able to take the shot in a moment when the situation happens.

As for being on the wrong side of the vehicle, well. it takes just 10 seconds to release the mounting clamps and move it to the other side. This can be done while the driver is positioning the vehicle.

Bottom line, if you have a large heavy lens, then a mount system could make the difference between getting the shot or not, and between being completely exhausted at the end of the day and only semi-exhausted.

Michael
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Hank
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« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2006, 03:02:36 PM »
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Michael's experience and recommendations reflect my own.

In a refinement of his technique, slapping the beanbag on top of the mount gives you a steady rest when using shorter lenses without tripod collars.  The extra elevation provided by the combo is often a shot saver, compared to merely bracing your elbows or searching for a lower shooting brace without obstructions.
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kbolin
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« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2006, 03:12:33 PM »
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Thanks for the comments.

Will the Sidekick be enough for the 500mm IS or should I go with the full version?  I like the idea of the Sidekick because of its weight, size, and portability.

Your thoughts are appreciated.

Kelly
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michael
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« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2006, 03:51:50 PM »
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The Sidekick is enough for the 500mm f/4, but not the 600mm f/4.

Michael
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Giedo
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« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2006, 04:34:30 PM »
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Horses for courses! And I have to admit, I'm not shooting with such big lenses (100 - 400mm and 300 f4 which provide plenty of reach in combination with a 20D), but...

Quote
In a refinement of his technique, slapping the beanbag on top of the mount gives you a steady rest when using shorter lenses without tripod collars. The extra elevation provided by the combo is often a shot saver, compared to merely bracing your elbows or searching for a lower shooting brace without obstructions.
This extra elevation is exactly the thing I try to avoid. Because it gives you the feeling that you are allways looking down on the animals. Crowling on your belly, making a shot with a door opened (while checking your surroundings   ) or through an open window puts you more or less at eye level and that makes often a more compelling image... and try that with your sidekick.
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Giedo
Hank
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« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2006, 04:45:54 PM »
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For me it beats the clone tool for removing spare tires, radio antennae, shooting companions, roof racks edges of car roofs, and more from shots.  It's also much easier to process and sharpen images when they aren't flawed by image blur.  Your point is true for longer lenses, but reread my point.  I'm talking about shorter lenses without tripod collars, for which the lower view point can actually be a disadvantage for controlling distortion.

Yup.  Pick your horse and pick your shot.  Pick what you want to read out of someone else's post.
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kbolin
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« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2006, 08:25:21 PM »
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If I recall correctly Michael had a problem with the Kirk Window Mount (sheared screw and bent clamp).  Is there another mount that can be used for this type of application with the Sidekick or has the Kirk WM been fixed?

Thanks for your help.

Kelly
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michael
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« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2006, 10:00:31 PM »
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The Kirk had problems for me because I was attaching it to the very wide ledge rimming the top of the Landrover, and then leaving the camera and 500m there while the vehicle moved over rough roads. The vibration proved too much.

The reaosn I did this is because I got lazy, screwing and unscrewing the QR plate release.

Now, with QR lever mounts (which didn't exist 2-3 years ago, the last time I was in safari) this wouldn't be an issue. Don't let my experience scare you away from the Kirk Window mount. It's still a great device used by a  many wildlife photographers with large lenses.

Michael
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