What tripod/head should I get for Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM?

Started Feb 13, 2011 | Discussions
dukw_butter Junior Member • Posts: 34
What tripod/head should I get for Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM?

I recently purchased a Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM lens. This one is a few years old. Fairly heavy. Think it weighs about 13 pounds. I'm looking for a suitable tripod/head to use with it. I see people shooting "Wimberly" mounts, which is probably the way I'm leaning. But I'm not sure which Wimberly mount would be appropriate.

As far as a tripod, I'd like something that doesn't take too long to set up. I hate having to twist three different screws per leg to get a tripod to set up. I once had a cheap tripod that snapped each connection shut (instead of tightening a metal screw).

Mainly, I plan on using the lens in the field to shoot wildlife, flowers, surfers. Things like that.

I figure that tripod/head setup will probably run approx a grand, which I'm OK with.

Any suggestions?

Thanks,
Rob Kiser
Morrison, Colorado

Bills nature photo Regular Member • Posts: 377
Re: What tripod/head should I get for Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM?

Whimberly head on a Gitzo 3 series or 5 series tripod is the right answer. There are other combinations that will "kind of work" but since you have spent ~$6000 on a lens don't ruin it by saving ~$300 on a tripod and head.

I use Gitzo 3530 with the Naturescapes reinforcing plate on bottom and the older version of the Wimberley head and have hed great success with both the 600mm and the 800mm lenses. The Gitzo 5530 would be even better! The Newer Wimberley head is shorter (bad) but lighter (good). Both are absolutely rock solid.

Bill--
Too much glass...too little time

 Bills nature photo's gear list:Bills nature photo's gear list
Canon EOS-1D X Canon EOS 5D Mark III Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM Canon EF 500mm f/4.0L IS II USM +3 more
CameraCarl Veteran Member • Posts: 5,325
Re: What tripod/head should I get for Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM?

Agree. You need a Wimberley or Mongoose gimbal mount head. Don't get the "sidewinder" type; odds are the combination will not provide adequate support for the 600. It appears you are rather tall. This means a Gitzo 3541XLS tripod, or if you are willing to compromise and bend over a lot: a 3540LS. I'm 6'1" and the 3540LS would have worked okay with my Wimberley and 500mm, but I would have needed to bend over to shoot with my regular ball head. Plus if you want to shoot birds overhead, the 3540LS would not be tall enough. I did not want to do that so I spent the big bucks for the 3541XLS. The newer twist locks are very easy to use. Once you get the hang of it, you can open all the locks on one leg at the same time. While there may be cheaper tripods out there, and they might have easier to use locks, why risk $10,000+ of gear on a cheap tripod? See Arthur Morris's website for discussion of tripods and heads. Oh yes, Gitzo has an $80 rebate on the 3541XLS in the US through the end of the month. Check Naturescapes or Outdoorphotogear.com. They often have a 10% off coupon, but it may be too late for this month. And they have good tripod buying guides.

OP dukw_butter Junior Member • Posts: 34
Re: What tripod/head should I get for Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM?

Many thanks for these replies. I know very little about tripods, so I'll check these out and see if I can figure out a solution that will work. Very good feedback. Thanks again.

samWebster123 Senior Member • Posts: 1,153
Re: What tripod/head should I get for Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM?

Gitzo 5541LS + Wimberly II is what I use with my 600!

Rock solid and a joy to use!

 samWebster123's gear list:samWebster123's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark II Canon EOS-1D Mark IV Canon EOS-1D X Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM Canon EF 600mm f/4.0L IS USM +4 more
OP dukw_butter Junior Member • Posts: 34
Re: What tripod/head should I get for Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM?

Yesterday, I broke down and ordered the Gitzo GT5541LS carbon fiber tripod and the Wimberley II (WH-200) head. I believe that I also need the Wimberley P-40 Arca-style quick-release plate for the Canon 600mm f/4 lens, but I can't find it in stock. Can anyone point me to someone that has the P-40 quick release plate in stock, or suggest an alternative?

CameraCarl Veteran Member • Posts: 5,325
Re: What tripod/head should I get for Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM?

RRS and Kirk both have an Arca Swiss lens plates in stock. Is there any reason you specifically need a Wimberley plate for your lens? The Kirk or RRS should both work on the Wimberley mount, but the Kirk may not work if you have an RRS ball head with their quick release clamp.

lilredss Contributing Member • Posts: 697
Re: What tripod/head should I get for Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM?

Have you tried Naturescapes for your quick release plate. That's where I got the one that I use with my 500.

http://www.naturescapes.net/store/

Bob

OP dukw_butter Junior Member • Posts: 34
Re: What tripod/head should I get for Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM?

I have heard of the RSS and Kirk brackets, but I read somewhere that you have to replace the foot on the lens to use them. So, I'm sort of new to this problem and don't really understand all of my options, I think.

OP dukw_butter Junior Member • Posts: 34
Re: What tripod/head should I get for Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM?

Update: I found the P-40 for the Canon 600mm f/4 lens and the P-20 for the Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 lens at B&HPhoto. Hopefully these will work. Thanks for the advice.

CameraCarl Veteran Member • Posts: 5,325
Re: What tripod/head should I get for Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM?

You do not have to put on a new tripod foot to use the RRS or Kirk plates. They simply screw onto the bottom of the tripod foot that comes with the lens.

caalpalmer Junior Member • Posts: 30
Re: What tripod/head should I get for Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM?

