John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Carrying a heavy camera lens

I recently upgraded to a Sigma 150-600 contemporary lens, upgrading from a Canon 70-300 lens, the added reach is amazing, what isn’t so amazing is the weight, going from 710 up to 1930g, and honestly, there are lenses that weigh even more. A lot of people use the shoulder strap (I can’t tolerate weight like that on the shoulders), or use the tripod mount to hold onto the lens, but I don’t find that comfortable either, only two of four fingers carrying the weight. Trekking around forests looking for beautiful wildlife to shoot means sometimes your out for a number of hours lugging this thing around … So I began to look for solutions. I have to admit, I was SHOCKED there are no easy solutions. Both the tripod mount on the bottom of the camera as well as the one the lens use a 1/4″ thread, I found some handles that use a 3/8″ thread but that won’t work. I MIGHT be able to remove the 3/8″ and replace it with a 1/4 bolt but that assumes the bolt is removable, some of which I couldn’t tell for sure.

So I found this handle on Amazon, seemed like it might be possible, obviously I’m using it in a way they didn’t intend.

First off the handle is octagonal and slippery. So I managed using some detergent to coax a bike handle bar grip over the handle. This works well, and is MUCH more comfortable. I toyed with the handle on the camera’s tripod mount but that did not work well, and was prone to smacking your face off it, weight balance was also off. So I mounted it on the tripod mount for the lens, but, no matter how much I tighten the twist knob, after a number of hours the handle would start to twist, not surprising, it’s a reasonable weight. So I set about finding a solution. I toyed with the idea of drilling and tapping the tripod mount but I was nervous about that, it’s aluminum and easy enough to bugger up. So I came up with a thought, if I could use an eraser to butt up against the back end of the tripod mount this would limit how far it could rotated. In one day the proof of concept proved it would work, BUT the eraser was too soft. So I found a block of metal laying around the house, butted it against the tripod mount, cable tied it in place to find the exact location and then drilled through the block of metal and the handle. The net result is a solid permanent solution to the handle rotating. Weight balance is really good and the camera/lens hang nicely off your hand. I use wrist straps from Amazon as an added protection, should it slip out of my hand.

And with that I have something that works. Now this comes at a price, even more weight. The handle weighs 176g, and with my hacks comes up to 252g in total (40g for the grip and 36g for the block of metal and bolt/nut). Here’s the ending result, and it is SOLID.

I also found a SmallRig handle that uses a 3/8″ bolt on, looks like it might work, so I’ve ordered that and will give that a try next. You can buy it directly from Smallrig but they ship from China and this could take forever to come. Weight looks good at 139g, and if it will go on the camera I can remove the tripod collar from the lens when not in use saving even more weight. I’ll update this post when I get it/try it. SmallRig has assure me, one of the two bolts can be removed.

April 25, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Using ebird to find sightings

I’ve been really enjoying learning about and photographing wild life. The birding world is so diverse with so many different birds out there. We are currently in the middle of migration season when birds fly over, and sometimes stay for brief periods of time, in the oddest places. A tool like ebird can be a great way to find birds you may not have seen before, but I have to say, the web site is, to me, less than intuitive, so I thought I’d put together this page to help others. First off, ebird gets it’s data from birders, as they are walking along with their phone, so the data can be as good, or bad as the birder, but if your out and about, be sure and contribute if you can. So let’s get started.

Head over to ebird and create an account (if you don’t already have one), logon, and click explore:

Click explore

Down on the left click species maps:

Click species maps

Now change the date range to whatever you like. The narrower the less data, the broader the less relevant during migration season:

Change your date range

Now start typing the bird your looking for and then select it:

Type in the bird your looking for

Then type in where you want to find them, in this case I’m selecting Halton region. You can zoom in if you would like later to narrow where you want to look.

Add the location you want to look in

And low and behold you get a list of reported sightings:

Reported sightings

From here you can click on a reported sighting for more details. Sometimes people add comments on where it was seen or pictures, as well as anything else seen.

Details of the sighting

And with that your armed and dangerous, but be aware, some data of “sensitive birds” is withheld. There is another great app to find bird sightings in your area, Go Bird. And if you don’t know about them Merlin and iNaturalist are great apps to identify what a bird is that you have a photo of. iNaturalist can also do plants and animals. iNaturalist also submits it to other humans to confirm (or deny). There’s also another app called song sleuth that can identify a bird by it’s sound!

April 6, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment