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


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Old January 25th, 2006, 07:57 AM   #16
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Some superb information was given by James Ewen.

Brenden - For wildlife/nature/fishing/outdoor subjects, I use the Canon 16X Manual Servo zoom lens (sometimes with additional .7 X Red Eye lens for wide angle work, to provide 24mm-600mm equivalent in 35mm SLR), and, via a Les Bosher Nikkor to XL mount, lenses such as my Sigma 24mm f/1.8 DG Macro, 28mm f/1.8 DG Macro, MF 180mm f/2.8 APO Macro, MF Nikkor 70-150 f/3.5, AF-D 75-300mm f/4.5, MF Nikkor Ais 300mm f/2.8 ED-IFN, and MF Nikkor Ais 600mm f/5.6 ED-IF.

Another lens used quite a lot for the film industry is the legendary Nikon Nikkor 300mm f/2 ED-IF in either T-mount or the original Nikon mount plus adapter - but this lens is heavy, extremely expensive and hard to find (although one Japanese company still bulids the white T-mount version). The 300mm f.2.8 is in my opinion just as sharp, far lighter, cheaper and easier to find on the SH market.

If you are going to use either the Canon FD 300mm f2.8 or Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 on your XL1/2/H1 for your Vulture footage, than I would strongly advise that you match it with a heavy tripod and Pro-level smooth pan head, plus tripod handle controller (I use the Manfrotto 522C…much better than the Canon one).

Another must-have is a very strong removable tripod mount to stabilise both the lens and camera body. Keeping everything steady at these extreme magnifications is vitally important. Take a look at the Ron Armstrong website to gain an idea into the type of gear needed:

http://www.ronsrail.com/
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Old January 25th, 2006, 09:37 AM   #17
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so james, tony, bob, ron (or anyone else...), have any of you taken the plunge on the H1 or do you have an opinion on using it for wildlife imaging?

i'm primarily concerned about the purple fringing in the images already posted here, because adding long lenses enhances this issue, in my (far more limited) experience. $9,000 is a lot of money for me, as a smaller operator, to pay for a camera which might come with a signficant issue.

thanks for all the info, guys, always a pleasure to learn from your experience....
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Old January 25th, 2006, 12:52 PM   #18
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I never buy any equipment, be it camera, car etc, without it being on the market for quite some period, sometimes even years. This gives plenty of time for any problems to arise, and improvements made (if any) to any particular model I want to buy.

Like most people, I need the highest quality possible within my budget. This often means that I buy ‘mint’ condition second-hand, rather than a new lower quality item.

I like most of what I've seen and heard with the XL-H1, but am still on the fence whether to buy one. At the moment, I'm going to stick with the XL1/2 bodies...until some more serious reviews and on-hands tests are done with the H1 with different lenses (prime wide/zoom/telephoto) in outdoor shooting in all light levels.
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Old January 25th, 2006, 02:58 PM   #19
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Wouldn't it be handy if we could get Chris Hurd or someone as thorough to do a study and report on the XL H1 like Chris did on the XL 2 (Sorry I don't know how to insert the link but it's under Canon XL2 Watchdog Articles on this forum ... among my favourites for a year)?

Perhaps there's a sponsor out there looking for him already ...
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Old January 26th, 2006, 03:03 AM   #20
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The question of what gear is best for what job is always a good bone of contention, I believe that it will be different for everyone.

Brendan and the Griffon Vultures- "Would you go a step further, please, and suggest the possible parts (second-hand will do) of a set-up that would give you (not me) high quality moving images of griffon vultures in flight at up to 80 yards, subject to a weight limit of about 3 kgs and a price tag up to US$15,000?"

The 300mm f2.8 on its own weighs nearly three Kgs alone...Unfortunately as gear gets more 'professional' and high quality, its weight increases incrementally. Add a descent tripod and fluid head (8 kgs+), a camera body and support for the lens and we are topping 15Kg without even thinking off all the other gadgets. I would want to be shooting S16 or HD (Varicam) for something like this. My gear would top out at around 40kgs.

