Seeking ways of tracking birds in flight with 500mm lens

Started May 23, 2013 | Discussions thread
brandrx Forum Pro • Posts: 28,337

Barry Pearson wrote:

brandrx wrote:

For shooting at the BIF's with the Sigma 500mm f4.5 from a heavy tripod and gimbal you need to make sure you have perfect balance in such a way that all of the lock downs can be completely loose and you have the ability to manuver your lens as easy as moving it with one finger. It should be balanced in such a way that even with the lock downs completely loose that the lens stays wherever it is pointed if you let go of it with your hands.

For BIF's in the sky use AF-C, Auto 5 or Auto 11, Continuous High, and then pray.

If the BIF's are surrounded by vegetation in the background then use AF-C, Center Point focus, Continuous high, then pray.


I have now balanced the 500mm on the gimbal at home, and wrapped tape in 2 places round the tripod bracket so that the Arca clamp of the gimbal just fits between. This makes it easy to rapidly get perfect balance in the field. (As you say, one finger movement with no tendency to move by itself. My Pentax lenses are really too small for the gimbal and perfect balance can't be achieved, but it can with this lens).

Hi Barry,

I can abtain perfect balance with my Pentax DA*300/4 on my Wimberly gimbal. One thng a lot of folks don't realize is not only do you need to move the lens back or forth to obtain balance but you also need to move the lens up or down so that the center of the lens is in line with the vertical rotation point. On my Wimberly I can drop the platform that the lens sits on all the way down for my Pentax DA*250-600mm f5.6 or raise it almost all the way up for my Pentax DA*300mm f4.

The rest of what you say is like airplanes at airshows. (But when panning cars and bikes I have sometimes used a selected AF point to the left or right so that I can aim at the center of the subject but ensure that the front of it, to one side of the center, is sharpest).

ps: If I am walking a lot I leave my heavy tripod in the car and use a light-weight 4-section tripod! Aaaarrrggh! No one will take me seriously again! But I'm either using a fast shutter speed or panning, so carriability is more important than rigidity.

Well, one needs to do what one needs to do.



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Ron - 'We don't have time to go take pics this afternoon Carl.'
Carl - 'What do you mean? It will only take 1/1000s.'
'Keep your eyes looking forward. However, glance back now and then to see where you've come from. It will put a smile on your face.' ~ brandrx

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