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Old December 17th, 2008, 10:43 AM   #1
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Otter clip

Just uploaded a long clip of an otter on Otter coming for food on Vimeo It was taken with the Sony A1e on nightshot mode at dusk. I was in the process of setting it up with infra-red lights when the otter appeared, and the lights were aimed at the pile of fish and not where the otter was - I'm not sure that I had even got around to switching them on. I was not close enough for the inbuilt infra-light to do anything except light up the animal's eyes.
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Old December 18th, 2008, 02:36 AM   #2
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Hi Annie,

Pleased you managed to get some footage, it was good to watch. I know its a great feeling when you are involved with an animal that has been rescued and returned to the wild, and even better if you get the chance to watch it and in your case film it after its release.

Keep up the good work,

Mick
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Old December 18th, 2008, 07:42 AM   #3
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My really bad Otter clip

Hi Annie and Mick

My really bad Otter clip, the original is bad and this compressed version is really very bad.
Yours is better than mine. That's wide otter from France. In Spring i think to do a better clip but i'm not sure ???. I'm looking for micro channel plates (a little bit expensive for me) the XL2 is really bad in low light (with no light).

Best continuation.

Gilles
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File Type: mov loutres 3.mov (1,014.1 KB, 4583 views)
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Old December 18th, 2008, 08:51 AM   #4
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Nice footage Annie!
You're lucky to be able to record during night with your night-shot function with the Sony A1!
Does anybody know how to film IR with e.g. Canon XLH1 if it's possible at all? I suppose not every camcorder will support IR-mode?
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Old December 18th, 2008, 09:42 AM   #5
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Mick - I was pleased to be able to get anything at all. Last time we released a couple of otters, it rained every evening and I wasn't able to get any photos - long before I had a video camera. So this time I was determined to try.

Per - I think most cameras can be adapted to do infra-red because it has something to do with a filter that needs to be changed by the manufacturer - I don't know the technicalities of it, but I don't suppose it is cheap. I got the Sony A1 initially because it was recommended to me independently by two people who had used it professionally for TV work. To get the best out of it, you need infra-red gel lights, which I don't have at the moment. My LED lights give adequate light only over a few metres.

Gilles - you are right that the compression spoils your clip. But it is better to have tried and see what happens. Now you can try again and make an improvement.
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Old December 19th, 2008, 07:56 AM   #6
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I enjoyed the intimacy with the otter and the natural sounds. Have you set up the camera trap yet?
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Old December 21st, 2008, 06:37 AM   #7
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I did get the camera trap set up. The first few nights were very experimental, but I think I got it working satsifactorily in the end. However, there was a problem in that the big battery I have for the Sony A1 would just about last one night, and I got only a few brief clips each time. It takes about six seconds to wake the camera up once the trap has been activated, and often whatever had activated it had gone by then.

Once we reduced feeding the otters to every second night, and then they stopped coming for food, I was reluctant to leave the camera out. The weather was very wet, and I don't have a waterproof cover for the camera - I made up something from closed cell foam and gaffer tape that worked quite well.

I hope to try it on badgers at some time.
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Old December 22nd, 2008, 05:21 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie Haycock View Post
I did get the camera trap set up. The first few nights were very experimental, but I think I got it working satsifactorily in the end. However, there was a problem in that the big battery I have for the Sony A1 would just about last one night, and I got only a few brief clips each time. It takes about six seconds to wake the camera up once the trap has been activated, and often whatever had activated it had gone by then.

Once we reduced feeding the otters to every second night, and then they stopped coming for food, I was reluctant to leave the camera out. The weather was very wet, and I don't have a waterproof cover for the camera - I made up something from closed cell foam and gaffer tape that worked quite well.

I hope to try it on badgers at some time.
It is rare to see film of an otter checking out human scent and giving it the ok ... the smell of an easy meal helped of course. Lovely to watch instinctive caution and graceful movement.

Your quote describes the sort of challenges facing wildlife videographers very well, both under water and over land ... I suppose one-night batteries are tolerable compared to the 6-second time lag before the camera becomes activated. Just as well that birds usually fly by day and that brides are not usually camera-shy. Thanks for the insights.
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Old December 22nd, 2008, 07:44 AM   #9
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To add a bit about the camera trap (TrailMaster Infrared Trail Monitors - world leaders in infrared trail monitoring equipment. Providing game cameras and trail cameras, trail counters and traffic counters.), you program it to operate for a certain period after it has been activated (I have it on 20 secs, but that is automatically extended if it detects further movement), then you program in a standby period before it shuts the camera down completely. During that period, it will start immediately it is activated, but once the camera has shut down, that is when it takes six seconds to wake up again. Obviously the longer is is recording and the longer the standby period, the more battery it uses. After the first night the battery looked almost full still, but the recording and standby times were too short to be useful. As soon as I lengthened the standby period, the battery barely lasted the night. However, during the night the otters appeared occasionally and took a fish away, but did not return within the standby period so the length of the standby period became irrelevant in this case.
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Old December 27th, 2008, 06:32 AM   #10
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Lovely night shots of the otter.
These animals are great, I have a few (in the wild) where I live :)

