The Flexshooter Mini Tripod Head
The Mini on a GIT 204 is dead-solid-perfect for those whose intermediate telephoto or telephoto zoom lens is their workhorse lens for bird and nature photography. It sells for $579 plus shipping.
Several months ago, I had a FlexShooter Mini to test on both the UK Puffins and Gannets IPT and the Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime. It is a smaller, lighter (one pound even!) version of the amazing FlexShooter Pro. I mounted the Mini on the lightweight Induro GIT 204 and used it often with both the Nikon 500 PF and the SONY 100-400 GM with great success and in a pinch, I was able to make sharp images even with the Nikon 600 and the TC-E14. After my testing, I suggested to developer/manufacturer Csaba Karai that the Mini needed a bit more spring tension. Our new batch with my suggested changes is now in stock.
How to Set-up and Use Your FlexShooter Mini Tripod Head
In Your Home — Learning the Set-up
- 1-First tighten (clockwise) the Large Silver Ball Lever (black) to lock the large silver ball. Note, the position of the Large Silver Ball Lever can be adjusted as needed by pulling the lever straight out and then rotating and releasing it.
- 2-Screw the head onto your tripod. To tighten it securely, grasp the black housing firmly with both hands and rotate the head in a clockwise direction. (To remove the head from the tripod for travel, reverse the procedure.)
- 3-Stand behind your tripod with the front leg of your tripod pointing at your (imaginary) subject.
- 4-Loosen (counter-clockwise) the silver ball with the Large Silver Ball Lever (black) so that housing rotates on the tripod. Position the housing so that the Large Silver Ball Lever (black) is on your left with the seam pointed directly at you. Tighten (clockwise) the Large Silver Ball Lever (black) ever-so-slightly to put just a bit of tension on the large silver ball. Then, holding the housing in your left hand, rotate the silver ball with the fingertips of your right hand until the bubble level is at the 90 degree position, that is, on your right. This will enable you to see the bubble when your telephoto lens is mounted. (You may need to re-position the level when mounting a camera body on the head.)
- 5-With the Silver Bullet Knob loosened (clockwise), rotate the clamp so that the Lens Direction Arrow that is inscribed on the base of the clamp is pointed directly away from you. Now grasp the clamp and — looking straight down at the bubble, center the bubble perfectly in the scribed circle (you might need your reading glasses!) and then tighten the silver ball in its now perfectly level position by rotating the the Large Silver Ball Lever (black) firmly clockwise.
- 6-Now it is time to mount your big telephoto lens very carefully. Be sure to finger-tighten (clockwise) the Silver Bullet Knob before mounting the lens. Because of the unique design of the two-way Arca-Swiss compatible clamp, it is easier to screw up when mounting the lens than it is with either a Mongoose or a Wimberley. And the stop-stud system on the Wimberley is not available on the FlexShooter. Be absolutely sure to confirm visually that the lens plate (more on those below) is seated properly in the jaws of the clamp. . Balance the lens perfectly by moving the lens plate or low foot forward and backward in the clamp as needed and be sure to check both sides of the clamp before you tighten (clockwise) the clamp knob firmly.
- 7- Using either the click-mark on the lens barrel or better yet, your in-camera level, rotate the lens in the tripod collar until it shows perfectly level. Amazingly, if you have followed the instructions above perfectly, you can point your lens up or down or left or right and the back of the camera will be perfectly square to the world. All of your herons and egrets will be standing straight up and all of your ducks will be swimming on a level pond. I call this the the always-true-level feature.
- 8- Now it is time to learn to use the Silver Bullet Knob to set the desired tension. From completely locked down (clockwise) it only takes three full turns to loosen (counter-clockwise) the small black ball completely. And you will rarely want to lock down the head completely when using a big telephoto lens. I do most of my bird photography with the small black ball adjusted to loose. That makes it easy to follow moving subjects including birds in flight. When employing slower shutter speeds, I will often finger-tighten (clockwise) the Silver Bullet Knob . Whatever tension you set, if you point the lens up or down or left or right and let it go, it will not move. And best of all, the lens is rendered weightless.
For a demonstration of how this amazing head functions and to learn to set yours up, see the video here: