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5" lens plate for Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6


LarryG 1 9 United States
9 Apr 2019 5:46AM
I recently acquired the Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 lens. It's large, long, and heavy. The lens moves up and down on my tripod; forcing me to manually hold it in place on the tripod using the 2 1/2" lens plate I have when shooting. I just ordered a 5" lens plate which Acratech, the manufacturer of my ball head recommended. I am told that the longer plate will offer more stability and balance, solving the problem. What is your experience with lens plates on long lenses? Any solutions to balance the lens so it does not move on the tripod will be appreciated. Thanks. Larry

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LenShepherd 11 3.9k United Kingdom
9 Apr 2019 9:10AM
More information is ideally needed.
I assume you mean the tripod collar is tight and that the lens still moves due to flexing in either the tripod head or the tripod.
With heavier and longer lenses this problem increases.
With your lens at 500mm it extends 10.25 inches forward of tripod collar fixing screw; meaning a lot of force likely to cause movement.
The solution is a "stronger" tripod or tripod head better able to resist the forces inherent in using very big and heavy lenses.
This solution unfortunately tends to cost (new) from £300 upward - unless you are prepared to go British with a heavy and not easy to set up Benbo (not the Treker). You still need a head.
If you mean the tripod foot is twisting on the tripod plate then a longer plate will help.
Plates come with either an allen key or G ring to firmly lock the plate. You need to get the plate very tightly screwed in place.
The raised rubber part of many quick release plate covers less 50% of the surface area. You get more rubber on longer plates so longer plates may help.
As the foot of your tripod collar is 3 inches long if there is a plate 3inches long it is all you need, rather than the suggested 5 inches.
justin c 15 5.0k 36 England
9 Apr 2019 9:26AM
I find a plate on a long lens essential for the following reasons; it allows for quick and solid fixing to the tripod head (I use the Arca Swiss mounting system), it allows you to move the lens forward and backward on the tripod head to find the best point of balance, it makes a convenient handle to carry the lens.

But, regarding the point about balancing the lens. Whilst it's worth taking the time to roughly balance the lens forward and backward. In my experience it still won't stop the lens flopping over on the ballhead unless you are able to set tension on the ballhead to stop this happening. In my experience, if you set too much tension to allow the lens not to flop, you need to release the tension to be able to move the lens around freely. If you add or remove an extender/converter/flash,etc.etc then you need to alter the tension and balance point, etc.
It's not just that the lens could flop forward and backward, but also to the side, if the ballhead tension isn't adequate.

A better option than a ballhead if you want to be able to balance the lens perfectly, avoiding any flop whatsoever and be able to let go of the lens and for it to remain still, whilst being able to freely move the lens in any direction without having to first release any tension, would be a gimbal type head or perhaps something such as the Wimberly Sidekick. I'm not familiar with the 200-500mm so comparability is worth checking should you maybe consider this option in the future.

But, in answer to your question. A lens plate is well worth getting. I use a lens plate on every lens with a tripod collar/foot whether that be a macro lens or a big prime lens and anything in between.
LenShepherd 11 3.9k United Kingdom
9 Apr 2019 11:08AM

Quote:I find a plate on a long lens essential for the following reasons; it allows for quick and solid fixing to the tripod head (I use the Arca Swiss mounting system), it allows you to move the lens forward and backward on the tripod head to find the best point of balance, it makes a convenient handle to carry the lens.


Clarification - Arca Swiss is not a mounting system - only the bottom grove is "standard".
As a result Gitzo, Manfrotto and Benro (plus maybe some others) can only be safely fitted to the same make of tripod head or Gimbal.

Gitzo and Manfrotto seem to have recently introduced Arca type quick release which are wider at the top to provide more rubber and less risk of twist with big heavy lenses.


Quote: regarding the point about balancing the lens. Whilst it's worth taking the time to roughly balance the lens forward and backward. In my experience it still won't stop the lens flopping over on the ballhead unless you are able to set tension on the ballhead to stop this happening.

I consider ball heads generally unwise for heavy lenses because of this risk.
As the OP has not mentioned this issue it seems likely a pan and tilt head is being used.
Ball heads with very strong easily fine tuned separate movement controls can be OK rather than ideal.




