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Old October 13th, 2011, 01:50 PM   #331
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

No electricity - but you can use the cigarette lighters in the vehicles to recharge. I am bringing an adapter that expands to three outlets so no one can accuse me of being a charger hog! I also have a Solio solar charger that I may bring for backup for daytime when we are in camp. I need to test how effective it is in re-charging batteries. You can also have the camp stewards take it to their base where they have electricity during the day, but I would need a second charger and/or a lot of batteries for that. I have the battery that comes with the camera with two of the larger Panasonic batteries and the charger on the way. I need to test if that will be enough.

Based on my experience in Alaska taping bears and whales bubble feeding, I think I will be making extensive use of the pre-record function which I think will use up more battery power. (Hope to avoid my experience in Alaska where I had to just let the camera run and then had tons of editing to do when I got back home!)

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Old October 13th, 2011, 04:58 PM   #332
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

Carol, I found the large Panasonic battery to last me all day and the next and I was filming most of the day, every single day so hopefully with two of them you should never run out of juice the same day. I never used the pre-record function though so don't know how this would affect things.

I am guessing you will be filming moving animals from a moving vehicle? If so will you be struggling with a tripod or travelling light and relying on the camera's own stabilisation? On my hols I needed to travel very light and also not take up any space in a crowd so I bought a Gitzo GZM2561T carbon fibre monopod with quick release for the trip.

This little beauty collapses to only 14" and weighs very nearly next to nothing. I used it on the rolling ferry boats that go up and down the 60 mile long lake and got really wonderful steady close ups of the shore line. The monopod and the nice stabilisation on the TM900 combined to make it look like I was filming from only a few hundred yards away instead of right out over the lake and the detail this camera records fully zoomed in good light is fantastic. Yes, I know the advice is normally to turn off image stabilisation when on a tripod but I found otherwise using a monopod, it turned out to be just brilliant, I could pop it in my little carry bag and put the TM900 in my pocket, hey what a difference to the days I was weighed down with loads of kit.
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Old October 13th, 2011, 05:53 PM   #333
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

I've never been on an African safari, so I can only plan for what I think I will encounter.

I am bringing a good tripod with me. Other than a day or two when I might go on a walking safari, I don't expect that I will be going far from our vehicle or far from camp. The advantage of a tripod is that I can take videos that I am in and for long distance shots, I'll be able to hold more steady than a monopod. (Although you had a good idea about leaving the stabilization on with the monopod.) It also frees up both of my hands, which I might need.

Approximately 1/2 of the trip is on private reserves where our vehicles have open sides. I was considering getting a mount that gripped onto the bars of the vehicle, but was advised that if I got the tripod, I could set that up in the car, even if it meant putting one or two legs on the seat.

When we are in the National Parks, we are required to travel in closed vehicles. I think that we can stand up and look out the roof. I am considering getting a Gripper with a suction cup mount and using my tripod head on it for those days to mount my camcorder on the roof.

I don't think that I will do much if any filming while we are moving. My understanding is that it is a pretty good workout to stay in your seat. What I'm hoping for is for me to be still and the animals to be moving! I am going to be very disappointed if I don't come home with at least one Big Cat Diary style hunting scene!

I'm going to Sedona next month and will probably take the Pink Jeep Tour which will give me a good opportunity for experimenting. I'll see how combining a tripod or mount works with stabilization on in a jeep riding across rough terrain.
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Old October 14th, 2011, 03:22 AM   #334
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

Your description of trying to stay in your seat as the Landrover bounces around are oh so true. And the dust! Make sure you can quickly pop the 900 into a zippered bag while the dust settles.
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Old October 14th, 2011, 05:47 AM   #335
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

Hi Carol,

There is an irritating aspect to the use of prerecord that you may not be aware of when using 1080p60 and that is, it has to be set in the menu for every shot.

Have you considered using a field monitor to review your results? I have a Small HD DP6 that has an HD screen is a great improvement on the TM900 screen and I can also use it for stills from my Nikon. It is compact and does not use much power and of course they are also great aids when recording.
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Old October 14th, 2011, 07:36 AM   #336
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

Anyone know if there are any non Panasonic batteries available for 900 series?
Is there a separate battery charger - again non Panasonic?
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Old October 14th, 2011, 08:27 AM   #337
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

Hi Norman,

I recently acquired a field monitor that I powered by a couple Li ion batteries (each ~ 8.4 volts, ~ 6 amp hours). Either battery is capable of powering the monitor for several hours. I have arranged them so they can also be connected in series giving ~ 16 volts. Using about $5 worth of components including a voltage regulator I can provide my TM900 with the 9.3 volts it needs through a cable that plugs into the power socket. This supply acts like the supplied power supply - it will charge the battery if the camera is turned off and will run the camera if it is turned on. My two batteries cost less than a single replacement battery for the TM900. They have about 5 times the capacity and are guaranteed for 400 days. Time will tell how long they last.
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Old October 14th, 2011, 11:38 AM   #338
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

Tom - I have a couple of layers of dust/rain protection, so I think I am as prepared as I can be in that area.

