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01-21-2018, 01:20 PM   #1
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Long reach Q shooters - what type of head (+support) do you use?

Hello guys,

This is my first post, so bear with me... I'll write a few lines first to introduce myself and to give you an idea of where I'm coming from, and after that, I'll post my actual question

I got my first mirrorless ILC about three years back when a friend recommended me the m4/3 Panasonic GM1 with a kit lens, which was available at a nice price, which I then bought. I really liked the convenient size of the camera (it's was actually very much like the Q - except missing IBIS) so I got a few lenses for it. Some months later I got curious about adapting older film-era lenses to it, and then purchased an adapter and one of the widely available lenses, the Canon FD 50mm f/1.4. Using that combo, I found out that I enjoyed the challenge to manual focus - that it pushed me to pre-visualize the image before I even tried to take it - after all, having no auto-focus requires you to put in some work for each shot. Now, fast-forward to mid-2017, I had two mirrorless cameras (Sony A7II + Olympus m10II - I sold the GM1 due to me wanting IBIS and a viewfinder), a nice collection of mostly Canon FD lenses from the 1980's ranging from 20mm to 300mm, and adapters for both cameras to Canon FD. Howerver, I was still wanting for more reach, and in particular, drooling for a long telephoto lens (Canon FD 500mm f/4.5L) to get even closer to wildlife and to the moon - but the price to import the lens here to the EU from Japan (currently 1200-1500EUR incl tax and shipping) kept me back. Closer to Christmas I stumbled upon a post here that used the Pentax Q with a long legacy telephoto lens, and got very much excited about the 5.6x crop factor. I realized that this could actually have impressive potential for long reach photography. A few days later, I also happened to stumble upon a Pentax Q10 kit on Ebay for a reasonable price. Well, the rest is history.

I have been very impressed by the Q10. Very good image quality given the very low pixel density. Of course it has it's quirks - only electronic shutter with adapted lenses, other than Pentax lenses with the official P/K adapter if I understood correctly - but otherwise it's a nicely designed system that I will happily use with long telephoto lenses. I'll attach a moon shot with the Q10 + Fotodiox adapter + Canon FD 300 f/4 L.

So, while I was taking those shots of the moon, I saw that the moon moved very quickly across the frame with my 300mm lens on. The head I have is a Sirui L-20S, which I think is a very good pan/tilt head. It's very sturdy for it's size and price, and has friction adjustment on both axes. It has worked very well for me with my previous setups. However now, with the Q10, I'm wondering if subject acquisition would be easier with a gimbal-type head, which could be used to achieve balance. Thus I ask,

1) what type of head do you use with your Pentax Q + long telephoto lens?
2) what kind of tripod do you use for this kind of setup?

Best regards,
Markus

01-21-2018, 01:31 PM - 1 Like   #2
eMH
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Q + Fotodiox adapter + Canon FD 300mm f/4 L
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01-21-2018, 05:12 PM   #3
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Welcome to the Q and this forum eMH. The Q packs a lot of performance with good tele lenses. Your moon shot demonstrates this well. Great job!

My main ultra tele set up is original Q or Q7 with Pentax DA*300. I also use an Olympus OM 180 f2 at times. I have 3rd party lens adapters for Olympus, Canon EOS, and Pentax. I use the shuttered oem Pentax adapter and DA*300 the most.

Tripod is a Gitzo with large Arca Swiss Monoball head. Some people prefer gimbal heads, especially for birds in flight. I would never be fast enough to manually focus flying birds with the Q. So the gimbal doesn't excite me much. The Q/300 system is relatively compact and the gimbal head kills that. Plus I would have to be changing heads all the times for other shots.

Astronomical subjects don't work easily with ball, gimbal, or pan heads. An equatorial mount makes it far easier to keep objects centered. Motorized is even better.

The one thing I could not do without is the adapted Pentax red dot scope. This makes subject location very quick. It isn't easy to center subjects using a 300mm lens on a Q, unless a red dot scope is available.

There is a lot of info on using the Q with adapted lenses in "the reach of the Q" thread in this forum. Look it up if you haven't read it yet.

Thanks,
barondla
01-21-2018, 11:25 PM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by eMH Quote
1) what type of head do you use with your Pentax Q + long telephoto lens? 2) what kind of tripod do you use for this kind of setup?
Excellent images, Markus. Welcome!

