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Miscellaneous: Unlike the way these tips are designed to be used, this tip is about telephoto equipment. Not being able to write a general equipment tip for all locations, I've put this here as the equipment is available in North America, but may not be available elsewhere.
With all lenses, it should be noted that the larger diameter of the lens on the end of the device (camera, scope, binoculars, etc.) the more light it captures. The greater the magnification, the morelight is required to actually see what you are looking at, and small diameter lenses at large magnification become difficult to use in anything but the absolutely best lighting conditions.
This is what I have been using, and found useful:
Vortex Viper 10x42: these may be used with or without eye glasses. Generally, writers of optical reviews insist that you don't want magnification above 8x in binoculars, but I have found that the Vortex Viper 10x is just fine. They are just heavy enough to keep slight movements from bouncing them. Your results may vary, of course. These also come with a method of attaching them to a tripod, though I have never actually tried doing this.
Nothing makes up for good optics or not having good optics though. The Vortex Viper series deliver amazing clarity, and I find they may be better than a cheap scope with good magnification.
The Vortex Viper also has really good resistance to fogging and other problems with moisture, and this is an important feature when you travel in damp climates or are near water.
Photo 1: note that the binoculars have one eye lens inward, and one eye lens outward. The inward position (top of photo) is for those who wear glasses. If you don't wear glasses, you snap the lens out, as seen in the bottom photo. This is a huge advantage to those who wear glasses, as it keeps us from having to constantly remove and put back on our eye glasses.
(see photo 2)
"Spotting Scope" is what most people call these, as they are designed for use in wildlife identification, hunting, spotting, etc. where you need the details of the animal you are looking at.
I currently have a Tasco zoom scope, which is one of the less expensive scopes on the market (I paid all of $99 for mine). To work well, you really need a good tripod for use with a spotting scope. The Tasco 20 to 60 zoom works OK up to about 45x or 50x, but at 60x magnification it is very difficult to get accurate focus on objects in the scope. You can tell they are there, but it is very difficult to get details. As it was sold in a local retail store hunting department, it apparently fits into the stereotype that people who hunt don't care that much what they are shooting at, they just need something to shoot at. There is no way to really identify what is being seen that well through this scope at 60x magnification, and it is somewhat scary that someone would use such a hazy image to shoot at something.
However, for basic wildlife viewing at a distance, this works fairly well, especially at the lower magnifications.
I selected the scope I did because
1) I really don't need a huge expensive spotting scope for my hobby
2) The scope fits a standard camera tripod, so that I would not have to purchase a second tripod for use with this scope.
There are several spotting scopes that I have seen that use a different type of mounting system on them, and unless you want to carry around both a camera tripod and a spotting scope tripod, I highly suggest getting a spotting scope that will fit a camera tripod.
is a fairly cheap thing, and of course the more money you spend generally the better the tripod. There are some amazing lightweight and when folded very compact tripods out there. However, be aware of tripods that gain height by using an extending rod down the center, as shown in photo 3. The problem with the tripod is this extended post is not very stable, and you will find that the object on the tripod moves somewhat due to the stability of the long rod just not being the same as with the three legs doing all the supporting. This is not as much of an issue with a camera (which takes a single moment in time) as it is with video or spotting scopes, which look at continuous time, but either way the motion that happens when this is extended on some tripods can be quite annoying if, for example, your camera takes the photo and causes the tripod to move due to the very slight camera operation.
The more stable position for the tripod is shown in photo 2, with the spotting scope: the single rod is collapsed as far as it will go, and the legs are doing all the supporting. This provides a much more stable platform, and may be necessary in high wind or if looking at objects that are extremely far away.
Keep in mind the adjustable height when you purchase your tripod. Your tallest traveling companion is likely going to want to see through the scope as well as the shortest, and you are going to want something that will go to the height of your tallest likely traveling companion.
(see photo 4)
The strap is designed for use with either heavy cameras or binoculars, and is designed to go around your back and shoulders and support the heavy glass instruments with a cross pattern on the back. This really helps support the weight of such things as cameras with large telephoto lenses and binoculars with large diameter lenses. You will notice a huge improvement over a neck strap with these.
The ones (yes, I have two - one for the binoculars and the other for the camera) I have were purchased from the store operated by the Audubon Society of Portland, and is made by OP/Tech USA. However, I am fairly certain many brands are available.
These are equipped with snap latches on the ends, so that it is fast and easy to disconnect the binoculars from the strap and pass them to someone else, and then reconnect them. The strap does suffer from being fairly easy to get twisted, and to solve that you are supposed to clip the two ends together while the camera / binoculars are disconnected from them.
Updated Feb 5, 2012
Miscellaneous: If you are going to drive around in the US it's always smart to have something to drink with you, especially if you're going to drive in the heat in not so populated area's.
If your car breaks down, the airco does so to and your bound to get thirsty then. It can be smart to buy a cooler, you can get the simple styrofoam ones for about $ 2,00 if you fill this with ice cubes at the hotel or buy a bag at a grocery store you could keep you drinks cool up to two days, even the melted ice keeps your drinks cool.
We always carry one or two gallons of water (about $0,60 cents a gallon) and a small refilled bottle in the front of the car.
It's much cheaper as buying bottles and as i said earlier you can keep your drinks cool when your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere.
Oh and another tip don't drop a gallon of water in the elevator, you and the elevator will get soaked :-).
Written Jun 22, 2003
Luggage and bags: Carry on bags are a good idea in this day and age . You can buy ANYTHING you need here .
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Again you can buy ANYHTING you need here . If you can't buy all new clothes , be aware , we have SEVERE variances in weather here , Again , do your homework ( no shorts in Michigan in February ) . Any and all styles of clothing and shoes are fair game here . We midwesterners can spot a euorpean from a mile away .
