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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).


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Old November 16th, 2007, 01:09 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mickey Mackwan View Post
I am planning of going to Tanzania
Try to find time to visit with a Maasai village (or two). It was one of the highlights of our trip to Kenya and Tanzania. You pay a small fee which goes a very long way to helping the village obtain medical aid (in the form of medicine and clinical treatment).
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Old November 16th, 2007, 04:41 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Mickey Mackwan View Post
Thanks erik
I will be mainly going to savan and if possible go see the rain forest so mainly i would be shooting wildlife, i would like to shoot day and night if possible but depends on circumstances, i will have a guided tour as thats the best way i think as i have never been there before.
I am opting for a Audio Technica 4073a mic and also am buying a rode ntg1 or 2 (one of them) i think the 4073a should be good for wildlife, what are your views ??
I will cary a few batteries and a lots and lots of tapes i have decided to take atleast 40-50 tapes just incase i dont get the same brand am using.. also i am thinking of just taking the monopod and dvmulti rig instead of the tripod
Thanks again for the advice..i still have a long wait before this dream comes true.
Ok, last day of the trip, so I can post my experiences, but I haven't reviewed the tapes yet.

There is no way you will shoot at night without special equipment or at least a full moon. It's bloody dark at night (BBC recently made a special program with night recording without artificial light). You can shoot just before dawn and after sunset, if you only have natural light. You can bring a flashlight, but note that wildlife is disturbed by flashlights, also it may be difficult to get close enough that your flashlight makes any difference. If possible you may bring a red light, red doesn't disturb our natural night vision as white light does. When I went to see sea turtles nesting our guide had only a red light. Unfortunately all kinds of cameras were strictly prohibited.

Guided tours are great, that is guides are great to spot the wildlife. But if you're in a group you will suffer that people can't resist talking. Go alone with your guide, explain him that you want to film and ask him to just indicate where the animal is so you can film, then film until it goes away or you think you have enough, and then explain. You may wish to record while he explains as it helps you remember the details.

I can't help you on mic, I brought a AT897 because that's what I got. Anyway, the animals didn't speak up much so I guess I can reuse sound track to get rid of those French tourists on the guided tour. You might go alone after dark but before they turn on that noisy generator to get some sound you can dub to replace the noise of the engine of the 4WD.

I was optimistic too, and brought 12 tapes, I got 3,5hs total. And thats mostly because I went canoing and had the camera running up front two hours while I paddled around. You will travel a lot, film much less. I went on a 7 hour guided trek, got about 12 minutes.

I eventually left the tripod in the hotel, too heavy to carry, now I did a lot of walking, if you go in a 4WD just fill it up with everything... A monopod is good because it's so simple, light weight and fast to rig, you can't always have the camera ready when wildlife shows up so also bring a steady hand to go hand held.

Oh, and bring an alarm clock - wildlife is most active around dawn. Don't plan to shoot anything particular, or you'll have to wait a looooong time - just shoot as soon as something comes up, after all, that's why you bring those 50 tapes.

I think, that's about it...

Cheers, Erik
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Old November 18th, 2007, 03:19 PM   #18
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Thanks Randy, John and Erik for the advice, just one question as you guys have been to Africa, when you go on a safari whats the age limit ?? i mean can you take kids under 5 ??
Thanks a lot am saving all this advice on my computer for my future reference also if you guys put some video would be great...i just cant get enough of this Land if i ever had money i would just live there but i guess till then just dream of going there ............
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Old November 19th, 2007, 08:11 AM   #19
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I would not take a child at that age...if you are talking a true safari that is. They do offer photo safaris that are just fine for kids with all kinds of programs to educate them about animals etc but a true safari is not the place for small kids. I am taking my 2 kids for the first time in 09 and their ages will be 13 and 11. I am also planning on having a seperate PH/guide to watch after them as well as my wife. The last thing you want is to have to be slowed down by a small child or worse have them injured while the grown ups are not paying attention. In addition to the animals there are all sorts of things that bite like snakes and spiders. A true safari takes you to places that can be dangerous even for adults.
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Old November 19th, 2007, 02:36 PM   #20
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Thanks for that Randy i have one 3years and one 13 my situation is i cant live any of them behind :(( am thinking of waiting till 09 so my little one will enjoy more and remember more of the trip but patience is what i lack :( will see how life makes a move :)
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Old November 20th, 2007, 09:32 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Mickey Mackwan View Post
just one question as you guys have been to Africa, when you go on a safari whats the age limit ?? i mean can you take kids under 5 ??
Let me say this, my parents took me to a safari park - nothing near Africa - when I was 4, and I still remember I was afraid the tigers could enter through the 5mm wide window opening. I have no other memory from the trip.
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Old November 20th, 2007, 05:11 PM   #22
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Erik thats where the xha1 will come handy :)
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Old November 21st, 2007, 03:58 AM   #23
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Hi Mickey,

