To the moon and back »
FERDY CHRISTANT - DEC 22, 2011 (03:41:05 PM)
The above is a photo of the moon I took a few weeks ago. It was just an experiment to practice with my tripod and my new wireless remote. And because you want to get as close as you can to the moon, I used my Sigma 150-500mm for it.
That was kind of a failure. Although my tripod supports up to 9 kilos, its head does not. At full focal length of the heavy lenze, the center of gravity is so far from the tripod itself that the head slowly creeps down and then stops at a particular point. So in this case, I had to point above the moon, in total darkness, and hope for the creep to stop exactly with the moon in the viewfinder. With a bit of practice its possible, but this is of course no way to focus on a distant subject.
It took me a while to find out that there are specialized tripod heads for such heavy lenzes. They're called "gimbal" heads. Most models attach to the side of your lenze, roughly at the center of gravity and let you pan in any direction with great ease. However, I also found most models to be very expensive and I specifically wanted one to fit on my existing tripod. So I ended up with this, the Manfrotto M393:
It works beautifully. You screw it on top of your existing tripod, attach the plate that comes with it to your lens holder, and then slide the whole into the head until you find the balancing point. Then you secure a single screw and you're of to go. With a single finger I can now pan into any direction and it will stop instanly when I let go. Exactly what I needed. Note that in the image above, the lenz is"hanging". I prefer the other setup, where it is "resting".
By the way, this product is officially advertised as heavy lenze support for monopods. That's incomplete information to say the least, because it works great on a tripod. In fact, I'd even argue this head would be quite clumsy on a monopod.
Here's a little test image I did inside (500mm, ISO 200, F9, remote trigger):
And here's a test video in our garden:
Funny part is at 0:44s :)
To wrap up, this piece of equipment in my opinion is one of the most afforable heavy lenze tripod head solutions, and it simply works great. Well recommended.