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Many medical supplies are available by prescription only , so bring what you need , or be prepared to go to Mexico or Canada .If you have a specific medical issue , you should call ahead . All hotels and motels are fully stocked with a bewildering supply of toiletries . We never neglect our asses here . Most all showers are first rate . We do like to bathe . Often .
Photo Equipment: Again you can buy ANYTHING you want . The whole country is wired for 110 volt service . So bring converters if you need them . Power is extremly reliable . Outages are rare .
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Know where you are going . The entire country is full of great campsites , we cherish our woodlands ( most of us ) . Most campsites have adequate supplies of gear and foodstuffs nearby.
Miscellaneous: money and a sense of humor
Written Sep 8, 2002
Luggage and bags: Food, sodas, snak, sandewis,
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: shorts, sandas, tshorts
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: 1 ID, asspin, bandis, diarea medicin, alcohol, 1.00$ cash.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: GO get somes clams,fishing, pot crab esleping in tents when is very cool,
Miscellaneous: blankest,(mantas) eliping bag, (bolsas de dormir) air matters,Jakets (abrigos)
Written Sep 7, 2002
Luggage and bags: Ok none of the categories really apply.
i prefer softish luggage as there is some conpressability to them. Be sensible - back potentially fragile stuff in the centre and dont be too fussed about everything being neat when you get there - just iron it again ok?
If you can't fit it in a small backpack DONT take it as walk on luggage. In economy there isnt much room.
Notebook computers just annoy other economy class passengers - there ISNT enough room ok.. get back to business class where you belong.
Don't try to pack for every emergency - stuff is cheap enough in USa that you can buy what you need if caught out
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: For LA..
Its warm most of the time. The heat isnt as muggy as,say, Sydney or Brisbane. So dress pretty much like you expect it to be hot because even when it isnt you wont be too bothered.
shoes.. nikes etc - you're gonna be doing a lot of walking so be comfortable FIRST not stylish - those patent leather shoes are delightful for an evening at the Opera but suck walking round Seaworld. unless you are in the VERY wealthy category most restaurants in LA dont require a tie and jacket nice casual is fine, and comfortable for the weather.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: DONT take electric razors etc the power is wrong. Just do it the old fashioned way. If you have a favourite toothpaste/cigarette/painkiller/sleeping tablet etc take some with you because the branding is all different. If you are Asthmatic or diabetic TAKE YOUR MEDICATION WITH YOU and take spares. You DON'T want to be worrying about this when you get there.
Photo Equipment: bah those disposable ones are FINE unless you are a professional - face it, it DOESN'T matter how good your camera is if you have no idea how to use it - and most of us don't - be honest. Keep it simple then you wont cry if/when your Nikon/canon etc gets stolen by the rollerblade dudes on Venice Beach boardwalk - cuz you didn't bring it.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: keep food a LONG way from where your tent is - bears are inquisitive and not shy about looking for food and they WILL find it - just deal with it. Better it ISN'T in your tent with you. Grizzly Vs half naked sleepy camper = grizzly EVERY TIME
Written Sep 7, 2002
Luggage and bags: The plane took six and a half hours Iwent on air Canada so take things to occupy the kids also wet wipes to freshen up in your hand luggage
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Comfortable shoes a light maybe fold away mac if it rains
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: If you like your own brand of anything take it with you British items imported tend to be rather expensive if you go self catering and like H.P sauce take one with you it costs out there
Photo Equipment: It;s cheaper to get your fims done at home
Written Sep 2, 2002
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: All weather is possable. Bring close for what you want to do.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Once again bring what you need. The west and S. West does have some of the best doctors in the USA, but have health insurance.
Photo Equipment: This is a must. Don't over do it but good photo equip. is a must.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Once More, pack for what you want to do.
Miscellaneous: HAVE FUN!!
Written Aug 26, 2002
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: If you plan to visit the nicer bars and clubs in the city, whether its in Georgetown or downtown, pack a few nice clothes and shoes- nothing too dressy, but leave the sneakers in the hotel. Black always works, ladies - it isn't Manhattan here, and there won't be as many velvet-rope establishments with a diva-at-the-door checking out if your ensemble is worthy of admission before turning you back to T-Neck New Jersey, but its still nice to look stylish.
Written Aug 26, 2002
Luggage and bags: back pack
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: tough clothes nothing nice unless you want to go somewere nice
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: tiolet paper and first aid kit i guess
Photo Equipment: camera and lots and lots of film. america is beutiful most every where. except for in the city so in other words the less the population the prettier it is.well i gess some citys are cool lookin but think what you like dont listen to me.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: towels, sun block or tan lotion and, tents, rain proof tents
Written Aug 26, 2002
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: COTTON CLOTHING AND NOTHING HEAVY TO CARRY in the Summer, as it is HOT! Wear good sturdy comfy sandals that are broken in. Closed in sneakers are ok, but HOT. Bring a visor or a ball cap and .... A WIDE BRIMMED HAT.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: WEAR SUNSCREEN, bring also a hand towel and towelettes if you have them, as it is HOT in the summer and you will chafe from the sweat. I purchased a portable water bottle that is insulated that has a strap to carry like a purse/bag. It was a MUST.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: SUNSCREEN, BUG SPRAY, COTTON TSHIRTS, COTTON UNDIES
Miscellaneous: PURCHASE A CAR REFLECTOR/SCREEN and crack the windows.... THE SUN in the SUMMER IS HELL! ALSO, remember the song? ITS WINDY at times!!!
Written Aug 26, 2002
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