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Under Water, Over Land
Tools & Techniques for Nature, Outdoors, Wildlife & Underwater Videography.


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Old December 24th, 2004, 10:24 PM   #1
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wildlife videographers

I'm a wildlife videographer and am tired of working in a vacuum.
Does anyone know of, or belong to, an amateur/professional group where nature videographers can talk to each other, share clips for commentary, etc. The nature photographers have a bunch of these sites and they're heavily used. Maybe video clips are just to cumbersome to share. Any thoughts?

Steve Siegel,
Miami, FL
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Old December 26th, 2004, 06:18 AM   #2
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Steve, if you find one let me know. I have videoed all over the Southern USA and Colorado, also Africa, Amazon River, Patagonia and Tierra del Fuago. Going to southern Brazil this summer. I also do macro of insects. I am using the Canon XL-1s and editing with Vegas 5. Bob
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Old December 28th, 2004, 01:44 PM   #3
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Steve and Bob,

In our shared vacuum I'd be glad to see any stills from your videos showing plumage detail at 50-100 yards. I'm hoping to get good quality images of vultures in slow flight with Canon GL2 but before buying it I'd prefer to hear from either of you that it's not on and that i should save up to get XL1-S or something else. Did you shoot any flight of the condor in South America Bob?
What do both of you find to be your favourite camcorders for long distance videography?

Brendan Marnell
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Old December 28th, 2004, 07:06 PM   #4
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Hi Brendan,
Unfortunately, I don't think you can get much plumage detail at 50-100 yards. I use an XL-1s (saving up for an XL2) and even with a 300 or 400 mm zoom, I can't get plumage details at those distances. 20 yds, yes.
If you want good flight images, picking a vulture is the smartest thing you can do. They move more predictably than other birds, but they still take lots of practice.
If you plan to shoot birds, you almost have to have an XL camcorder. Adding 35mm lenses is crucial.

Steve
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Old December 29th, 2004, 04:56 AM   #5
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Steve, that is most helpful.

You've just advised me that if I opt for GL2 I wont get plumage detail at over 50 yards ... it is so useful to know this BEFORE my expectations made a fool of me.

I better start reading up on the XL's and lenses ... and saving up!
Any pointers on lightweight lenses please?

Thank you Steve, big time.

Brendan
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Old December 29th, 2004, 05:08 PM   #6
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Brendan,
Canon's 75-300 zoom is about the lightest weight lens you will find that gives acceptable magnification ($450 US). Sigma, Tamron, etc make cheaper copies that may be lighter (ie, more plastic) but I'm not sure. Once you get above 300mm the weight and cost increase dramatically. Canon does not make a 1.4 or 2x teleextender that fits the 75-300. I have a 2x Tamron that fits but the image is noticably soft. Remember that with any of these lenses you must buy the XL adapter (another $450) to get them on the camcorder body. Wow, my pockets are hurting just talking about this stuff.

Steve
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Old December 30th, 2004, 12:57 PM   #7
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Steve,

Thanks again.

Sigma 75-300 & a fixed Sigma 180 (macro for close-ups of alpine plants) ) I have. I must start practising with the former on my Rebel just to get the hang of how much I'd be missing at distance (without a tele-extender or a bigger lens). I know I can get a tripod to 75 yards from target in usually good sunlight all day in spring and autumn. After years vulture-watching with 8x30 Swarovski I still don't understand why a magnification of 8 is not adequate, but I guess that rules for binocs and cams vary and I'll have to go for x20 ++ or even x20xx to get really good video images as opposed to eyeball images x8.

Sony FX1 offers interchangeable lens facility and I shall ask them about teleextenders and adapters. Have you any sony cam experience to share? Could my 75-300 be adapted to FX1? For the quality I seek you said 75-300 would be acceptable ... have you time to explain to me how 75-300 works with a tele-extender of x1.4 or x2 or whatever ... I mean what is the combined effect in terms of magnification? Or is there a book called Camcorders & Lenses for Dummies?

Brendan
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Old December 31st, 2004, 04:56 AM   #8
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Sorry Steve

I told a lie ... Sony tell me FX1 does NOT have interchangeable lens facility. So the product info on CNET Review is wrong on this.

So my choice seems limited to XLs after all until I'm in a position to shell out more than $4000 in all including the cost of adaptors, lenses.

What has the XL2 got that suits you so much better than XL1s?
What would you include on a list of essential kit for high quality videography at 50 yards in sunlight?

Brendan
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Old December 31st, 2004, 06:17 AM   #9
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Brendan, yes, I videoed the Condor from the top deck of a boat going through the Straights of Magellan. He was gliding right over me and I shot him with the XL-1s/stock 16x and 1.6 tele. He is beautiful. As he slid off to the right I managed to track him with a glacier as the background. Put it to music and still cannot believe its beauty and size. Also did a lot of albetroses. (sp), penquins, seals and whales. The Canon image stabilizer is incredible. I used the 3x wide angle for shooting inside the glacial valleys. Great effects. I also used it to tour the ships engine room. The ability to turn down the volome on the XL-1s really helped here. Additionaly, I use a set (+1, +2, +4) close up diopters for macro. These are relatevly inexpencive and work great. I used my 16x with 1.6 tele and a combination of +1 and +2 diopters to video praying mantis hatching from their egg pods. WOW!!! I must say if you want to do wildlife you really need to go with the Canon XL-1s or XL-2. It is a SYSTEM that will grow and change as your situations change. No other camcorder in this price range can come close to it for this type of shooting. Bob
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Old December 31st, 2004, 02:03 PM   #10
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Bob, you're sounding loud and clear.

