As safari season is quickly upon us, coupled with the great migration season in Kenya and the dry season in Botswana and South Africa, I receive numerous emails about what gear to bring. One of the most important decisions is how you will stabilize your camera and lens for sharp images. This can vary greatly depending on the style of photography vehicle you will be using, but when working off a beanbag, the visual Echoes Panning Plate rocks it.
It is a 4X8 black anodized plate with an Arca-Swiss-style quick release clamp for use with dove-tail style plates (the common slip plates you use on the bottom of your camera and lenses to mount them to the ball head of your tripod). When placed on top of a molar beanbag from the window of a vehicle or a smaller beanbag from the top of a vehicle, you can easily tip it upwards or downwards easily and steadily, while being able to pan with your subject smoothly. This offers you stability with smooth and swift mobility. You can quickly and easily change your perspective by moving from the top of the vehicle to the window and instantly shoot with the confidence of having stability. This is also great when visiting reserves, where you are able to get out of the vehicle and shoot from the ground for the ultimate perspective.
I have been using this plate for the past 2 years, and you will see it under my 500 again this year in the Mara. This is a must have safari accessory for your big glass!
The visual panning plate can be purchased from B&H for about $199.00.
You may also be interested in reading my past blog post An African Safari, are you ready?
This is was shot from the lounge at Mara Bush Camp, but it shows how it would sit on the ground.
These are the safari vehicles that I use in Kenya and Tanzania. Each photographer has their own row with their own window of shooting space. We place molar bean bags in the window ledges. We have an open top so nothing hinders the placement of your gear. We use smaller bean bags on top and there are bars around the top if you wish to use clamps. However the panning plat allows you to quickly go from the top to the window very quickly, for a better perspective.
Have an awesome safari and if you see the tire covers, pull up and say hello!