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12-31-2015, 09:00 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Definitely a DIY project for someone, but, I bet you can make it work. The problem being a ball head screw mount is not the same as a camera body screw, so you'd have to locate a tripod head that uses the same size screw as a camera.

Time to turn the forum guys loose and come up with a head that could work.
There are several smaller monfretto ball heads with 1/4-20 threads same as camera mount. You are really only looking for some light form of adjustment to steady the lens,

Given frogoutofwater's intended 60-250 plus 1.4x TC selection we are not talking about holding 3-4 kilos, just a third arm so to speak for low light conditions

12-31-2015, 10:22 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by texandrews Quote
Just some quick notes. I went to the Galapagos this past June, a cruise with shore trips via Pangas (rubber Zodiacs). Some things they don't tell you until you get there:
1. Access to the ground on the islands is, for the most part, extremely controlled, by the Ecuadoran park service. There are serious fines for the tour operators for non-compliance. There's a schedule, and everyone must adhere to it. This includes access to the islands, when you can go on, and when you must leave. Naturalists must be present at all times. It's not super conducive to taking your time with photography. 2. You really don't need tele lenses. Short tele is plenty, as the birds and other wildlife can be approached within several feet/1 meter. There was only one bird, a rare owl, that we saw which required a tele lens, and it was so hard to see/track that I'm not sure it would have been worth dragging a 300-400mm lens with you to catch it (and it was not at all a sure thing that we'd see one, and indeed there was only one). 3. If snorkeling is on offer, definitely rent or invest in underwater gear. It's maybe the most interesting of the photo options---even though there's really not much coral.

As far as needing a walking stick---mostly you will be on well-worn paths, not really that rough. My 84 year old father had no trouble at all (except getting in and out of the Pangas). There is no "off-piste" hiking for general tourists---you'd have to be on an authorized scientific expedition to do that.

All that said, a monopod could be useful, and I took both a monopod and a tripod. Never once used the tripod--couldn't have used it even if I'd wanted to. I used the monopod very infrequently, for less than 5% of my shots. The monopod I took was the Varizoom Chickenfoot. I use a Sirui head and pano plate with it. In a pinch you can use it like a tripod, or just as a monopod, or use the detachable legs as their own highhat style tripod. The newer Sirui's can do this as well.
I'd love to learn more about your Galapagos experience, maybe in a separate thread, and I'll bet other forum members would, too.
12-31-2015, 02:04 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by frogoutofwater Quote
I'd love to learn more about your Galapagos experience, maybe in a separate thread, and I'll bet other forum members would, too.
We need a trip report.
12-31-2015, 04:18 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by frogoutofwater Quote
I'd love to learn more about your Galapagos experience, maybe in a separate thread, and I'll bet other forum members would, too.
Well, the short version is: " Unless you are bird-crazy (and sea birds at that---good luck seeing the finches...), save your money and go elsewhere." I can think of a number of places that would be better to go, and far cheaper. And with far more freedom to move around.

But I guess I'll whip up a separate thread tomorrow or Saturday if the interest is there....

12-31-2015, 04:50 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by texandrews Quote
Well, the short version is: " Unless you are bird-crazy (and sea birds at that---good luck seeing the finches...), save your money and go elsewhere." I can think of a number of places that would be better to go, and far cheaper. And with far more freedom to move around.

But I guess I'll whip up a separate thread tomorrow or Saturday if the interest is there....
I just spent New Year's Eve afternoon bathing pigeons, helping to bandage the feet of hens with bumble foot, and cuddling and massagig roosters rescued from a cock-fighting ring.

So yes, I'm bird crazy
01-01-2016, 07:23 AM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by frogoutofwater Quote
I just spent New Year's Eve afternoon bathing pigeons, helping to bandage the feet of hens with bumble foot, and cuddling and massagig roosters rescued from a cock-fighting ring.

So yes, I'm bird crazy
OK, so for the bird -crazy, you'll be in heaven, depending on the trip. If you are doing a lot of boat touring, then you'll be coming into the islands on the rubber Zodiacs to the beaches or the odd cliff landing. The beaches have sea lions and some birds, but mostly they nest up higher in rocky areas. You'll be able to walk right up to them, which is a bit amazing. Frigate Birds, several Boobies predominate. We only saw penguins in one spot. The finches and other birds are tough to spot. They are in the low, dense bush-shrub- tree areas, which are thick and, because of the restrictions as well, don't allow for access into them, the way we are used to birding in Europe or North America (I am a casual, light gauge birder).

If you are only hitting one of the big islands, then probably the sea-bird count will go down, but the hummingbirds may go up. The hummingbirds are mainly on the mainland, and if you hit them right they are amazing. I saw them at Mindo, in the cloud forest, and fascinatingly at a lodge at 11,500 feet in the lee of Cotopaxi. These latter were startlingly large. Also at Mindo I saw a wonderful group of jungle songbirds, maybe 20 species. Again, these move in and out, and we were lucky to be there when they were. This hotel was setting out plantains for them at feeder stations right at the dining room, so it was very easy viewing for the patient.

