KCAZ

Best Telephoto Support for Open-Sided Land Cruisers?

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New member here with a camera support question.  Planning my next trip back to Kenya this fall, and am looking at using the Porini Rhino, Mara, and Lion Camps through Gamewatchers.  For my Kenya trip last year, a beanbag worked great shooting from the "pop-top" Land Cruisers.  However, it looks like the Porini  Camps use the open-sided version of the Land Cruisers, and with padded roof bars (so not sure whether a bean bag is even needed).  I am wondering whether a monopod would be useful in this style of vehicle (primary camera is Nikon DX with 200-500 lens).  Normally, I would bring both the monopod and the beanbag along just in case, but now that I am facing the 15kg/33lb weight limits on the safari flights, I don't want to bring equipment that is either unwieldy or unnecessary.  Last trip, I brought a variety of gear that was never used (e.g., tripod, 16/2.0 wide angle, and 180/2.8 telephoto), but then weight wasn't an issue since I was in ground transportation the entire trip except for the international air legs.

 

Thanks in advance for your advice, and thanks to everyone for making Safaritalk such an informative site.

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Doesn't really answer your question with regards to whether or not it'll be of use in your situation but I use a home made bean bag that I empty before I travel and fill up with rice when I get to my destination. I can fit it in my pocket so weight isn't an issue.

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I was at Porini Lion in March and they had a couple of bean bags in the vehicle. These would be useful if you were using the pop-top (which we did for one sighting of lions behind some low bush) but the open sides are too low unless you are on the floor. A monopod would work best I think.

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Yes, if you are used to using a monopod, continue to do so- maybe with a quick release clamp so you can transfer to a beanbag easily. You can get down on your knees to use a beanbag but it might discourage you from shooting if you have to do that every time... depends how spry and slim you are and how much space there is in front of the seats.

 

No need to bring beanbags unless you have a very special one.

 

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Hi

I have not used a monopod much. I somehow find it very restricting when following quick action.

I use either a bean bag or I handhold the lens. I use a 500 f/4 now and used to use the 200-400 f/4. Never had a problem.

200-500 f5.6  is a light lens and can be easily handheld.

Many times I use my knee to support my hand that is holding the lens. Works well for me.

Use a bean bag when you need it. They work even for open vehicles.

Shooting low also helps in getting a different perspective than shooting from open roof.

 

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I tend to find most forms of support quite restrictive and have put some effort into improving my handheld technique with a Nikon D7200 and 80-400mm lens. The combinaton is not too heavy and I found the reach @400mm on a DX body was ample for pretty much everything we saw at Porini.

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Thank you all for your advice and experiences.  I like the idea of taking my beanbag empty and fill it there, if I find I need it.  Guess I need to check with Gamewatchers to find out whether all three of the Porini Camps I will be visiting (Rhino, Mara, and Lion) already have beanbags available for guest use.  I am on the fence about taking my monopod, which weighs about two pounds with head attached.  It has been useful for photographing subjects moving mostly in a horizontal, but much more awkward for things like flying birds (or climbing leopards).  I may still take it if I can get my clothing bag down enough to stay within the total 15kg baggage allowance.  If not, will rely on the VR in the 200-500, which is actually quite good.

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Dear @KCAZ, glad to hear that you are visiting our Porini Camps and I confirm that we have bean bags at all the Porini Camps. However we don't have one for every single guest as not everyone wants one, so If you let your Gamewatchers Safari Adviser know that having a bean bag is important for you then we can let the Camp managers know in advance so that they have one ready for you at each camp. Or if you email me (jake@gamewatchers.co.ke) with your name and date of stay then I will do so.
We have also fitted folding shelf supports for cameras to the sides of most of the vehicles now. 
I use a monopod myself but a much lighter one than you mention and find it works well for me in the open-sided vehicles: mine is
a Velbon Ultra Stick L50 Aluminium Monopod which weighs 300g or 10 ounces. Being lightweight it will not be as robust as your heavier version though!
Jake Grieves-Cook
Gamewatchers Safaris
 

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JakeGC - Thank you for your reply.  I was delayed in answering you as I have been meandering my way home through the backroads of Colorado after viewing our total eclipse this past Monday from western Nebraska.  

 

It is good to hear that Porini Camps now have the folding shelves on many of your vehicles, as that will make it a lot more feasible to use a beanbag from a seated position.  I did note my request for beanbags on my booking form.  I am still undecided about bringing my monopod - I will have to weigh a couple days worth of safari clothes when I get home and see how close I come to the 15kg total baggage limit with my photo gear plus clothes.  KCAZ

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