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Messages - neuroanatomist

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Lenses / Re: EF 200-400 f/4L IS 1.4x Availability
« on: April 16, 2013, 01:53:12 PM »
...another look-what-we-can-do lens to divert attention from the fact that Canon cannot make EF-S primes.

Last time I checked, Canon was doing just fine at making the EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro.   :P

What additional functionality do you get from the $700 Gitzo or the $900 RRS that a $400 Manfrotto doesn't give you?

I am all for quality engineering, and there will always be customers for Rolls Royce, but if the object is to safely drive around surely a Mercedes "will do" for most people, especially when cost was mentioned originally by RC.

After trying Gitzos, I just don't see the cost/function equation approaching that of the Manfrottos. I have never owned a RRS tripod, but clearly I do value their brackets and plates, but again, whilst you might get a fraction more stability sometimes for your $900, unless you have nothing better to spend $500 on, or you truly do NEED that last fraction of performance, or if you have requirements RC doesn't, then the far cheaper options are more than up to the simple task of holding an average weight camera and short tele lens a few feet off the floor.

From an in-use perspective, Manfrotto is very good, Gitzo/RRS are just a bit better.  Higher load capacity means greater stability, something as simple as a hook to hang a weight is lacking from the Manfrotto legs.  But it's a dimishing return to some extent.

However...have you ever had to disassemble your Manfrotto legs to clean them after use in sand or salt water? My RRS legs take about 1 minute to completely tear down, with no tools required (where did that little clip-on hex thingy go when it fell off the Manfrotto leg?  :P ), and after they're rinsed and air dried, reassembly is just as fast. 

Software & Accessories / Re: Quick release plates: RRS v's Manfrotto
« on: April 16, 2013, 12:25:07 PM »
No, the Arca Swiss-type plates for the RRS BH-40 (and ballheads from Kirk, Markins, Acratech, and a host of other excellent brands) do not fit on the Manfrotto RC2 clamp.  Manfrotto uses their own plate designs, and they're not even compatible within the brand, let alone outside the brand.  That's one reason I switched from Manfrotto to AS-type plates/clamps.

While some of the Manfrotto heads can be converted to an AS-type clamp with the Wimberley C-12, the 496RC2 isn't one of them.  You could replace the monopod head (with an RRS monopod head, for example, but a Manfrotto 234 tilt head with a Wimberley C-12 is what I used before getting the RRS setup to hold a 600 II), or get the Kirk 'adapter' (link) that has an RC2 compatible base under an AS-type clamp.

I planning on buying a grip for my 5D3 but debating whether or not I'll leave in permanently mounted on my body or not.  I've never used a grip so I just don't know yet.  Right now I'm calculating an extra 6" above the tripod for for the ball head and camera without grip.  I hope to have it all figured out by the end of the week.

FWIW, a battery grip does add a bit of flex to the system (as an accessory, not when integrated as on the 1-series).  For example, FoCal states, "If you are using a battery grip, it is best to remove this as it can cause extra vibration when the camera is mounted on a tripod."

I definitely agree that you should not include the center column in your height calculations (my TQC-14 has a center column, but I would rather lean over a bit than extend it).  Generally speaking, even a non-extended center column adds a point of instability - the bare platform with the head attached is the most stable configuration (which is likely why the RRS 2- and 3-series and many of the Gitzo 3-series and higher legs do not even come with a center column, although you can buy one separately if desired).

Canon General / Re: How do you buy equipment?
« on: April 16, 2013, 12:03:51 PM »
Day job pays for living/family expenses.  Side consulting pays for the gear fund, everything is paid cash (in effect), nothing is financed.  I usually purchase with CC online (B&H and Amazon mostly, Adorama on occasion), and I pay the charges off in cash as soon as they post.  One notable exception - when I ordered my 600/4L IS II, I was on a work-related trip to New Jersey and I took the train into Manhattan to order in person from B&H...I paid in cash (with a very large stack of $100 bills). 

Software & Accessories / Re: Wrist or Neck strap
« on: April 15, 2013, 11:52:14 PM »
Anyway, I'm also considering a RRS L-bracket for the 5DMKII and was wondering if all of the components (RS-7, L-Bracket and wrist strap, etc.) were gonna play nice.   The wrist strap is intended for the 5DMKII.

Not quite, but with one addition - yes.  Actually, the three you list (BR strap, RRS L-bracket, and wrist strap) will play nice - the L-bracket has a lower lug for a wrist/hand strap (that's what the camdapter provides), and a threaded socket for the BR FastenR-3 lug. The 'not nice' part is that to mount the L-bracket to a tripod, you've got to unscrew the lug.

