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Messages - chrishpetersen

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Lenses / Re: Safari 300 2.8 Mkii or 200-400 1.4x
« on: July 17, 2014, 11:40:49 AM »
I've been on 7 African safaris and the #1 challenge is DUST!  Dust is everywhere and very fine.  Anytime you open your camera, it finds it's way to your sensors.

Unless you specifically book a "walking safari", you will be riding in open air "bokkies" (jeeps or SUVs) most of the time.  Since they don't have a roof so you can shoot photos from the vehicle, dust is everywhere including inside the vehicle.   The last thing you want to do is be changing lenses or converters in order to get the right lens combo.   In Africa on game drives in vehicles, ZOOMS are your best friend and will give you your best photos.

Great idea to have two camera bodies.   And the 70-200 is the perfect zoom for big stuff like giraffes, elephants, etc.  70-200 also gives you the low light capabilities in early morning and evening.

African animals range in size from a house cat (or smaller) to giraffes over 18 feet tall.   The challenge with game drives from vehicles is that you can't "zoom with your feet".   You need flexibility on focal ranges.  Even with herds of elephants you often can't get that close to them at water holes.   I have shot many elephants using 400mm and that wasn't long enough.

My long lens is the Canon 500mm f4.   F4 is sufficient with most like if you have the 5D III or a 1D, and provides great bokeh.   The challenge is that the 500mm is often too long for animals that are close or when taking shots of animals in herds.   The 200-400 would be the perfect lens if money is not an obstacle.

If money were no object, the perfect Safari lens setup would be 24-70, 70-200, 200-400.   

Third Party Manufacturers / Re: BushHawk shoulder mount
« on: January 08, 2014, 12:09:15 PM »
Macroman1 it seems that Bushhawk is gone, or going out of business.  Too bad, but there are creative alternatives for big lenses and heavy cameras.

Over on another CR form, they have been debating the relative merits of 300 vs. 600 mm lenses.   Most of the complaints about the 600mm is that it is too long and heavy to carry.

Eldar Hauge posted a photo of a harness he created to help carry a monopod at belt level.  The shoulder straps help carry the weight, and the monopod enables a lot of mobility and flexibility in shooting with a big lens.  I'm going to paste a link here so hopefully you can go to look at Eldar's photo which is copyrighted ...


Eldar mentions that he purchased the harness from a source selling "flagpole" bandoleers.   I haven't been able to find one of those, but I did a web search for a deep sea fishing harness for big rods and big fish.  These harnesses are even more substantial, with more padding and support.   

I found a great deep sea fishing harness online for $89 that can be easily adapted for use with monopod.   I'm going to try it, because even with a Bushhawk it gets to be a burden carrying everything for a period of time..   

Best part is that these fishing harnesses/belts are sold all over the world, and far less expensive than the Bushhawk.

Let me and CR know what you end up with.

Third Party Manufacturers / Re: BushHawk shoulder mount
« on: January 05, 2014, 08:42:18 PM »
Sorry Macroman1 ... it appears that the original bushhawk.com site is no longer in business.   That's a shame because they had good product and good service.

That being the case, there appears to be some online dealers still selling Bushhawk in Canada and Europe.  I have seen all configurations of the shoulder stock and the trigger cables on their web sites.   From my experience you can go with the most basic model ($149.96), and then just order the trigger cable that fits your brand of camera.

Here's a site in Canada that appears to have the Bushhawk in stock:


I have never used this retailer, so I can not vouch for them or their service.  It wouldn't hurt to contact them to see if they can work with you on the shipping costs.    Bushhawk would seem to be ideal for your needs.

Third Party Manufacturers / Re: BushHawk shoulder mount
« on: January 04, 2014, 10:38:59 AM »
If you are interested in more information or purchasing a Bushhawk shoulder mount, go right to the source.  The web site also has some great videos on photographers using the Bushhawk.


I'm sure that they can arrange shipping anywhere in the world.   The whole unit weighs less than 2 pounds.

Third Party Manufacturers / Re: BushHawk shoulder mount
« on: January 02, 2014, 08:07:44 PM »
Long time follower ... first time poster.

There is nothing like a Blackhawk shoulder mount, and nothing works as well for BID.

After trying to build my own out of gunstocks or brackets, I finally gave up.   Gunstocks do not have enough "pitch" to enable you to see through the viewfinder.   Most brackets and stocks are simply not adjustable enough to enable your eye to comfortably use the viewfinder.

I use my Blackhawk for more than just birds.  It's been on several African safaris.   On safari game drives there simply is not adequate room for tripods, or even monopods in some cases.   I've never been on a game drive where I couldn't use my Blackhawk.    The Blackhawk is simply outstanding for capturing live action like a lion or cheetah chase.

Yes, the Blackhawk is expensive, but you get what you pay for.   The material is extremely light weight, but incredibly durable  (some like Kevlar).   The frame is very rigid and will support any major telephoto and camera.  I use mine for my 5D III and 500 f4 lens, often with 1.4X extender.   It should easily support a 600mm prime and 1DX if your arms are strong enough to handhold such a rig.

I bought the trigger shutter release.   It is very unique piece of cable that hooks a trigger button in the handle to the remote shutter on the camera.   While not quite as sensitive as the shutter button on the camera, I found it very possible to "half press" the Blackhawk trigger to engage camera AI Servo without firing the shutter.

Unfortunately, my Blackhawk cable was damaged in transit on one African trip.   But what I found is that you can use the Blackhawk more on the center of your chest (rather than pure shoulder mount) to get an even better alignment for you eye in the camera eyepiece.    When held this way, you still get a stable two hand platform, but you can use your right finger on the camera shutter.

While there may be other harness arrangements possible.   Nothing beats the speed and flexibility of a Blackhawk for live action, especially BID.

If you are worried about it looking like a "gun ", the stock quickly pulls out, and when dissembled, it is very compact ... and no longer looks like any type of weapon.

While I found the response time to bit slow, the owner was very supportive in sending me a rubber cushion that was missing from my purchase.

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