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Old July 8th, 2011, 05:13 PM   #1
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Using A Canon T3i For Wildlife

I have been toying around with the possibility of using the Canon T3i as a second camera to my XL H1. I shoot mainly birds, and I know that I may have trouble with small birds at a distance with the T3i, but the H1 with its 7.2x magnification factor would take of that problem. I don't know if my math is correct, but with the T3i and a 80-400mm lens and the camera magnification factor of 1.5x plus the 3x cropping, I come up with effectively a 360-1800mm. I'm also wondering if or how much resolution would be lost with the 3x crop. I don't have much faith in Canon coming out with a solid state XL type camera any time soon, so I looking around for something that's lite weight, extremely portable, and doesn't use tape. Any info would be greatly appreciated.
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Old July 8th, 2011, 08:04 PM   #2
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Re: Using A Canon T3i For Wildlife

I have a T3i, 5D Mk2, & a 7D. I shoot wildlife, mostly video. My primary lens is a Canon 100-400L. I bought the T3i as a spare and to try the 3X feature. While the 3X feature is better than any point & shoot I have seen it produces a definite loss of resolution and picture quality at the 3X setting. The T3I is not objectionable just noticeably lacking in picture quality when compared to the 5D & 7D.

Would I buy it again? Probably because it offers the opportunity to get the most out of 400mm. As a matter of fact 1.6 crop + 3x gives more magnification than is usable with most tripod arrangements. The t3I is compact and priced right.

Enjoy

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Old July 8th, 2011, 08:59 PM   #3
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Re: Using A Canon T3i For Wildlife

I too use the XL-H1 and am always looking for something that will give that performance level at long range without breaking the bank like the XL type cameras. Of course the DSLRs aren't cheap either, if one has to buy a battery of lenses, but I already have them. As a result I have been shooting a T3i off and on since early June. This may sound strange, but at this point I am not sure what I really think about it as my opinion changes from day to day.

On the plus side, it is not as heavy as the XL-H1 if one uses lenses like the 100-400mm or the 70-200f2.8, but of course it is a beast if you use it with something like the 500mm. The flip-out LCD finder is beautiful and much better to look at than the XL-H1, but it is as difficult or more so to focus accurately. It also seems that you can get properly exposed video in much lower light conditions than with the XL-H1. I have done quite a bit of filming deer at long range with the 3X crop and the 500mm F4 on ISO 800 and dropping to 1/30 sec., which is low as one can go in video mode. (I do this in poor light with the XL-H1 also as motion seems to look fairly normal and it is worth any slight smearing to gain the extra stop). There is some noise in the clips, but I don't think it is nearly as bad as it looks when boosting the XL-H1's gain enough to work in these conditions.

Also I don't think it is as sharp in 3X crop mode as in the normal mode and image quality deteriorates rapidly when one goes into true digital zoom. I miss perfect focus quite a bit and seem to have more problem in the 3X mode. This may be for two reasons: In the standard mode I go to 5X or 10X magnification to focus if I have time, but when you are in 3X you cannot do this without going into the normal digital zoom of 5x-10X and it takes some extra pushes of buttons to do that and it will not go back out to where you want it without zooming out, while in standard mode if you are at 10X magnification and push the record button it will automatically go back to full frame and you are recording immediately. It is supposed to have more depth of field in 3x mode and I think this is so, but I have gotten a lot of slightly out of focus clips, and it seems that this is because that even though the depth of field may be greater, it is harder to determine just where the depth of field is located in reference to the subject. Example: a deer may be slightly unsharp while the meadow just behind it is sharp--the deer seems to look good on the screen, but you miss the shot because the LCD doesn't resolve enough detail to reveal that easily.

I also really miss a Lanc controller on the tripod grip to start and stop the camera.

In spite of the negatives though, I find myself using the rig quite a bit. I recorded a squirrel at a feeder this morning which had the entire squirrel in the frame on 200mm and then I engaged the 3X crop mode. This should give you an idea of what to expect. I will try to post this tomorrow and maybe another example or so. The bottom line is it gives one a lot to work with for $800-900, if they already own the necessary lenses.
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Old July 8th, 2011, 09:41 PM   #4
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Re: Using A Canon T3i For Wildlife

I went from a Canon A1 to the Canon EOS 60D. I use the Canon 100-400mm lens and a 28mm wide angle. The Canon outfit beats the A1's resolution hands down. The colors also look much more nature to me.

