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Suitable tripod for Airshow Photography using a Sigma 150-600mm
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Jun 19, 2022 14:36:11   #
Harry P Loc: United Kingdom
 
Hi,

I have not posted on here for a few years! During the Covid lockdown I purchased a Sigma 150-600mm telephoto lens for my Nikon D5100 with money I saved up a long time for. Obviously because I bought it during the lockdown and that air shows across the planet were cancelled, I haven't used it for air shows yet, but I finally will be at RIAT 2022

I am quite a slim man, I'm 23 and don't have that much muscle haha! And I think I may have a bit of an issue with holding it still enough for when I am shooting prop/rotor aircraft where I'm using a slower shutter compared to photographing jet's. I'm curious if any experienced air show enthusiasts have any recommendations for good tripods to use as it is a bit of a heavy lens! The zoom on this lens is a little awkward turning your hand quite a bit from 150 to 600mm but I think at RIAT 2022 I wont need to go below 300mm which should be helpful!

One tall tripod that I have had my eyes on recently is a K&F Concept K234A7+BH-28L (pretty sure that's the model number for it!) its quite tall which is nice as I have another tripod from the same brand that I like to use for Nature, but its not at my height and I have to lean down to look into my Nikons viewfinder which isn't exactly comfortable. This tripod has a ball joint on the top for moving the camera around to different viewpoints! the only issue I can see is that it is made with aluminium and I have heard you should really use a tripod that's made from carbon fibre.

Would any experienced air show enthusiasts on here recommend this particular tripod or is there a different tripod that I should look at? I look forward to peoples opinions!

Many thanks

Harry

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Jun 19, 2022 14:59:34   #
imagemeister Loc: Stuart, Florida
 
Yes, doing air shows you need to go HIGH with the tripod ! Going HIGH is expensive ! This is probably your cheapest decent way to get there - https://www.ebay.com/itm/154712902997?_trkparms=amclksrc%3DITM%26aid%3D1110006%26algo%3DHOMESPLICE.SIM%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20201210111314%26meid%3D4a83a1b03bec4b68a0f04172030d5d33%26pid%3D101195%26rk%3D2%26rkt%3D12%26sd%3D255589434759%26itm%3D154712902997%26pmt%3D1%26noa%3D0%26pg%3D2047675%26algv%3DSimplAMLv9PairwiseWebMskuAspectsV202110NoVariantSeedWithRevOpt90NoRelevanceKnnRecallV1%26brand%3DSLIK&_trksid=p2047675.c101195.m1851&amdata=cksum%3A1547129029974a83a1b03bec4b68a0f04172030d5d33%7Cenc%3AAQAHAAABQAoNKsJM3HOHkM0OuV9XKcsoXSMLk3wBBxTIYdgqgcSsJbD%252BWQW2%252Fi9%252FH9y8TZ%252F9TU3Es3oTKRolT9u5mF91RnSGjcRDdDpXI3GNi9QMheFP623sd2luaveQWWobQW5%252FETwKJMMWgbKUGOJFVqM9LObi3A%252BQR1BmXqDVlCq18hEqopGJ%252BqTV2aC69mUCxDDzjTzRSWWCyrmje1aRoolTYM2%252FAaxDO1C28WLfQZooX7zl1RMqRVlPCKDr1AuPewPLQjU%252BfKzQm2m8RkXa1oJiNoVvJWvmOYPu7Ja2ZpvuPOhVizyt7mkKNW0XzgYNkrqV3QyqGyVWFj3oCb%252BbjuQHlBEwWbssXOvpbwRfirDFwiSLGEyInOgiuy3DJeNBLMuk9BchjBnXgyssiK71SfSrJshCVX5cApUbv33gasPYKk90%7Campid%3APL_CLK%7Cclp%3A2047675&epid=5012044862 ..
..

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Jun 19, 2022 15:06:11   #
Orphoto Loc: Oregon
 
You can also go high with a sturdy monopod and have somewhat faster reactions with movements.

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Jun 19, 2022 15:18:13   #
rgrenaderphoto Loc: Hollywood, CA
 
A monopod is ideal for this type of shooting. Supports the lens on the collar and keeps things steady. Just make sure it can adjust tall enough so you don't have to stoop. A monopod works really well in a crowd. It's too easy to bump into a tripod with the legs spread.