As for buying a setup it really depends on what your end market is and how rich/poor you are. There are masses of S16 kits on the market right now going for nothing (compared to their true value) as people move over to HD they are selling off all their film gear. However, I would not suggest that you go out and buy a film kit. But seriously for $15000 the highest quality that you will get is a S16 film kit, buut then you have to buy, process and telecine the resulting film and learn to shoot film... all of which are very expensive. If you want to shoot for yourself then I would go for something like an H1/HD100 or one of the many good DVCams (full size) that are on the market. Whatever takes your fancy really as all of them will have very annoying features and you will always wish that they were different, better and so on.

I think that rather than addressing specifics here it is easier to look at the broader issues of buying gear. It is always a case of 'horses for courses'.
I own three cameras out of necessity for what I do and where I live and I am busy enough to make it cost effective, in Mozambique their are no hire houses, service facilities, film labs; I have to travel to South Africa for all this.

I have an HD100 with all its proclivities (SSD, Colour Fringing, Shonky lens, and poor build quality) and it is the everyday camera used for pretty much everything we do. It is however not suitable for underwater work, even if there was a housing the camera is too big and it would be like taking a kite underwater so... I use a Z1 in a Gates housing for all the Underwater work that we do. This small and fiddly camera with its poor user interface produces great images and is pretty much the industry standard in its class. For work that needs high speed I use and Aaton, if I need to go faster I hire an Arriflex HS, if I need digibeta I hire a digibeta, if HD.......

I agree with much Tony says about Tony on buying second hand, but if you really want/need an H1 now buy one. I sold an Xl1s kit with all the adaptors to pay for the HD100, the Xl1s was fantastic but the market means I need to be able to shoot HDV.

Meryem- I am sure that the H1 is an amazing camera when coupled with a HD compatable manual lens, its forte like the Xl1/2 is that you can change to a manual zoom or add a 35mm lens for longer focal lengths which is good for wildlife*. Have a look at the HD100, check out a secondhand, industry standard DSR 500 WSL with a decent lens, what feels good for you and your work?

* Whatever you stick on the front make sure your lens mount can take the weight of get some supporting rails. A friend has been through two XL lens mounts due putting a big lens on the front and not supporting it properly

If you are shooting for broadcast make sure that what you give them is what they need. The major broadcasters do not know where to put HDV so it appears most is being downrezzed to SD. For DVD, yourself, your mates etc you can do what you want as long as you can edit it.

As a postscript on gear, most non wildlife cameramen I know do not own a camera but own support and accessories (lenses, batteries, matte boxes, filters, support). They hire a body and hire the accessories they have to the production. Many wildlife people do own the cameras (or at least did) because the territory demands it.. longform, hire costs will exceed purchase etc. The gear that will not date, will hold value and will last you many years are things like filters, matte boxes, follow focai (?), and tripods and heads...my main fluid head is an Oskar Heiler EB that was made in the late 80's. I still use some wooden legs from the 60's when working in very cold places. These things are worth the investment and you will have them for years...

I hope this long and rambling post is helpful.

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Old January 26th, 2006, 04:07 AM   #21
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You're certainly not rambling James...just providing good, solid advice.
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Old January 26th, 2006, 08:34 AM   #22
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Getting out of hand?

Well you've spilled the beans, James, with those observations. Most helpful revelations to XM2 amateurs like me.

It seems that before filming vultures in flight I must first find & train a small elephant with a head for heights to carry 30+ kgs (- tripod) + me (on swivel seat) around and freeze whenever I smack him on the head.

Or, there's the XL-H1 (x20 zoom) and 11-165 (x15) for about $23,000. On that point would the image quality using 11-165 be that much better than the XL-H1 lens to justify the cost? Indeed, who knows whether the 11-165 is interchangeable with the XL-H1 and how?

"I think I better think it out again".

If I wasn't an old man I'd readily agree with Tony and yourself to wait awhile until XL-H1 has been put through its paces. Oh, and what does a HD compatable manual lens facilitate?
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Old January 26th, 2006, 10:03 AM   #23
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Not far off the truth....

