What is good enough for extreme telephoto? at DVinfo.net

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Old August 22nd, 2005, 11:16 PM   #1
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Location: Sussex, UK
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What is good enough for extreme telephoto?

I recently shot some footage, of vultures nesting and soaing, with XL2 and EF L100-400mm. (This gives a telephoto effect equivalent to 2800mm on a 35mm still camera.)

Some of the footage was usable including a couple of long duration pans, but it was abundantly clear that my Manfrotto 501 was not the right tool for the job. On static shots, there is too much slack in the system causing it to drift off target when I let go of the handle after locking it down. It gives a sicky pan, not noticeable at wide angle, but very obvious at times on super-tele. (Yes I did turn off the OIS on the EF lens.)

Now the ideal equipment for such shots would be a massive outside broadcast tripod bolted to concrete....but that isn't feasible for me.

A number of factors limit my choice of upgrade. I need something portable enough to hike with over rough terrain, and robust enough to survive airline travel. (The mounting plate of the 501 was cracked despite the good bag that came with it.)

Money always has competing uses, so I need to work out what is the most affordable set up, that will produce a broadcast quality image under such circumstances.

I will also need to get a paired-rods bracket to clamp both camera and lens, and allow the combination to be balanced correctly on the head.

Can anyone recomend what does/does not work for panning at super-tele?

I've just found the "Canon 100-400mm EF Lens on XL1" thread in
The Digital Video Information Network > Standard Definition DV Camcorders > Canon XL1 / XL1S Watchdog > Canon XL1 / XL1S Lens & Optics .

Much of it would be relevant to XL2, JVC HD101, or any other brand.
Nick Hockings

Last edited by Nick Hockings; August 23rd, 2005 at 04:01 AM. Reason: Add post script
Nick Hockings is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 24th, 2005, 02:34 AM   #2
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Nick, I have the Manfrotto 525MVB legs and the 519 fluid head. This combo works very well when I use the standard 20x lens of the XL2, provided the pan/tilt adjustments match the camera weight and center of gravity. However, it still takes care to get really smooth pans or tilts at the telephoto end of the focal length range. I've never used an EF lens on the XL2 but I suppose the 519 would perform a lot better than the somewhat small 501 head.

Unfortunately the 525/519 combo is neither cheap nor lightweight. Wether it fits your budget (and muscles) is entirely up to you.
Keep rolling

Rainer Hoffmann is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 24th, 2005, 05:42 AM   #3
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Nick, you need to be looking at Sachtler or Vinten tripod/head systems (not the light weight ones). For serious "broadcast" quality images using your telephoto lenses, you can expect to pay for the system what you paid for the camera, perhaps more.

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Old September 4th, 2005, 09:00 AM   #4
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Good Morning, Nick.

I am using the same lens on my XL-1s, for wild life shooting.

This is strickly my opinion:
In my 40+ years as a professional cameraman, it is less the equipment, and more the indivdual's technique that will solve your problem. By that I mean such things as breath control, stance, etc. It can be done, but, as they say when some one in New York asks you, "How do you get to Carnigie Hall?" "Practice! Practice! Practice!" is the standard reply.

As to your TP & Head. I use the Bogen A.R.T.s tripod with the 516 head. I would not consider any of there equipment of lesser quality, to be up to snuff, for a long lens.
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Old September 4th, 2005, 10:44 PM   #5
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Location: Kent, Washington, USA
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Hi Nick;
Take Jay's advice and use the best tripod-head assy. you can afford. Smooth pans require good eqiupment and lots of practice. To reduce vibration and to stablize the lens - camera combo for your vulture shots and the use of the 100-400 lens, consider the RONSRAIL. To find your subject, with that combination and it's limited field of view, try the RONSIGHT. It is of great value in finding and keeping the subject in view with those pans.
Check out my website for various combinations of lenses and heads and an explanation of both pieces of equipment.
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