The solution is to put an Arca-Swiss type clamp on the BR strap lug.  I use a Kirk QRC-1 clamp for that, it's a small 1" clamp (RRS has a 1.5" one, the B2-FAB-F, but a wider clamp isn't needed for this - the Kirk 1" holds even my 1D X +! 600 II).  Connect the BR lug to the clamp with a little Loctite Blue 242 on the threads. That way, you can unclamp the strap, mount the camera to a tripod, move the clamp to a lens collar plate, or another body (you could get an RRS base plate or Wimberley P-5 for your Rebel).

Have a good trip!

Lenses / Re: Lightweight lens for backpacking and bicycle touring
« on: April 15, 2013, 09:10:17 PM »
I will also look more seriously at a 15-85.  Like I mentioned earlier, the focal length sounds great, I'm just a little hesitant about how good IQ will be.

The 17-55 and 15-85 deliver optical quality equivalent to L-series lenses.

Lenses / Re: Best step up/down threads for filters?
« on: April 15, 2013, 09:04:39 PM »
Sure, you can get step-up rings, for example to use a 77mm filter on a 72mm or 67mm lens.  They work fine (I have a couple from B+W). Be sure to have filter wrenches. Also, they usually preclude using the lens hood.

Canon General / Re: the rebate program... what a sham!
« on: April 15, 2013, 07:18:22 PM »
I bought a 600EX-RT a couple of weeks ago.  With the rebate, it's $50 cheaper today. I may just buy another before the rebates end...

Lenses / Re: 135mm vs. 100mm macro
« on: April 15, 2013, 07:01:21 PM »
I'd choose the 100L if I needed macro, else the 135L.

Software & Accessories / Re: Wrist or Neck strap
« on: April 15, 2013, 04:28:13 PM »
Not only is the Black Rapid strap a great product but they offer great customer service.  And they will keep my business when I need a new strap.


After close to 2 years of using my RS-4 (mostly with a gripped body and large white zoom), the 'leading' edge of the strap started to fray just a bit.  Didn't look like anything that would compromise the structural integrity of the strap, but I sent BR an email just to check.  They agreed that it wouldn't pose a risk...but they sent me a new strap anyway, for free.

Software & Accessories / Re: Wrist or Neck strap
« on: April 15, 2013, 01:33:13 PM »
I use a shoulder strap (Blackrapid) and a hand strap (Canon E1).

Lenses / Re: Long zooms
« on: April 15, 2013, 09:14:20 AM »
You'll want the Canon 100-400L, partly for the better IQ but mostly for the much faster AF.

Legs:  Gitzo or Really Right Stuff.  The latter is more expensive, but the quality can't be beat.  I have their travel tripod setup (TQC-14 and BH-30 LR), leg diameters and support rating are equivalent to the Gitzo 25xx, and even though it's rated for 25 lbs, I can (and have) personally suspended myself (180 lbs) holding two of the legs and swinging under the tripod.  The RRS TVC Series 2 is similar to the Gitzo 3-series.  IMO, the build quality of RRS is slightly higher than Gitzo (anodized vs. painted aluminum parts and easier-to-hold legs locks, for example). But really, you can't go wrong with either Gitzo or RRS.

Head: RRS, Kirk, or Markins.  I'd avoid both Gitzo and Manfrotto.  The Gitzo heads have a generally bad reputation for a reason - they're kludgy and relatively heavy, and use a non-standard plate.  There's a guy on my local Craigslist that's been trying to offload a Gitzo head for over two years now - no takers.  Whether you get the Gitzo 25xx or an RRS Series 2 set of legs, I'd get the RRS BH-40 head.

I used a Manfrotto 468MG ballhead for a few years - the poster who commented it's a joy to use is correct.  The head is a joy to use.  The RC2 plate/clamp system is not a joy, IMO - it's the weak point in an otherwise quite decent system.  While it locks down securely (thanks to the secondary pin, there's no risk of it slipping out), even with it 'locked down' there's still play - and that means vibration, and also makes it difficult to precisely position the load.  Fortunately, the clamp can be switched. I removed the Manfrotto clamp and replaced it with a Wimberley C-12, an Arca-Swiss type clamp. 

I highly recommend going with the AS system - the clamps are secure and it's as close to a standard as you'll find (used by RRS, Kirk, Markins, Acratech, Arca Swiss, and others).  You can get excellent Kirk or RRS L-brackets, specific or generic lens plates, a variety of pano systems, etc. 

When you add the cost of the 468MG (you can get just the head without a clamp) to the cost of the Wimberley C-12 ($80), you might as well just get the RRS BH-40...

If you like your geared head, maybe keep it and use the Kirk adapter to concert the RC4 to an AS-type clamp.

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