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.

Issue link: http://bg.aba.org/i/605604

Contents of this Issue

Navigation

Page 17 of 43

16 Birder's Guide to Gear | November 2015 Propping It All Up pan control from one knob: a light touch locks or releases the movement in both axes. Coupled with the ability to balance your scope with a forward/backward slid- ing quick-release mount, this head excels at smoothly scanning when you want it to and staying on target when desired. A bit heavy but also very sturdy. Excellent on the "leave where pointed" test and excel- lent on the bump test, this is the head I've been primarily using for over a year now. • Swarovski DH-101 (comes with Swarovs- ki CT 101 kit): $419.00 head only, Weight 1.2 lbs., 10.9 lb. maximum load. Reviewer comments: Tilt/pan-style head with large tension/locking knob for tilt and a smaller lever for locking/releasing the panning axis. Tension on the panning axis adjusted by a separate screw. Very snappy, secure quick-release mechanism with pro- prietary release plate. Curious placement of leveling bubble on the tilting part of the head instead of the base. Moderately good on the "leave where pointed" test and fair on the bump test. • Vanguard ABEO 283 AV (kit with integral head): $219.99 (legs & head), Weight N/A, 8.8 lb. maximum load. Reviewer comments: Ready to go out of the box, with tilt/pan tension/lock controls and a others. Affordable and sturdy but has a bit of play as the tilt tension/lock is loosened. Scopes with standard Bogen/Manfrotto re- lease plate-compatible feet will snap right into this head. Poor on the "leave where pointed" test as the head works best either loose for scanning or locked for staying put. Good on the bump test. • Manfrotto 322 RC2 Grip Action Ball Head : $179.99, Weight 1.42 lbs., 11 lb. maximum load (5.5. lbs. in vertical position.) Review- er comments: I've never been a big fan of pistol-grip heads but was pleasantly sur- prised by this model. These type of heads work best for scanning at low power, as they are pretty wiggly and introduce a third, twisting axis of motion. A tensioning wheel helps to moderate the squirrely nature of others I've tried. When you fnd something and let go of the grip, it locks down imme- diately. A leveling bubble on the moving portion of this head doesn't make much sense to me, as having it on the base or bet- ter yet on the legs seems much more use- ful. Scopes with standard Bogen/Manfrotto release plate-compatible feet will snap right into this head. Excellent on the "leave where pointed" test and fair on the bump test. • Manfrotto 700 RC2 : $84.99, Weight 1.1 lbs., 5.5 lb. maximum load. Reviewer comments: Classic fuid head with tilt/pan tension/lock controls. It takes a standard Bogen/Manfrotto quick-release plate, but on this head the plate mounts sideways, so scopes that have this footprint built in will still need the addition of the included release plate. Poor on the "leave where pointed" test (the tilt seemed essentially on or off) and good on the bump test. At half the weight of the 128 RC, this is a good choice for a light, affordable head. • Manfrotto MHXPRO-2W Fluid : $149.99, Weight 1.6 lbs., 8.9 lb. maximum load. Reviewer comments: Another fuid head with tilt/pan tension/lock controls. Heavier and sturdier than the 700 RC2, this will of- fer a more stable platform for larger scopes and digiscoping as a result. Scopes with standard Bogen/Manfrotto release plate- compatible feet will snap right into this head. There is a tab you can press that helps to counterbalance heavier scopes, but the feature seems made for camera lenses of less heft and won't totally compensate like the balancing system in the Gitzo G2180 (more on this one below). A leveling bubble on the base will come in handy if your legs lack one. Good on the "leave where pointed" test and fairly good on the bump test. The head was sturdy in the vertical axis but had more play when bumped horizontally. • Gitzo G2180 : $259.99, Weight 1.2 lbs., 8.8 lb. maximum load. Reviewer comments: A unique design that works phenomenally once you dial it in, but may be counterin- tuitive to folks jumping in on your scope. Knob-in-knob control dials adjust tilt and pan tension/lock, and an effective internal counterbalance system dials in forward or backward tension to keep your scope from tilting either way when let go. (Read the manual on this one to get the most out of the feature, but believe me, it works like a charm.) Requires included proprietary re- lease plate. Excellent on the "leave where pointed" test and good on the bump test. • Gitzo GH2720QR : $364.99, Weight 1.54 lbs., 13.3 lb. maximum load. Reviewer comments: A head refreshingly designed for bird watching instead of one made for videography or photography. Super tilt and

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Birder's Guide - DEC 2015