Review: Eckla-Eagle cardoor support
Car Door Support ‘Eagle' - an incredible solution
Clamps, props, clasps, boards... I can't recall how many self-made structures I came across in the past years, each one handmade by nature-photographers who were looking for a better alternative for the well-known beanbag. While praising them for their creative ideas, I found it all not that good. Very annoying because I started to dislike the disadvantages of the beanbag more and more. Especially the limited stability, manoeuvrability and weight pressure on the manual focus ring was a thorn in my eye. When Han Bouwmeester told me he developed a new universal car door support together with the company Eckla I was pleasantly surprised, but also sceptical. I couldn't really work with the window supports from other manufacturers. The only thing that would convince me was a field test, preferable on a day when the weather man had bribed the weather gods.
Arriving in a suitable rural area I stopped the car and laid down the Eagle, as the manufacturer had named it, on my knees. The core of the support consisted of two black, hinging aluminium plates, partly extendable with an adjustable clamp and a series of setting knobs. At crucial places it is strengthened with retained rings and at the hinged part, sturdy springs behind the two larger knobs.
Firstly I hinged the ball and socket joint with the added setting-knobs on the top plate and shoved it in the long notch appropriate for me. Secondly I lowered my window, shoved the protective cover around the outside edge of the adjustable clamps at the upper plate, determined the applicable width of the window frame and screwed up the upper plate with the two other setting-knobs instantly on the car-door (only on the window or thinner brush-edge is also possible). Thirdly I adjusted the position of the upper plate pertaining to the immovable clamp for a pleasant observation height from my chair. Fourthly I pushed the bottom plate out, which at a 90 degree angle provided for counter pressure via the inside of my car-door. Especially the last aroused my curiosity. The remarkable bent arm-rest of my car-door promised little good, despite the assurance of the producer that the Eagle would fit on any car. Nothing turned out less true. The rubbery feet on the adjustable part of the bottom support plate firmly pressed itself miraculously against the car-door side. I took my camera, clicked the base plate of my 600 mm lens on the ballhead - and voilà. Thanks to the clear users manual which came along with the product, attaching and setting up the Eagle took me less than three minutes. Not bad for a first try.
For the hours after the assembly I was extremely relaxed as I scoured the area. The stability and the lack of vibration astounded me. The Eagle proved also extremely easy to operate. After years of muttering around with all sorts of contraptions I finally could concentrate on everything I saw around me; I had a more natural sitting posture than usual, didn't need to apply tricks to keep balance and manoeuvrability and even didn't need to lift the camera and the lens, as always was the case when using a beanbag. Even when passed by the usual speed demons - contractor's vans passing by as fast as they could - I could manoeuvre the camera and lens with a one hand movement to a safe position.
After spending another day in the field with the Eagle left only room for one conclusion; the Eagle is a supremely well thought-out, multilateral adjustable and indispensable piece of equipment for the nature-photographer, both professional and amateur, who wants to achieve optimal results while working from his mobile refuge. A special compliment concerns the neat finishing touch of all metal surfaces and ridges; no burrs, ditches or scarfing imprints can be seen. All the setting-knobs are also very user friendly, which hasn't always been the case with products from other manufacturers. At last; if I still would need a beanbag on certain occasions, the upper plate of the Eagle offers a far better support still than only the car door window-frame. That I didn't want to let go of the trial specimen of this miracle of ingenuity is a message on the wall for a seasoned critic as your humble reviewer....