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Old April 23rd, 2011, 12:36 AM   #46
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Re: New challenges for wildlife videographers

DSLR compression is nothing to worry about compared to the other camcorders out there. Perhaps an EX1/EX3 or an HPX370 would render a cleaner image, the Canon DSLRs are all fairly clean as well. They certainly outperform the HVX200/HPX170 on clarity and compression quality. The DSLRs give a plenty robust image, but they also represent an awkward way of shooting video with a stills camera. Learn as much as you can about them, particularly the aliasing and moire before purchasing if you haven't used them before.

I've owned a 7D for a while before downgrading to the T3i for the 3x zoom feature and articulating screen. Both shoot superb images when handled well.

DSLRs are the closest thing to shooting film cameras in my mind. (the way you shoot, not that you're rivalling 35mm film image quality) They're like junior digital cinema cameras. You use interchangeable lenses and pretty much operate them manually.
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Old April 24th, 2011, 12:07 AM   #47
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Re: New challenges for wildlife videographers

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Originally Posted by Martyn Hull View Post
Glad i changed from a T2I/550D to a GH2, far more user friendly and much better video quality.
Hi Martyn,
What makes the GH2 more user friendly than the T2i? Aslo, when you say the video quality is better, in what way is it better? Would you suggest going the way of the GH2 rather than say the new T3i?

Thanks,
Bryce
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Old April 24th, 2011, 12:17 AM   #48
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Re: New challenges for wildlife videographers

Interesting points Ryan,
Have you yourself found the aliasing & moire a problem with what you shoot? Do you find you are having to take these issues into consideration when shooting wildlife?
One of the remaining problems i have with the DSLR's is their handling, i simply don't see that i will be able to get a lot of the shots i currently do when i'm having to worry about composition, focus, exposure, etc, etc. A lot of the time, i think the subjects i film would be long gone before i get things right. I already miss enough shots as it is. Ok, while filming from a blind may be ok, i'm not always in a blind & set up ready to go.
I think i will look into a DSLR to compliment my XH A1, & predominantly use it for scenic wide shots, but for a lot of what i would consider to be a little like run'n'gun type of shooting, i think i will stick with the A1 until something more suitable comes along.
Regards,
Bryce
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Old April 24th, 2011, 04:45 AM   #49
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Re: New challenges for wildlife videographers

Hi guys,would like to give my impression of using a Canon 7D for wildlife recording.

Im coming from the Canon XLH1 (first version) and was tired of using tapes, experience drop outs etc. And I would say that I have some experience capture wildlife as I have been doing this for some years. I also like to play with new technology so for me it has been fun to experiment with the new DSLR toy ;-)

I already had a huge amount of long telephoto lenses, so for me it was not a big step (financial) to buy and start using the 7D (at least I believed that a year ago!). But it wasnt easy for an old guy like me, wearing glasses to get sharp footage out of the box with the 7D.
I have been trying the Zacuto 3x Z-finder but was not satisfied with it. Cumbersome to mount and dismount and almost impossible to use at low angle recording if you dont prefer to lay flat in the mud! The enlarged pixelation was not to my taste for focusing!
A couple of months ago I ordered a Marshall Electronics V-LCD70XP-HDMI-CM 7" LCD Field Monitor, $1000, almost the same as the price of the 7D itself! And it really helped me to get better and sharper footage. So Im quite satisfied with it even if it was a huge investment.
The nice thing about this monitor is that it is using Canon BP970G batteries, so I can reuse my old batteries from the XLH1, hurra :-) And they have enough juice for 2-3 hours of use each on the field monitor.
I also got a great picture on the monitor, connecting it to the 7D via HDMI cable. By pushing the info-button on the 7D, you can switch between getting recording info like shutter, aperture, light meter and iso and a smaller picture or just get the picture which almost fill the entire screen on the monitor. And you can of course put the monitor in the direction you want even a few feet away from the 7D giving you the pleasure to sit in a comfortable way for hours!

But its still not easy to get nice and razor sharp footage of moving objects. For wildlife recording you often want those magnificent closeup shots of wild creatures, but with the shallow DOF these cameras has with focal length of 300mm ++ even at aperture 11 and above, you often got a few centimeters of DOF! I have a passion of recording small birds like the Blue Tit, but to maintain good sharpness of this bird moving where only its head is sharp is most often of luck. And they seldom sit still for more than a couple of seconds.

OK, I have got nice and viewable footage with this setup. But you need veeeeery much of patience and lots of time. I would say that for my closeup shots using 300mm lenses and above only 5% is usable for production footage. Maybe Im too old with bad visuals, but I would like to meet anyone succeeding doing it better!
This is also based on shots done from a blind/hide with the 7D attached to a huge and sturdy tripod and where I can control the environment in a better way than run and gun footage.

The 7D is not suitable of doing any recording based on AF-mode, at least not for closeup shooting using long telephotolenses. I read that others saying the the GH2 is better, but I have not seen or tested that model. And I doubt that any af-system today can work well with this tiny DOF you got at huge focal lengths!