The 60D is a few pounds lighter also. I have no problems editing the 60D files with Vegas Pro 10.

The big drawback is trying to shoot a bird or critter that is moving fast or flying. There is just no way to keep flying birds and fast moving animals in focus. Especially if the subject in question is either moving toward or away from you. No Camera is perfect. But I love the 60D.

Almost every shot on the videos over on my Vimeo channel were shot by the Canon 60D.

Alaska Video Clips on Vimeo

Personally, I would not use the crop feature. Buy good lens instead.
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Old July 9th, 2011, 12:03 AM   #5
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Re: Using A Canon T3i For Wildlife

"Winter Wren" isn't it? Sounds like ours but a bit quieter but their songs do vary in different parts of their enormous range.

I'm also looking at a "B" camera for my XLH1 which I use with a nanoFlash. DSLRs with their inherently shallow depth of field do seem problematical for moving subjects e.g. birds but they can produce very nice results. I use a monitor on my XLH1 for focussing, and accurate focus even more necessary with nano as better resolution picks up on all the flaws. Are monitors viable for DSLR focus?

I suppose that if you do a lot of stills as well as video, a DSLR could be a good "B" cam. If not go for e.g. a HF-G10


Ron

Last edited by Ronald Jackson; July 9th, 2011 at 12:04 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old July 9th, 2011, 04:05 PM   #6
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Re: Using A Canon T3i For Wildlife

Here are the clips that I talked about. The first is two clips of a Gray Squirrel taken with the T3i and 70-200mm f2.8 IS L lens. The first clip is at 200mm, while the second is at 200mm with 3X crop mode engaged


I was fortunate enough to have more encounters this morning and put together a short video without any narration. This starts with recording a chipmunk with the 100-400mm IS L lens, at 400mm, which is followed by a 3x Crop clip with the same lens. Next is a gray squirrel with the same treatment, except that at the end of that I put in two clips taken with the XL-H1 with the 100-400mm attached. The XL-H1 footage is recorded to the nanoFlash on mxf files at 50mbs. This is followed by an encounter which I had with a mother raccoon and two young. The shadows are a bit too dark on this one as the animals were high in a tree and I had to chose between blowing the highlights or leaving the shadows too dense.


The video was edited in Vegas Pro 10 using the original MOV files.
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Last edited by Willard Hill; July 9th, 2011 at 04:07 PM. Reason: mistake
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Old July 9th, 2011, 05:00 PM   #7
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Re: Using A Canon T3i For Wildlife

Willard,
I really appreciate taking the time to present some examples of the 3Ti and especially the H1 with the nanoFlash. It's hard to tell exactly how much resolution you lose at the 3x crop because of the video being encoded to flash in Vimeo, but I have to admit, I can't really notice that much resolution difference between crop and no crop, and if any, it's not that much, at least to my eyes. I think the key thing with the T3i is focus just using the LCD screen. Where I really notice the difference, is between the T3i and the H1 at 50Mbps, and the 3Ti isn't going to get any better because the fixed bitrate to the CF cards. All my lenses are Nikon and my working lens for the H1 is a 80-400mm. I may have to buy a lens adapter, Canon EOS to Nikon, and then try and rent or barrow a T3i and give it a try. I'm also going to invest in a nanoFlash, but I'll wait until the end of the year just in case Canon releases a new solid state XL 50Mbps camera. Again, thanks for your input, and if you do get more 3Ti footage, please upload it to Vimeo so we all can see it.
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Old July 9th, 2011, 09:39 PM   #8
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Re: Using A Canon T3i For Wildlife

