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Old October 2nd, 2016, 06:13 PM   #1
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What would you choose.

Looks like my first two threads were too broad, so let me try a different approach. Here's the scenario; You are a contract wildlife videographer and you were hired by National Geographic (just pretend) to caputure footage of waterfowl at distances of 5 to 20 yards, whitetail deer at distances of 20-40 yards, and bald eagles at distances of 30-100 yards. Just your luck, all your equipment was destroyed (and insurance wouldn't cover your loss). You have $3,500 to buy a camera/lens (your fluid head tripod was saved) and it will be the only equipment that you can buy for the next 5-7 years. Then you might be able to put another $2,000 into it. Considering your experience and expertise, what camera would you buy. Oh, and you're right handed, left eye dominant.
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Old October 2nd, 2016, 06:57 PM   #2
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Re: What would you choose.

If you really mean National Geographic then your budget may have a 0 missing !!! Your budget places you in the high end consumer camera ranks. A good Prosumer integrated lens camera will cost you minimum $3500 and then you need batteries etc. What are you really asking for in these posts ? I am sure a Sony FS7 would meet your imaginary goals but the budget should be more like $20000 to cover camera, lenses and batteries etc.

Ron Evans
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Old October 2nd, 2016, 08:23 PM   #3
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Re: What would you choose.

ok then, for a pbs documentary..and your budget is $5,000.
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Old October 2nd, 2016, 10:14 PM   #4
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Re: What would you choose.

National Geographic and PBS both have video engineering standards that demand a camera in the under-$20k class, minimum, not the under-$5k class.

Having said that, if we're not really talking about those distribution channels, but a camera whose image *looks* on par on Youtube, (but video/broadcast engineers know different!), I'd be all over a Canon C100 Mk2 with a Canon 70-200 f2.8 Mk2 lens and a 100-400Mk2 lens to start. Might well need a longer lens as well, eventually, for birds in flight.

I'd get a 17-55 f2.8 EFS lens as well, because, though the wildlife won't look like much, you'll almost always be called upon to do an interview... and a superwide just because it's needed in the great outdoors. Programs can't all be closeups and interviews...

Of course a knowledgeable shooter could get better results with a $1000 dSLR and those lenses than an inexperienced shooter who spends $5k, $10k, or $20k on the camera.

If I *were* called to shoot wildlife for Nat Geo or PBS, I'd be renting a minimum of a Canon C300 Mk2 with those same lenses. But they wouldn't call me. Wildlife is definitely a specialty area, and capturing good images goes far beyond good camera operation.

Decades ago, I was budgeting a production for a National Park Visitor's Center, and I was shocked to find out how much time shooters were spending in the field to get good wildlife coverage. So much of the work my agency was doing was 1 to 3 day shoots, and then for this parks project I was looking at 2 to 6 week wildlife shoots, without much support out in the field. It really brought home the different challenges faced in different industries.
30 years of pro media production. Vegas user since 1.0. Webcaster since 1997. Freelancer since 2000. College instructor since 2001.
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Old October 3rd, 2016, 07:56 AM   #5
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Re: What would you choose.

Hi Larry,

I realise that you are new to the forum and want to pick up as much information as possible from experienced people here. However, there are a couple of things that you need to do first.

One is to stop opening new threads on basically the same subject as members will be less inclined to respond as your threads become more fragmented. You have made it clear that you want to do wildlife videography to a broadcast standard so one thread is sufficient to discuss it, just be clear with your questions and answers to enable you to steer the thread where you want it to go, rather than starting new ones.

The second thing to think about is that the forum has members ranging from those who have spent their working lives in the broadcast industry, to absolute beginners. So you need to be very clear and honest about your own experience and knowledge if you want real help and support from members. If you are an absolute beginner with no experience and knowledge of handling cameras and working with video images, or perhaps with some experience, then there are many members who will be delighted to offer you help and advice. Otherwise it quickly becomes obvious to a professional what your level of experience is from the tone of your questions. So a good starting point is to let us know where you are coming from and ultimately where you would like to end up, then you will get good solid advice on how to pursue your path.


Last edited by Roger Gunkel; October 3rd, 2016 at 07:59 AM. Reason: Typos
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Old October 3rd, 2016, 09:29 AM   #6
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Re: What would you choose.

I also think a "I would like to shoot wildlife and have a 3.5 to 5k budget and would like some camera recommendations" would have gotten you further then now, for anyone expecting to shoot at the same standards as someone who deliver to nat geo and work with high end gear your budget would not even cover the tripod.

For wildlife if you are on a budget I"d recommend a GH4 with a Panasonic 100-400mm lens, it will give you a 200-800mm full frame equivalent reach and you still would be under your budget since the GH4 is selling pretty cheap these days, you could then also shoot in full HD and activate etc mode which uses a crop on the sensor and again double your reach. As far as I know Panasonic is the only one that is able to achieve such massive reach at this pricepoint.
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