This thread tends to recommend the 3541 or the 5541 tripods, which are about 2lbs different and nearly the same price. I plan one or the other for my 500mm F4L, using a Wimberley head. I want a solid platform, will I be happy with the 3541 or wish I had bought the heavier tripod?
Thanks,
Cal

Mighty Mouse Regular Member • Posts: 223
Re: What tripod/head should I get for Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM?

I went through this a few months ago when I purchased the 800mm lens. I selected the Gitzo 3541XLS, 4th Generation Design Mongoose M3.6 gimbal + their replacement lens foot. As expected, I wanted stability in the tripod, good lens control with the gimbal head. I was also looking for minimal weight as the complete kit is heavy and I do a lot of walking with it.

The extra height of the tripod has worked well for shooting on slopes and BIF shots that require more vertical shooting. The M3.6 has worked well, the only concern is this uses a side mount quick release – it’s easy to mount the body & lens, just takes some getting used to.

The support system is stable and easy to use, however I don’t do a lot of shooting in windy conditions. I can’t compare these to the 5 series Gitzos or the Wimberley, I did consider them when I planned the system. The 5 series & Wimberley are well known and safe purchases if weight is not a top priority.

Romy (Liquidstone) is a well-known long FL shooter that posts here, I suggest you check out some of his posts & gear he uses.

One of his threads in a different forum

http://birdphotoph.proboards.com/...=review&action=display&thread=351

Some related threads
http://forums.dpreview.com/...forums/read.asp?forum=1029&message=30120846
http://forums.dpreview.com/...forums/read.asp?forum=1029&message=36676823

The Unknown Photographer Regular Member • Posts: 358
lots of good advise...

a gitzo 3 or 5 series would be great. I have the Jobu Black Widow with my 500 and I'm very pleased with it...

Doug J Veteran Member • Posts: 9,282
Re: What tripod/head should I get for Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM?

caalpalmer wrote:

This thread tends to recommend the 3541 or the 5541 tripods, which are about 2lbs different and nearly the same price. I plan one or the other for my 500mm F4L, using a Wimberley head. I want a solid platform, will I be happy with the 3541 or wish I had bought the heavier tripod?

I went with the 3541XLS, 4th Dimension Mongoose M3.6, their replacement lens foot and flash bracket for a 1D3, EF 800mm f/5.6 and a 580EX flash.

It's easy to mount a Canon external battery pack to the flash bracket, it just slips through the belt loop and stays out of the way when using it or carrying the tripod over the shoulder.

The 3541XLS provides extended length - good for shooting birds up in the sky or shooting up into a canopy, overhead branches, etc. It's about 2 lbs. lighter than the 5 series and the M3.6 is about 1 lb lighter than the full Wimberley. I appreciate the weight savings as the complete kit already weighs 33 lbs.

The tripod has proven to be very stable over the past few months. I don't shoot in windy locations, don't know how it would perform in the wind.

A big caution : The 3 and 5 series Gitzo systematic tripods have a single-screw clamp to hold the complete camera & lens setup. A convenience if a user wants to easily add a center column. This screw is known to come loose and the camera & lens will just fall out. Not good if you do a shoulder carry and don't check the screw and tighten it regularly.

There are numerous threads on nature forums describing the issue. I learned this when my 1D3, 800mm lens and flash fell out of the tripod. Fortunately I laid it down on a bench and it dropped less than 1".

A thread on NatureScapes concerning this:

http://www.naturescapes.net/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=57&t=154592&p=1558682&hilit=Gitzo+camera+plate#p1558682

Their store also sells a plate to eliminate the problem:
http://www.naturescapes.net/store/tripod_parts-and-accessories/index2.html

Cheers,
Doug
--
http://www.pbase.com/dougj/birds_birds_birds
http://www.pbase.com/dougj

caalpalmer Junior Member • Posts: 30
Re: What tripod/head should I get for Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM?

Thanks for great help and for the caution.

Doug J Veteran Member • Posts: 9,282
Re: What tripod/head should I get for Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM?

caalpalmer wrote:

Thanks for great help and for the caution.

You're welcome, I hope it's useful. The issue with the Gitzo tripod is potentially very nasty.

Cheers,
Doug
--
http://www.pbase.com/dougj/birds_birds_birds
http://www.pbase.com/dougj

caalpalmer Junior Member • Posts: 30
Re: What tripod/head should I get for Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM?

Does anyone know if Naturescapes or anyone else make a similar safety plate for the Gitzo tripod that is compatible with their leveling base? It doesn't look like those on the Naturescapes web site would work.

Thanks,

Cal

samWebster123 Senior Member • Posts: 1,153
Re: What tripod/head should I get for Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM?

I would not use a gitzo tripod without the safety plate. IMO this is a major design flaw which gitzo's fails to address forcing customers to spending an additional $100 to correct their design flaw.

I use the plate on my 5541ls but I'm not aware of a plate or other solution when using a leveling base. I use a leveling base with my 1325 tripod but no longer use that tripod with my big lenses.

 samWebster123's gear list:samWebster123's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark II Canon EOS-1D Mark IV Canon EOS-1D X Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM Canon EF 600mm f/4.0L IS USM +4 more
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