You also have the "yello" and "patterns" artifacts which is of no good for wildlife recording. Of course there are ways for reducing it, but then you limit yourself and your artwork.

So, is there not any thing I would say are good with this setup? Well, to this date theres not much! Im happy with the current workflow ingesting the AVCHD format into Final Cut Pro as ProRes LT. But with tapes you got the backup in the tapes itself. Now you have to backup at least on a different disk, than your editing files. The transcoding process makes bigger files. For my small wildlife business I have used about 4 TB of diskspace for back-up and storing of footage for the last 8 months! Im constantly thinking about how my files are stored and if they are safe! Most wildlife scenes are unique and not possible to retake. Loosing your footage is like getting yourself a heart attack!


Im eagerly awaiting for Canon to release a new tapeless interchangeable lens camcorder. Im not sure if bigger chip will be the way to go (based on my experience) and also what Chris point of here: Canon Reveals Their Next Pro Video Cam at DVInfo.net

DSLR are made for taking stills photo, with the options of recording footage, but for serious wildlife business theres still a long way to go...
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Old April 24th, 2011, 10:12 AM   #50
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Re: New challenges for wildlife videographers

Hi Per,
That was a very, very insightful post. Thank you for taking the time to write all that in so much detail. I think we are on the same page when it comes to what we want in a camera for filming wildlife.
Do you still have your XL H1? If so, did you consider simply adding an external recorder like the nanoflash? I was looking at the XL H1s but it seems it is out of stock. It is also pretty long in the tooth so i would like to maybe just wait & hope that Canon comes out with a replacement for it with solid state & the same codec as the XF range.
I also considered the Sony HVRZ7 with something like the nanoflash or ninja so i could avoid the compression of the HDV codec. This is a very light camera compared to the XL H1 so hiking with it would be quite a bit easier!
Regards,
Bryce
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Old April 24th, 2011, 11:01 AM   #51
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Re: New challenges for wildlife videographers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryce Comer View Post
Interesting points Ryan,
Have you yourself found the aliasing & moire a problem with what you shoot? Do you find you are having to take these issues into consideration when shooting wildlife?
One of the remaining problems i have with the DSLR's is their handling, i simply don't see that i will be able to get a lot of the shots i currently do when i'm having to worry about composition, focus, exposure, etc, etc. A lot of the time, i think the subjects i film would be long gone before i get things right. I already miss enough shots as it is. Ok, while filming from a blind may be ok, i'm not always in a blind & set up ready to go.
I think i will look into a DSLR to compliment my XH A1, & predominantly use it for scenic wide shots, but for a lot of what i would consider to be a little like run'n'gun type of shooting, i think i will stick with the A1 until something more suitable comes along.
Regards,
Bryce
In nature, aliasing is usually not an issue. Moire of the other hand, manifests itself on fine detail. You can eliminate it in post somewhat, but it can change your colors in subtle ways. I've had it appear on the edges of small leaves, or the fine feathers of an owl, or on the tiny ripples of water when there is a breeze.

Per Johan's post is very accurate. While I've had success in using them, I've not worked professional in gathering footage. Just personal use. I actually only started filming animals in earnest about 1 1/2 years ago, so for me it has just been a learning experience. His comments about focus are true. I recall filming a beaver swim up a creek and I had to do everything I could to keep him in focus as he swam by...slowly falling out of focus and then me compensating. Unfortunately, I've not used other formats with animals much. All my 1/3" chip recording was in studios or just filming scenery out in the natural world.

All that said, I have still gotten a ton of very good footage from my DSLR. The majority of stuff that I've shot involves taking fairly static shots or minimal camera movement and so the subject isn't falling in and out of focus.
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Old April 24th, 2011, 11:03 AM   #52
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Re: New challenges for wildlife videographers

Hi Per Johan. Thanks for that. It makes me feel better about my very similar results with the T2i. I couldnt agree more strongly with the statement Loosing your footage is like getting yourself a heart attack!
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Old April 24th, 2011, 02:13 PM   #53
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Re: New challenges for wildlife videographers

Per Johan,

It's good to hear from you. Your experience with the DSLR mirrors pretty much every one I have read about, and what I have seen personally. I was going to buy one of those and continue using all my Canon gear, saving tons of money. What really put me off (along with all the artifact and control stuff that you mentioned) was the fad of putting a large chip in all of these. There went the crop factor. I desperately need lots of telephoto power and a crop factor of 1.5, having had 7.2 in the XLH1 was totally unacceptable.
So I finally bought a Sony PMW EX3 (1/2 inch chip, crop factor of 5) and am pretty happy with it. It's best features are a viewfinder that you can really focus, and the ability to adjust the slope of the gamma curve so that blown out highlights are a thing of the past.
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Old April 24th, 2011, 02:19 PM   #54
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Re: New challenges for wildlife videographers

