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Old July 15th, 2005, 08:44 AM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Akershus, Norway
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Lenses for wildlife filming

Could someone advice me regarding lenses for wildlife filming with the XL2. I would like to use Canon eos-lenses or equivalent from Sigma which is a lot cheaper.
I know that I must use the ef-adapter. The lenses I have been looking at are: Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L (IS) USM with/or without IS vs.
Sigma APO 70-200mm f2.8

Have anyone used this lenses and are there any difference between them?

- Per Johan
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Old July 15th, 2005, 10:14 AM   #2
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After briefly using the EF adapter, I would say just about any of the lenses you listed would be good. The 9x magnification factor of the CCD makes any lens into a small telescope. The zoom one is probably best, so you get some variability.
I tried a 500mm lens once (4500mm effectively), and it was incredible. You can be in town and record hikers in the foothills. Amazing...
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Old July 15th, 2005, 10:16 AM   #3
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Hi Per, auto focus does not work with ef lenses when used on the XL2 with the adapter, IS is not a really useful addition either when used on the XL2 as the efective focal length requires you to use a decent tripod anyway.

So unless you have a Canon still camera that you will also be using this lens on you can save some money by going without IS. I can't actually comment on the usefulness of the 70-200 though as I have not used it!.

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Old July 15th, 2005, 08:41 PM   #4
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Hi Per;
The use of EOS lenses, FD lenses, and Nikon lenses are all readily used in wildlife videography. The FD and Nikon need special adapters available commercialy. All lenses are basicaly manual operation.

I use the EOS 70 - 200 non IS L, the 300 EOS L, the FD 50-300 L, all with the 1x4 converter, and the 600 FD. I get excellent footage with all the lenses, with the EOS getting slightly better resolution.

Check my website for photos of various combinations of lens and tripod setups.

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Old July 16th, 2005, 04:28 AM   #5
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Per, I have used and tried various lenses and my recommendation is to use only Canon (or Nikon -if you have the adapter) lenses. However, I've not tried the Sigma lens you mentioned.

I'm after sharp images, and the tests I've made seem to suggest the drawing of Canon lenses is sharper than those of cheaper ones. There is also a difference among Canon lenses. The zoom lenses do not yield imho as sharp image as those with a fixed focal length. I would not recommend the zooms which have a large setting.

Recently, I've also started to hesitate to use the 70-200mm/f2.8 lens, for sometimes the image is bit blurred. (I'm not sure why. With the XL1 the 70-200mm/f2.8L was just perfect in all conditions, but with the XL2 this seems not to be not the case.) I suspect that small aperture values may cause the problem, and thus, one needed a neutral gray filter in front of the lens, if there's a lot of light.

It's interesting that Ron says one may use the 1.4x teleconventer. With the XL1 the teleconventer blurred the image (the manual neither recommend to use teleconventers), and thus, I've not even thought of trying it with the XL2. Ron's comment suggests it's worth an attempt.

Here's my suggestion how to test lenses: Take first a shot with the standard 20x lens in progressive mode (v detail in the menu in normal position) and set the aperture somewhere around f5.6-f6.7. That seems to give as sharp images as you can get with the XL2. (If I remember right, some time ago Barry Goyette recommended also these same aperture values to get the sharpest images.) Then take a shot with the lens you want to test with different aperture values. Finally connect the XL2 to a TV with a svhs cable and compare the images.
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Old July 16th, 2005, 05:19 AM   #6
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Thanks all for your comments. I will make a thorough examination of those lenses before I buy anything.
I am going to rent Canon lenses for a weekend both zoom and fixed just to clear up my mind what I am going for.

I will post my results later here at the forum.

- Per Johan
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Old July 16th, 2005, 08:47 PM   #7
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Hi Per;
I concur with Lauri's comments on the various lenses.
I have come to the conclusion that the various lens, camera, adapter, converter, and aperture combinations all affect the final image.
Lauri and I are both looking for sharp images due to our 35mm still camera background and are rather critical of unsharp images.
I have stated previously that a popular zoom lens is reported to be soft at the long end. However, another pro finds it very good all the way through the zoom range and uses it constantly in the same environment and on the same subjects.
In shooting with a friend who uses Nikon lenses and an XL1s, I find his footage is generaly different than mine with Canon lenses. Of course he uses a different adapter also. Mine is self manufactured.
The smaller apertures seem to affect the quality also. There are times when I have used the 70-200 with the 1.4 and found the images soft in bright light.
A filter should have been used, probably affecting the image quality again.
The Canon 1.6 adapter also affects the image quality.
There was a recent national TV show done with an XL1 and a 150-600mm, 20 year old Canon lens. Technique counts!!
There are a lot of variables; But all in all, the final image and product is very good.
We've all learned a long time ago to stick with the camera manufacturers lenses and buy the best ones we can!
It will be interesting to read the results of your test.
Good Luck

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Old January 6th, 2006, 08:16 AM   #8
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This is my first time in this area of dvinfo - normally visit "special interest areas" "alternative imaging methods".

There is a Sigma APO 50 - 500mm zoom lens I have used into a PD150 via an AGUS style adaptor with groundglass removed and instead using the aerial image. The Sigma aperture ranges from f4 -f6.3. Videocamera is manually set at f5.6.

Camcorder autofocus can be used with one caveat. Set the camcorder focus manually first, then only use the autofacus intermittantly when you think your subject is going to move out of focus faster than you can track it manually on the Sigma lens.

Leave it on too long and an insect or post will get in the shot and trigger the autofocus to find the specs of dust on back of the lens instead.

You also need to have prisms and a good achromatic dioptre and that is all another complicated story. Aperture also needs to be wide open to avoid the vignette.

I bought the lens to be able to chase aircraft in flight from the ground and have been well pleased with what I can achieve with it.

Going into a videocamera via a home-made relay path such as my own is not a fair test of the lens. I'm talking bits of PVC sewer pipe, aluminium flat bar and pine boards here. Into an XL1 with the manufacturer's Nikon adaptor it should work better as there is a generation of optics and badly made parts removed.

Late afternoon with the sun very low behind and a shiny new jet helicopter practicing acros for an airshow was a magic moment.

The 50mm - 500mm zoom range is handy for aquiring the aircraft and re-aquiring when it slips out of the frame when zoomed in close. I imagine it would also be handy for sports videography.

It looks better with automatic exposure functions on the camera switched off, also the steadyshot. But if the zoom is used a lot, then the f4 - f6.3 darkening effect at the long end will be a pain and auto a necessity.

In auto you will get frequent prompts from the camcorder to switch in various levels of the ND filter more so than if using the camcorder's own lens alone.

The camera and the lens have to be mounted onto a common rail as the strain on the individual mounts is too great otherwise. A tripod mount hole is drilled and tapped into the rail at the centrepoint of balance.

On an old Miller tripod, I find this combination difficult to work with at any more than 50 dregrees elevation, so it might not be ideal for chasing eagles vertically overhead.

This is probably useless info but there it is.
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