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Camera tripods, monopods, heads, and other supports If it holds something up or provides support, please talk about it here.

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Old 01-01-17
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Camera support when shooting from a bird hide.

Just thought I'd share this method I've recently started using when shooting from hides.

I recently bought a gimbal head to make shooting with my Sigma 150-600m a lot more manageable (one of the best accessories I've ever bought I think). Having recently decided to have a go at bird photography I started frequenting hides at reserves like Abberton reservoir (near Colchester) but found setting up my tripod awkward because the bench seats in the hide got in the way. I could shoot from the corner openings but that meant standing up which I struggle to do sometimes (due to a medical condition).

Every now and then in life you ponder a problem and come up with a possible solution, only to find it already exists

In my case it's the Manfrotto 349 column clamp. This allows me to clamp my tripod's centre column, complete with gimbal head, to the drop-down flaps in the hide. The flaps are normally heavy duty and well-supported so no issues with weight once the camera and lens are fitted.

The result is a comfortable shooting position The whole assembly can be adjusted up or down to get the camera's eyepiece in the right position.

The picture below I took on my phone so the quality is not brilliant but it shows the clamp in-situ (plus a wind-swept 'er indoors on target spotting duty!)



I got mine from Amazon but I'm in no way affiliated to them! I believe there are two sizes of clamp so you have to make sure your centre column will fit. Fairly straightforward for me as my tripod is a Manfrotto anyway. It has a rounded triangular shaped centre column but the clamp works fine with it.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I guess this is when I find out others have been doing it for years
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Old 01-01-17
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Re: Camera support when shooting from a bird hide.

I have tried a shelf clamp but found that there was a lot of transmitted vibration from other users resting their elbows on the shelf when using bins.. I now tend to use a monopod
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Old 02-01-17
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Re: Camera support when shooting from a bird hide.

Looks a handy item, Stuart. But in the hides here. There would be vibration from other users, like mikej said.
The hides at our local wetlands vibrate badly when anyone puts a foot in the door.
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Old 02-01-17
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Re: Camera support when shooting from a bird hide.

Fair point about vibration although I've not found it to be a problem yet. The hides are Abberton don't seem to get that busy, especially during the week when I tend to go.

I've yet to try it elsewhere but will probably try at the local Fingringhoe reserve next.

I'll probably try a monopod as well but the main advantage of the clamp is you can let go of the camera an it stays put! Do you use a head on the monopod?
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Old 02-01-17
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Re: Camera support when shooting from a bird hide.

I think that the best solution depends on the design of the hide. Your solution seems good for the window hatch design in your hide. Most that I see have upward opening hatches with a single shelf running along below the window.

I use a small ballhead on the monopod, I have tried a pistol grip, easier to use but clumsy to carry as I expect the monopod to double as a walking pole.
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Re: Camera support when shooting from a bird hide.

A little off topic but this is one aspect of Photography that really interests me. If i may ask, have you ever captured images of a bird that is very very rare?
Nice photos Mate!
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Re: Camera support when shooting from a bird hide.

Hi Trevor,

In a word, No!

Most of the birds I've captured so far have been fairly mundane but I'm getting better at it I think. I did have 15 seconds of fame when the Essex Wildlife Trust asked if they could use one of my images on their Facebook feed, which was nice. I've got a screen shot somewhere, I'll have to post it (I don't "do" Facebook myself).

I've recently purchased a 7D Mk2 (used) to couple with my 150-600mm Sigma and I'm liking the combination much more (for wildlife) than the full frame bodies I was using. The 7D Mark 2's image quality is really very good and it works well at higher ISOs (which you need when shooting at 1/1600 - 1/2000 sec on a typical UK winter's day!).

If I've learnt one thing, it's that bird photography can be a lot harder than you think and I'm sure there's a lot more for me to learn regarding technique. I now know, for example, to keep my shutter speed up at the expense of ISO - a lot of my shots now are at 1600 or 3200 ISO.

I also have tended to look for birds in the wild so getting close enough is a big issue. However, we get quite a diverse range of birds in our back garden so I'm planning to rearrange my feeders and find some nice mossy branches for the birds to perch on nearby. My garden office will make an reasonable hide so camera to subject distance will be much reduced.

I've also found that I get better results hand-held (even at 600mm on a crop sensor) than I do on a tripod which seems odd. I have a reasonable tripod and I use a gimbal head (which I really like) but shots taken with the camera and lens mounted on the tripod don't seem as sharp for some reason (I've tried with image stabilisation on and off). Hopefully I'll get to the bottom of this at some point as it doesn't seem logical to me.

The biggest impact on my photography recently have been time and mobility. I have a minor procedure on my back next week which, after a couple of weeks recuperation, should make me much more mobile again. I'm also a full-time carer (during the day) for my ancient disabled mother-in-law which is time-consuming unfortunately.

Regards,


Stuart
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