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-   -   Advice on filming birds please (http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/canon-xl-gl-series-dv-camcorders/51476-advice-filming-birds-please.html)

Ido Levy September 21st, 2005 02:00 AM

Advice on filming birds please
 
Hi All

I live in Australia where we get almost every day a clear sky (not a single cloud ! ) and birds don’t know what “fear” means. The other day I got as close as 5 meters from a black shoulder kite ! I did not have my xl2 with me…;-( but i had my camera....;-)
Anyway, I would love to get your advice or hear about your experiments with exposing correctly birds. I live in a PAL land and still a newbie to the video field.
I would love to make documentaries on birds around here (there are plenty!! ) and striving for the best possible setting. I realized that I would better go for the 16x9 ratio, as the quality is better than the 4x3. I also read in this forum that I should avoid closing more than f/8 +. I am not sure though which frame rate to go. 25 fpc or 50 fpc ??
I read somewhere that in order to get the film like look I should use 25 fpc and shutter speed 1/50 psc is that correct? But using these setting I would probably over expose unless I close my Aperture way over the f/8. To compensate for that I need to use my ND filter almost all the time and use Gain at –3……Is that the way to go..? and when I want to get a shallow DOF and expose at f/2.8 what do I do then to avoid over exposure…? Of course all these questions are not relevant if there is no problem with using a shutter speed way over 1/250 psc.
So 25 fps or 50fps? Gain -3 or better to go with a Gain set to - 0 and what about birds in flying…? Or even worse SLOW MOTION..!!?? As you can see I am lost here so please HELP!!!

Thanks!!!
Ido- Australia

Robert Luke September 21st, 2005 10:35 PM

i filmed some birds once. a tripod was required. these guys were in a next. i was at the lowest possible f stop. i tried to keep the shutter at 1/48 but went down to 1/24 for more light. i also use a polarizer lens with everything i do. i can't remember whether or not i used neatral density. and this was on the ntsc canon xl2, btw.

Greg Boston September 21st, 2005 10:39 PM

I've shot video of hummingbirds and pretty much use an iris of around 5.6 and then -3db gain, both ND's engaged. From there, I take the shutter up only as much as necessary to get proper exposure. This was shooting in 4:3 mode and 30P.

-gb-

Stephanie Wilson September 22nd, 2005 12:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ido Levy
Hi All

I live in Australia where we get almost every day a clear sky (not a single cloud ! ) and birds don’t know what “fear” means. The other day I got as close as 5 meters from a black shoulder kite ! I did not have my xl2 with me…;-( but i had my camera....;-)
Anyway, I would love to get your advice or hear about your experiments with exposing correctly birds. I live in a PAL land and still a newbie to the video field.
I would love to make documentaries on birds around here (there are plenty!! ) and striving for the best possible setting. I realized that I would better go for the 16x9 ratio, as the quality is better than the 4x3. I also read in this forum that I should avoid closing more than f/8 +. I am not sure though which frame rate to go. 25 fpc or 50 fpc ??
I read somewhere that in order to get the film like look I should use 25 fpc and shutter speed 1/50 psc is that correct? But using these setting I would probably over expose unless I close my Aperture way over the f/8. To compensate for that I need to use my ND filter almost all the time and use Gain at –3……Is that the way to go..? and when I want to get a shallow DOF and expose at f/2.8 what do I do then to avoid over exposure…? Of course all these questions are not relevant if there is no problem with using a shutter speed way over 1/250 psc.
So 25 fps or 50fps? Gain -3 or better to go with a Gain set to - 0 and what about birds in flying…? Or even worse SLOW MOTION..!!?? As you can see I am lost here so please HELP!!!

Thanks!!!
Ido- Australia

Ido,

In MHO you are making your desire to shoot birds WAY too complicated. I love birds too and if I were to videotape them I would just plug in the appropriate ND filter for the amount of sunlight you had and just shoot! I could be wrong but I think any other modification like 16:9 and different fps speeds will adversely affect your ability to focus at the long depth of field you need. I know adding shutter will definitely affect your aperture, your depth of field, and your ability to follow focus.

I agree that shutter can and should be used for effect, (seeing the motion of the birds wings) but this is a very difficult scenario which usually requires experienced wildlife photographers with speciality cameras, lenses and rock solid tripods...

Again, adding the other options you mentioned will only shorten your depth of field and make follow focus much more difficult to achieve.

If you are just wanting to shoot stationary birds, forgive all this B.S. and please look forward to the replies from others here who will be better able to address your questions.