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Jun 19, 2022 15:22:22   #
imagemeister Loc: Stuart, Florida
 
I agree about a monopod - but I know of no monopod that goes high enough .....

But, you could extend the height of a monopod or tripod with one of these - https://www.ebay.com/itm/313324245729?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l9372
..

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Jun 19, 2022 15:23:31   #
robertjerl Loc: Corona, California
 
You are concerned with the tripod but what about the head.

I recommend a gimbal head—much faster and more unrestrained movement in all dimensions. I use one for birds and sometimes planes.

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Jun 19, 2022 16:32:18   #
Wallen Loc: Middle Earth
 
If your going for a tripod, something solid and at least up to your height with a good gimbal head would do fine.
Otherwise, use a monopod with a good ball head.

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Jun 19, 2022 16:52:26   #
imagemeister Loc: Stuart, Florida
 
A video fluid head - either on a monopod or tripod is what I would be using. The LAST thing I would use with a LARGE lens is a ball head on a monopod.
.

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Jun 19, 2022 17:53:31   #
BArthur3
 
I'd add a vote to using a monopod -- far more maneuverability with less chance of entanglement in tight/crowded areas. I don't have an opinion for a head on a monopod. There is actually one argument for a tripod at an airshow: if you can get there early enough and claim a spot on the front lines for crowd control, a tripod does automatically give a staked out personal area -- people are far less likely to jostle in for viewing spot with a tripod defining your area.

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Jun 19, 2022 18:57:15   #
PoppieJ Loc: North Georgia
 
my experience with airshows is that the sky is bright enough that you will be shooting at a really high shutter speed anyway. My thoughts are that a tripod would be more of a liability than an asset.

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Jun 19, 2022 19:05:20   #
imagemeister Loc: Stuart, Florida
 
PoppieJ wrote:
my experience with airshows is that the sky is bright enough that you will be shooting at a really high shutter speed anyway. My thoughts are that a tripod would be more of a liability than an asset.


It is a matter of holding/carrying/shooting with a large lens for a lengthy period of time .....and yes a tripod could be a liability - if you let it.
.

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Jun 19, 2022 22:16:32   #
kmpankopf Loc: Mid-Michigan; SW Pennsylvania
 
I will often use a monopod, with gimbal, when using the 200-500 lens. While there are some limitations, with practice and use, the limitation window gets smaller all the time.

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Jun 20, 2022 00:14:26   #
nicksr1125 Loc: Mesa, AZ
 
Be aware that a lot of events like airshows will not let you bring a tripod. A monopod will usually be okay. Unless you are very tall, there are a number of monopods that should suit your needs. Do a search on bandhphotovideo.com. You'll probably find something that will work.

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Jun 20, 2022 01:41:54   #
amfoto1 Loc: San Jose, Calif. USA
 
Harry P wrote:
Hi,

I have not posted on here for a few years! During the Covid lockdown I purchased a Sigma 150-600mm telephoto lens for my Nikon D5100 with money I saved up a long time for. Obviously because I bought it during the lockdown and that air shows across the planet were cancelled, I haven't used it for air shows yet, but I finally will be at RIAT 2022

I am quite a slim man, I'm 23 and don't have that much muscle haha! And I think I may have a bit of an issue with holding it still enough for when I am shooting prop/rotor aircraft where I'm using a slower shutter compared to photographing jet's. I'm curious if any experienced air show enthusiasts have any recommendations for good tripods to use as it is a bit of a heavy lens! The zoom on this lens is a little awkward turning your hand quite a bit from 150 to 600mm but I think at RIAT 2022 I wont need to go below 300mm which should be helpful!

One tall tripod that I have had my eyes on recently is a K&F Concept K234A7+BH-28L (pretty sure that's the model number for it!) its quite tall which is nice as I have another tripod from the same brand that I like to use for Nature, but its not at my height and I have to lean down to look into my Nikons viewfinder which isn't exactly comfortable. This tripod has a ball joint on the top for moving the camera around to different viewpoints! the only issue I can see is that it is made with aluminium and I have heard you should really use a tripod that's made from carbon fibre.

Would any experienced air show enthusiasts on here recommend this particular tripod or is there a different tripod that I should look at? I look forward to peoples opinions!