The 11-165 will not fit direct on the XL-H1 as it is specifically designed for S16mm and thus would have a PL, or Arri B or Aaton mount, any that adaptor would allow it to fit would alter the focal length. You would gain nothing from using this lens on the Canon. The kind of manual lens I refer to is something like the lenses that Canon and Fujinon released for the XL1, (14x/16x) I imagine that Canon is likely to release HD versions of these lenses (for 1/3" chips).
Manual lenses facilitate having real back focus and thus the ability to set focus marks, execute accurate focus pulls and basically to focus properly. The lenses in the Canon XL range have no fixed focal point so cameramen used to using pro lenses find them horrible to operate. However, you loose autofocus, if this is something that you use. Also I imagine that the new XL lens for the H1 is an 'HD' designated lens and would be optically superior to an SD manual lens, just a bit annoying to use. I recommend going and trying a manual lens as opposed to the XL servo lenses and see what the differences are in useability.
Hah Brendan, not far from the truth actually (Check this link http://www.bediji.com/contibutionll.html) ... but seriously I'm sure you could do far worse than the H1 with the standard lens. It is bound to be a great camera and produce stunning images especially with some practice.

J
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Old January 26th, 2006, 10:53 AM   #24
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what a hilarious link. the elephant tripod. right up there with the pringle can macro lens. that's what makes this biz so much fun....

i have an FX-1 and an XL2 (also a GL2). the temptation in purchasing the canon H-1 is that i already own several canon long lenses for still photography, which interchange nicely with the XL2. and these darn lenses are not cheap! although it is relatively easy to find nice used ones. so it would be the H1 or just sitting on my hands (my current inclination) to, as tony points out, buy a nice used one in a year or two (or see what new models appear). but i've become addicted to the long reach. as much as i love the landscape footage from the FX-1, there is something about getting right up eyeball-to-eyeball with the wild animals which is utterly thrilling and inspiring. can't quite do that without my 400mm prime....

my FX-1 was used, and it's been a great investment. buying used for wildlife use is great advice because i, at least, put my gear through some pretty rugged use. my old GL2 looks like a used cat toy, but it works as well as the day i bought it, and is still a great camera for travel--i have to travel lightly in the yucatan in a month, and it's the camera i'll bring along, for its size and weight. i have also used the GL2 as an underwater camera, because if it blows, it's okay. the right tool for the right job. it's always nice to have options.

i've made sort of a niche out of doing commercial and documentary work which incorporates lots of outdoor/adventure sports/wildlife imagery but i would not call myself a professional wildlife videographer. that's its own category. i love learning about the different options from the true globetrotters, a dream which is on hold until my daughter is older....
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Old January 26th, 2006, 01:18 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Ewen
The 11-165 will not fit direct on the XL-H1 as it is specifically designed for S16mm and thus would have a PL, or Arri B or Aaton mount, any that adaptor would allow it to fit would alter the focal length. You would gain nothing from using this lens on the Canon. The kind of manual lens I refer to is something like the lenses that Canon and Fujinon released for the XL1, (14x/16x) I imagine that Canon is likely to release HD versions of these lenses (for 1/3" chips).
Manual lenses facilitate having real back focus and thus the ability to set focus marks, execute accurate focus pulls and basically to focus properly. .

Hah Brendan, not far from the truth actually (Check this link http://www.bediji.com/contibutionll.html) ... but seriously I'm sure you could do far worse than the H1 with the standard lens. It is bound to be a great camera and produce stunning images especially with some practice.

J
"Your humble servant is deeply obliged and eternally grateful to His Excellency for any arrangement whereby your miserable slave might be so bold as to borrow the very throne upon which your Excellency is majestically seated in the abovementioned link with our colonial masters ... etc"

... and trust the Bedi Bros to have got there long ago; it's probably got telescopic legs too. If the Camo swivel rest is not available at end of Feb.as I've been promised ... "Your fawning wretch will indeed be grovelling before the sandals of somebody or other ...

Great advice, easy to read, much appreciated James, thank you.
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