Tripod mounts on 300+mm lenses


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Dec 5, 2017
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SF Bay Area, California, USA
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More specifically, the LACK of a tripod mount/foot on these lenses.

It used to be that lenses 300mm and longer had tripod mounts, because people could NOT hold them steady enough.
But in my recent shopping, it seems that some X-300 or X-400mm zooms do not have tripod mounts.
In looking at some of the lens, it seems that you can't even retrofit a tripod mount to it.
So is it cost cutting to sell the lens cheaper or ???

What makes this difficult to figure out is that some of these are DX/crop lenses so there is that crop magnification that makes it worse. So a 300mm lens on a DX/crop body is like a 450mm lens on a FX/FF body. 9x is definitely a difficult hand holding magnification. And to make it worse, some of these lenses do NOT have VR/IS.

The other factor is weight. I use a monopod under my D7200 + 75-300 (which has a tripod mount) just to support the gear, so my arms don't get so tired. We are not talking just a few minutes here.

Yes some of the newer plastic lenses are much lighter than the older metal lenses, so there is less stress on the camera's lens mount, if you tripod mount on the body. But the balance point of the camera+lens is NOT under the body, so your tripod/monopod is trying to support a front heavy camera+lens.
Example, Sigma 100-400 lens is 1160g, my D7200 is 675g. The Sigma is 1.6x the weight of my D7200. The balance point is NOT under the body, with that lens. Yet the lens has no tripod mount, or option for one.​
But then you have the shorter 70-200 lenses, which either comes with a tripod mount or has one as an option.
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Most new long zoom lenses have built-in optical a tripod is not an absolutely essential piece of gear. And I think yes, it is cost-cutting that's driving the omission of tripod feet; Nikon's newer 70-200 f/4 AF-S VR-G lens does not come with a foot, but the foot is instead a fairly significantly expensive "extra"...because the majority of the time, people will not need to tripod-mount a lens that small and light.

Alternately...whereas 30 and 40 years ago we'd shoot ISO 64 slide film or 100 ISO slide film for "best quality", today an FX Nikon with 36MP delivers similar quality at ISO 400, so there's actually less "actual need" for a tripod now that ISO speeds have doubled or trebled with the same degree of image quality, and---we can ALSO go way,way higher than 64 or 100 ISO, and still get the shutter speed we need for slow lenses, such as using ISO 800,1,000,1,250,or 1,600 at dawn or dusk with say, and f/6.3 max-aperture long zoom.

But yeah...I get the desire to have a tripod mount setup on all longer lenses, as long as it's not a PITA as far as carrying or handling the lens; some tripod mounts are a PITA on longer lenses, when hand-holding, and much of that depends on how the mount is made, with the modern-era's barrel-encircling, swing-open ring system being a lot more kludgy than say, Nikon's 2001-and-newer, dovetailed, slide-in foot system, as on say, the 70-200 AF-S VR lenses.

Kirk Enterprises and Really Right Stuff have specialized in aftermarket tripod feet/mounts for years now, so those two companies' websites are a good place to look for third-party tripod mounting stuff. You can also use a forked-type arrangement on top of a monopod, and use a beanbag in that, if desired.
Yes, I remember Kodachrome-X and Ektachrome-X at ASA 64.
Remember when the FASTEST generally available color film was High-Speed Ektachrome at ASA-160, then pushed to 320? And Tri-X was pushed to 1200? I do NOT miss those days. Low light shooting today is soooo much easier.

The tripod mount of the nikon 70-200 f/4 is a silly expensive option, which will be painful to buy.
The school where I help, has an older Sigma 80-200 with a removable tripod mount.
So if the lens and tripod mount is designed right, you can just remove the tripod mount it and not have to deal with it when hand-holding.
Or like on my 75-300, just rotate it so the foot and locking screw are out of the way of your hand.

I never thought of a fork and beanbag on the monopod/tripod. Thanks for the idea. That at least gives me an alternative.

BTW, one use of the 75-300 is for 4th of July fireworks. So multi-second exposure = tripod.
I guess the old lens will still stay in the arsenal, for those jobs.
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My 70-300mm Sigma was small and light enough that it could easily use the tripod mount on the camera base instead of a dedicated foot on the lens. Even on a lower end Canon Rebel (entry level DSLR) it had more than enough durability to be mounted to the tripod many times with that lens.

So weight does come into it and I suspect many of the cheaper and lighter 300mm capable lenses don't have a tripod foot because its just not felt that its needed when weight and durability of DSLRs comes into question with regard to tripod mounting.
I hand hold my 150-600 pretty much all the time, for me it's not really an issue though I did start to get a bit of ligament pain (from a previous climbing injury) after 5 days of doing it every day. I'll admit my lens does have a tripod foot though.

My best guess is these lenses are aimed at enthusiast wildlife shooters who don't generally use a tripod, so including one does not impact the sales much. I do think they should have though, it's good to have the option.

VR or IS, for me is not a big deal. Most of the time if I'm shooting I'm expecting some subject movement so using pretty high shutter speeds with IS/VR off anyway.

Saying all that I have just got a monopod that I've stuck a gimbal head on spesifically for shooting some wildlife, lol.
Cost cutting measure?

Most likely. Shaving $25 off of a lens X 50,000 lenses starts to add up.

You will still find that with primes at least 300mm is where the tripod foot will start to at least be offered if not included.

On top of this most 300mm (F2.8 excluded) in a zoom or prime in the long lens game is still a really light lens and doesn't require a tripod foot. For the most part you're not exceeding about 3lb for this type of lens. If designed for an APS-C camera it's even lighter. Unless you're planning to buy the new Canon entry level DSLR with the plastic lens mount, your cameras lens mount should be able to handle this without a worry.
You guys may have a point.
I'm going to have to try the school's plastic Canon 70-300 (non-IS) on the T7i, to see how it balances in the hand and on the tripod socket.

Old ways die hard.

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