Geir Inge
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Old December 29th, 2008, 07:16 AM   #11
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An interesting shot even if the star was somewhat diffident. No otters in our country but plenty of other subjects for IR work. I have been experimenting with some cheap monochrome Korean surveillance cameras and infrared l.e.d. lights from an electronic supplier. My subjects have included nest box behaviour of some of our local arboreal mammal species. To record the images I connect the output of the camera into the input of my Sony PD 150. The results can be surprisingly good considering the surveillance cameras only cost $75 au each. However they only have automatic exposure control and relatively low resolution. I am looking for an alternative camera with higher resolution and manual exposure.
I understand that Sony’s nightshot mode temporarily removes the IR cut filter then sets the gain and aperture on full as well as turning on a very low powered built in IR lamp. Is this what happens in the A1e?
It would have to be better to replace the inbuilt lamp with larger external lamps that could be set to one side to eliminate red eye and provide some texture. I note that MaxMax convert cameras for IR use by making permanent modifications to some cameras including the Sony HDR HC9. The converted camera has the built in IR cut filter removed and replaced with an IR pass filter. This means the camera is always sensitive to IR unless an external IR cut filter is used, however it is possible to control both aperture and gain which I think are very desirable features.
Does anyone have any experience with one of these modified cameras for this type of work?
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Old January 5th, 2009, 05:50 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Alastair Traill View Post
I understand that Sony’s nightshot mode temporarily removes the IR cut filter then sets the gain and aperture on full as well as turning on a very low powered built in IR lamp. Is this what happens in the A1e?
It is frustrating not being able to exert any control over the aperture and gain, but you can't have everything, especially at relatively low prices. The inbuilt IR lamp on the A1e really only works within a foot or so of the subject. You can turn it off via the menu, and usually I have it turned off. It is also underneath the lens, so you get shadows above the subject, which can look very strange. I switched it on for the otters, because I was trying to get as much light as possible. And maybe it acted as a small fill light. The LED lights I used were cheap and light weight, but bigger gel lights give a much better picture as the camera turns down some of the extra gain if you have enough light.
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Old January 5th, 2009, 10:58 AM   #13
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Does anyone have any experience with one of these modified cameras for this type of work?
Hi, I did some shooting last year for a UWOL entry that centered around badgers. The guy I was working with had 20 years experience of watching - they used a hand torch with a red gel taped round the front, which worked great as he was able to track the badgers as I filmed. I think it's perhaps a combination of the their eyesight not being great , the red end of the spectrum being their weak spot and possibly the fact that they were used to it - all gave great results with the A1. I ended up going autofocus with it, provided there is a suitably bright area it doesnt hunt round too much.

The video is here, but I hope to get some longer forms up soon, got about 50 minutes on one night!!!

Binfield Badger Group on Vimeo

Oh and green was removed and black stretched out in MBlooks - hate that greenish tinge!


Annie, great stuff of the otter - I had my first encounter this autumn in kintyre, sadly I was holding a fishing rod at the time.... ( maybe it didn't like the competition, as for one brief second it came so close I thought it might attack me!!!! ;-)
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Old January 5th, 2009, 11:13 AM   #14
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Hi Rob

Great stuff on the badgers. What hand torch did you use? I'd guess it was a fairly powerful one. It certainly illuminated the badgers adequately in close-up but a more distant shot showed the extra grain from not having quite enough light.

I've made a note of how you removed the greenish tinge!
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Old January 5th, 2009, 05:12 PM   #15
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Hey Annie,
I'm not too sure, looked like a mid sized generic hand torch, maybe running off 4-6 D cells? They also had a 12v flood set up in the same way being topped up by a solar panel, but when I went it was on it's way out. This was setup in the same way with the filter. He took quite a lot of care not to shine the torch directly into their eyes, but overall they didn't seem fazed at all ( mind you, could have been the eggs secrected in the undergrowth, of which they have a distinct love for!). They had two hides setup adjacent to the sett, and they would come to within about 5 feet, which was perfect for the A1's puny 12x zoom ;-)

But, i'm guessing otters will be a whole different ball game, vision wise!

I know Mat T has got a IR LED array which can be picked up pretty cheaply from ebay, these look to be good but i havent had the chance for a play yet!
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