Alastair - It is not only that the pre-record needs to be turned on before every shot, it is that you need to remember when all of the settings get reset and it is inconsistent. But even with that, I expect there is a lot of value in the feature. I came back from Alaska with hours of footage with bears doing nothing punctuated by short bursts of them catching salmon or other moments of interest. (It was an older DV camcorder so you couldn't erase scenes from the tape.) My expectation is that with the pre-record function I can turn on record when the action starts without missing half of it. (Untested at this time.)

I love the idea of the small monitor. Now if it had an Android operating system, 3G capabilities, and could replace my Kindle and my iPod it would be a no-brainer! As it is, I have this tiny, lightweight camcorder and a 6lb tripod that only fits in my pack if I take the head off of it. I'm not sure if it is overkill for a hobbyist videographer.

On the other hand, I'm concerned about going and not being able to really check my video until the trip is over and I am home. How closely does a monitor like that replicate how the video will look on a big screen tv? (If the camcorder monitor is a 1 and a 1080p tv is a 10, where would the monitor fit in terms of knowing what your video looks like?)
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Old October 14th, 2011, 04:41 PM   #339
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

I'm really envious of Carol's trip, and respect the thoughtful attention to detail she's put into the planning, therefore don't have much to add except 3 snippits of advice, 1.) Travel as light as you can, 2.) Practice extensively beforehand, 3.) White balance in the field, don't trust AWB or the WB presets, white tennis shoes can work for a WB card in a pinch.

Good shooting, and have a great time!
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Old October 14th, 2011, 08:02 PM   #340
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

My major reasons for getting the field monitor were to permit a degree of remote operation and also to try operating two cameras from the same point. The review capabilities are a welcome bonus. I cannot rate the DP6 image against a 1080P TV as I do not have one. However I am aware that small images often look better than they really are.

I have found other uses for the monitor. I have built my DP6 into a rigid sunshade/mount and equipped it with larger than necessary batteries. If necessary I can draw power from these batteries to power my EX3 and/or to power/recharge my TM 900. That is the monitor set up can act as an emergency power supply. I use non-proprietary Li ion batteries that work on my SD702 also. I have also built-in an IR remote extender so that with the appropriate camera remote I can control my EX3 and/or TM while watching the monitor.

It is not a hiker’s dream kit but I live on a property that still has some wildlife. At the moment I have a heron catching frogs and tadpoles about 30’ from my door. As is the case for your bears there are long periods of the heron waiting patiently followed by a sudden strike. The prey is then rapidly taken from the water’s edge, separated from the bycatch and eaten, the bird then returns to the water to rinse its beak. I am good at recording the periods of inactivity but tend to muck up the rest in the excitement. This activity occurs relatively early in the day when lighting conditions are changing rapidly and that makes matching shots difficult. I am hoping two cameras with different viewpoints and zoom settings will help
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Old October 14th, 2011, 09:33 PM   #341
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

Tom - I appreciate the advice. I am working on the first two items (with the exception of the tripod which I am still deciding whether or not to bring due to size), but have some questions about using the manual white balance on this camera.

Do I need to worry about the exposure when I am setting WB or is that what the camera is doing when it either accepts or doesn't accept the manual WB reading?

Does it need to be a white card to set WB or can you use a grey or black card, too? And if you can use any of the three, under what conditions would each one be optimum with the TM900?

Alastair - your property sounds lovely! I hope you get the perfect heron shots and then post them.
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Old October 14th, 2011, 11:19 PM   #342
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

Carol,

I think a gray card should work, not a black but so can a business card, handkerchief. AWB can be okay in the city where the cam can manage to find some reference but in the bush, all those earth tones will confuse it, so you need something.

I thought about the tripod problem when I answered the last time. It's the most painful decision but here's what you have to keep in mind. I think it will need to be tall enough to see over tall grasses, but any shake at all with a cmos cam at high magnification and even a sturdy tripod on solid ground will cause ruinous wobble if there are even minute vibrations from wind. A lightweight convenient tripod won't be sturdy when fully extended, and a sturdy tripod breaks rule 1 about traveling light. No tripod means you might miss the shot if your arms are tired from just holding your arms up. That's why I'm persuaded that Claire is right (I think it was Claire) to suggest the monopod. It can serve dual duty as your walking stick, but since you steady it with your hands, it will work effectively with OIS, while tolerating wind.

