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Looking for a panning plate for setting on a bean bag while on safari

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by stillwatergal, Jul 21, 2016.

  1. stillwatergal

    stillwatergal Mu-43 Rookie

    13
    Jun 10, 2015
    Sedona, AZ
    Stephanie
    I am looking for a good panning plate that I can set on a beanbag (not for use on a tripod) when I go to Africa. The Visual Echos plate, which many DSLR users use, does not seem to be an option because the rotating mount on that plate needs really significant weight placed on it to make it turn at all easily and an m43, even with a heavy lens, doesn't do it--at least for me. I have an Acratech head on my tripod but don't see a way to use it with a beanbag. All ideas are really welcome. I have no idea of what might work. (Here's a picture of the Visual Echos plate that I've tried and which doesn't work for me. I'm attaching it so that you can get an idea of what others, with heavier gear have used. Its footprint is 4" x 8".)
     

    Attached Files:

  2. RAH

    RAH Mu-43 Veteran

    269
    Dec 1, 2013
    New Hampshire
    Rich
    You could take a look at the Feisol PB-70 Panning Base:

    FEISOL PB-70 Panning Base PB-70 B&H Photo Video

    It turns fairly easily, is very well made, and MUCH less expensive than other similar bases at B&H. It's hard for me to determine if this is what you need. You attach a head to this Feisol base, then turn the base.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2016
  3. stillwatergal

    stillwatergal Mu-43 Rookie

    13
    Jun 10, 2015
    Sedona, AZ
    Stephanie
    As I look at this plate, I don't think it, or other small round bases would work as I won't be using a tripod. This little base would have to sit on a bean bag and I'd have to get my hand under the camera to hold it steady. The idea of the Visual Echoes plate seems ideal since it has such a large footprint and, I believe, was designed to sit on the ground. Unfortunately the wonderful lightness of m43 gear makes it hard/impossible to use.
     
  4. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    Find a welder to design something you can mount a tripod head to is my recommendation. Could probably have it done for $100 or less.
     
  5. stillwatergal

    stillwatergal Mu-43 Rookie

    13
    Jun 10, 2015
    Sedona, AZ
    Stephanie
    Great idea! Thanks!!
     
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  6. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    You are welcome.

    My brother owns a welding/manufacturing shop but it takes me forever to get anything. He is always busy and free stuff gets the lowest priority.
     
  7. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Clint
  8. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    I am wondering if you could put something together with pieces from Kirk Photo and/or Really Right Stuff. Kirk has their low pod which could work with a ballhead Kirk Photo Kirk Low Pod Black Kirk Photo , and RRS has some panorama components RRS - More .

    Good luck,


    --Ken
     
  9. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Why not attach a Gorillapod to a panning head? Then that won't need anything else, like a bean bag, plus it is reasonably small to carry (depending on the panning head used).
     
  10. System13

    System13 Mu-43 Veteran

    229
    May 11, 2016
    Wisconsin USA
    JR
    • Informative Informative x 1
  11. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

  12. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    Walter
  13. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Last edited: Jul 28, 2016
  14. Rambling Sam

    Rambling Sam Mu-43 Regular

    68
    May 27, 2016
    Reading, Berkshire, UK
    Sam
    I'm guessing the circular part and the QD camera mounting plate is bolted to the oblong frame below it? If that is the case, there are the following couple of other options:
    a] Separate the two parts, get a piece of circular Aluminum alloy of a 'suitable' length, Have drilled and tapped in both ends, threads (I'm guessing this will be a 1/4" BSW thread) that match the one you have removed. Get another threaded bolt and cut it so just the thread remains and screw that in one of the holes in the rod. Attach the QD mounting plate to the thread. The other end of the rod can then be screwed onto your bean-bag.
    b] Have two rods made, (if the attaching bolt is indeed 1/4") the other one being whatever thread is used to attach the QD plate, whilst on the other end, you have a 6mm or 8mm thread cut into it, enabling you to use this piece of tube to attach a range of other useful items to it, cancelling out the problem of the 1/4" BSW thread that is a pretty rare 'beast' thread-wise on a lot of other things!

    Just a general observation regarding the 'stability' of things, having something that sits on 3 points instead of 4, means it cancels out problems if the surface you are using, is uneven.
     
  15. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Or just buy the pan head I linked to above with the small (mini) tripod without all the extra fluffing around.
     
  16. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    From the tone of your question I am assuming that this is a new thing for you, so I'll make some general comments. We just got back from our sixth trip to Africa yesterday, this one was one of two specifically photo safaris. Between the two we've done about 40 days and visited maybe fifteen or twenty lodges and camps in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania and Kenya.