Hi Steve,
That's interesting stuff! So you're finding the EX-3 a good camera for wildlife then! I thought i had read somewhere that you were surprised with the omission of a certain feature which i can't think of right now. What ever that was, it sounds like you have managed to work around that. The EX-3 is a camera i have seriously considered, & may well be the best way to go, i'd just have to save a bit more obviously!!
Bryce
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Old April 24th, 2011, 03:36 PM   #55
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Re: New challenges for wildlife videographers

Hi Bryce,

The feature you remember was the lack of a dial or button to change the shutter speed. Turned out that the jog-shuttle button serves that purpose. You just have to scroll over to the shutter speed on the display first, and double click. Then it will stay there and act like a shutter control. I am mostly happy with the camera. I do not like the tapeless work-flow, however, because each clip is only assigned an obscure number and you have to view and rename or catalogue each one, and each requires a bunch of mouse clicks. Watching a tape and taking notes by time code is a lot faster. And there is always the risk of accidentally formatting a card for reuse before you have uploaded the content to a hard drive. And finally, the EX-3 does not automatically shut off when not in use for a time, like Canon instruments do. I have already had the experience of getting out of my car to do a shot, and finding the battery out of juice because I forgot to turn it off before driving away from the previous venue. This could be a disaster out in the field.
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Old April 24th, 2011, 05:32 PM   #56
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Re: New challenges for wildlife videographers

Aah yes, that was it. Thanks Steve.
Well as usual, each camera has its good & bad points i guess. Are you happy with the EX-3 over your old XL H1? How much better is the footage from the EX-3 over the XL H1?
I have just been playing around with various different shots ranging from well exposed & in focus shots to shots i thought were a bit too soft, to shots with a lot of grain etc, etc. I have burnt them to a AVCHD disc & played them on my inlaws flat screen HD tv with surprising results! All of the shots i thought would be just plain unusable, were actually not that bad at all. Seems i may be able to use more of the shots than i originally thought!
While i still don't have the color detail using HDV, i am pretty impressed with what i am seeing. Not sure however, how it would compare to footage shot with an EX cam.
As i have said in another post, i had entertained the idea of the Sony HVR Z7, using it with an external recorder. By bypassing the HDV compression, i may well get some nice images from that camera??
Anyway, i'm sure all the cameras mentioned will produce a great image in the hands of someone that knows what they are doing!! I might just wait a little longer before pulling the trigger.
Bryce
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Old April 24th, 2011, 09:05 PM   #57
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Re: New challenges for wildlife videographers

The GH1 and GH2 have working AF in video mode. I used my GH1's AF to track a Hoary Marmot last summer as it kept coming closer and it stayed in focus.
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Old April 26th, 2011, 07:44 AM   #58
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Re: New challenges for wildlife videographers

I was shooting Florida wading birds and gators on Sunday. A very large male gator was making "outboard engine running" sounds which send strong vibrations through the water. This sound is used to attract a mate. I recognized the sound and approached with a 7D, 100-400 mm lens plus a X2, fluid head & tripod.

This gator was swimming with 2 smaller gators and may have been around 15 - 18 ft. He saw me and went into typical stealth and attack mode, swimming rapidly towards me from about 100 ft away. He pushed quite a bow wave, stopping nearby and sinking so that just his eyes were visible. You sneaky debil you! Darn, I grew up with hippos & crocodiles and need to learn fear for these little beasties for my own safety. Too late to run mate.

He was in focus at the beginning of the shoot and slightly blurry near the end. Auto focus would have been very useful, but I was too afraid of losing the clip to try to focus manually. Not a bad clip at all, just a little dark because of the X2, so now I'll experiment with the X1.4. Was actually getting AF with the X2 which was a surprise.

Then I took the 7D off the fluid head and removed the X2 to hand hold & shoot a large Osprey hovering and about to dive on a fish. Switched the camera on. While I'm trying to zoom and hold focus on AF it switches off. Switch it back on. Switches off. Again and again. Missed the clip completely. Anyone else experiencing this? It's been going on for some time. I have a fast enough card, cold camera, fresh battery, latest firmware.

This may be something to do with the lens. Later on I was shooting B Roll of the marsh area and did not have the on/off problem with the kit 28 -135 mm lens.

Regards & happy shooting,
Doug.
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Old May 8th, 2011, 11:35 AM   #59
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Re: New challenges for wildlife videographers

Finally did the video with the T3i or the 600D with the feature of sensor crop
Would say that the 3x is impressive but after that the thing is a real digital zoom and really not impressed with it. however the 3x is very usable


Let me know your views.
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Old May 31st, 2012, 11:05 PM   #60
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Re: New challenges for wildlife videographers

Hi Steve,
Well after this long with your EX-3, can i ask how it is going with that camera? Are you still happy with the camera? After all this time, there is still really no other choice really. I had hoped something would come out from one of the manufacturers, but alas, zip!
I am hoping to make a big push on finishing my UWOL long form project on the mountain caribou in the next 12 months but really need the added flexibility a camera like the EX3 would allow. Will probably start looking for a used one as i can't quite justify buying new when this is after all just an expensive hobby!
Thanks in advance,
Bryce
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