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02-17-2014, 03:38 AM   #1
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Required accessories for long lenses

I am considering the purchase of a Sigma 300 2.8 to use with 1.4x and 2x TC and so I would like to have some feedback from other users about the accessories which are on the must have list.

For example:
- is a tripod/monopod with ball head useable or a Gimbal head is mandatory?
- what backpack do you use to carry it?
- do you use a strap or always carry it attached to tripod/monpod?
- ...

Thanks for the inputs !

02-17-2014, 03:46 AM   #2
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Gimbal. Period.
ProMediaGear

Katana Gimbal Head Review

Enough said.

02-17-2014, 05:32 AM   #3
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I always use a tripod with ballhead or 3 way head, or a monopod with ballhead. (i've got a 400mm lens). works fine for me. i prefere the ballhead as I mostly do surf with the long lens, gives me speed and manouvrability with stability.
Bakcpack: one that is big enough to carry camera with lens attached (preferably with a good padded waistband). I have a naneu Urban gear U120N. which is plenty big enough and a Naneu Alpha L which is just big enough.
Always (almost) use it tripod or monopod. you can use it handheld, but it can get very heavy, so strap is of no use I think.
02-17-2014, 05:34 AM   #4
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Even a three way head is better than a ball head for heavy lenses.
I have a Silk for my Sigma 180/3.5 macro, but the 300/2.8 is much heavier...

Seb

02-17-2014, 04:47 PM - 1 Like   #5
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I don't like ball heads for long lenses due to the lever action making the setup unwieldy.

A gimbal makes it much easier and safer to mount, dismount, aim and lock into position a big heavy lens.
You can also loosen it up for tracking birds in flight.

Like Lauren I enjoy using my Promedia Gear Katana gimbal.

A solid tripod is necessary to keep vibrations down.
I currently use a Manfrotto 055XPROB but have been thinking of upgrading to a carbon Gitzo.

I carry my lenses in a backpack until I set up at my first shooting stop.
Then once I have the lens and camera on the gimbal I usually just lock it all down and carry it over my shoulder to the next location.
I added more padding to the tripod legs to make this more comfortable.
02-18-2014, 02:51 PM   #6
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All of your shooting gear, in my opinion is going to function to reduce vibrations first and second, support your set-up so you can focus (in every sense of the word) on your subject. A large heavy tripod is best for the start of your support. You must however, decide how large of tripod you are willing to carry around and realize that a decrease in size of tripod means a decrease in its load carrying capacity. The tripod head is next. Gimbals are best. That's my opinion. Spend a lot and you are typically getting what you pay for some of the knock-off are sufficient but don't excel like the expensive ones. Gimbals have the robustness needed to carry a heavy telephoto lens but some are not as sturdy as others. Ideally your lens has a tripod collar built in because with these lenses you are attaching the camera to the lens not the lens to the camera. If your lens doesn't have a tripod collar then you must MacGyver something to get the balance point close the most weighty part of the lens so it handles well. Connecting the lens to the Gimbal is the last step. This is best done with an Arca-Swiss style plate, again, my opinion and experience, and a clamp on your Gimbal that is as long as possible to clamp onto as much of the lens plate as possible, also, allowing you to slide the assembly forward and back to balance the lens and get the weightless feeling that comes with Gimbal use. This set-up allows you to concentrate on the camera+lens operation and not worry about supporting it. I'll add more about backpacks and carrying later.
02-19-2014, 03:53 PM   #7
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Original Poster
Thank you all for the inputs !

I never had the opportunity to use a Gimbal before so I uave no idea of its comfort. I will try to find someone around to do some testing before investing.
Thank you Lauren for the details on Gimbals. Really instrutive !

Macario and bassek: I had a look at the supported weigth of my current setup (ball head) and I can go up to 8kg but even if many settings are possible it's not the best with the 300...

Crewl1 I am also planing on carrying most of the time the lens in my backpack due to uneasy walking environments (mountains or forests). I am surprised that you use a phot bag to carry such a weight. Untill now I couldn't find any photo bag comfortable with more than 5kg inside !
By the way great idea for the tripod padding !

littledrawe thanks for the details ! The lens was quite a money to invest and I would like not to buy three head to find the good one... Your answer definetly gives insight into what I should look for.


Is anyone actually carring sometimes the lens from the collar ? Did you add a plate or change the collar for a better grip ?
02-19-2014, 04:22 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by lepiallou Quote
Required accessories for long lenses
For the really long stuff (+300mm) a young strong back.

02-19-2014, 04:34 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by lepiallou Quote
Thank you all for the inputs !

I never had the opportunity to use a Gimbal before so I uave no idea of its comfort. I will try to find someone around to do some testing before investing.
Thank you Lauren for the details on Gimbals. Really instrutive !

Macario and bassek: I had a look at the supported weigth of my current setup (ball head) and I can go up to 8kg but even if many settings are possible it's not the best with the 300...

Crewl1 I am also planing on carrying most of the time the lens in my backpack due to uneasy walking environments (mountains or forests). I am surprised that you use a phot bag to carry such a weight. Untill now I couldn't find any photo bag comfortable with more than 5kg inside !
By the way great idea for the tripod padding !

littledrawe thanks for the details ! The lens was quite a money to invest and I would like not to buy three head to find the good one... Your answer definetly gives insight into what I should look for.


Is anyone actually carring sometimes the lens from the collar ? Did you add a plate or change the collar for a better grip ?
You're welcome!
If you go the Promediagear route, you will not be disappointed.
I love my Gimbal and don't know how I lived without one for so long.
02-22-2014, 11:59 AM   #10
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You may also want to get a remote release for your camera to use with a long lens + TC. Wireless or wired doesn't really matter, but use it with any lens/camera mounted on a tripod to eliminate the slight vibration that triggering a shutter manually can cause. Good luck!
02-22-2014, 12:18 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by lepiallou Quote
Required accessories for long lenses
A Sherpa to carry it all.
02-22-2014, 04:22 PM   #12
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If you plan to handhold a big lens, a fun accessory is a pistol grip. You can get ones with triggers and cable releases on them too. I find that this really helps stabilize the lens when shooting portrait orientation shots, since it's a bit awkward to hang on to the top of the body and hold everything level. It's a bit goofy looking but works reasonably well.
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