    First, the shooting is very dynamic. Lions sleep most of the time and, after scenics, will be your most static subjects. Other animals move a lot; birds even more. IMO shooting two bodies is essential. One with a long zoom, 100-300 or 100-400, and the other with a super zoom like a 14-140. There is simply no time to change lenses. This is without considering the likelihood of blowing dust. I have been in many single-animal situations where I have shot both bodies as the animal moved towards and away from us and/or I tried different compositions. I cannot emphasize enough the need for two bodies and a effective focal length range down into the 28 or 35mm range.

    We have encountered two types of game drive vehicles, both typically built on Toyota Land Cruiser chassis. (Land Rovers are generally held in low regard.) One is an open style built onto a pickup box and having three rows of "stadium" style seating with the front row behind the driver being the lowest and the rear row the highest. Sometimes the seats are benches, so could seat nine. Sometimes buckets, so six. There are no sides but there is a pipe frame to support a canvas canopy. You shoot while seated. The second style features fully enclosed custom body with three or four rows of bucket seats and a narrow aisle in the middle. These have sliding glass windows and a "pop" top. When shooting the top is raised and the contents of the vehicle stands up like a bunch of meerkats. In neither case are you normally allowed to leave the vehicle, though this will vary from park to park and operator to operator. Some bush walks may be possible, often accompanied by a scout with a high power rifle.

    (BTW, you do not want to sit in the back row of any game drive vehicle unless you want to get thrown around a lot. The row behind the guide/driver is usually best.)

    I cannot conceive that a panning base would be of any use at all in this environment. In the open vehicles there is no place for a bean bag. With the pop-tops you could conceivably use a bean bag but it is just one more thing to screw with. I made a very satisfactory enclosed-vehicle "rest" by simply gripping the roof handrails with my left hand and resting the lens on my left forearm. More often, I supported my elbows on the roof.

    In the open vehicles, a monopod is very useful -- I might even say essential. You support your body by leaning against the pipe frame and the monopod is extended so its foot rests on the floor. On this most recent trip I used an Acratech GPS with their excellent lever clamp atop the monopod leg of my Benro carbon Travel Flat. Even then, it was not uncommon to have a situation where the monopod was too restrictive and I had to quickly disconect and hand-hold the camera. Note, too that handling a loose monopod and a loose camera makes it very difficult to use a screw type Arca clamp. At least be sure to have the camera on a neck strap so it will not go far when you drop it while trying to tighten the damned screw.

    (IMO the various one-tilt-axis "monopod head" designs are idiotic. Stick with the Acratech. I'll spare you that rant, however.)

    A monopod is also great if you do take a walk, as it doubles as a walking stick. Gitzo sells a nice set of convertable spike/rubber leg tips for $30; the 3/8" thread fit my Benro perfectly.

    So, based on my experience I would suggest that you ditch your original camera support idea and put your Acratech head on a good monopod, topped with the Acratech lever clamp. There is also a Chinese locking-style lever clamp that is quite decent for about $50 on eBay. Underline the word locking, though. The RRS lever does not lock AFIK and one bump will probably send your camera tumbling. The monpod will serve you well in open vehicle and you may even choose to use it in pop-tops.

    Back to panos, assuming you are talking one-row, just shoot them freehand. That works fine unless you have objects in the very near foreground, which you usually will not and which you can avoid.

    But regardless of what you do, make sure that it includes two bodies that combine to give you a very wide range of focal lengths.
     
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  17. RAH

    RAH Mu-43 Veteran

    269
    Dec 1, 2013
    New Hampshire
    Rich
    Very useful advice for sure. Oldracer. I just wanted to mention that I think that using a monopod to shoot a one-row pano is better than freehand (since we are talking monopod here anyway). It helps keep the camera horizontally level, in my experience. To pan, you can turn the entire monopod, or if your head has a pan mechanism, hold the monopod and pan the head. Either way is a little more even than handheld, IMHO.
     
  18. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Probably true, though if the monopod is not truly vertical you will have a horizontal error anyway. I don't think I have ever had a camera on a monopod at the point where I decided to shoot a pano so I can't say. What I do is to use the internal level display on my GX7 or GX8 and attempt to keep it at approximately the same height vs the horizon as I pan/shoot. I also shoot vertical format, which almost always gives me more picture height than I want, so the inevitable vertical jitter and consequent cropping is not a big deal.

    Edit: Here is a 5-shot hand-held pano showing a few tens of thousands of wildebeest preparing to cross the river Mara in Kenya, part of the Great Migration. It is straight from LightRoom and as you can see, shooting vertical format leaves plenty of height even after the vertical jitter is cropped off.

    upload_2016-7-28_15-0-11.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2016
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  19. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    Walter
    I actually have an Ultrapod 2 for a table top tripod. The main consideration here was light weight, compact, and sturdy enough.