I recently took some moose pics at Baxter State Park in Maine and when I developed them I found too much shake. I have bought a cable release and am thinking of buying the new Nikon VR lens BUT I would also like to know what tripods you wildlife photographer suggest and also heads? I will be most likely getting it in the mud, dirt etc. Can you give me about how much you paid if you suggest something??
Hi Don, I also use a Gitzo for my 500mm f4. My favourite is the G1548 (series 5 - carbon - without center colums), but when I have to put it in water or mud, I use the Safari (series 3 - aluminium - short center column). Unfortunately (for all those who missed it), the Gitzo Safari has been discontinued years ago. It's the only tripod I know you can put into 50 cm of water or mud, without water or dirt getting inside.
For shooting wildlife or birds, I always use a ballhead (Monoball at the moment, but I ordered an Arca Swiss B1G two months ago, but it doesn't seem to arrive) :'(
When using a tele lens, I would recommend you not to use a cable release, but firing the camera with your hand. While touching the camera, you eliminate small vibrations.
I bought all my equipment in Belgium, so I think the prices aren't relevant for you.
I have to disagree with my colleagues but assuming by VR you mean the 80-400 VR both the Wiberley head and the Gitzo 1548 seem like overkill. I use both with my 600mm but the 80-400 VR only weighs 4 pounds. For my 80-400 I use a Manfrotto carbon fiber 441 with an Arca-Swiss head and it's fine. This is a costly combo (about $750 US, if I remember correctly) but its light enough to carry a good distance, it is stable and and the ball head is reliable. If you decide you want to go for the Gitzo-Wimberley combination expect to spend about $1300.
so taking into consideration that the VR is probably the heaviest thing I will have mounted on the tripod and head ( with maybe a teleconverter ) does that change anyones mind on what kind of tripod and head I should get ??
I use a short, sturdy Gitzo (414) without a centre column. It's heavy but compact to take along and the legs can be spread completely horizontal which is very practical to take pictures at eye level of small animals. As ballhead, I use the heaviest "Magic Ball" from Novoflex. It's heavy enough to support a 500/4. When I go for a long hike, I use the Gitzo Mountaineer made of lightweight carbon. If you're interested in action shots, I recommend a Whimberley head. I still use an ordinary ballhead because I also want to photograph landscapes and macro along the way and therefore need to be able to make vertical shots with lenses that have no collar. I consider buying a video head in the future exclusively for photography from a hide. Video heads work very smoothly but are too heavy to carry for long distances. Following are some pictures of heads I use: a small Gitzo, the Magic Ball and the Manfrotto.