I'm a beginner and am looking to upgrade my camera support in the next bit. For budgetary reasons I want to do it in phases.
I have a 100-400L and a 30D + bg and teleconverter. I don't believe I will get a heavier lens than the 100-400. I can see myself upgrading the body to a 1d mkIII or a 5D, though.
I've started shooting birds but also I have a general nature interest. I do some landscape (Sigma 10-20). When I do macro I usually handhold (bugs). My main purpose is to try my hand at birding.
My current setup is a Slik Pro 340DX (not the greatest but it is light -- I will upgrade that in the new year) with the Manfrotto pistol grip (vertical). I like the quick setup of the pistol grip but when it comes to birds I take the lens off. I cannot pan with that thing.
This is what I have been able to get hand-holding:http://flickr.com/photos/airchinapilot/2061605784/
For stationary I think upgrading my sticks is my better option. This is what I can get with my original setup:http://flickr.com/photos/airchinapilot/2061545424/
I am looking into ball heads and have been researching the Markins M-20 and the RRS BH-55. I've read lots of positive comments about the BH-55 but I don't know if I can ever justify spending that kind of money.
I'm intrigued by the Wimberley Sidekick option. Can you mount that on the Markins? I know you can do it on the BH-55. Would it be worthwhile putting any of these on the legs I currently have? If I have to spend a bit more money should I just keep hand holding and save to get a whole new setup?