Thanks for paying all our respects to the condor whether we appreciate it or not. I'd be hoping this might happen to me some day. Envy is not the word ... it's just that you were twice blessed ... to be there & then and to be able to record the passing beauty. You're not just a lucky guy but pretty resourceful as well. Many happy returns.

And now I'm after finding Chris Hurd's "XL2 Fields of View Comparison" on the XL2 Watchdog site. Apart from that multi-shot selection by lens etc being gobsmacking it's patently scientific, yet even I can begin to understand it. I wonder what sort of tripod he used although it might be irrelevant for wildlife movement as he was shooting stills.

I've a lot to read up but it is an enormous service to know where to find most of it. There must be more threads nearby that will shorten the road for me. Do you think C.Hurd could be persuaded to shoot a succession of XL2 test video clips of condors from an upper deck passing through the Straits of Magellan? Or could we persuade you to put yours on DVInfo ... just to save Chris the best years of his life!? Brendan

P.S. I know I'll be back on to you for answers about the factual/practical effects of add-ons that I can't understand.
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Old December 31st, 2004, 03:43 PM   #11
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Brendan, if I knew how I would. I have also videoed Africa, and the Amazon River. This summer I am heading down to Pantinal in southern Brazil. It is now New Years eve in tlanta and I am videoing praying mantis catching and eating crickets. I am doing it in macro! WOW. Wildlife is all around, you don't even need to leave your yard. HAPPY NEW YEAR. Bob
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Old April 26th, 2005, 03:34 AM   #12
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Amen!!

Bob Safay's comment about not having to leave your backyard is so very appropriate. The little things are there, just overlooked.
Chuck Towne
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Old April 26th, 2005, 09:37 AM   #13
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my GL2 does excellent wildlife photography. i would say, it is the best camera available for this job, as much for its ergonomics as its image quality. the great thing about the GL2 is its sturdiness, its compactness, its portability in the field, and its lack of moving parts. i can sling it and hike for hours without worrying about babying it too much. it is a rugged little camera, maybe the timex of higher-end prosumer cameras. whereas the XL2 requires more tender care....gotta keep it in its pack when in motion, so it is much tougher to catch those wildlife-shooting opportunities which require a quick draw. if you sling an XL2, it is uncomfortable, the attached parts, like the viewfinder lock, tend to unscrew, and there are many exposed control buttons which are subjected to contact with your body.

if image quality is paramount, by all means the XL2 out-guns the GL2, but if portability and ease of use are meaningful, i highly recommend the GL2. i can get excellent bird images on the GL2 at fifty yards--not 100, but certainly at 50. slap an achromatic diopter on a GL2 and you'll get fabulous close-in photography.

one other thing, the GL2 is less obtrusive--my dr. doolittle-esque experience is that animals don't seem to mind its presence as much as they mind the big gun. they seem more willing to reveal themselves to my GL2. that may sound a bit wifty-woo, but it's my experience. so that you don't *have* to be 50-100 yards away to get the shot. they'll let you in a little closer.

the longer i own my XL2, the more i appreciate my GL2, which seems to be the opposite of most folks' experience, i think, but when it comes to lurking about the animal kingdom, the GL2 is most animal-friendly. hands-down winner of the Coyotes' Choice Award.
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Old May 4th, 2005, 04:54 AM   #14
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I am a college film student close to graduating, and I have always wondered how one becomes involved in Wildlife Videography. Is it of a freelance nature? Is there any experience or study that I should partake in? Any information that anyone can give me would be awesome. I have a strong interest in documenting and conserving the beautiful wildlife that our planet has to offer, but I don't know exactly where and how to start after I graduate.

Thanks
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Old May 6th, 2005, 01:05 AM   #15
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Camcorder for Wildlife Video

Last year, I spent a lot of time considering several DV models for my videomaking, which nowadays involves mostly wildlife and outdoor scenery. I picked the Sony VX2100, because of its high-quality image and its superior ability in limited light. It seems that my best photo-ops with wildlife come in the evening, when the light is fading. I've also done some nighttime shooting with a bright, LED spot-beam flashlight attached and aligned with the camera. The VX2100 has done very well for me in this type of use.

I have 3 telextenders, with 1.4X, 1.7X and 2.2X, which give me good enough magnification for most needs, on the 12X basic lens. A .5X, 58mm WA lens gives me good indoor capabilities, when I need them. This model does very well indoors, without added video lighting.

I also find plenty of interesting wildlife shots in my yard or from my roof. There's so many birds and animals within a 20-mile radius, that I could shoot all day, everyday and never run out of subjects. I'm lucky to live between two large rivers and birds are constantly flying back and forth.
In Eugene, we have deer, elk and Cougars living right in town and in the Winter, there's about 50,000 wild geese of 7 subspecies living nearby. Last year, by closely examining some older footage, I discovered and proved that a subspecies of Canada Goose had been wintering here for some time, that hadn't previously been identified this far south.
I can practice my stalking and shooting techniques just as well near home, as in any place. If a distant wildlife production opportunity presents itself, I'll be skilled and qualified, without having spent much money for the experience.
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