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


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Old January 5th, 2002, 04:17 PM   #1
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Wildlife aspirations

I've been looking on the DV market for close to a year now. I have come to the conclusion that if I bought a MiniDV, it would have to be a Canon XL1 S because of the interchangeable lense system. I have chose not to buy yet because

a) waiting for the XL1 S to come down in price
b) i'm only a senior in highschool

What I want this camera for is ONLY wildlife photography. I live only an hour and a half from Yellowstone and have many oppertunities at good shots of animals. However, I have a few questions.

When using the adapter for Canon EOS lenses, how many f-stops do you gain? How much speed am I going to lose? No one has been able to give me a difinitive answer. Canon advertises that you can you there 2X adapter along with the 1200 mm EOS lense and the 7.2X adapter to get a f.l. of 17280 mm. Imposible I say. How could any light make it through so much glass? I assume that the lense must be a f/2.8 or better to maintain picture quality. What I've experienced with my dad's monster 600mm f/12 is that it has to be super bright out for good photos. Most of the time however, I have natural light, early in the morning.

I've been warned that the CCD's are super sensitive and any dust/dirt could ruin them. This makes my parents very skeptical about me getting it. Is there anyway, other than being careful, that you can protect the CCD's?

Thanks a bunch, Fletch

Last edited by kasmer14; January 5th, 2002 at 06:44 PM.
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Old January 7th, 2002, 01:17 AM   #2
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Hi,

I can't answer the other questions for you, since I only
got my XL1S recently (like in the last week of last year).
But I can say something about the CCD's. As long as you
have a lense on your XL1S your CCD's are protected, only
when you remove the lense are you opening up your
camera. The first thing that is after the lense is the prism.
I don't know if sand (this is what you are worried about?)
can get paste this. Haven't looked too much into that
piece of the camera.

My advise would be to change lenses in a clean as
an anvironment as possible, perhaps inside a car if
your on location? Or inside a bag. Now if you want the
camera (the whole thing) from sand, raind etc. there
are rainbags and even uderwater bags for the XL1S.
These will protect your camera! Look around at www.zgc.com
and www.xl1s.com for more info.

Hope this helps some.
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Old January 7th, 2002, 06:06 PM   #3
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Hi Fletch,

Don't worry too much about the CCD when changing lenses. The risk to your CCD is much less than that to the front surface or back surface of the lenses you are using. The only thing that can happen is when you rub the surface of the prism with something dirty, or touch it with a dirty finger for example. If that happens then you will have to clean the surface of the prism, not the CCD. When you get used to making lens changes quickly then the risk to the back-element of the lens and to the prism is minimal.

As far as your finding a 17280 mm focal length questionable. Focal length is dependent on image size. That is, it is dependent on the size of the surface onto which the lens is focusing. There is a simple rule of thumb if you halve the image size; then you double the effective focal length. Example, if you would mount a 300 mm lens for a 35mm movie camera on a 16mm movie camera it would be equivalent to a 600 mm lens for the 16mm camera. The chip size of the Canon, and all other small video cameras is very small, that's why the relative focal length is so large. The same amount of light reaches the image plane with a 17280 mm lens for the XL-1 as does a 1200 mm with doubler on a Canon EOS 35 mm camera. The 7.2x is the factor for the size difference between the small CCD chip relative to the 35 mm film plane.

I hope that that made sense to you.

Good luck
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Old January 8th, 2002, 11:13 AM   #4
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thanks

thanks a bunch. all my questions are answered. now, my grandpa is seriously thinking about buying the camera soon, but has some reservations, anyone have suggestions that would ease his these?

Last edited by kasmer14; January 8th, 2002 at 06:59 PM.
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Old January 8th, 2002, 11:38 AM   #5
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Lucky you... I wish I had a grandpa like that! :) Let us
know how you like the camera!

Good luck!
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Old January 18th, 2002, 02:53 PM   #6
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Get it covered on your parent's / grandparents homeowners insurance. It only costs ~$25 per year and if it gets damaged because of something YOU did it's covered. It does not cover plain old equipment failure however.
-Brad
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Old January 21st, 2002, 02:55 PM   #7
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THE bushcam!

Hi Fletch!

I just wanted to share my experience about using the XL-1s for wildlife videoing.

I just returned from a trip to the Yucatán peninsula (Mexico), using the XL-1s with the 3x wide angle lens, as well as with the standard 16x lens and the 1.6x extender. I have perviously spent much time with wildlife still photography using a Nikon F5 and lenses up to 800 mm.

I can only say that I'm amazed, and very pleased with the camera and the lenses. I can definitely highly recommend it! I can't make any comments regarding the EF-adapter for Canon 35 mm lenses, but the 1000 mm focal length (35 mm equivalent) of the 16x lens with the 1.6x Extender is already very impressive.

One word of caution: For steady footage, you absolutely need a good tripod when you're dealing with focal lengths of this order. See the general DV discussion of this forum for some good info on this...

I wish you the best of luck convincing your grandpa!

Cheers,

Ron
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Old January 21st, 2002, 03:03 PM   #8
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By all means, Fletch...tell Grandpa you have a whole message board of people rooting for you!

And after you get it do us a favor. Take some footage of Glacier National Park and around Flathead and post it for us to see online. I lived in Missoula for a spell and I sorely miss the beauty of that country.

You're living in a visual goldmine!
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Old January 21st, 2002, 03:25 PM   #9
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Ron:

I'm very close to purchasing the XL1S, but am agonizing over whether to get the 16xManual lens or the 16x Standard.