I use ball head with a medium duty tripod. I have the same issue you mention with the moon quickly moving through the frame. The problem is even worse when I stack a teleconverter or two on my DA* 300mm. A motorized mount is on my wish list!

Forum Member Pearsaab does fantastic work with the Q & Sigma 500mm f4.5. I believe she has/had a gimbal for the setup. She has some real nice bird shots. Don't recall if she has any BIFs with the setup. I doubt it, as even a stationary bird with the DA*300mm & Pentax KQ adapter is more than a challenge for me. It's not perfectly sharp, but the first image of the pair in this post is with the DA* 300mm, Pentax KQ adapter, & Q7. You will note that it is not sharp compared to the second image. That could be due to a number of issues, or all combined: My focus was off, the bird moved or moved out of focus, the vibration from the leaf shutter softened the image, the light breeze softened the image, or atmospheric turbulence had it's way. You get the picture. Things almost have to be perfect.

I don't have a whole lot of experience with the Q series and long lenses, but it sure is a lot of fun!

Thanks for posting!

Roger

01-22-2018, 06:39 AM   #5
eMH
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Dear barondla and Roger,

Thanks for the warm welcome! I have shown the moon picture to a few photographer friends, many of them couldn't believe it wasn't stacked or manipulated in some other way. Of course, I played around a lot with sharpening / NR / contrast in post-processing before I found good settings without it looking artificial - but it's still just one image. Very happy with the final result.

Incidentally, "Q" is pronounced "kuu" in Finnish, which means "moon". Coincidence or not?

QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
I also use an Olympus OM 180 f2 at times.
Nice rare lens! I have yet to purchase a lens of that kind, both due to price and weight. Maybe somewhere down the line...

QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
Astronomical subjects don't work easily with ball, gimbal, or pan heads. An equatorial mount makes it far easier to keep objects centered. Motorized is even better.
Yes, I haven't done much astrophotography besides shooting the moon, this might be something I'll look into later, thanks!

QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
The one thing I could not do without is the adapted Pentax red dot scope. This makes subject location very quick. It isn't easy to center subjects using a 300mm lens on a Q, unless a red dot scope is available.
Yes, this does seem like something that would be helpful. I checked out the Pentax RD10, which seems like a good buy in the US, but with tax and shipping to Europe I might look into other brands. There's also the case of finding an adapter for the hot shoe. Do you think something like this would work?

Blitz | Blitz Starpointer-Schnellkupplung aus Metall für DSLR

It does seem a bit short and would only allow for mounting a red dot sight at one clamp point - but it should at least not wobble side to side...?

QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
There is a lot of info on using the Q with adapted lenses in "the reach of the Q" thread in this forum. Look it up if you haven't read it yet.
Seems like a long read but I'll check it out!

Here are my thoughts about a tripod and a head - I have generally not been fond of tripods due to the added bulk, but as we know, the tripod is not really optional with the Q and tele lenses And now that I've witnessed how far you can see with the Q and a tele lens, I might be willing to lug around a tripod more often! So, both of you mention proper ball heads with medium to sturdy tripods. I've however been fascinated by the gimbal head and the idea that you are able to balance the lens for the feel of weightlessness, and adjust the friction on both axes to your liking... Of course, with my current gear, the jello effect is in play - so I might anyway still be shooting mostly stationary targets with the Q. And, the gimbal would only work properly with longer lenses that have tripod collars. So yes, it's a specialized piece of gear...

I have been looking at this side-mount gimbal LensMaster Gimbal RH-1, which is not very heavy, at least. Fairly priced, but not cheap. Somehow, I also think that my current travel tripod, with a weight rating of 6kgs, would be in need of upgrading to something sturdier as well, should I get the gimbal head Possible investments coming up...

The no-brand remote I got for the Q was 5 bucks, at least, and works well

Thanks a lot guys for your thoughts!
Best regards,
Markus
01-22-2018, 05:02 PM   #6
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eMH, you did a great job on the moon photo. It is a super start for the Q and ultra telephoto photography. keep on shooting.

You are correct about the "Reach Of The Q" thread being a long one. But many things are covered including modifying lens adapters for better IQ, red dot scopes and their adapters, tripods and tripod heads, etc.

