Birder's Guide

DEC 2015

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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15 November 2015 | Birder's Guide to Gear • Leica C-170 : $529.00, Carbon fber, 3- section lever locks. 64.2" max. extended height, 24.8" folded length Weight 3.1lbs., maximum load 26.5lbs. (price and specs from B&H Photo, 2 Nov. 2015.) Reviewer comments: Outstanding weight-to-load- limit ratio, and a very well put together piece of gear. Foam pads on two legs & in- cluded lever lock adjustment tool nice plus- ses, along with grooved center column with twist-collar lock and hook. A bubble level and compass add nice fnishing touches. Tripod Heads –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– In addition to the specs and general com- ments, I devised two simple and admittedly subjective tests for comparisons. The frst ("leave where pointed") is to adjust the set- tings so the scope has fuid movement when scanning but enough tension to stay on tar- get when let go without locking off the head. The second ("bump test") is to lock off the head and then push and bump the handle to see how much movement was produced in the head as an indicator of sturdiness. • Manfrotto 128 RC : $104.99, Weight 2.2 lbs., 8.9 lb. maximum load. Reviewer comments: This ubiquitous head serves as a good standard by which to compare • Vanguard ABEO 283 AV (kit with integral head): $219.99, Aluminum, 3-section lever locks. 66.5" max. extended height, 28.5" folded length. Weight 5.5 lbs., maximum load 8.8 lbs. Reviewer comments: An af- fordable, all-in-one solution that seems best for medium to small scopes. Nice features like foam padding on legs and a leveling button add to its utility. Leg levers don't have feld-adjustable tension, and savings come with a bit of extra weight and larger folded size along with moderate load limit. • Vortex Pro GT (kit with integral head): $149.99, Aluminum, 3-section lever locks. 67.1" max. extended height, 24.6" folded length. Weight 4.4 lbs., maximum load 10 lbs. Reviewer comments: Darned amazing weight-to-load ratio for the cost. Lacks ad- justable lever locks and the center column can spin when it is being adjusted, but seems fair for the price. A simple tripod ready to go out of the box, probably best for light use. setup, cross-use with a long DSLR lens, or work in a particularly rugged situation, such as a public hawkwatch or seawatch where it will see heavy use in gusty conditions. • Swarovski CT 101 : $529 for legs only, $879 for kit including DH-101 head, Carbon f- ber, 3-section lever locks. 66.9" max. ex- tended height, 22.8" folded length. Weight 3.3 lbs., maximum load 10.9 lbs. Reviewer comments: Solid-feeling tripod, well-built. Padding on all 3 legs is nice, as is the hook on center column (allowing for a weight to be hung or that the tripod be tied down in windy conditions.) Comes with carrying strap and Allen key to adjust tension on leg locks. The round center column can spin when the locking knob is loose. • Swarovski CT Travel : $509 for legs only, $839 for kit including DH-101 head, Carbon fber, 4-section lever locks. 66.9" max. extended height, 19.7" folded length. Weight 3.1 lbs., maximum load 10.9 lbs. Reviewer comments: Essentially a travel version of the CT 101. Shaves 3 inches and a few ounces off the CT 101 specs.

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