Seeking ways of tracking birds in flight with 500mm lens

Started May 23, 2013 | Discussions thread
Barry Pearson
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Second field trip with 500mm lens, & lessons
In reply to Barry Pearson, May 24, 2013

This afternoon (UK time) I went back to Redes Mere to test some of the suggestions in this thread. Here are my thoughts, illustrated by a couple of the photos I took.

Hand holding

Several of the responses said " hand hold; don't use a tripod". So I did.

This confirmed what I already knew - I will not be hand holding this three kilogram 500mm lens for long periods!

I've hand held shorter one kilogram lenses (60-250mm f/4 & 300mm f/4) on many shoots over the years, and know that they are pretty well at my personal limit for longish periods. After 66 years I know this isn't about to change for the better!

I can imagine using this lens on a gimbal for much of the time then lifting it off to hand hold for a short time. But the Arca clamp on the gimbal is not rapid release. I wonder if there is such a thing?

(I wish Pentax would bring out a weather resistant 1.4 teleconverter that worked with the above two lenses!)

Image acquisition and retention

I tried the two-eyes approach mentioned a couple of times. Without some sort of sighting aid I couldn't make any connection between what I was seeing with my left and right eyes.

My problem is acquiring the subject, not shooting it. (I've sometimes had similar problems with those other lenses at airshows, so I was not surprised).

It wasn't helped by the fact that I used the waterproof cover, (that arrived this morning), because of spots of rain.That stopped me easily sighting along the lens with my left eye. Perhaps in dry conditions this might work? To be investigated further.

(Hurrah for weather resistant lenses!)

Focal length

Some responses suggested that 500mm is too long.

But look at the uncropped photos below from today - for these, 500mm is about right. And many others needed longer reach. (These are the best - most are rubbish or just blank sky). These were shot over water - I couldn't get closer!

Please note that I take your suggestions seriously enough to rapidly go out and test them!

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