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Camera Gear for Bird Photography

pan pod

Most bird photographers have their favorite camera body and lens or lenses. In this section we will be featuring the gear of different amateur and professional photographers. As often as possible we’ll go beyond the standard elements and feature new and creative approaches to bird photography.

We’ll start by featuring staff photographer Glenn Barltey’s approach to photographing birds at ground level.

The “Pan Pod”

One of the most important aspects of capturing pleasing images of wildlife or avian subjects is shooting at, or as close to, eye level as possible. This perspective yields impressive and often very personal images as it seems as though you are really looking directly into your subject’s eyes.

At times however it can be difficult to achieve this as some subjects eyes are very low to the ground (shorebirds for example). It can be difficult to get a tripod low enough, and once the tripod is at ground level it can be difficult to maneuver. Furthermore, you may not want to put your $800 carbon fiber tripod in the thick, gritty mud where shorebirds like to frolick.

After considering this situation for a while I came up with the “Pan Pod”. A simple broken 8 inch frying pan with a hole drilled through the center and a 5/8 inch bolt combined with my Markins M10 Ballhead.

pan pod

The great thing about the “Pan Pod” is that you can dig it right in to the sand or mud for exra stability and have no worries about damaging your expensive equipment.

pan pod
This is obviously a very simple design. But it cost next to nothing,
it works great and it makes capturing ground level shots a breeze.
And the results…
pectoral sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

Visit Glenn’s web site for a list of his gear.

About the Author

Sam Crowe

Sam is the founder of He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.

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