Bean bag is a very useful accessory for both wildlife photographers as well as Bird photographers. The question is, Do you really need a Bean Bag for Wildlife photography? Let us see the advantages and disadvantages of using a Bean Bag to find the solution for this answer.
What is a Bean Bag?
Bean bag is a Camera accessory used for supporting the Camera and lens system. It usually comes without the beans or the filling. Only the empty bag would be given. You can fill rice, corn or styrofoam beans into it.
Why do you need a Bean Bag for Wildlife Photography?
In certain conditions, we may not be able to use a tripod. Bean bag is a very useful accessory in such conditions.
Wildlife photography in Safari Vehicle
If you are doing wildlife photography in a safari vehicle then you won’t be able to place the tripod inside the vehicle. You can mount the tripod head in the vehicle bars. But, it would be difficult to reposition the head. Here, Bean bag is the best choice for a photographer.
Traveling Abroad for Wildlife Safari
When you are going abroad for Wildlife photography, then it is better to carry a bean bag with you. This is the best replacement for a tripod in this situation. Since you are carrying an empty bean bag you can save some amount of baggage weight also. You can fill it with rice or any grains later when you are using and give back the grains while you are returning.
Compared to tripods, Bean bag is a cost-effective solution. You will get a good bean bag for a price of 30$ to 50$. Good quality tripods are costly. You will have to buy the tripod legs and tripod heads separately.
Better image quality in Low Light Conditions
It serves the same purpose as a tripod. It provides stability to the Camera and lens system. So you can achieve better sharpness in your image when compared to a handheld shot. You can capture blur free images in low light.
How to Choose a Bean Bag for Wildlife Photography?
There are many companies manufacturing Bean bags. So, its really a tough job to select the best amongst them. I will list out the things to check before buying a bean bag.
This is the most important factor. Don’t buy low quality ones. Check the fabric used for making the bag. It should have some grip. Otherwise, your lens would slip from its position. If you buy a cheap one then you may end up repairing or replacing it regularly. Make sure that the zips and Velcro are of good quality.
Since you are buying it for wildlife photography or bird photography, make sure that you buy one in dull colors like black, dull green or brown. The best color option would be the Camo one. I prefer the camo colored one since I use camo lens coat on my camera lens. So, it blends well with my equipment.
It would be good if the fabric is waterproof. You would be keeping it in the vehicle door. So, when it rain or drizzle, your bag becomes wet if it is not waterproof. Later, because of the dampness, it may start stinking. If you store your it along with your camera equipment it can even result in fungus development inside the camera and lens. Cleaning the fungus affected camera and lens is a costly affair and it impacts the lens quality also.
4. Weight Balance
Don’t buy one where you will have to fill lots of beans or rice. This is good for stability. But, it can be a burden for you to carry it and position it. You will also require more amount of beans to fill it. So, go for one which doesn’t become heavy and bulky. In this way, it would be easy to use it in the field. Never buy an ultra lightweight one. this will never serve the actual purpose. Don’t fill it with lightweight materials. This will affect the stability of your camera and lens system.
5. Bean Bag with Mounting Plate
There are high end bean bags which comes with mounting plates. You can mount your gimbal head into this plate and place the camera and lens to take shots. This will make it more easy to pan the camera system. In my opinion, I don’t recommend this option as it makes it more costly and complex. Keep it simple. Concentrate on your Image Composition and Photography.
6. Top Flat surface Dimension
The dimension of the flat surface on the top should be sufficiently large enough to keep your biggest lens. There are companies which produce smaller lightweight bean bags which are targeted towards the telephoto zoom lens users. So, always make sure that the flat surface is sufficiently large.
7. Check Online Reviews
Before buying a bean bag, it is a good thing to check online reviews of that particular model. This will give a better idea. Sometimes low cost ones would be better than the high end ones.
So, if you haven’t tried it yet, start using bean bag for wildlife photography. You can clearly see some difference in your images. I am using it for the past two years. Now, I prefer a bean bag for wildlife photography from a vehicle. It is a great asset to my photography trips.
There are many companies which makes personalized bean bags. So, if you are looking for best personalized gifts for a photographer then this is a good option.
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