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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old November 29th, 2007, 08:42 PM   #1
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Wildlife filming with the XL2

I have recently found this site and read a ton of great info.My video experience is roughly zero, so I look for advice and direction to learn as much as I can.

I'm a wildlife guide and currently shot with still camera Nikon equipment. One of my goals is to offer videography wildlife tours much like my photo seminars that I currently lead. Subjects ranging in size from the rocky mountains to birds and small mammals. I have nikon film lenses 24mm-500mm so the 20x lens should help cover most of my optics needs. I rarely shot wider than 35mm in film so I can accept the wide angle of the stock lens.

I'm pretty set on an XL2, and use Premeir elements for simple edting. I would like to record audio well for elk bulges and nearby bird songs. I also currently have a heavy Gitzo 1410 tripod. So given a budget of about $5000 about $3000 of that being the camera, what would you buy? Note I have plenty of hard drive space but also need to get some sort of video capture card for my pc.

Thanks for your help and advice!
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Old November 29th, 2007, 10:24 PM   #2
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Welcome Jared to DVInfo! I think you'll enjoy the knowledge and experience that members here have and can offer you.

I think if you're "pretty set" on the XL2, you can't go wrong. If you've already had experience handling the cam, and like its form factor, and of course, its awesome images, then it's a good buy. It's not an "easy" cam to handle at first, as it offers so many custom image features (I'm still learning, after a year of ownership--practice, practice, practice :).

As for audio, the XL2 comes with a stereo mic. I've used it a few times to capture "wild" sounds (ambient noise, some sound efx. etc.), and it was okay. Some members hate using the mic. With that said, you may want to look into buying a secondary shotgun mic (mono or stereo) which could get pricey, but will certainly work much better than the XL2's mic. (We use an Audio Technica 897 short shotgun mic.)

And yes, you would need a video capture card (firewire) to ingest footage into your computer.

Good luck,

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Old November 30th, 2007, 12:01 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Jared Gricoskie View Post
Note I have plenty of hard drive space but also need to get some sort of video capture card for my pc.
You can buy any OHCI compliant firewire cards for the capturing, which basically means about any new firewire cards these days.
The cheap ones are more than good enough. You can get them for around $20.
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Old December 1st, 2007, 09:47 AM   #4
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Budget

I'm sure you won't be dissapointed in the cam--but my guess is that it will be a continuous battle to seek the optimum items for filming wildlife.
I am currently shooting mainly surf films probably a close analogy to "wildlife"

Starters from my perspective:

Not sure if your gitzo has a leveling head--if not your going to want one

Canon TA-1000 adapter--makes mounting cam extremely easy in the field

some sort of mike that focuses in on the sound better than the cams

My guess is that as good as the 20x lens is your going to seek a lens that even gets you tighter on your subjects--maybe canon ef adapter with 400mm canon? or a telephoto adapter by century-starts getting pricey

And then a backpack if you are hiking -- Lowepro AW Trekker II works for me.

Something I use for rapidly finding my subject--is a red dot scope(found in gun stores)--you can buy a decent one TASCO for around 60.00 as I recall.

As for capture cards--I'm using a Mac so can't help you there

that should get you started

An approx.--1300.00 less the capture card and the bigger lens set up(of course there are an infinite array of itmes you can purchase -- even with the above parameters) which could vary the cost tremendously--and yet some of the items could easily be found on ebay.

hope it helps a bit--good luck!

Ron
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Old December 1st, 2007, 11:02 PM   #5
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A backpack is a great idea, Ron.

We borrowed an inner frame, hiker's backpack when we shot footage while taking an ATV tour through some back country in Utah. Eventhough the XL2, with 20x lens attached, could easily fit in the backpack, I broke it down in pieces, and wrapped each piece (cam, 20x, & 3x lenses) in towels! Oi vey!

The cam survived sharp inclines, and some rough terrain. But I think a dedicated cam backpack might be in order in the future.

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Old December 6th, 2007, 02:38 PM   #6
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Jared - I'd definitely advise you to buy a Nikon to Canon XL adapter so that you can use all your lovely knife-sharp Nikkors on the XL2.

I use the 20X & 3X lenses a lot, but I also use all my large range of Nikon Nikkor lenses from ultra-wide up to 600mm ED-IF on the XL2 (part of my huge Nikon SLR cameras system).

I've also got underwater/sub-surface XL2 housing, extra-wide adapters, LowePro, Kata & Pota-Brace bags, Manfrotto & Vinten tripods, radio mics, portable lights, headphones, radio controls, infared trips, high-powered binos, and a tonne of other gear that gets me the still shots and footage that I need...but tends to break my back when I'm not in a vehicle!
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Old December 6th, 2007, 06:14 PM   #7
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I do a lot of wildlife filming, and if you are going to stick with the 20X I would highly recommend you get the 1.6X Extender. Makes a big difference when you need a little more zoom.

