Shooting handheld for a long period of time with a 400 mm, or longer telephoto lens has always been a challenge, often won by the lens, not so much because of its weight, but because it is not very convenient for maintenance and shooting. The reason for this is the tripod collar (foot lens) which for most lenses is narrow, short and too far ahead from the lens body. Given that, the center of gravity ups high and makes handling the lens even more difficult.
Translated by Maya Golemanova
Some time ago I came across a replacement for the original foot of the lens I normally shoot with, and it seemed that it would do a better job. I never even suspected how convenient it would be before I received it. (on the photo above).
I talk about Wimberley AP-553 Replacement Foot for Nikkor 200-400mm f/4G ED VR lens. The replacement of the original Nikon foot is so narrow that it is difficult even to insert some of your fingers between it and the lens, let alone to use it as a handle. And this is the only drawback.
Wimberley AP-553 Replacement Foot is compatible also with Nikkor 500mm f/4G ED VR and VRII. Wimberley AP-553 is elongated and slightly wider than the standard Nikon 200-400/4 foot. Apart from being directly compatible with all major Arca-type heads, the foot has also 3/8″-16 and 1/4″-20 holes which allow for the foot to be fixed on any tripod or monopod without a head or a plate (if needed, a plate is attached below). On the body of Wimberley AP-553 there are holes for Wimberley, Really Right Stuff and Kirk Enterprises Flash Brackets.
These two photos clearly show the advantages of Wimberley AP-553 compared with the standard 200-400/4 Foot lens. The low profile of the AP-553 is highly important.
In Wimberley accessory kit there are 6 bolts for attaching the foot to the lens, as well as a tool for screwing them. The very replacing is very simple and requires no preparation. Two stop bolts (stops) are screwed at both ends of AP-553 to prevent the lens from slipping after the Arca-type head is attached.
The price of the AP-553 is very advantageous – it costs 78 USD. If you buy only one Wimberley P40 plate or Wimberley P50 plate with the same length, this will set you back 58 USD. With the AP-553 you have more than a plate and yet, you’ve payed only 20 bucks on top.
Wimberley AP-553 is most useful for Nikon 200-400mm f/4 ED VR lens. The palm rests perfectly on the bottom part of the plate, and the fingers can lightly spin the zoom ring and with just a slight spin you cover a 250 to 400 mm range! With your forefinger and/or your thumb you can easily access the manual focus without having to move your hand forward or backward. All this allows you to work efficiently with both the zoom and the manual focus simultaneously, without loosing track of the object.
Another advantage is that if you sit on the ground, you can put on your knee the lens with the AP-553 attached to it (because of its twice bigger surface) – without this necessarily killing you, plus the center of gravity is lower. When shooting from a lying position the foot is so low that the remains in the air while the body and the HK-30 Lens Hood are only touching the ground.
If you attach the lens to the Skimmer Ground Pod you will get the lowest possible angle, without losing the convenience of shooting.
I highly recommend this replacement foot, as well as variants of other lenses, especially if you use Wimberley Arca-type head.