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The Bird Nuts

Anybody hand-hold a big lens?

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I just got a 500mm lens and I want to hand-hold it (with the camera on it) on walks, so it's ready at a moment's notice.  It weighs just over 5 pounds.  Does anybody here hand-hold their long lenses?  Wondering if anyone has some tips for me to make it easier and quicker to operate.  Thanks!

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32 minutes ago, The Bird Nuts said:

I just got a 500mm lens and I want to hand-hold it (with the camera on it) on walks, so it's ready at a moment's notice.  It weighs just over 5 pounds.  Does anybody here hand-hold their long lenses?  Wondering if anyone has some tips for me to make it easier and quicker to operate.  Thanks!

I have a 600mm lens. I have hand held it before, but it is really heavy, and noticed over time, it's better just to keep it on with a strap. It's much easy to walk, and it's pretty easy to pull it up and take a picture. I don't ever use a tripod. Also, if your carrying binoculars in much easier. 

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I carry a 100-400mm lens around just by a strap on my neck. It's about 3.5 pounds, and including my camera, about 5 pounds. I had difficulty at first but now I'm quite used to it.

If you plan to carry it around, make sure your strap is at least an inch wide. It just spreads out the weight by adding surface area. 

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The strap is a big factor , lots of options - I use a system of Optech (sp?) combinations for my lightweight rig (300mm prime with 1.4 converter, 630mm equivalent, good for day long trips) and 150-600mm zoom (used for less than 2 hour trips). The latter becomes a pain for extended shooting up into the higher branches.

Personally I struggle with using a tripod, just not enough flexibility/freedom, other than the typical "shorebird locations".

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I have a 500mm and hand hold .

just have a good strap thats comfortable to wear,and adjustable to the height that's easy grab and to pull up to shoot.

 

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Thanks, guys.  I do plan to use a strap; I always have with my 300mm lens.  But this lens is so heavy that it is recommended to avoid carrying the weight of it by the camera because it could damage the connection.  I have ordered a shoulder strap that attaches to the lens foot.  How do you carry your camera and lens while shooting to avoid damaging the connection?

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3 minutes ago, RobinHood said:

I use a system of Optech (sp?) combinations

Thanks!  Could you link to what you use?

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1 minute ago, The Bird Nuts said:

Thanks, guys.  I do plan to use a strap; I always have with my 300mm lens.  But this lens is so heavy that it is recommended to avoid carrying the weight of it by the camera because it could damage the connection.  I have ordered a shoulder strap that attaches to the lens foot.  How do you carry your camera and lens while shooting to avoid damaging the connection?

Im usually always holding it buy the middle of the lens.

my binos are lightweight so i dont mind them falling to grab the camera body

 

 

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Posted (edited)

What I struggled with in my first tests with it was zooming in (should have mentioned it's a zoom lens).  In order to turn the thing I have to hold on to the lens foot, so it's really difficult to be ready to shoot while zooming in and out.

Edited by The Bird Nuts

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4 minutes ago, The Bird Nuts said:

Thanks!  Could you link to what you use?

This is a much debated topic in the wildlife photography forums - cross body straps, and so on (if helpful I will provide more info) but I have been happy with this:

https://www.optechusa.com/pro-strap.html

with a variety of accessories so I can switch between bodies.

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1 minute ago, RobinHood said:

This is a much debated topic in the wildlife photography forums - cross body straps, and so on (if helpful I will provide more info) but I have been happy with this:

https://www.optechusa.com/pro-strap.html

with a variety of accessories so I can switch between bodies.

Okay, that is pretty much what I have now.  Seems like it wouldn't work well for a 5 pound lens.

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1 minute ago, The Bird Nuts said:

What I struggled with in my first tests with it was zooming in (should have mentioned it's a zoom lens).  In order to turn the thing I have to hold on to the lens foot, so it's really difficult to be ready to shoot while zooming in and out.

I loosened my lens foot and put it to the side... now it's really easy to zoom in and out and take photos.

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5 minutes ago, RobinHood said:

This is a much debated topic in the wildlife photography forums - cross body straps, and so on (if helpful I will provide more info) but I have been happy with this:

https://www.optechusa.com/pro-strap.html

with a variety of accessories so I can switch between bodies.

that pretty much looks like a regular strap, with a more comfortable part for your neck

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1 minute ago, akandula said:

I loosened my lens foot and put it to the side... now it's really easy to zoom in and out and take photos.

I did that, too.  I basically had to hold the entire lens with two fingers while I zoomed in in order to keep my other fingers on the shutter and exposure compensation buttons.  It kind of hurt after a while.  Maybe that's just what I'm going to have to do.

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As I recall you are using a D3400/D3500? but it would help if you narrowed down the lens, sometimes the weight of the lens is a mismatch for the body and you have to rely on the lens foot to balance the rig. I suspect you are going to get lots of advice so I will back off for now.

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2 minutes ago, The Bird Nuts said:

I basically had to hold the entire lens with two fingers

Some lens foot(s)/feet are quite small (Sigma) and you have to add an extension, definitely retreating for the moment.

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3 minutes ago, RobinHood said:

As I recall you are using a D3400/D3500? but it would help if you narrowed down the lens, sometimes the weight of the lens is a mismatch for the body and you have to rely on the lens foot to balance the rig. I suspect you are going to get lots of advice so I will back off for now.

Ah, so the lighter camera might be causing a problem?  Yes, I'm using a D3400 right now.  What do you mean by narrow down the lens?

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, The Bird Nuts said:

I did that, too.  I basically had to hold the entire lens with two fingers while I zoomed in in order to keep my other fingers on the shutter and exposure compensation buttons.  It kind of hurt after a while.  Maybe that's just what I'm going to have to do.

This is how I was holding it (see 8th photo down):  https://photographylife.com/tips-on-photographing-hand-held-with-telephoto-lenses

Difficult to zoom at the same time...at least for a relatively small person like me. 🙁

Edited by The Bird Nuts

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1 minute ago, akandula said:

Couldn't you hold the camera grip? You should be able to screw the foot in to make it stay there.

I'm afraid that if I held the camera grip while I zoomed in it would put way too much weight on the mounting point and possibly damage the camera.

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10 minutes ago, The Bird Nuts said:

What do you mean by narrow down the lens?

Just trying to pin down the physical specs. of the lens in order to balance the setup.

However I am going to suggest you should seriously  think about finding a new/used/refurbished D7200 body, in my humble opinion the best enthusiast Nikon crop body to date (I use a D7200 and a D7500).  I can see the track you are on and you will soon become frustrated with the D3400 (fantastic sensor and all round camera, but..).

1 minute ago, The Bird Nuts said:

I'm afraid that if I held the camera grip while I zoomed in it would put way too much weight on the mounting point and possibly damage the camera.

As I was suggesting your camera and lens are mismatched, although you can get around this in the short term (add an extender to the lens foot), but seriously think about my previous suggestions, you won't regret it.

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Thanks @RobinHood.  I think I get what you're saying, at least partially.  It will be easier to zoom if there is more weight at the back.  I don't understand why a longer foot would be better, though.  I was looking at getting a D7500 in the future.  But that will make the whole rig even heavier. 😬

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When I had a long lens to carry, I used to rotate the tripod collar so the foot was right on top of the lens out of the way of all controls, and then I could use the tripod foot as a handle for carrying the camera. When the tripod foot was too small to use as a handle, I used a 4 or 5 inch extension plate lengthening the holding/mounting area. When I used a camera strap, attached to the camera, it was a wide deluxe model that I would swing off to the side and then help support the lens with my hand. I prefer the strap attached to the tripod foot, but haven't always been able to connect them that way.

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