After I first wrote this page, I went back and reassessed my findings with various heads, and with a second look, I found some more useful information. I also found that the regular ballheads could be used with some care and patience. However, the conclusion to use a gimbal-type head remains a solid recommendation.
A regular tripod head can be used for this lens, but it’s not ideal, though you can get by with some extra support equipment. The 800mm is large, and awkard to manipulate on a regular tripod head, even if the tripod head and tripod are up to the task in terms of weight. It’s also a fatigue factor over time.
For mounting the lens to most tripods, you’ll of course need an Arca Swiss compatible lens plate, I recommend the ones from Really Right Stuff. Even better is a replacement lens foot with integral Arca Swiss dovetail, which is more compact, and thus more stable. It’s idiotic that Canon doesn’t just build in a proper foot with the dovetail, which could still have the existing mounting screws as an alternative. Ditto for Nikon. Both companies are clueless about this, and have been forever.
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