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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
Canon XL2 / XL1S / XL1 and GL2 / XM2 / GL1 / XM1.


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Old February 24th, 2005, 04:27 PM   #1
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tripod head

Has anyone tried using a kirk Cobra head for the XL2? I've seen it used for a 600mm f4 35mm Nikon lens on an F5 and it performed very well.

http://www.kirkphoto.com/cobra.html

What is the maximum worthwhile focal length used by people for wildlife filming? You can get incredible reach with a 300mm lens using the adapter which gives a 2340mm effective focal length but how usable is this in practice?
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Old February 24th, 2005, 09:11 PM   #2
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The clip at http://www.wetnewf.org/deer.mov shot with a 300 mm Nikkor on an XL1s shows some of the limitations such as the problems with sticky tripod heads, sensitivity to vibration of the substrate on which the tripod stands, criticality of focus etc. A common problem with such long focal lengths around where I live is humidity - long telephoto shots are often hazy though not in this case.

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Old February 24th, 2005, 10:48 PM   #3
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Andy;
It is common practice to use lenses as long as 600mm in wildlife videography. I know of several professional shooters who consistently use 150 - 600 mm Canon FD L lenses for their long shots.
I use a 50 - 300 FD L lens the majority of the time and often with a 1.4 converter.
As has been stated, atmospheric conditions do affect the quality of the image.
I just returned from a wolf shoot and used the 50 - 300 with great results. Care had to be taken because of the sun, snow and inherent heat waves.
I was also fortunate enough to record a mountain lion at about a mile away. She had two grown kittens and they were feeding on an elk carcass. I used a 600mm Canon FD lens to capture the female. Because of the heat waves the clip is marginal, at best; But how often do you see a lion with kittens in the wild!!?
You need a good fluid head and a good tripod as a starter for those long lenses.
Check my website to see the various lens setups.
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Old February 25th, 2005, 06:11 AM   #4
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Ron is too modest and I forgot to mention that a Ronsight is almost indispensible when using long telephotos with these cameras.
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Old February 25th, 2005, 10:59 AM   #5
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Hi A.J.;
Thanks for the plug. I need all the help I can muster!!
Those long lenses are invaluable for bird video.

Best;
Ron
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Old February 25th, 2005, 11:50 AM   #6
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Thanks for your advice Ron. What tripod fluid combination do you recommend? I have seen references on the forum to Manfrotto 501/525P. I assume that the leg spreaders can be removed. I will be shooting almost exclusively on rough ground.
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Old February 25th, 2005, 01:55 PM   #7
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Unfortunatly, the more expensive the tripod and head, the better results you will obtain.
I used a Bogen 3066 head and 3192 legs for some time. The legs are excellent, however the combo is a little heavy.
Sachtler, Vinton, O'Conner, Cartoni, Miller are all good, but expensive!
I now use an older Vinten Vision 10 and a fiber tripod.
Try to find a tripod with 2 stage legs and above ground spreader for your rough terrain use.
I find the next higher weight rating of the tripods and head is more desireable than the recomended weight for your camera.
Check E-Bay for some good buys on used tripods and heads.
Good luck!!

Ron
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Old February 26th, 2005, 05:56 AM   #8
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The Kirk tripod head will not make much difference to the quality of your footage. Most good quality, and far cheaper heads from Manfrotto, etc, will provide similar results. The Kirk, and most other heads are supporting only the lens itself, and not the body of the XL1s - and there lays the main problem (By the way, do NOT, whatever you do, try to support an SLR super telephoto lens with only the XL1/XL1s/XL2 body screwed into a tripod...always use the more sturdy lens tripod collar thread to mount and support the big lens).

A pro-level normal tripod head (SLR/large format Ball head or video/film head) will keep your big lenses steady, but something extra is also needed to maintain stability of the XL body. Most of the XL body seems to be sideways-swing, plus very slight movement at the lens mount adapter connection. Screwing the XL to a second sturdy tripod can help, but this can be very awkward, and also takes too much time to set up for wildlife or moving subjects. Using a Manfrotto/Bogen arm attached to the XL and one tripod leg also does not help a lot, because it still allows some sideways movement and vibration.

The only true way to keep the whole set up rigid and prevent sideways movement of the XL body, is to use an extremely long tripod head quick release platform. This platform also needs to be stepped due to the XL body being at a different level than the main lens collar when mounted on a single tripod. Apart from spending a lot of hours trying to build your own, there is only one suitable tripod mount fitting that is commercially available, and that is the Ronsrail.

Triggering the XL with the wireless remote helps prevent ‘judder’ when you stop and start the tape. If you are triggering the camera by remote, it means that you are maintaining focus on one position, so then you can of course use two tripods, or lay filled beanbags on the lens barrel and XL body (be careful to have extra support beneath the XL body when you do this – such as screwing an extra monopod to the XL tripod mount – to prevent added pressure on the lens bayonet mounting).
If you must move and adjust the focus, field of view and other settings constantly (which means touching the complete set-up) then I have found that bracing the complete rig with you’re your hands, inner arm, cheek and shoulder help absorb a lot of vibration and maintains stability in winds. If you feel that your tripod legs are not heavy enough, then simply hang a bag or sack filled with stones or sand between the tripod legs.
Extra weight always helps, and sometimes simply attaching the MA-200 to the rear of the XL body will balance the rig better (but try to avoid too much stress on that Canon lens mount or adapter mount when you do this).

Another very good way of providing extemely stable support, is to use a Manfrotto tripod column clamp (or universal clamp used for birdwatching, etc). The central column (not the legs) with tripod head attached, is clamped to any fixed object, such as a wooden fence, gate, tree branch, metal rail, wall ridge, vehicle, etc.
Shown here for USA:

http://www.adorama.com/BG3424.html

And here for UK/Europe:

http://www.cleyspy.co.uk/products.asp?i=22
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