Lastly, I had a thought about the electricity problem. I have this battery that goes with a zylight (on camera light) for my Sony shoulder cam. It's lithium polymer, and I checked the ratings for it, capacity wise it's about equivalent to 5 of the regular vbn130's. Pressing a button you can adjust the output voltage to match anything between 5 and 19, (about 9 is called for.) And I think it even came with an assortment of male and female plugs to fit most things. If you clipped something like that to your belt, you could at once be powering the cam and recharging the installed cam battery, with only 1 to have recharged over nite or in the car. Seems like it recharges quickly too. It's called a Tekkeon. It might make life less complicated from the standpoint of time shifting smaller batteries and chargers or solar.
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Old October 15th, 2011, 12:31 AM   #343
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

Tom & Claire- I just got back to my computer after taping up the box for my tripod to be picked up for return when I saw your response. It was a painful decision, but it did break the travel light rule. I've been doing some reading on safari photography and it is probably not the best choice for Tanzania. So I have also come to see that Claire's recommendation is the right one.

I've also decided to forego the monitor (unless of course they come out with an HD monitor/Kindle and iPod replacement/3G Android device) so I've just downsized dramatically!

I think I will be ok with power. 1 large Panasonic battery lasted Claire all day and I will have two large and one small battery. With the cigarette lighter converter, I will be able to keep one plugged in whenever we are in the vehicles.

Do you think it is worth getting a small, battery run microphone? It would need to be lightweight. Or is there a way of improving the sound of the built in microphone. Even with the wind noise canceller on I can hear wind sometimes and sometimes I can hear my breathing.
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Old October 15th, 2011, 09:18 AM   #344
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

Carol, since you are going to use the sound recorded by the camera I must tell you if were me there is no way I would rely on the built in microphone, unless it is flat calm you will certainly have unusable audio much of the time due to wind noises. I am attaching several photos I took of the equipment I took with me on my trip, it all dismantled down so that I could carry it in my small backpack and with the kind of rain jacket that folds into it's own pocket (tiny) reckoned I was ready for more or less anything Italy could throw at me in September.

Much of the time it was flat calm and so I did on these occasions get away with the camera's built in mic, I set them to record 2 track stereo, not surround sound and they did fine. The last time I was in Africa I don't recall any wind but I was only there a week and I'm sure it does get windy sometime, even though it's in the tropics where high pressure dominates.

Even in flat calm your sound will get wiped out when you are moving, say in the Jeep... when I was on the seating area on the roofs of the ferry boats, (which was as often as possible due to nice 85/90F temperatures each day) I used an Edirol CS50 mic with a Rode WS6 windgag. This is my most "windproof" setup, no unwanted sounds even with the warm air rushing past me, nice!). It's stereo so it recorded the live ambience, to me an essential ingredient to relive the experience with full effect, boat noises and peoeple enjoying themselves, sounds coming from all directions, and when the large paddle boats pass each other they sound their horns and it's so exciting in stereo! LOL! I can already imagine the live sounds you would here on your trip, it would be sad not to capture these properly so please think carefully before you go.

You will see from my photos I have this mic mounted on a Hague camera support bracket together with a Juiced Link box that converts the XLR plugs to the little jack plug needed for the TM900. There are of course mics that would not need this accessory, it's just that I use this mic with my EX1R and love it to death so I thought the addition of the JL box worth while.

Now note that this whole camera support bracket pops off and on the monopod at will, so when I need absolute steadiness (eg: you zoomed up on a lion !!!) I would be on the monopod but if I need to quickly be very mobile I might pop it off and with two hands, one on the camera and the other on the handle of the camera support I could film anything anywhere, and still have more stability than the camera on it's own. I am delighted with the arrangement it allows me FLEXIBILITY!

Last but not least I have the Rode VideoMic Pro with a Rycote windgag, this keeps the camera small and simple and the windgag is fairly effective but not perfect, I use this in light winds where I need to remain discrete, not stand out in a crowd but I don't like it for one reason which is that it is mono only and the sort of filming I do with the TM900 demands realistic proper stereo ambience, mono sound dull and flat when compared.

Hope these ramblings and pics help...
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Old October 16th, 2011, 05:19 AM   #345
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

Hi Carol,

Someone, somewhere in this forum recommends placing a patch of sound blimp fur over the grill of the TM 900 microphones to reduce wind noise. He attaches it with double-sided adhesive tape. All very simple and easy to replicate.

I have not tried this in the field but I have set up my TM900 about 3 feet in front of a 15” fan set to its maximum speed while I had a wireless tuned to a lecture to provide a sound source. I used headphones for monitoring. A patch of artificial fur made a worthwhile difference in this case.
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