Good Luck,

Stephanie

Lauri Kettunen September 22nd, 2005 02:05 AM

Hi Ido, I use 16:9, shutter speed 1/50s, and set the ND filter such that get iris around f5.6. If needed, I add +3 or +6 gain. Always in manual focus, and I avoid setting focus while taking the shot. I never get it adjusted right on fly, and thus, keeping focus fixed is a way to avoid (in my opinion) the akward effect of bumping. Furthermore, I have most of the time "knee=low" and "black=normal/stretch". Say, if you film an eagle, the brown color becomes easily black against the bright sky, and thus stretching black yields more tones.

About other conditions: sun set and sun rise is good time to film birds, for the light comes low from the horizon. If you had snow durin a bright spring day, that would be helpful, for snow fields reflect light upwards, and as a result, flying birds do not appear dark, quite the opposite.

Bob Thompson September 23rd, 2005 08:13 AM

Ido,

I am very jealous of Australia's beautiful clear skies, this makes for great bird photography. I would suggest that you first consider a large solid tripod with a decent fluid head as this is the secret to good bird photography, although you mentioned being able to get close to the kite, most of the birds will be smaller species and you will need to use the long end of the zoom.

If you can afford it I would look at getting the Canon 300 or 400mm stills lens and adapting it to fit on the camera ( At first you will have trouble sighting the birds due to the long focal length), an accessory called "Ron Sight" would also be useful.

The most important thing with bird photography is to learn as much as you can about the various species, particularly there habitat, this way you are able to anticipate where to find the birds. Also as suggested in a previous post try and film early in the morning or in the late afternoon this is when the birds will be foraging - you want to film action not still images, also it is cooler then and you won't get heat haze that distorts the images of long focal length lenses.

Finally join a bird watching society, this way the members will be able to identify the birds for you and they will be able to suggest the best locations to find the birds.

Finally good luck, Australia has a great variety of bird species

Bob

Chris Gaston September 23rd, 2005 08:27 AM

Filming birds
 
Hi Ido,

In the UK we have some special challenges, wind, rain and cloudy skies! However, my setup uses a Sigma Apo 70-200mm 2.8 EX lense with a 1.4 extender and the XL adaptor onto an XL1s. The camera is set to 4:3 and the exposure to auto. I can then dial in whatever aperture that isolates the bird effectively and let the shutter speed sort itself out. I use an ND4 on the Sigma most of the time and get good results at f4 to f8. To compensate for underexposure when shooting against the sky, I usually dial in +1.5 stops on the exposure compensation dial.

A good tripod is a must, I go for Manfrotto plus a 501 head.

But the real secret is hours of practice and disappointment to get the good shots.

Hope this helps.

Ido Levy September 24th, 2005 04:23 AM

Thanks for all of you
My set up includes the Miller two stage carbon fiber DV tripod legs and the vinten vision3 fluid head. I also use with my 20x zoom stock lens the 1.6 canon extender. Believe me it is more than enough around here. As I have been doing birds photography for quite some time I am aware that the best time is early in the morning and 1-2 hours before sunset. I get some nice shots with my camera.
For documentaries should I go 25fps or 50fps ? 4x3 or 16x9 ? what is your opinion regarding these settings as I am getting different opinions.

Thanks again
Ido

Mark Utley September 27th, 2005 05:09 AM

For documentaries, it's entirely your preference. I'd be going 25fps widesceen, but that's just me.

Lauri Kettunen September 27th, 2005 06:37 AM

While filming last evening, inspired by Ido's question, I made some tests, how to focus when filming flying birds. For the first time I realized that the it's much easier to focus on flying birds using the Canon ZR-1000 remote controller than from the lens ring. The point is, the ZR-1000 has two buttons F (far?) and N (near?), and a short press on a button gives good control --i.e., a rather small change-- on the focus. Especially, a short press never seems to change the focus too much, which happens often to me when I turn the ring of the lens.

For example, when birds are flying away, and it starts to look the birds are getting out of focus, a small press on F will bring back the focus. Furthermore, if the birds are bright, such as (our local) swans, then one may set the zebra IRE value as low as possible and exploit them in controlling the focus. (As somebody explained at some point, zebra tends to appear only when the object is in focus.)

Of course, which technique to use is very much a matter of taste.

Mark Utley September 27th, 2005 10:21 PM

This thread made me smile. These are things my friends would NEVER say, haha.


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