GH1 vs GF1+LVF vs XL1/XL1s for wildlife/birds? at DVinfo.net

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Old June 29th, 2010, 10:18 PM   #1
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GH1 vs GF1+LVF vs XL1/XL1s for wildlife/birds?

I'm looking at the choices above while trying to keep within a budget of about $1500- CDN, preferably less. The goal to get some decent footage of wildlife, mostly birds, so I'm looking at options to get into the greater than 1500mm equiv focal length range.

I already have a number of decent telephoto lenses like the Canon EF400/5.6L, EF300/4L, Sigma 120-300/2.8, Sigma 50-500 + 1.4x and 2x teleconverters and I have the 7D + numerous other DSLRs. For shooting birds, even with the 1.6x crop factor of the 7D, it's often not enough. I intend to use the cameras mentioned here via adapters on the lenses I have already, and understand it will be manual focus only and locked down solidly on a tripod.

An XL1 or XL1s + EOS adapter would give me a 7x crop factor with 480p capture, a machine designed for video with a dedicated video viewfinder, and way more focal length than I can handle. The downside would be size, lower image quality, tape workflow and no real slowmo options, but I still have my 7D for 720p60. This option will also depend on the used market. The XL2 or HD versions are out of my budget.

A GF1 + LVF would give me a 4x crop factor (2x due to the m43, + a further 2x video crop mode - it's not a digital zoom, just using less of the 12mp sensor) with 720p30 footage, a _very_ small package that will work very well as a P&S for stills as well. The LVF is not as nice/large/hi-res as the GH1, certainly a lot smaller than the XL1/XL1s, but it is adjustable. Slowmo and 1080 footage is also not an option here. This is however my cheapest option.

A GH1 has a great viewfinder that's probably higher res than the XL1/XL1s, but it's not adjustable like the GF1 or XL1(s). The dedicated lens is good, but slower - 14-140/4.0-5.8. It's a 4x crop factor as well with a choice of 1080i or 720p60 footage, and with the new hacked firmware, quality should be astounding. This is also my most expensive option.

Has anyone else considered these and/or any other options? Setting up blinds etc, is usually not an option for me. Particularly, how does the 480p footage from the XL1(s) compare with 720p footage? I'm not looking for broadcast quality, just my own enjoyment.
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Old June 30th, 2010, 05:12 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kin Lau View Post
Setting up blinds etc, is usually not an option for me.
Why not? Getting as near wildlife as possible often give you best results!

Regarding mixing 480p and 720p. It depends of what you are delivering in the other end. If your target is SD footage, edit in a SD timeline where you downconvert the 720p footage.
Note: Im not familiar with the progressive mode of the XL-1, but you should check if this format is supported in your editing system!
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Old June 30th, 2010, 06:07 AM   #3
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Hi Kin,

I used XL1s XL2 and GH1 for the same purpose as you do, shooting birds usually without a blind, so feel free
to ask whatever you like...
I don't know the GF1 but I think it is much the same as GH1 ,so be aware that the crop mode is unfortunately
working only on the still mode and not on the video mode ! Thus the camera is only 2X crop and not 4X.
XL-2 is much better than XL-1s and the IQ is very good .
I have much to add on any of the cams but , please ask specifically and I will try my best to answer.

Sassi
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Old June 30th, 2010, 06:30 AM   #4
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Per Johan is right of course, powerful lenses are no substitute for getting close. But, sometimes it's not possible.
Only problem with the XL-1 is that it's SD, and that just seems so old now.
Could you stretch to an XL-H1 used?
Steve
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Old June 30th, 2010, 07:33 AM   #5
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The GF1 does not offer full manual control - you have aperture control only but no shutter or ISO control. So it's not really a very good option. And the XL1s, though a great camera in it's day, is a bit old these days. You might even get better results using the 7d and cropping in post to get a bit of extra length.

The GH1 is a great little camera, but the difference in focal lengths between it and the 7d is not that large. The GH1's multi aspect sensor does not lose any angle of view in 16:9 mode, whereas the 7d's native 3:2 aspect ratio sensor does lose a bit of width, so the focal length multipliers are actually a bit closer than the 2x vs 1.6x that most people say. There may be other reasons to get the GH1, such as the better image quality over the 7d when using the new firmware hack, or the EVF or swivel screen, but I wouldn't recommend it if your only concern is getting more telephoto reach.

If you only need SD quality for enthusiast purposes, I would go and buy a $2 roll of masking tape, mask off the portion of your screen which represents how much the image can be zoomed into in post, then pocket the other $1498.
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Old June 30th, 2010, 10:51 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Per Johan Naesje View Post
Why not? Getting as near wildlife as possible often give you best results!
There's simply no area available to me where a blind is acceptable use. Not private, not public.

In short... it's not an option.
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Old June 30th, 2010, 11:12 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sassi Haham View Post
Hi Kin,

I used XL1s XL2 and GH1 for the same purpose as you do, shooting birds usually without a blind, so feel free
to ask whatever you like...
I don't know the GF1 but I think it is much the same as GH1 ,so be aware that the crop mode is unfortunately
working only on the still mode and not on the video mode ! Thus the camera is only 2X crop and not 4X.
XL-2 is much better than XL-1s and the IQ is very good .
I have much to add on any of the cams but , please ask specifically and I will try my best to answer.

Sassi
Thanks Sassi,

I just re-read the manual, and you're correct, The GH1/GF1 doesn't do the crop in video mode, only stills mode. That pretty well rules that idea out then... back to the drawing board.

Kin
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