Quote: A better option than a ballhead if you want to be able to balance the lens perfectly, avoiding any flop whatsoever and be able to let go of the lens and for it to remain still, whilst being able to freely move the lens in any direction without having to first release any tension, would be a gimbal type head or perhaps something such as the Wimberly Sidekick.


Gimbals are a good option for birds, though they are much larger than conventional tripod heads.
justin c 15 5.0k 36 England
9 Apr 2019 3:57PM

Quote:Clarification - Arca Swiss is not a mounting system - only the bottom grove is "standard".


Yes it is. It is known as the Arca Swiss Quick Release System.
LenShepherd 11 3.9k United Kingdom
9 Apr 2019 8:31PM

Quote:
Yes it is. It is known as the Arca Swiss Quick Release System.


I suggest you do not rely on one make of plate to safely hold a lens on another make of tripod head - unless you have good insurance Smile
LarryG 1 9 United States
10 Apr 2019 3:28AM
Len and Justin, Thanks for your detailed and informative comments. You basically confirmed what I think. I have a reasonably stable Induro tripod with an AcraSwiss compatible Acratech gimble ball head. The Acratech 5" plate I purchased will allow me to move the plate back and forth to find the best balance point for the lens. I guess I do not expect perfect results. I think that photography involves many compromises both in the artistic aspects of photographing and in the technical aspects as well.

As an aside, I have seen videos of this lens being used effectively hand held. In some instances, this will be necessary in order not to miss wildlife and bird opportunities. Many thanks for the helpful comments.

Larry
justin c 15 5.0k 36 England
10 Apr 2019 6:57AM

Quote:
Quote:
Yes it is. It is known as the Arca Swiss Quick Release System.


I suggest you do not rely on one make of plate to safely hold a lens on another make of tripod head - unless you have good insurance Smile



No one was suggesting that you should. I just mentioned that the Arca Swiss mounting system was the one that I happened to be using. The advice I gave was relevant to the O.P.'s question whether the plate used was Aratech, Arca Swiss, etc. etc.
keithh 15 25.5k 33 Wallis And Futuna
10 Apr 2019 10:37AM

Quote:
I suggest you do not rely on one make of plate to safely hold a lens on another make of tripod head - unless you have good insurance Smile



And yet people have being doing just that for lord knows how long. Itís a mystery.
LenShepherd 11 3.9k United Kingdom
10 Apr 2019 5:14PM

Quote: I have a reasonably stable Induro tripod with an AcraSwiss compatible Acratech gimble ball head. The Acratech 5" plate I purchased will allow me to move the plate back and forth to find the best balance point for the lens. (snipped)

As an aside, I have seen videos of this lens being used effectively hand held. In some instances, this will be necessary in order not to miss wildlife and bird opportunities. Many thanks for the helpful comments.

Larry


The Arcatech plate should be fully compatible with an Arcratec gimbal, though Benro, Gitzo and Manferotto latest plates are unlikely to be fully compatible when it comes to moving the plate or using the Arcatrech lock.

You should have no problems finding the perfect balance position with the Gimbal. If there are no scale markings a pencil mark on the plate is a reasonable substitute.

Whether you can hand hold a 500mm is part personal strength, and part the angle to the subject. I know a wildlife photography who is also a keen body builder who can hand hold a 500 with ease at 1/250 - I struggle with advancing age at 1/750 without VR.

Pointing up into the sky generally reduces safe hand holding speeds by 1-2 stops.
With VR on this lens plenty of sharp shots (presuming no subject movement) 1/250 I find gives good results.
LenShepherd 11 3.9k United Kingdom
10 Apr 2019 5:17PM

Quote:
Quote:
I suggest you do not rely on one make of plate to safely hold a lens on another make of tripod head - unless you have good insurance Smile



And yet people have being doing just that for lord knows how long. Itís a mystery.



It may be a mystery to you - if you have not tried mixing brands.

I have - and caught the 200-500 Grin after attempting to fix it with a Benro plate onto a Gitzo Gimbal.


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