I see I made a mistake on the title starting the first clip. I copied and pasted a title from the longer clip that had 100-400mm and I changed the 100 to 70, but forgot to change the 400mm to 200mm so it says 70-400mm f2.8. Now that would be a lens if we could afford it or carry it around. Also the video looks a little dark to me. It actually looked a about right or slightly on the bright side when I uploaded it, but it seemed to have gotten a little darker in the Vimeo processing.
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Last edited by Willard Hill; July 9th, 2011 at 09:40 PM. Reason: mistake
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Old July 10th, 2011, 11:53 PM   #9
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Re: Using A Canon T3i For Wildlife

Willard

Some very interesting footage there - thanks for taking the trouble to post it. The footage from the XLH1 + Nanoflash clearly looks better than the T3i footage. Were you recording to tape at the same time as the Nanoflash? If you were then it would be very interesting to see a comparison of the Nanoflash 50Mbps footage with the HDV 25Mbps.

Thanks again for posting that footage.
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Old July 11th, 2011, 04:10 AM   #10
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Re: Using A Canon T3i For Wildlife

Paul,

I wasn't recording to tape at the same time. I do like the nanoFlash footage better than tape though, but I still think the XL-H1 recording to tape would look sharper than the T3i.

I agree with Kent's statement about still buying the camera, if he had it to do over again. I do take a lot of stills and use a 7D for this with a 40D as second camera. Since I use the DSLRs for video at times, I wanted to replace the 40D with a camera that could record video and had a higher resolution LCD. I almost bought the 60D for this purpose, but in the end I simply had to try the T3i because of the 3x crop. I don't think it is as good at stills as the 7D (more problems with noise for one thing), but all in all I think it is money well spent.

I will be away from the computer until Friday, but I hope to post a few more clips after that, and give a few more thoughts on the subject.
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Old July 11th, 2011, 08:49 AM   #11
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Re: Using A Canon T3i For Wildlife

Some very interesting and impressive material!

I am unfamiliar with the 3X in-camera crop, however I guess that when 3X crop is selected that only a third of the sensor width and a third of the sensor height is used.

If that is the way it works would you get the same result if you cropped the shots to the same extent during editing or is there something else going on?
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Old July 11th, 2011, 07:24 PM   #12
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Re: Using A Canon T3i For Wildlife

It's an 18MP sensor, so cropping down 3x gives you slightly less than 1080p resolution, but close enough.

If you cropped after capture, then you'd be cropping from a 1080p resolution and you'd end up with roughly SD quality.

Here's a clip shot with my T3i + Sigma 50-500, ISO 100, f8. The Ibis is about 100' away. I bumped up the contrast and did a little sharpening in Premiere Elements.

YouTube - White-faced Ibis - Ottawa July 8, 2011
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Old July 11th, 2011, 10:43 PM   #13
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Re: Using A Canon T3i For Wildlife

Thanks Kin for the explanation - it all makes sense.

If you are interested in getting closer to a white faced ibis there is a captive specimen at the Butterfly Garden at Victoria on Vancouver Island. Trouble is it is so sex-starved that it attempts to rape any footwear in range!

http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/attachme...1&d=1310442112
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Old July 13th, 2011, 03:06 AM   #14
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Re: Using A Canon T3i For Wildlife

Just came late on to this one, i have been using the T3i for nearly 3 months now . Exclusively for video.

My issue was getting close so i first bought the 800 Nikkor 5.6 AIS but it was still too far to capture small birds as my primary camera is 5D M II.

Currently what i do is use the 5D M II as primary camera for 90% of my video footage, and its amazing . whenever i need a closeup i use the T3i for that closeup and then shift back to the 5D M II

t3i is completely useless in low light where 5D is amazing even at bumped up ISO, i did capture a video at 6.30 am 2 weeks back with the t3i ans i could pick up every single noise pixel in it , thats how much noisy it becomes at higher ISO, where as 5 D is still decent.

t3i has a edge in the 3X zoom catagory since it has the basic 1.5 x crop factor too. however for all the prime footage 5D Mii doesnt have a option for me as of now.

Secondly its too flimsy compared to the Pro bodies and you just feel afraid when using with big Tele lenses as even a small wrong move can pop the mount out.
these are my 2 cents, i am very specific to my use of the t3i

best regards
Vishal
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