Think the Blitz Star Pointer would work. I can't read the language to get the fine details. My adapter was made by a company in the US (where I am located). It is all metal and attaches great to the RD10. But, there is a little play side to side. It requires about a 10 second "calibration" each time it is mounted on camera.

One thing about red dot scopes. It isn't legal to ship them to all countries. They are everywhere in the US, but can't be shipped to some other countries. They are considered war equipment. You may have to buy from the distributor in your country.

I vastly prefer the tube red dot scopes vs the screens. Tried 2 screens and never got them to work well for me. I'm weird. Bought a Tasco "tube" red dot first. It was good, but I liked the Pentax better. Did run into a situation where Pentax made a difference. People are a little jumpy about people aiming things at eagles (endangered here). I was out in a field photographing a well known nest with eagles. A constable saw this and got very inquisitive about why I was aiming a red dot at the eagle! None of my explanations seemed to totally win him over. He was familiar with Pentax cameras. I pointed out Pentax made the RD10 as an accessory for their cameras. Thanfully, the RD10 has Pentax in big letters. He was cool with it after that.

Thanks,
barondla

Last edited by barondla; 01-22-2018 at 10:48 PM.
01-22-2018, 10:15 PM - 1 Like   #7
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When I use my Q-7 with a long lens, it is almost always in the context of birding walks with my wife, so my support { for both me and the camera} is a MeFoto walking stick / monopod - with no head - to give me maximum mobility. My lens is usually a K-mount Sigma 70-300mm. Many years ago, I learned to use a lens like that by starting off a the wide end, acquiring the target, then zooming in for the final picture.
01-23-2018, 01:21 AM   #8
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Hi eMH, great Moon shot! Q system is really a good tool for that.

For Moon pictures, at home, I just use equatorial mount for astronomical telescopes which has fine adjustments and is convenient. I've converted my telescopes and the equatorial mount to Arca-compatible system so I can mount telescope to my other tripods (and my camera directly on to my equatorial mount).

When I'm on the move with my 250mm focal length 55mm aperture telescope, I just use a weeny tripod and a ball head as a poor-man's gimbal setup. Some (most?) ball heads allow you to tilt the camera 90 degrees for portrait position. Hard to explain but see attached, it's not tight but is well balanced and won't move unless I touch. I cannot do this with my bigger telescopes like my 480mm 80mm aperture (F/6) or 700mm 76mm (F/9.2) as they're too heavy.

Whenever I feel the need for a finder, I just use a long-ish one for astronomical telescopes as it's readily available and is cheap.
amazon.com : Celestron 51630 Star Pointer Telescope Finderscope, Black : Catadioptric Telescopes : Camera & Photo?tag=pentaxforums-20&

I use this to modify the red dot finder to be attached to the camera's hot shoe.
amazon.com : Fotasy SCX2 1/4-Inch 20 Tripod Screw to Hot Shoe Adapter with Premier Cleaning Cloth (Black) : Camera & Photo?tag=pentaxforums-20&

Of course this is not the sturdiest thing in the world, but you need to adjust these things anyway whenever you detach and reattach to the hot shoe, so it's not a big deal for me.

Here are my stupid-long telephoto shots with Q7 and various lenses and telescopes.
Supertelephoto | Flickr

Moon using poor man's gimbal setup is doable:

Moon, 2017/10/27 18:26 Pacific by k kwb, on Flickr

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01-23-2018, 04:46 AM   #9
eMH
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QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
You are correct about the "Reach Of The Q" thread being a long one. But many things are covered including modifying lens adapters for better IQ, red dot scopes and their adapters, tripods and tripod heads, etc.
Browsed through half of the thread yesterday night, some good info there for sure! Pity that some of the guys' pictures aren't available anymore.

I did put adhesive black felt velour inside my FD to Q adapter on the "donut"-shaped rear area it has, which is at a 90 degree angle to the lens, which I thought would certainly cause reflections. I'm also thinking about covering more of the rear opening - it is much larger than the Q sensor, and I think someone speculated that especially the gold-plated electrical contacts reflect light...(?)

QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
One thing about red dot scopes. It isn't legal to ship them to all countries.
Noted. The RD10 seems nice, and per your story, it would perhaps be helpful that the RDS has the name Pentax on it But given the risk that it would get stuck in customs, I'll look at other options. Point also taken about the tube-type scopes.