We love Africa trips. in 1988 we drove about 13 000 km all the way from Sweden down to Gibraltar, crossed the Sahara desert and continued down to Cameroon during four months. A similar trip was made in 1990-1991 during five months with the same car. We learned to ride camels by the toureg people. I think we slept four or five nights in hotel. The other 145 days we slept on the soil. Sometimes we woke up while 30 black people were standing around us. When it rained and was muddy we had to put up our tent, sometimes on top of the car roof when there was many animals around.

Between 1984 and 2007 we have made numerous flights and stayed about 2 weeks to 2 months each time.

When we got the kids, who are now 4 and 8 years, we have still continued to travel but more comfortable and safer, sleeping in lodges, hotels etc.

Last trip was a three weeks tour to Kenya in May. We brought XL H1 with two lenses, big tripod, small LED light, 744T separate recorder, parabolic microphone, shotgun, stereo mic, Zeppeliner windshield, boom mike, wireless mic, timecode transmitter+receiver and nappies for the doughter etc. Guess we were loaded but we could distribute the load on four tickets.

No big problems except we where caught by a National Park warden for illegal filming, "stealing pictures" from Africa! After a nervous "discussion" we where released and allowed to film everywhere except his office and we didn't have to go to jail as first claimed.

After about 15 trips with lots of stuff I must say we have never lost any photographic equipment. Of course we have to guard it properly. The bush is much safer than the big cities.

The kids still have very nice memories and I believe the video will help to not let the african experience dim to much.

The last trip was one week together in a National Park. Then we separated. I followed a Rotary Jeep Doctor on his mission in the Masai land of the country and filmed the whole week. While my wife brought the kids to Lake Victoria for some research work.

Then we joined in Nairobi and took the old train to Mombasa for one lazy week with swimming and diving.

It was no problem at all to have the 8 year old boy on several days of jeep safari. He is even of help to watch, hand gear etc. He spots animals before we do.

The 4 year daughter is more difficult. Not so easy to stay quite while recording. But she made it great in the car.

But I would NOT bring them with me on walking safaris.

It is even good to have the kids because they open up many doors. Black people like the blonde kids and they make friends very soon and helps to introduce us who are 47 years.

GO, GO, GO! YOU WON'T REGRET!

Last edited by Johan Forssblad; November 21st, 2007 at 03:41 PM.
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Old November 21st, 2007, 08:34 AM   #24
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I would think about the cases.

Pelican makes a small case that would just fit your camera, be completely dry and waterproof, and cost about $125 USD. That would be a good idea. Take a tiny, and cheap, tripod. I hear things walk away when you're not looking. Also, if you're traveling a lot, think about a petrol backpack case. Those look like a basic pack, and then you can hide your camera in it.

Also, a lot of people will be talking about dust protection. Get a screw on UV filter, and a lens cloth, that solves 90% of your dust and flaring problems. If you really need a clean lens, screw it off, take the shot, screw it back on. I've done that for years and it always kills the flare... no expensive matte box required, no 'busy time' cleaning.

Other than that, think about power. Cigarette lighter charging and such. Go to the store, and buy some little airtight sandwich boxes, and keep your tapes in there. That should do you.

If you can travel with the little pelican and tripod, do. If you can't, think sandbag and backpack.

