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Old Mar 10, 2003, 8:27 PM   #1
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Default lens choice and mono-pods

I'd like to expanding my hiking trips and take some nature pics at the same time. My hikes cover upwards of 10 miles, but usually are much shorter than that (2 miles or so.)

A fair amount of what I'll be shooting are shore birds and raptors, so I'll need to use the longer glass. I'm going to pick up a D100 soon, so I'd be using that. As I see it, my two choices are (for cost reasons) either the 80-400 VR or the 300mm F4 & 1.4x TC.

I've read many of the downsides of the 80-400VR. Really slow AF. Some sampes are quite soft, others aren't bad. The 300mm is much faster AF & very sharp, but less flexability (fixed vs. zoom). Any other things I've missed?

With that setting, my final question is about using a mono-pod with the 300mm. Is that stable enough to work well, even with the TC? I really don't want to carry a tripod (and have to buy a better one, mine sucks.) But hiking with a mono-pod wouldn't be as bad (and their cheaper.) Can I reasonably use one and should I? Or can I get away with the 400VR's downsides and skip the tripod until my bank account recovers?

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Old Mar 11, 2003, 11:17 AM   #2
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I know what you mean. Most of my pics are while out hiking.

I have a small lightweight cheapo tripod. I think a cheap tripod is better than a monopod. However, I still take most of mine hand held even on full zoom (depends on light) so I suppose a monopod would work too.

I think I'll buy one and give it a try.

Years ago in my 35mm days I had this kit of camera holding devices which consisted of a small tripod, a spike, a screw ended thing and a g clamp thing. All interchangeable. It was a great kit.

I was able to use one of these in most situations.
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Old Mar 19, 2004, 5:16 PM   #3
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Default Re: lens choice and mono-pods

Greetings - I have just started using a D100 and have similar interests. Keep in mind that the D100 is rather massive; I have been experimenting with hand-holding and have had unexpectd success; it also has a fairly smooth shutter which helps a lot. Another thing to keep in mind is that the minimun assignable ISO is 200, so that shutter speeds are automatically fairly short under all but fairly dim lighting conditions and modest apertures. There is a rule-of-thumb that specifies the slowest shutter-speed for hand-holding to be one divided by the focal length in millimeters which would be 1/300 second for the 300mm lens. I have found the idea to be helpful in most outdoor conditions.

For years I used to backpack with a Hasselblad on a tripod but tripods then were lighter and more rigid. Todays equivalent tripods are drastically expensive. I think todays inexpensive tripods are not of any use except for very lightweight cameras - they are all plastic and plactic doen't hold down vibrations and doesn't allow real tightening of the parts.

About monopods, keep in mind that an object in free space has 6 degrees of freedom: 3 directions of translation and 3 axes of rotation. A monopod securely held will completely eliminate only one of the 6 degrees of freedom - motion up and down in a line from your camers mount to the point where the monopod tip is fixed. Depending on your technique of holding the monopod most of the other motions can be greatly limited. The one I always found most troublesome was the left-right motion, that seems to be hard to eliminate. I always find a tripod to be a pain to set up on uneven terrain, so that might be a factor for you also. In any case, if you choose to use a monopod, my advice is not to get one with a fixed head unless it doesn't have a long handle. With an eye-level viewfinder that long handle will always be in your way and make the unit relatively useless. Some sort of ball head or pivot mount is less obtrusive.

I think you will be really pleased with the D100. It takes some getting used to and has some quirks but is a great piece of work overall.

Hope this helps.
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Old Mar 21, 2004, 10:10 PM   #4
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I have been looking around for this same type of eqiupment for hikes ect that will be happening more often as the weather warms up. I found this monopod that I might be purchasing very soon. Might be worth a look for all the hikers out there cause it is said to function as a regular walking stick as well (adjustible height, steel spiked foot, ect..).
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Old Mar 22, 2004, 10:09 AM   #5
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Default Home remedy

I looked up the monopod you are thinking about and I agree it will do the job and is a handsome piece of gear. I do have a few questions, Why a ball head on a monopod? I have tried that and it is a rather awkward thing to operate, pinched fingers and frustration. Most of all this unit is rayed for four pounds so it won't hold most of my gear unless it is locked down tight , thus eliminating the usefulness of the ball head!
If we are talking about hiking then we don't care if it colapses or not. I purchase a ten foot length of 3/4" gray plastic electrical conduit, two dowell rods, a package of replacement crutch tips and a couple wood screw/ 1/4x20 studs. I silicone glue the dowell in the conduit and drill for the stud, glue the crutch tip on and top it with a bogen 3232 swivel. Even with the swivel cost of $14 I still have a walking stick that is indestructable, but if I do break it I have a spare built out of the same materials and all for under $25. If you want you could give your shooting partner one of them, makes a cool gift! If you want, go to a sporting goods and buy camo tape and decorate it. They are always the right length no matter how tall you are, a serious walking stick, no parts to loosen, no locks to break, nothing to rattle but it is a homely cuss!
I understand for a zoo or tour your fold-up is the way to go but for a serious duty walking stick, give mine a try.
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Old Mar 22, 2004, 10:28 AM   #6
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Nice idea. I just might have to give it a try.
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Old Apr 19, 2004, 9:18 AM   #7
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Well this post is a little late but...

When I hike I use a trekking pole with a built in camera mount. it servs dual purpose as a collapsable walking stick and as a monopod. Unless you need a tripod I highly reccomend them. REI and EMS sells rebadged komperdells. you can find them at most outdoor stores. There are other brands as well.

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Old Apr 30, 2004, 8:08 PM   #8
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A little late on this thread but Tracks makes some great multi functional poles with camera mounts. That's how I got started and moved into monopods afterward. I carry a mono for the camera and a lighter, adjustable length trekking pole for, well, trekking.
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