Generally, I was not a big fan of Ecuador. I favor Patagonia and Argentina. The food in Ecuador is plain to dull, coffee is a miserable excrescence, Quito is the most chaotic city I've ever been to (although I have not been to sub-Saharan Africa or India...), is very polluted, and high altitude to boot. The people are quite nice and friendly, but service-wise they are not ready for prime time---never seen anything quite like it. The bus system is extensive and cheap, but none too pleasant. Climate is pretty agreeable away from the humid coast, however. The geography is really fascinating----it was the most interesting part of the Galapagos to me, but we were not able to explore it!

And watch out for intestinal illness: half of our party of 18 got very sick, several of us multi-week. I was sick for 1 week in country and 2 weeks once I got home----the worst of its type I've ever experienced in my 59 years.
01-01-2016, 09:35 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by texandrews Quote
Generally, I was not a big fan of Ecuador. I favor Patagonia and Argentina. The food in Ecuador is plain to dull, coffee is a miserable excrescence, Quito is the most chaotic city I've ever been to (although I have not been to sub-Saharan Africa or India...), is very polluted, and high altitude to boot. The people are quite nice and friendly, but service-wise they are not ready for prime time---never seen anything quite like it. The bus system is extensive and cheap, but none too pleasant. Climate is pretty agreeable away from the humid coast, however. The geography is really fascinating----it was the most interesting part of the Galapagos to me, but we were not able to explore it!

And watch out for intestinal illness: half of our party of 18 got very sick, several of us multi-week. I was sick for 1 week in country and 2 weeks once I got home----the worst of its type I've ever experienced in my 59 years.
Ouch, that doesn't sound like the trip of a lifetime (maybe the trip of the lifetime in a bad way for your intestines ...)

Both Mr frogoutofwater and I have been to Ecuador before (separately - he to climb mountains, me to spend a couple of weeks studying Spanish in Quito). I remember the altitude sickness hitting me so badly one night that I had to crawl to the bathroom in my hotel.

This trip is almost exclusively focused on the Galapagos, and we're giving Quito a miss. We'll fly into Guayaquil (3 nights, with a trip to the Manglares Churute Ecological Reserve), then 12 nights on the 16-passenger Samba with landings on about 12 different islands, I think.

Thanks for the warning about stomach bugs. The last time we got sick was in Egypt in 2009. It might be worth visiting a travel doctor in Canada (we're expat Canadians in NYC) to get the Dukarol vaccine (which provides a fair degree of protection against travellers' diarrhea). We've taken it a few times for some of our dodgier trips (e.g., Morocco) but it's not available in the U.S. Since I'm going to be eating a lot of plants (I'm mostly vegan), I'm probably at somewhat higher risk of getting ill.

01-01-2016, 09:56 AM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by frogoutofwater Quote
Ouch, that doesn't sound like the trip of a lifetime (maybe the trip of the lifetime in a bad way for your intestines ...)

Both Mr frogoutofwater and I have been to Ecuador before (separately - he to climb mountains, me to spend a couple of weeks studying Spanish in Quito). I remember the altitude sickness hitting me so badly one night that I had to crawl to the bathroom in my hotel.

This trip is almost exclusively focused on the Galapagos, and we're giving Quito a miss. We'll fly into Guayaquil (3 nights, with a trip to the Manglares Churute Ecological Reserve), then 12 nights on the 16-passenger Samba with landings on about 12 different islands, I think.

Thanks for the warning about stomach bugs. The last time we got sick was in Egypt in 2009. It might be worth visiting a travel doctor in Canada (we're expat Canadians in NYC) to get the Dukarol vaccine (which provides a fair degree of protection against travellers' diarrhea). We've taken it a few times for some of our dodgier trips (e.g., Morocco) but it's not available in the U.S. Since I'm going to be eating a lot of plants (I'm mostly vegan), I'm probably at somewhat higher risk of getting ill.
Oh, well sounds like you guys know it well, then. What I'd advise is checking the Galapagos end of things carefully, then, about really exactly how it works. Normally I like to leave room on trips for spontaneity and serendipity. My strong impression is that that is not very possible in the Galapagos, based on our experience and talking to others who did land based trips. YMMV. We did the Quasar Expeditions M/Y Grace cruise. The boat was fabulous, as was the crew, our Quasar specialist, and the naturalists (we had 2). Can't complain about them at all. We thought it was the nicest cruise boat we saw, save one other. Perfect size and accommodations. Some of the boats looked really sketchy, and the Nat Geo one looked too big.

Since you probably both speak Spanish, and have in-country experience, you'll have a definite leg up on any of us that did our trip (18 total, all family)
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