October 25, 2011

Ideas for a Long Lens Support Bracket (Part 1)

Long Lens Support Bracket overview
Most of the times we need to face a problem in order to evaluate a need and try to find a solution about it.
Same happened to me in the past summer, during a short vacation near the seaside. It was late August and the winds in the area were very strong, where I realized that my Canon EF 100-400 IS USM is not so aerodynamic, especially fully extended at 400mm with the large hood mounted on.  A focal length of 400mm is equivalent to 640mm on a 1.6 FOVC body, where the slightest lens movement in mm is interpreted to movement in meters on the frame.

Unfortunately a fence or a rock is not always there when you need it for some extra support.
On the other hand Image Stabilization is very nice when shooting hand held but it is automatically deactivated when it senses that the lens is mounted on a tripod.

Even worse, if you set IS mode 2 which deactivates vertical stabilization and activates only horizontal stabilization for panning, you may not be able to shoot in portrait orientation. If you try to shoot in portrait mode, and the lens loses focus then you might end up with your lens hunting up and down in an endless stabilization effort.
I faced all of the above one early evening, having the lens mounted on a tripod standing on a beach house veranda while trying to shoot some passing by sailing boats in portrait orientation. Not so many keepers I can assure you.

So what's next?
One choice is to have a larger aperture lens and use higher speeds, but at these focal lengths you also need a larger bank account. Another choice is to use higher ISO, but is not always possible when you need the sharpest possible outcome in order to anticipate for haze, shooting over the sea in a very hot day. Sometimes you don't even know the outcome unless you view the pictures enlarged on a computer monitor.

As usual, after a little search and discussion, I decided next time to be prepared and try an Arca Swiss® compatible Long Lens Support Bracket. Browsing for prices, I was a little disappointed as most of the gear was sold in packages outside my budget.
On the other hand, as I am already in possession of quite an assortment of Hejnar Photo Arca Swiss® compatible rails, clamps etc, I contacted Chris Hejnar and after a short communication I ended up ordering his Long Lens Support Bracket (LLSB), which at $49.00 seemed by far the most economical solution, together with the updated version of G010-80 rail, the G13-80 with bubble level, so as to disperse a little the shipping cost.

The Lens Support Bracket

Hejnar Photo LLSB-R2 rail top
The Hejnar Photo Lens Support Bracket is a solid Arca Swiss® compatible CNC machined aluminum plate with double dovetail , 9cm (3.54") long . There is a captive slot in the center that permits an adjustment of 6,74cm (2.653") up or down and two wheels screwed on two ears which serve for supporting a lens, while permitting the lens' rotation for zooming or focusing. The wheels have rubber rings on their perimeter for lens protection. The total length including the wheels is 10,31cm (4.078") and total weight 74gr (2.61oz).
Hejnar Photo LLSB-R2 rail rear side
On the back side the LLSB-R2-Hejnar Photo engraving signifies that this is LLSB Release 2. There are also four grooves that serve for some weight elimination, but which can also be used for alignment purposes as we can see further on. The bracket comes with an 1/4"-20 captive screw.

Having the LLSB in hand, I came up to a few possible configurations for Long Lens Support Brackets based on Hejnar Photo gear, which I shall present in order of complexity and obviously cost. Check the articles for Parts 2, 3 and 4 below.

Part 2
The Basic Long Lens Support Bracket idea
Part 3
A versatile Long Lens Support Bracket idea
Part 4
A versatile Long Lens Support Bracket idea for push-pull zoom lenses

All Photos: © 2011 S.C.Vlachos

Price and Availability:
Current price for the LSB-R2 bracket is US$ 48.00 (+Shipping where applicable) and is available from Hejnar Photo Store.

If you are interested in the product, do check the Recommended Sellers page for a valid Hejnar Photo discount coupon before ordering.

Referenced Items:
Hejnar Photo G010-80 Multi Purpose Rail
Hejnar Photo G13-80 Multi Purpose Rail

Relevant Articles:
Create a Heavy Duty Long Lens Support Bracket
Sunwayfoto YLS-01 Y-Type Long Lens Support Review

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