Save the rest of the space for you.
Resist the urge to take every cable and connector with you.
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Old November 24th, 2007, 02:47 AM   #25
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Thanks Johan just one question i understand that i will have to hire a private safari as i would be with my family just wondering if its as constly as people say it is...also would you think that about $200 american dollars per day be enough ??
also johan i have xha1 just been to dubbo zoo and yes you can get the animals pretty close but the zoom is still limited would it be the same with african safari or can you go really really close to the animals ??
Thanks a lot for everything i really appriciate it.

Thanks Alex i am looking at a palican case am also gonna consider something that will protect my camera from dust and water uv filter is good idea, thanks again.
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Old November 24th, 2007, 07:29 AM   #26
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Dust and animals

I use either a PortaBrace rain cover or non-synthetic cloth bag. A pillow case works well. The cloth bag does an OK job of protecting the camera while you are moving - probably the worst time. The PortaBrace rain cover makes a great dust cover, but it makes the camera harder to use. A lot of practice will solve most of the harder to use problem. If there is blowing dust and the camera is uncovered you will get dust inside the camera, including the 3 rings on the front lens.

This is the cover I use
http://www.portabrace.com/productB-RS-XHAG1

They also have this newer cover which I have not tried:
http://www.portabrace.com/productB-CBA-XHAG1

As to how close the animals are - that depends. Sometimes the animals will be very close, but most of the time they will be a medium to a long distance away. Many of the parks do not allow the safari vehicles off the road without special permission. That means most of the time you are going to take long shots. I shot mostly about the equivalent on the XHA1 of 30X and needed 40X often for closeups. Choose your teleconverter carefully, I have had bad luck with the less expensive wide angle converters, they drop the resolution down to or below the equivalent of standard definition.

Rick
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Old November 24th, 2007, 10:54 AM   #27
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Rick reminds me of another thing I went to great pains to do...

Practice, practice, practice assembling/disassembling/interchanging your equipment. Using the Portabrace rain cover is somewhat fiddly at first, especially if, as in my case, I got it secondhand and without any instructions! (I only needed it for rain once but used it everyday as a sunshade for the LCD.) Rapidly attaching/detaching the chestpod, lenses, tripod, etc etc all in the confines of a small vehicle is something to learn before leaving for your trip.

I practiced sitting in the back of my car. I went through everything over and over again until I had it down to a fine art. I also bought a safara jacket with lots of pockets for tapes, batteries, filters and lenses. That also helped on those occasions we were allowed out of the vehicle (such as a remarkable hippo pool that would make every schoolboy's day - but that's another story!)

Basically, when the adrenalin starts pumping at the site of a lion hunt and the vehicle is bouncing all over the place, you want to be quick off the mark.
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Old November 24th, 2007, 02:55 PM   #28
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Africa safari and camcorder bag

Hi Mickey,
I havn't been very much in Tanzania so I don't know much about the costs. But that should be easy to find on the net.

We wanted to move around freely without having interference from faster paced and talking tourists so we hired a safari bus just for our family.
In Kenya it was low season and costed about EUR 110 per day for a 9-passenger bus with pop up roof, driver with wildlife guide certificate and fuel costs.
Entrance fees for national parks, lodging, food and drinks etc had to be added.

In the middle of the bus there was an empty space where I could place my big tripod and look out between the pop up roof and the car sides in all directions. I don't regret for a second that I brought the big tripod. I regret some recordings without using the tripod ...
Next time I will have the driver to remove one more seat to to move better around the tripod.

All safaris are quite different. Sometimes small animals are very far (like fish eagles) and you zoom all the way. If you could add an even longer lens or tele adapter you would notice that any small movement caused by passengers moving in their seats would affect the stability or the warm air over the ground would destroy extreme tele photo shots.

Other times a lion is just outside of the window and a wide angle will do the job. Once in Botswana we came in a very dangerous situation with about 200-300 elephants around our car. A fish eye lens would have been the most proper lens to use at that moment.

I'm sure you will get many interesting rolls whatever you do. And as another fellow here wrote, drivers could get heavy fines if they leave the tracks so you should be limited to what could be seen from the dirt road most of the times. This means you will see many animals of different kind but it is usually harder if you search for a particular animal like Leopards. If it walks away from the road you should leave it alone ...

