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“The best way out is always through.”

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Shoot Rock Steady with the Groofwin Pod

Yesterday I talked about the benefits of shooting birds and wildlife from inside your car. The only problem with shooting from a car window is keeping a long lens very steady. Yes, you can probably roll up a sweater or use an impromptu beanbag to keep the camera steady, but if you're using a very long lens, 300mm or longer, you need a serious camera support.

The best window tripod that exists is called the Groofwin Pod (ground-roof-window) and it was designed and manufactured by the legendary wildlife shooter Leonard Lee Rue. This uniquely named and odd-looking camera support has multiple uses: it can be used as a low-level tripod for macro or wildlife work by just laying it on the ground, it can be used on the roof of your car, or it can be used as a window pod. These pods are extremely popular among safari shooters in Africa because they can be used on the roof of a Land Rover while the photographer stands up through the sunroof.

When used in a car window, the pod uses a 9" x 1" lip that can either be slipped into the window groove when the window is down, or catch onto the window itself if the window is partially raised. I've been using my Groofwin for several years (usually in a rented Ford Explorer in Florida) and it's a joy to use. There is a sliding bolt (it sits in a slot so that you can adjust the forward/back position of the camera) that accepts a standard ballhead and you can adjust the height of the camera platform. When used with my heavy duty Canon ballhead I've used lenses up to 600mm and they are held rock solid. As I said yesterday, this is one of the best camera accessories I've ever owned.

I go way out of my way to never endorse or appear to endorse any photo products, but I'm always happy to find one that I can just recommend without hesitation. The pod sells for $259 directly from Leonard Rue Enterprises. If you're a wildlife or macro shooter, you will never regret owning this unique camera support. (Photo courtesy of Leonard Rue Enterprises)

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