Posted by: digibirder | May 26, 2008

And finally….

Today was the final day of testing of the rented Canon 300mm lens and I have come to the conclusion that it’s a great lens. However, I wasn’t really sure whether the test was a bit skewed due to the fact that I used, for the first time, my Ergo Rest support, which has been in the cupboard ever since I bought it over a year ago. So, to test this theory, I decided that today I would use the support with both the Canon lens and my normal Sigma 135-400mm lens, taking photos in similar conditions as far as possible. Another factor to take into consideration is that one is a fixed focal length and the other is a zoom, so again this might be an issue in the quality of the images. Anyway, we had to wait in this morning for a delivery, so I spent some time snapping the garden birds. It was quite windy, so it was a little difficult to avoid getting blown over, let alone keep the camera steady! But I managed to get a couple of shots of a young Blackbird, the first with the Sigma, the second one with the Canon.

I couldn’t really decide whether there was much to choose between these two, so I began to think that the answer was the Ergo Rest. Then, after the shopping was delivered and we’d had a bit of lunch, we decided to visit a nearby woodland, which we had been informed about yesterday when we bumped into our friend at Potteric. He mentioned that someone put out food for the birds in this woodland, and that this attracted Nuthatches. So, as we didn’t have much time to go any further afield, we went in search of this woodland.

Eventually we managed to find the woodland, and after following the main path a short distance, passing a few fallen tree trunks with birdfood on them, we came upon a tree stump with lots of birdseed scattered over it. I was about to take another side path when Keith called me back and gestured over to the stump where, in full view, there was a Nuthatch taking the seed. There were other birds coming in as well, so we managed to find a spot to stand where we had a good view but would not spook the birds. In total I took 68 photos – 33 of these being with the Canon lens. Out of these 33 I have 14 reasonable shots, 8 of which I have edited to show here. Of the remaining 35 Sigma images, only 4 were passable, and even they weren’t up to the same standard as the Canon shots. First the Canon images. And bearing in mind that this was in dense woodland with a howling wind blowing through.

Now the Sigma images. I have posted all four of the decent shots using this lens, despite them not being all that good, so that you get an idea of what normally comes out of this lens. I think if I hadn’t had been using the Ergo Rest I wouldn’t have had any keepers from this lens. The final one is the best of this bunch, in my opinion. The Robin isn’t too bad.

Reluctantly, I will be returning the lens to Lenses for Hire tomorrow, but I think it has given me a good idea of what I now need. My opinion is that the Ergo Rest has helped, but I think it is mainly the image stabilising that has given the better photos. There is a new image stabilised Sigma lens on the market, but it is a zoom lens and it weighs considerably more than the Canon 300mm. I think I may be using my flexible friend before too long!

I’ve had some correspondence today from Tricia regarding the Ergo Rest, so I will explain what this item is all about and how I’ve been using it.

Essentially, it’s a mini tripod that can be used to support a camera or telescope when in a car, or can be used as a low-level tripod or support for flash guns in a studio set-up. The end of the main bar has a groove that fits over the open car window and the A-frame rests against the car door. You can see how this works in the following image.

In this situation you can attach a tripod head, such as a ball head or pan and tilt. Opened out at the hinge it looks like this. There is one hole in the short side of the main bar and two holes in the long side.

It can be used as a mini tripod in the following position. In this case you would move the screw into the hole at the top edge.

A view of the A-frame side. This is the side used to brace the support against the body.

The main attachment bar. This is where you attach your camera or telescope, either directly or using an extra head. I attached my camera to the hole near the top of the bar (where the screw is attached in the photo). The elongated hole further down is used with a longer lens or a telescope when you are using it from a car window.

This is a close up of the fastening screw and tightening knob. The screw is 1/4 inch one end and 3/8 inch at the other. I used the 1/4 inch end for my camera/lens.

Here is the Ergo Rest with camera and lens attached. This is more or less the angle needed to enable it to be rested against the upper chest. I carried it all with the camera strap around my neck and simply let the camera lens point down to the ground and the A-frame stick out the back and it rested against my right hip quite comfortably. I also supported the end of the main attachment bar with my right hand, thereby making less weight around my neck. When needed it is quickly brought into position to start taking photos. (Don’t worry – the lens is not touching the ground here!!)



  1. i think the photos with the canon are better but the robin and blackbird with the sigma are good.

    I think you get more keepers with stabilsation, thats the real benefit

  2. I would agree with Pete about the Canon picture’s being better – which rather restores my faith in Canon lenses!

    Thanks for all the info. re the Ergo Rest Diane – really good of you to take the time. 🙂 I shall give this serious consideration.

  3. IS is good!
    Good to see the results are Canon lens!

    I know little re the technical side and just keep hoping that photos of stuff is ok!

    I just wish there was an answer to birding and photography ….I can either get good shots of one or two birds or go birding! I cant seem to do both!

    I will have a look at this gizmo as I find the 100-400 lens too heavy to carry along with all the other gear I seem to have when birding!

  4. Thanks for the comments folks. I think overall I was quite impressed with the results from the Canon lens.

    We went back to the wood the following week and the photos with my Sigma (and Ergo Rest) were hopeless, despite the weather was much brighter, too.

    Corinna, I think you would find the Ergo Rest a great help.

    Before deciding on whether to get the 300mm, I am hiring a 100-400mm for the first few days of our holiday. I didn’t really give John’s a good enough test when I borrowed it in Lesvos, so I will give this one a thorough work-out. I will keep you updated as to how that goes.

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