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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old August 11th, 2008, 12:11 AM   #1
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Nikkor 300mm F4.5 on XL2

Picked up a used Nikon-to-XL2 adapter through the forum last week, and just got through downloading the first video using a 300mm Nikkor lens. Using the 7.2 multiplication factor, this translates roughly to a 2700mm lens in the 35mm world. I have an ongoing project documenting the wildlife and changes at a pond just down the street, been going out regularly for about a year now. A floating raft of water weeds forms about this time of year in the middle. I've waded out with the XL2 to cover the action on the weeds, but the critters all run when I get close enough for the 20x zoom. The 300mm should let me stay on the shore and spy on the party in the weeds.

These initial frames are of dragonflies, shot from about ten yards away. No cropping, full frame shown. With that much magnification, you can't really follow them. Dragonflies are territorial, though, and have a regular "station" they return to after chasing off any intruders. All you have to do is focus in on their station and wait for them to come back. Hardest part is keeping the camera still. Even on a heavy tripod, wind shake is a problem.

Gotta love that prime Nikon glass.

Martin
Attached Thumbnails
Nikkor 300mm F4.5 on XL2-dfa.jpg   Nikkor 300mm F4.5 on XL2-dfb.jpg  

Nikkor 300mm F4.5 on XL2-dfc.jpg  
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Old August 11th, 2008, 04:21 AM   #2
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You are probably going to get better results for your insect and small pond photography subjects such as frogs etc (and easier to keep steady and work with) using a shorter Nikkor lens such as the Nikon Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED-IF or the 200mm f/2 ED-IF or 200mm f/4 (all are pin-sharp optics, with the 180mm and 200mm f/4 being fairly cheap).

The 300mm, 500mm, 600mm, 800mm lenses are generally better for larger subjects such as birds and mammals at a greater distance. The shorter leses such the Nikkor 135mm, 180mm, and 200mm still provide extreme telephoto with the .7X factor, but with a slightly shorter working distance and less vibration.

An even better lens would be one of the Macro lenses such as the Nikkor 100mm Micro or Nikkor 200mm F/4 Micro.
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Old August 11th, 2008, 08:18 AM   #3
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I agree with all Tony has said but if you are prepared to wait at a spot you see the dragonflies frequenting it is possible to get shots like as attached. You will need a very heavy tripod. These were shot using a Canon 300mm T2.8 FD lens with a diopter attached to the front of the lens, so I could focus close enough.

Bob
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Nikkor 300mm F4.5 on XL2-_025.jpg   Nikkor 300mm F4.5 on XL2-_035.jpg  

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Old August 11th, 2008, 06:07 PM   #4
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Of course the 300mm is overkill -- it was the only Nikon-mount lens I had handy. This was a "shoot with what you've got" session. The good news is that I was quite happy with the results. The dragonflies don't care how close you get (as long as it's not less than four feet). The turtles, however, leave the log for the water if you get within fifty feet, plus the migrating wild ducks that drop in during the fall bolt if they even see a person within 100 yards. The 300mm is just another club in the golf bag, so to speak.

The hunt is on for a good 200mm, along with some shorter lenses to cover other situations. Compared to EF lenses and the price of an EF/XL2 adapter, Nikon glass is a bargain, plus I want manual, mechanically-linked focus.

Martin
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Old August 11th, 2008, 07:10 PM   #5
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Hey Martin,

I'm no expert on the matter, but have you considered getting a good 70-200mm zoom lens with a constant f/2.8? Considering what you'd like to do, it would provide quite a versatile solution instead of a fixed focal length without sacrificing too much aperture (depending on the lens you'd be getting). Sigma makes one, but the Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 is sharper and better overall.

I use the Sigma on my XL2 with a Brevis adapter, and it gives pretty good results at f/4. You might be able to get better ones since you'd be using mostly the center of the lens (with the usual video crop factor on a Nikon to XL adapter).

Hope this helps!

Gabe
Fotonik Films
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Old August 11th, 2008, 11:09 PM   #6
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For the moment, I'm focusing (no pun intended) on prime, fixed focal length lenses. Even the best-designed zoom lenses are compromises, plus fiddling with focal length is just one more thing to worry about. I shot 35mm stills for over 20 years before buying a zoom lens (a 75-150mm one-touch zoom). Even then, I still shot most of my images with a 24mm and 50mm lens. I had a fixed 135mm for those times I needed a little more reach. I've got the standard 20x Canon XL zoom, the 3x Canon wide-angle zoom, plus I recently got the Canon 14x fully-manual zoom, so I think I've got the zoom end of things covered.

The 20x zoom is great for gun-and-run work, where you're not sure what's going to happen. Great for flexibility. When I'm in a controlled situation, I like fixed lenses. The distinction in still photography was "making -- rather than taking -- photographs." The fixed 35mm lenses tend to have better optical quality than video lenses: better resolution, less CA, and to me at least, they FEEL better. All mechanical linkages, no servo drives. You can work your way to proper focus by touch. The only disadvantage at this point is the relatively long effective focal lengths when on the XL2, and I can work with and around that.

Martin
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Old August 14th, 2008, 09:39 PM   #7
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Non EF adapters

I use an FD-->XL adapter and Canon lenses. I have one vivitar 400mm, but that will go as soon as I score a canon brand lens.

Same here, I went this route because since the EF adapter cripples the ef lens, why make the expense. . . besides I already had the FD lenses... 50mm, 70-200mm, 300mm, 400mm.
I REALLY like the extreme mag possibilities. When I shoot birds with my birding buddies, they turn green at the mag possibilities the 400 (2880 mm) allows compared to their "puny" 600mm lenses. I am searching for the miracle deal on one of the Canon 800mm or 600mm. I am also looking for a good deal on the 35-105 lens.

Only problem with the concept is that you end up shooting at F22 or 32 in daylight sun. So expect to get a selection of ND and Polarizing filters, which can get pricey in the large diameters.

Focusing is easier on the XL2 tjan it was on the Xl1s, but an external monitor at least 7" widescreen is in order.
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Old August 15th, 2008, 08:28 AM   #8
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I have been playing with a Nikon 80-200mm f:2.8 lens on an XL2 with a Bosher 35mm adapter (no extra glass) for macro videos. I found that I could also use a set of extension tubes rather than a diopter lens effectively. They are more flexible as to magnification and there is no image degradation. The advantage of a zoom in close up is that you can set up the tripod at an optimum distance and by using both the distance and zoom settings can find the best focus.

I have a VERY heavy tripod, but the big enemy is wind. A tiny breeze looks like a hurricane in close focus images. Another frustration is finding the subject! I find I am sighting along the lens barrel to locate the subject first.

I agree that much of the shooting is at high f numbers so I will need to get a bunch of ND filters.
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Old August 15th, 2008, 07:47 PM   #9
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I picked up an inexpensive electronic air-pistol sight that optically projects a red dot in the field of view. The plan is it mount the sight on the accessory shoe and zero it along the optical axis. That way I can use the red-dot sight (with no magnification) to get the camera on-line with the intended subject, then switch to the viewfinder for critical framing and focus. It's like the low-power guide telescopes you see mounted alongside a larger telescope, used to get the big scope lined up on the target. $8.00 at Wal-Mart.

Martin
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