What was your experience with the Standard lens, specifically regarding focusing? When you're out in the bush, do you turn off autofocus?

Also, I'd be interested in knowing if you are using the color viewfinder or the B&W one.

Thanks.

-- Alan
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Old January 21st, 2002, 04:11 PM   #10
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Another idea...

Hey Fletch,

If your Grandpa needs some convincing as to the benefits of getting the camera, why not make a list of some projects you can do that he can relate to.

For instance, Bozeman probably has a town historical committee. Go to the them and volunteer to shoot some historical sites for them, or put together a historical diary on tape. That would be great practice for you, beneficial for the town, and your Grandpa would probably have a memory connected to every place you've shot.

Line up a half dozen "volunteer" projects that help non-profit groups, schools, organizations and you'll be getting tons of practice/experience, helping others, plus getting your name known so that people will start asking to see your "other stuff" (namely the wildlife stuff).

Just an idea.
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Old January 21st, 2002, 04:27 PM   #11
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My lens & EVF experiences

Alan:

First of all I must add that I am a complete newbie at video, and that I just recently - during my trip to Mexico - started spending extended periods of time using my XL-1s in the field. On the other hand, I'm a still photo veteran, and I'm very picky about image quality and gear usability...

A quick overview of my gear:

- XL-1s with standard EVF
- Standard AF IS II 16x lens
- Canon 1.6x extender
- 3x AF zoom lens
- MA-200 (used as a shoulder pad)
- Light Wave Systems MM-XL1 Minimount
- Light Wave Systems EQ-XL1 Equalizer
- Manfrotto/Bogen 3283B tripod w/ 503 head
- VariZoom StealthZoom controller

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I'm very happy with the results I got. I have some quibbles, however, and they are exactly in the areas you are pinpointing:

- Autofocus: sometimes works poorly, particularly in 3-dimensionally complex situations (e.g. a bird in a tree) and / or when zooming extensively. I ended up using manual focus most of the time, but there's another problem there...

- Electronic (LCD-) Viewfinder: two problems here...
1.) It is VERY difficult to judge focus from the image of the standard EVF, and this particularly applies to the low depth of field when zoomed in all the way with the 16x lens with the 1.6x extender attached and a completely open aperture. This may sound like a paradox, but with the described settings, accurate focus is paramount. With the EVF, you simply can't be sure if you're at the right point because the resolution of the EVF is too poor. I ended up zooming in all the way, using the Push AF button on the lens to focus, and then zooming out to the framing of choice. That worked most of the time...
2.) Exposure: it can be quite tricky to judge exposure with the EVF as well. I'd guess the exposure can vary by about 1.5 EVs depending on the angle at which you look into the eye piece. I got the hang of it after a while, but it takes some time and discipline ...and when you're in a rush, you're likely to get it wrong!
Based on the above experiences, I will start looking around for viewfinder alternatives (including Olympus EyeTrek glasses - I have a demo unit in the mail... ;-)

I have no means of judging how well the 16x manual lens would have worked. I would say, however, that the image stabilizer is a BIG bonus with the 16x AF-lens (when shooting shoulder mounted, that is - it's highly counter-productive when on the tripod). It is entirely possible to obtain a quite steady picture with the 16x lens, the extender attached and zoomed in completely, as long as you can support yourself somewhere (like sitting down with your elbows resting on your knees - just watch out that these army ants stay out of your pants!). That's holding a 1000 mm still camera lens steady (35 mm equivalent)!! Only works with the IS turned on!

If I were you, I'd definitely check-out the CRT-viewfinder, if you can get ahold of one before you buy. It definitely can't be worse than the EVF, but I don't know if it's worth THAT much money... :-S

I know these seem like big issues, but considering the price of the set-up I'm very happy with it! Image quality is excellent, and all the gear worked flawlessly, even under fairly rough bush conditions. For the amount the whole set-up cost, I can barely buy a Nikon 600 mm telephoto lens for my 35 mm still camera!

Sorry for being lengthy, but I hope this helps. And to fletch: rest assured, you can't get anything like the XL-1s for the amount it costs. It's a great tool for what you want to do!

Cheers,

Ron
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Last edited by Ron Pfister; January 21st, 2002 at 04:39 PM.
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Old January 21st, 2002, 04:35 PM   #12
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Ron:

Thanks for the prompt and detailed reply.

I, too, come from the 35mm still photographer world, and always shoot fully manual. So, I'm predisposed toward doing it all myself.

However, let me ask another question: During the times when you've turned off the autofocus, how easy is it to self focus with the 16x Standard lens? (I love the idea of image stabilization, just wish the Manual lens had it).

Thanks!
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Old January 21st, 2002, 04:36 PM   #13
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Ooops!

Forgot to ask you about the Olympus glasses. Never heard about them. Where can I read up on those puppies?
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Old January 21st, 2002, 04:56 PM   #14
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Focussing manually and EyeTrek

Alan:

Focussing manually works well - as long as you can judge focus, that is ;-) The only thing that's a bit weird is the progressive nature of the controls - applies to the zoom ring on the lens as well: an acceleration in rotation of the ring causes a positively non-linear change in the property you are controlling. But after a while I got the hang of it. It's definitely workable, and the advantage is that you can fine-tune very well when rotating very slowly....

With regard to the Olympus EyeTrek: There has been a thread on this forum about them. Check out the following URL for more information:

http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/cpg_eyetrek_overview.asp

Cheers,

Ron
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