Best regards,
Markus

---------- Post added 01-23-18 at 05:29 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by reh321 Quote
When I use my Q-7 with a long lens, it is almost always in the context of birding walks with my wife, so my support { for both me and the camera} is a MeFoto walking stick / monopod - with no head - to give me maximum mobility. My lens is usually a K-mount Sigma 70-300mm. Many years ago, I learned to use a lens like that by starting off a the wide end, acquiring the target, then zooming in for the final picture.
Hi reh321,

Mobility is always welcome! I am very fond of monopods for that reason. However, my experience thus far has been that especially sideways shake with monopods has been problematic for me at equiv. focal lengths of 600mm - 800mm, unless the light is very good and/or I bump up the ISO. Have not tested the Q+300mm with a monopod, but I'm assuming this shake is amplified (+ add the jello effect to the equation). Of course, this might be something that can be improved with practice. Do you have links to images taken with your setup?

Good idea about zooming out first to acquire the target, and then zooming in. I have a 80-200 lens that could be used in this way with the Q, and of course offer more flexibility than the 300mm prime. Definitely something to try out!

Best regards,
Markus
01-23-2018, 05:46 AM - 1 Like   #10
eMH
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Dear kwb,

Thanks for the tip about the poor man's gimbal and the illustrating image! I distantly remember seeing this somewhere, but I had forgotten about it. Have to admit though that I'm heavily eyeing the side-mount gimbal right now Thanks also for the links to the Celestron finder and mount adapter, will check those out!

Woah, nice gallery! Great wildlife shots! Really liked the picture of the Orion Nebula too!

Best regards,
Markus
02-13-2018, 06:01 PM - 1 Like   #11
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FWIW, just a simple fluid video head @ 2000mm or 3000mm with a telescope







Long answer : Grande Aigrette
04-08-2018, 10:33 AM - 1 Like   #12
eMH
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Awesome setup, Phenix!

For reference, I thought I'd post an update of what I ended up purchasing for anyone stumbling upon this thread. I have attached an image that shows the equipment I have used with the Q for long range shooting. My equipment choices apply to Europe.

1) The gimbal head is the side-mount Lensmaster RH1. I have found it sturdy, easy to use, and not that heavy.
2) Based on suggestions from the forum members above I purchased a cheap red dot sight and an adapter. I was skeptical at first, but indeed, it does help a lot with finding the subject, especially when using the Q with a 300mm lens. The RDS was a "Pinty Tactical Red & Green Dot Sight 1x40mm Reflex Riflescope" which can be found on Amazon. After it has been calibrated, it is very easy too look through it and acquire the subject, given the 1:1 reproduction ratio.
3) In order to attach the RDS to the camera, I ended up with buying an "Adapter for reflex sights to the hot shoe of DSLR cameras" from teleskop-express.de. It's quite expensive for what it is, but it fit the RDS and gets the job done.
4) I think you also need a remote control. You will get shake whenever you touch the camera at long equivalent focal lengths, unless you have a super-steady tripod. Of course, you can use the self-timer, but I found that working with a remote is a lot easier.

The tripod is a light Benro travel tripod which is not very sturdy - I have yet to pull the trigger on a more rigid replacement, as I think that the use of a remote helps a lot.

Thanks to everyone for their input - I'm looking forward to shooting long-range wildlife later this year at the equiv. focal length of 1680mm!
Best regards,
Markus
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04-08-2018, 05:45 PM   #13
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Nice set up eMH! Glad you finally got the Q ultra tele kit you wanted. It is such a fun way to shoot.

The red dot sounds crazy until an afternoon is spent trying to photograph with a fixed 300mm. It is so much easier to capture wildlife with a red dot. Can't imagine shooting without one.

That's a good looking gimbal head. Like the small size. Will have to check It out.

Thanks for sharing,
barondla

Last edited by barondla; 04-11-2018 at 05:45 PM.
04-11-2018, 05:22 AM - 1 Like   #14
eMH
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Thanks barondla.

The RH1 gimbal is a simple but nice piece of engineering without bells and whistles, very happy with it. Maybe it's the perspective in the picture, but it actually does have some size to it. Even a FF camera with a battery grip would work with this lens without restricting vertical movement that much. Lensmaster also has the "T1 Traveller" sidemount gimbal if you really need to save weight - but from the pictures it seemed to me that that one would restrict movement, so I went for this one.

Best regards,
Markus
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