/ Canon 400mm f5.6 USM....if i buy it...
I have seen guys with nice swivel type heads on their tripods that seem to be a semicircular support that attaches to the lense body rather than the camera body.
Long lens techinques
Ability to look keep both eyes open
Thorough knowledge of your camera's Af modes
Expensive gimbal head or the Manfrotto 393 Head
Strong tripod enough for the weight of the lens and the body
Monopod for when you don't want to carry the tripod with you
Bean bag for if you're close to the ground
Consider the 1.4x extender as well for when you need to go even further.
I shoot wildife with my 400 2.8 and have never hand held at all btw (e.g http://andyhphotos.com/Galleries/Wildlife/content/IMG_7357_large.html )
An emphatic yes to all the above, except for the need for a gimbal head - the huge 400/2.8 is an entirely different beast to a 400/5.6, which is easy to handhold, or you can use a standard three-way or ballhead. Monopod also very useful, but I often shoot handheld (despite the lack of IS/VR)
The other thing you probably don't need is a 1.4x TC - the 400/5.6 is already at f/5.6, so adding a TC will probably (unless Canon now have f/8 rated AF points as Nikon do) make it too dark a combination to AF.
I wouldn't waste money on an expensive Manfrotto, you can get very good tripods/monopods from people like Red Snapper.
Thanks I was thinking more about kit rather than skills. I hope that will come with use and practice but advice is always welcome.
I have a Manfrotto tripod with a 322RC2 head that I use for landscapes but I dont think it is mobile enough for wildlife/birds.
I was also considering the TC for that extra range but I will see how I get on without it and try to hire one or pick one up second hand to see how much difference it makes.
I'd go for a monopod to start if you're worried about mobility. You should be able to shoot hand held on that but it'll be tiring and trying. I shot the Farnborough air show handheld (forgot the monopod) a few years ago with an older and heavier 400 and truth be told, I never wanted to see the thing again. Agree with both the poster who says get the converter for extra length as 400mm won't get you much on birds from say 50 yards, but also with the poster who suggests that 5.6 is a bit tight to start putting converters on and hoping for really good results. Just a thought and likely not what you're after, but I think if I was hoping to start shooting wildlife seriously but recreationally and couldn't afford the 400mm 2.8, then I'd be looking to re-invest in some old film kit. More faff, but a fraction of the price.
Interesting - is that the Nikon 1.4x? I have tied my 300/4 with my Sigma 1.4x TC and it's not great - soft wide open and stuttery focus. Shame as the is superb on my two Sigma lenses.
I would agree a 1.4x won't be great on a 400/5.6. On its own it should be a very usable lens though - and very compact for the reach.
I'd humbly suggest that the 300 f/4 and 1.4 TC gives a more versatile means of reaching 400mm, well worth the extra £250 or so.
Get a monopod too. Mine has added no end of use to my shooting.
The Manfrotto 290 is a mere £30.
Also having it near-permanently on the lens is great for protection, since it puts some glass behind those otherwise unprotected aperture blades...
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