You should go for a bag which is easy to pull out the camcorder and stove the camcorder back. Otherwise you will not use the bag or miss fast action.

Sometimes the cheap solution is best: Pull a supermarket plastic bag over the camcorder for dust protection. (A luxury bag is not slippery and made of fabric.) Then have a padded backpacker or camera bag where you put the bagged camcorder when you travel between different sites.

A camcorder bag which does not look like an expensive camera bag is much safer and draws less attention from criminals.

Remember to blow & clean the UV-filter frequently. Sun is sharp, iris is small, focus depth is large and dust could affect the pictures.

I would also like to remind people that death and wounds are much closer in african life than on probably any other continent. Crocodiles could be waiting for you in rivers if you are careless. Swimming in lakes should in most cases be avoided due to Bilharzia. Don't go or drive between an Elephant and their kid. The list is long. You have to listen, talk to people, take it carefully, respect the animals and the people. Don't blame others if things go wrong. Blame yourself.

I attach a shot, taking directly from the XL H1 25F film to show the car.

Regarding a private car: You can get interesting shots from any car. Also when traveling with others together in a bus. However, if you want a clean audio track you must limit the number of people around you. If you want to show the animals alone, it s not easy to get very clean audio and stable shots with a lot of people around, especially if they are not as interested in photographing as you are.

We considered to get a 4WD car like Landrover style but it was about 50 % more expensive without driver compared to the minibus with driver. The roads where easy where we went this time. It is not easy to drive and do a good film job so a native driver is making it more relaxing and you see much more. But you need to find a good driver/guide. For instance, some of them won't turn off the engine at short stops. I made it totally clear when I ordered the car that I demanded the driver to quit the engine at all times when we stopped. There are many good drivers and guides around and they will teach you a lot about the animals and their habitats too.

If you don't bring a tripod: Buy a big bag of beans which you can put on top of the roof and cushion your camcorder in.

About your lens: If the tele is long enough? That depends what you request. Do you need close-ups of a lion´s face? Or is it enough that a zebra/giraffe/buffalo will fill the frame? It also depends how long time you will spend to get a good opportunity for a great shot. I think your lens is long enough if you aren't aiming for something special.

Good luck and have a happy journey!

PS. The upload of the .png files failed. Don't know why. So I converted them to .jpg instead. But they are screenshots from Final Cut Pro HDV 25F timeline.
Attached Thumbnails
Tour To Africa-safari_bus_xlh1.jpg   Tour To Africa-sound_recording_of_flamingoes.jpg  

Tour To Africa-masai_woman_with_pulling_kid.jpg  

Last edited by Johan Forssblad; November 25th, 2007 at 10:43 AM.
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Old November 25th, 2007, 05:59 PM   #29
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Thanks Rick, Thanks John
I think you are right I need a lot of practice I am still not used to all the functions of the camera am gonna start practicing more and more till I get used to the camera. Rick do you know any good teleconverters for xha1. I looked on the web but its very hard to get something here in Australia.

Thanks Johan
I think I am gonna follow your path and might hire a mini bus with a open roof top which would be great also thanks for the tip of making it clear to shut off the engine so that you don’t get a lot of engine noise, one more thing did you get separate audio or just use the shotgun mic, the pictures are excellent, I have saved up a little bit but if am gonna take the whole family might have to wait atleast a year or so but I guess its gonna be worth while as am gonna stay there atleast a month and enjoy the land of wilderness. I love Africa.
Thanks for all the great tips guys forgive me if I missed something but I assure you that am saving all this and making it guideline to follow when am there.
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Old November 25th, 2007, 07:10 PM   #30
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Johan - the flamingos at Lake Nakuru must rank as one the world's most fantastic spectacles. Just the pink color of the rim of the lake from a few miles away is astonishing. As, too, is the cacophony when you are standing at the shoreline.

Sadly, the flamingos there seem to be disappearing...

http://www.safariweb.com/safarimate/flamingo.htm
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