What is a tripod mount for a lens?

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I know it sounds obvious but I don't know much about big lenses on cameras and tripods. I've never owned anything like that. I read about a tripod collar but thought it was for keeping a zoom (push pull) from sliding around. Then I read someone talking about a tripod mount for their 500mm lens. Further, I've seen the small "piece" on the bottom of some lenses where it meets the body but have no idea what it is. Thanks. I think there's a question in there somewhere.
 
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Big lenses have tripod mounts on them since it makes more sense to mount/anchor the heavier item....which at that point is no longer the camera body.

These collars tend to have interchangeable feet that slides onto the collar itself that may or may not be removable from the lens body. This is to allow for customization and lower profile feet to be used. People do this since they tend to buy into some specific tripod mount setup and have very specific preferences.
 
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With a large long lens, the center of gravity of the camera and lens is no longer directly below the camera. It is moved out to some point along the lens. If the lens is large enough and heavy enough and the tripod light enough, camera mounting could cause such an imbalance that the tripod could tip over.
The sliding collar allows you to mount to the tripod at the center of gravity or nearer to it. This is preferable to having the camera mounted and the lens hanging out in front creating an imbalance and putting extra strain on the lens mount.
 
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Additionally, long and especially fast telephoto lenses (such as 300 2.8, 400 2.8, 500 f4, 600 f4, 800 5.6 and so on) are quite heavy to the point that if they were tripod mounted via the camera body's mount, the strain on the lens mount (where the camera attaches to the lens) would be excessive probably to the point of causing damage to the lensmount. Thus it is easier to mount the lens directly to the tripod and have the lighter camera body hanging off the back of the lens.
 
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In addition to allowing a tripod mount to be attached to a telephoto lens (I think the smallest Nikon lens that has one is the out-of-production 70-180 micro), the collar can also be loosened, so that the camera can be changed from landscape (horizontal) orientation to portrait (vertical). Otherwise, you'd have to flip your head over and that would cause the setup to become unstable.
 
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How do you know if a lens requires a collar or mount? I was looking at the 80-200 push pull recommended to me in another thread and found the collar - it's expesive.

Do I really need it?

With D70S or D50?

What about D80 or D200?

assume I will be actually using a tripod too :).
 
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[.....] Further, I've seen the small "piece" on the bottom of some lenses where it meets the body but have no idea what it is. Thanks. I think there's a question in there somewhere.

You mean the foot? Some lenses have built in, non-removable foot (80-200 2-ring), some have removable collar AND foot (80-200 AF-S) and some only have removable foot but not the collar (70-200 V1 and V2) Some lenses have flimsy foot (300/4 AF-S) so some people opt for 3rd party ones like RRS and Kirk. Also, the stock Nikon foot doesn't come with arca-swiss dovetail so people buy "arca-swiss compatible" foot so they can mount it directly on their "arca-swiss compatible" ballhead. If you stick with the stock Nikon foot, you can buy a plate for it, but this adds height to the setup, which means more vibration.


How do you know if a lens requires a collar or mount? I was looking at the 80-200 push pull recommended to me in another thread and found the collar - it's expesive.

Do I really need it?

With D70S or D50?

What about D80 or D200?

assume I will be actually using a tripod too :).

If you will be using it on a tripod then yes, you need it. If you're just shooting hand-held most of the time then you don't need it. Do not mount the camera directly on the tripod with a heavy 80-200 lens dangling in front of it. You'll have vibration issues and worse, it may even damage your lens and tripod mount.
 
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I have used my 80-200 push pull on my D70on a tripod with no problems. I would rather have a lens foot or collar though.
 
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Better balance on the tripod. The 80-200 push - pull is a heavy lens and makes the whole setup front heavy. Some people worry about the heavy lens hanging out there damaging the camera mount but I haven't found it to be the case. For me it's just a balance issue.
 
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How do you know if a lens requires a collar or mount? I was looking at the 80-200 push pull recommended to me in another thread and found the collar - it's expesive.

Do I really need it?

With D70S or D50?

What about D80 or D200?

assume I will be actually using a tripod too :).

If a lens "needs" a tripod foot, it will come with one. The foot is removable, so you can either use it or not.
 

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