Many thanks

Harry
Hi, br br I have not posted on here for a few ye... (show quote)


Rather than a tripod, I would recommend you get a monopod and fit it with a monopod head. That type of head only provides a tilt, which you will want to leave "loose" while shooting air shows. Panning movements are simply done by rotating the entire rig. Just be sure it's tall enough monopod so that you are comfortable shooting with the camera and lens aimed upward. It needs to be taller than what people would normally use for, say, wildlife or sports photography.

I assume this is the tripod you were looking at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07VRPVQS3/ref=twister_B0986XJNLB?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

Most "affordable" tripods will be no sturdier than a monopod anyway. For example, that K&F Concept tripod requires you extend the center column A LOT to reach that 78" height. That defeats the whole purpose of the legs!

And you'll no doubt be using a fairly fast shutter speed anyway, so it's not about a stable platform so much as just so you aren't trying to handhold the weight of the camera and lens for long periods of time.

A monopod will leave you more mobile too, which I imagine you will need to be at an air show.

Here are monopods 75" tall and taller:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/products/Monopods-Unipods/ci/397/N/4075788738?sort=PRICE_LOW_TO_HIGH&filters=fct_maximum-height_1446%3A75in%7C80in

And here are monopod heads:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/products/Monopod-Accessories/ci/398/N/4075788737?sort=PRICE_LOW_TO_HIGH&filters=fct_accessory-type_3438%3Aheads&searchWithin=arca

All those heads use an Arca-Swiss style quick release system. Your lens might have a dovetail built into the handle compatible with this. Otherwise you would need to buy a "lens plate" that attaches to the lens for this purpose. If you do need a plate, make sure it's one that has anti-twist features, such as two attachment bolts.

Besides, if you are trying to keep the price around $100, you'll get a lot more for your money with a monopod! And it will weigh a lot less that a tripod, regardless of what materials are used.

EDIT: Several have mentioned using a gimbal head, which is a possibility. You would definitely want one on a tripod (much better than a ballhead for large lens work). I have never used one on a monopod, but here are some of the most affordable, FYI: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/compare/Oben_GH-30_Gimbal_Head_vs_Movo_Photo_GH800_Carbon_Fiber_Professional_Gimbal_Tripod_Head_vs_Neewer_GM100_Professional_Heavy-Duty_Carbon_Fiber_Gimbal_Tripod_Head_vs_Magnus_GH-M1_Gimbal_Head/BHitems/1379234-REG_1500864-REG_1695054-REG_1458852-REG

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Jun 20, 2022 08:24:29   #
billt1970 Loc: Gambrills, Maryland
 
Harry P wrote:


Would any experienced air show enthusiasts on here recommend this particular tripod or is there a different tripod that I should look at? I look forward to peoples opinions!

Many thanks

Harry


Well Harry P, I was fortunate almost exactly 10 years ago (June 17, 2012) to shoot the Blue Angels from the rooftop deck of a friend of my son's. The occasion was the Kickoff of the Bicentennial Celebration for Ft McHenry in Baltimore. We were about a quarter-mile from the main flyby route and up high enough that we didn't miss much.

I was shooting with a Sigma SD1 DSLR (the original model) with the Sigma 150-300mm f2.8 (awesome) lens.

To your point I was using a Manfrotto 190 aluminum tripod with a pistol grip ball head. I can't recall the exact model of the head, but you can see the setup below. To answer an anticipated question, the pistol grip didn't seem to inhibit my ability to shoot the Blue Angels wherever they flew.

I shot over 300 images that day. My favorite one can be seen below, with two F/A-18s flying alongside the cruise ship with one inverted, seemingly mated!

The highlights of the show can be viewed on my Pbase site at:

https://pbase.com/billtaylor/image/144296859

Please, go shoot with whatever you have and enjoy the results. You won't regret it.

Best Regards,

BT

Sigma SD1 w/150-300mm f2.8 lens on a pistol grip ball head and Manfrotto 190 tripod; note cruise ship on the left.
Sigma SD1 w/150-300mm f2.8 lens on a pistol grip b...
(Download)

F/A-18 Hornets "mated" for the flyby!
F/A-18 Hornets "mated" for the flyby!...
(Download)

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