Bill
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Old December 8th, 2007, 10:56 AM   #8
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Jared,
second Tony's thought about using external lenses. If you got the Nikkors why not use them with your XL2?
Wildlife often require you to come near the object for good close-ups. The good news is that using any 35mm lens make your day with the huge magnification factor (7.2x) you got using them.
Buy yourself external shotgun mics, I can not recommend this highly enough!
Also a good tripod, prefered a 75mm or 100mm bowl, will support your camcorder well, even with external lenses.

Good luck!
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Old December 13th, 2007, 06:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jared Gricoskie View Post
I have recently found this site and read a ton of great info.My video experience is roughly zero, so I look for advice and direction to learn as much as I can.

I'm a wildlife guide and currently shot with still camera Nikon equipment. One of my goals is to offer videography wildlife tours much like my photo seminars that I currently lead. Subjects ranging in size from the rocky mountains to birds and small mammals. I have nikon film lenses 24mm-500mm so the 20x lens should help cover most of my optics needs. I rarely shot wider than 35mm in film so I can accept the wide angle of the stock lens.

I'm pretty set on an XL2, and use Premeir elements for simple edting. I would like to record audio well for elk bulges and nearby bird songs. I also currently have a heavy Gitzo 1410 tripod. So given a budget of about $5000 about $3000 of that being the camera, what would you buy? Note I have plenty of hard drive space but also need to get some sort of video capture card for my pc.

Thanks for your help and advice!
Jared,

I have used the EF adapter and it works OK but it does magnify the lens signifcantly and focus was hard to track. I believe it magnifies the existing lens about 7 times but I am not certain on the spec.

Here is the telephoto adapter that we offer for the XL2. It is made from the finest quality optical glass and precision machined aluminum. It is free of chromatic abberations and can be removed quicky without exposing your sensor to the elements (a down side of the EF adapter).

http://www.schneideroptics.com/ecomm...=1385&IID=6223

Either way, both are excellent choices for your application.

Ryan Avery
Schneider Optics
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Old December 13th, 2007, 06:38 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Tony Davies-Patrick View Post
Jared - I'd definitely advise you to buy a Nikon to Canon XL adapter so that you can use all your lovely knife-sharp Nikkors on the XL2.

I use the 20X & 3X lenses a lot, but I also use all my large range of Nikon Nikkor lenses from ultra-wide up to 600mm ED-IF on the XL2 (part of my huge Nikon SLR cameras system).
Gosh, just happen to have one here:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=110098

:) Mike
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Old December 13th, 2007, 10:04 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Ron Stoecklein View Post
Canon TA-1000 adapter--makes mounting cam extremely easy in the field
But doesn't every tripod set or standalone fluid head provide such a camera plate? These days I'm looking for a proper camera support solution for my XL-2; the pool of candidates is condensing to some tripods from Sachtler, Munich - and they all provide plates in a great variety of shapes and purposes. So why should one buy Canon's TA-1000 adapter?
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Old December 13th, 2007, 10:34 PM   #12
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Hey Andreas,

I believe the benefit of canon's adapter is it's size. It is much smaller than the standard plates that ship with most tripods. This could definitely have its advantages. Trust me, I am currently using one of the larger quick release plates on my XL2 and it has a tendency to dig into my wrist when I shoot from the shoulder.

Ryan
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Old December 14th, 2007, 12:48 AM   #13
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The TA-1000 attaches to the XL2 with four screws instead of the usual one screw that quick-release plates use. The benefit of using it is the added stability and solidity of the multiple connection points with the camera.

That said, I've never felt like I needed it.
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Old December 15th, 2007, 10:00 AM   #14
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Ta-1000

Regarding the TA-1000

I'm sure there are other plates that work great--and like most you get used to what you are using--for me--shooting surf films on remote locations--I pull the xl2 out of the bag-slip it on to the Ta-1000 which is mounted always to my tripod--and its rock solid--also when I need to quickly remove--it's a snap!

I almost always use the Xl2 on a tripod--rarely without!!

Ron
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Old December 15th, 2007, 03:51 PM   #15
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I either use the huge Manfrotto 116 MK2 quick-release plate that has a very wide platform with rows of locking teeth that fits my heavy duty Manfrotto tripod, or the much smaller and narrower 501PL plate for my Vinten Pro 5 tripod. I also have three Manfrotto hexagonal quick release plates for my third and smallest tripod, the Nat190 Pro + Pro Ball head.

I like to leave the quick release plates permanently fixed to my video bodies, still camera bodies and also each of my long telephoto lenses, so that they can be fixed and removed quickly from the tripods.
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