#24. "RE: sharpness: my perpetural struggle" In response to In response to 20 Wed 30-Jan-13 02:06 AM by nrothschild
Before I forget if you have not done so already, buy a spike kit for the Gitzo and always use it, whenever possible.
Spikes do NOT help when shooting from concrete or other hard surfaces like a gravel driveway or parking area. Nor sandy or marshy terrain. But for any dirt substructure (especially grass) they are golden. They come with rubber tips that pop on and off (without tools) as needed.
Spikes will do more for your support than any other accessory, including that Long Lens Support.
>Just a few quick replies. The folks at RRS said my support is >fine, they didn't try to sell me anything and instead took the >time to try to help me with the problem.
You talked to a different guy. The guy I talked to tried to sell me a TVC-33, insisting that unless everything I used was RRS I would not get the results I was after. I then offered to direct him to my web site, where I have posted the images and methodology proving my 4 section Series 3 Gitzo met or beat the TVC-33. I needed to do that to get the conversation back on track.
Let me try another approach- you had a nice conversation with RRS and you are still having problems. So you need to look elsewhere for your solution.
> >For the last two tests I was outside. > >By hands on and hands off; do you mean with my had resting on >the lens? I never liked that technique, but that's what Moose >P. recommends so I tried it.
Moose is right, especially since, like me, he is an avid birder. It would be very unproductive to demand a songbird stay perched while you execute a 5 second mirror up operation.
Beyond that, a Series 3 will never hold your lens steady in even the slightest wind. So you can either shoot only on dead calm days, or behind a tall wind break, or learn to love Long Lens Technique. I suggest the latter.
For testing though, especially indoors, Mup is very useful to remove the human element and this is very important here. If outdoor temps were closer to indoor ambient you could hide indoors and shoot your outdoor target.
>I did not try Mup and will do so, with timer delay tomorrow.
Just to be clear, with Mup you are not using the self timer. You press the shutter once to raise the mirror, wait 5-10 seconds, and then press a 2nd time to fire the shutter.
>The 600 has two settings, VR OFF and TRIPOD
Try TRIPOD. That is Tripod enabled VR mode (I guess the only VR mode available on that lens).
>My last two posts are of the ruler at 45, or at least more of >an angle. > >This is not my time using this lens. I used it for Civil War >enactment battles (some sharp images) and I used in Zion last >month. Although, in Zion all my images were soft, just like >the ones posted here.
I did say it could take months or years rather than days ...
>Well, I could buy another tripod, and sell one. RRS now >carries a full line of pods. Again, they said my support was >fine.
See above. They make good gear. They really like to sell that gear. But they did not solve your problem.
As I mentioned above, I own a 4 section GT3541LS. I tested it against their current best- the TVC-33. My series 3 met or beat their TVC-33. They were indistinguishable in a tap test. Your 3 section Series 3 performs marginally better than my 4 section and I would expect it to more firmly beat the TVC-33.
If you want to squint at some test charts, my test results are here. I went into the tests fully expecting the TVC-33 to absolutely kill my tripod, and I wanted it to kill it because the idea of a significantly better tripod that weighed no more than mine was very attractive, to say the least.
A Series 5 tap tests far, far better than my tripod. A TVC-33 will not solve that part of the problem, nor any other RRS tripod.
I believe that tap tests most closely model the aspects of tripod performance most important for users of Long Lens Technique.
All that wiggling and jiggling you see through the viewfinder while you are trying to use Long Lens Technique is well modeled by a tap test. A tap test of 3-5 seconds, as you will likely observe, is consistent with moderately difficult Long Lens Technique.
A tap test closer to 1 second is far better and results in far less visible jiggling. Better than 1s would be even better but that is probably too much to ask for, short of a concrete pier or perhaps a Schactler tripod.
Edit: yes, for best results you MUST rest your left hand on the lens. With a 600 you may need to push down because the lens foot is not well situated for "resting your hand on the lens" as I can do with my 500. I think that is one major benefit of the 500/4.
Do a tap test with and without your left hand on the lens, both resting and also pushing down a bit. You will find the pressure required to best damp the vibrations.
> The 600 on a ballhead? Uh, that's more courage than I >have; too hard to handle. The RRS full gimbal works well, and >the long lens support adds a some support at the end.
Why does it take courage to put that lens on a ballhead? I've always found my 500 to handle much easier on my Markins heads, it just isn't as easy and fast to reframe. But my Markins heads are slightly more stable than my Wimberly and that is why I suggest trying it.
A ballhead is not a good working solution for that lens, but it is a critical part of my process of elimination to determine if your problem is gear or technique.
>Here are some photos of the end of the RRS long lens support. >With this, do you think I need to rest my hand on the lens? I >think not, but I have no knowledge to base that on.
You need to do some tap tests...
1. set your tripod indoors to hide from the wind, and use your outdoor target. You won't be shooting any images. Aim the tripod and lock down the gimbal.
2. While looking through the viewfinder (but without touching it with your head or eyebrow!) give either end (lens hood or camera body) a stiff tap with your forefinger.
3. Count how long, in seconds, it takes to settle. I would guess 5+ seconds, especially on rubber feet as you will likely use indoors even if you have spikes.
4. Now remove the long lens support, clamp your lens foot directly to the gimbal, and repeat.
I predict the results with and without the long lens support will be difficult to distinguish and you may literally need to use an accurate stop watch to consistently determine a difference and you will have to be absolutely clear in your mind exactly when the "lens fully settles" because the closer you look the longer they last
My GT3541LS and 500/4 settle in 3-5 seconds with rubber feet on my concrete patio. Performance on spikes over grass turf seems to vary depending on the moisture in the soil, but I've seen as good as 1 second out in the field, down to about 3 seconds. Even my worst case performance is far, far better.
I have tested my setup against a Series 5 with my lens and same gimbal. At the time I clocked the Series 5 at one second flat, which was a phenomenal performance compared to my Series 3.
Unfortunately I did that before I became fully aware of the benefit of spikes and I could never recall what was on the feet of that Series 5 or the exact terrain we shot on. All I know for sure is that one second is relatively fantastic, regardless of what surface or what was on the feet.
Back to the long lens support. That apparatus does only ONE thing, and that is to stabilize any vibration emanating from the lens collar or the lens foot. It does not and cannot mitigate vibrations coming from the gimbal or the tripod.
Now take a long hard look at your setup. Where do you think most of the vibrations are coming from? The lens foot/collar or the tripod and head?
Remove your lens from the tripod. Tilt it back a bit on two legs. Grab the 3rd leg around the middle and twist back and forth. Measure the flex.
Now do that with your lens foot and tell me where the flex comes from.
RRS is one of the greatest marketing firms in the photo biz. And the best they can say is that "improves performance up to a 15% resolution improvement". "Up To" are the operative words, and that is coming from the greatest and most effusive marketing department in the biz.
One thing the Long Lens Support does probably do very well is to allow you to shoot with the collar loose as long as you set the front lens support foot tight against the lens. But it will not turn a Series 3 into a Series 5.
I am assuming that your 600/4 collar and foot are not significantly less sturdy than my 500/4 AFS. If the collar/foot were significantly less sturdy then it would follow that the LLS would provide more of an improvement.
I've been shooting the Long Lens Support for over a year now. I'm very confident in my conclusions here.
I want to repeat, your best investment right now, with a Series 3 or 5, is a set of spikes if you do not already use them. And the same spike kit fits both Series so no possible loss there.