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


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Old December 9th, 2006, 07:16 AM   #1
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Wildlife filming camera

I am starting the research process to buy another video camera. I have been shooting a Sony Vx1000 for the past three years and while it was a decent rig it lacked in several key areas.

1) low light shooting is horrible

2) audio is lousy at best for outdoors use.

3) it was never very reliable

4) it had no side view finder which comes in handy filming wildlife.

I am looking for a two replacement cameras and was hoping to get some pointers on models that might cure some of these ills while providing high quality footage for a future TV use. We primarilly film hunting and equipment needs to be up for the chore of lots of travel fluctuating temps and humidity ect.

I have been looking at these
Sony HDR-FX1 HDV 1080i

Any thoughts, reccomondations or alternatives you may have on this camera would be greatly apprieciated.
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Old December 9th, 2006, 08:12 PM   #2
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I've been very very happy with my Canon GL-2 for wildlife and airshow taping.

Big honkin' zoom lens (20x optical) and image stabilization gives great pics even at long range...
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Old December 11th, 2006, 07:28 AM   #3
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Thanks Tim. The Gl 2 is one of my top choices.
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Old December 11th, 2006, 11:19 PM   #4
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1. The PD170 is the king of low-light.

2. It also has XLR inputs so you can use any pro mic in the world.

3. It sounds like environmental issues are your problem, and tape can stick to heads laden with condensation. Always bring a cleaning tape. Also, you might want to look into one of the hard-disk recording systems since they will be sealed and can create a redundant copy of your video while it is being shot.

4. All cameras these days have side viewfinders and Sony tends to rate the best in the LCD area.

BUT!

I think it is time to go HD unless SD is your only concern. The new Sony HDV cameras as well as the new Canon A1/G1 look great. The FX1/Z1 is also a nice camera. The Panasonic HVX200 records to solid-state media (flash drive), but the media is expensive and limited to 8gig. The smaller HDV single-chip cams like the Canon HV10 also look promising. The Sony FX7/V1 cams have a 20x zoom and also a 30x digital zoom that actually seems to look good, even in HD resolution. Even if your final output is SD most of the time, you can use the extra resolution of HD to zoom and pan around the scene. It would also give more flexibility when using image stabilization software.

There is only one real downside to going HD. None of these cameras can match the low-light sensitivity of the PD170 and it's sisters. Still, they should all be better than the VX1000 as it uses older CCD technology (pre HAD) that was less efficient.
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Old December 13th, 2006, 08:01 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Coit
I am starting the research process to buy another video camera. I have been shooting a Sony Vx1000 for the past three years and while it was a decent rig it lacked in several key areas.

1) low light shooting is horrible

2) audio is lousy at best for outdoors use.

3) it was never very reliable

4) it had no side view finder which comes in handy filming wildlife.

I am looking for a two replacement cameras and was hoping to get some pointers on models that might cure some of these ills while providing high quality footage for a future TV use. We primarilly film hunting and equipment needs to be up for the chore of lots of travel fluctuating temps and humidity ect.

I have been looking at these
Sony HDR-FX1 HDV 1080i

Any thoughts, reccomondations or alternatives you may have on this camera would be greatly apprieciated.
I have been shooting for a bowhunting show on cable for the past year and a half, and have researched for the best hunting camera for a while. Since I have to buy one right now (and I decided on HD), I am getting the Sony HDR-FX7.

I had been primarily using the XL2 for a variety of reasons, and also the VX2100, and the GL2, and the DVC 30 for IR, (The PD 170 is also popular), but I decided to invest in HD so my choices came down to the XH A1 and the HDR FX7. After all the research on the forums and the tests and reviews, I decided to go with Sony instead of Canon. The comparison between the FX1 and the FX7 has the image quality improved on the 7, (I think because of the processor more than anything else). The Canon's were real noisy coming out of sleep mode, and the Sony had better low light capability, and the FX7 looks like it has a better zoom than the FX1, so that was my reason for choosing it. Oh yeah, and the Sony battery I had in Africa lasted for days, the Canon was a hog.

for audio I always use a wireless lavalier on the hunter,
keep the exposure on auto so I can pan into the (dark) blind from the sunlight,
switch to manual focus when in brush or trees, but generally stay in auto,
and let the camera boost the gain until it is too dark to see, then we leave.



J*
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Old December 15th, 2006, 11:08 PM   #6
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John,

I shoot primarily wildlife and lots of hunting. I started with a gl2 and found it to be excellent. I got a century duplex for it and use it when necessary. I then got an xl2 and I love it for the interchangable lenses and adjustability of image qualities. To be honest, I love both of them and for quick point and shoot it is extremely difficult to beat a gl2!!!

Not to deter you from hd, but there is a lot of expense aside from the camera itself. Take a look the newer hd canon that is to fill the gl2's spot, pretty nice. you could produce in sd until you upgrade everything else; then you could move to hd.

The 20x zooms and canon lenses are just about impossible to beat.

I would not go with less than 20x.
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Old December 16th, 2006, 05:02 AM   #7
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John
I'm using GL2 (XM2) with some handheld success on vultures in flight; practising with benbo tripod + manfrotto head but little experience of that to talk about yet; Anyway may I butt into your thread to ask ...

Hello Dale
Any chance please, please of a tiny wildlife clip shot with your GL2 + Century x2 ??

..... thanks for the space and sorry for the intrusion John
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Old December 16th, 2006, 05:03 AM   #8
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duplicated in error
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Old December 17th, 2006, 06:59 AM   #9
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Thanks for the excellent replies.

As any search does this one keeps coming up with more evidence to dechipher. I have also been looking at the fx-7 now. I think the decision to go hd is made...I think. LOL

I primarily film turkey hunting and archery hunting for deer and hogs at this time. The project we have on the table will be 90% turkey hunting so low light is not nearly as critical . I would howevr, like my cameras to up for the job of filming deer hunts ect so I am not going to ignore it. I have considered splitting my choices and buying the PD 170 and an HD set up. I do get caught out west on turkey hunts where increased low light filming capacity is needed.Had 17 birds roll into the set up last spring that while we go the footage were rather grainy and not the quality a hunt like that deserved IMO.

My mich problems have been two fold. I get way to much at the camera noise, and I dont get crisp audio of the turkeys gobbling as they come in. Ambient sounds seem to drown out everything. I have been able to overcome alot of that in the editing process but the transitions are noticable and take away fromt the veiwing experience. If you guys have filmed any turkey hunts in particular, I'd sure like to know how you are setting up to catch crisp turkey sounds without the michs being over run by the calling near the camera?

Do any of you use a second audio recording unit? It's not a gurantee that i could always place it before the hunt happens but to be able to catch the sound away from the caller where distortion is always a problem but closer to the bird would give me the ability to catch quality audio and then over dub later. The drawback of course is more gear and more set up time which isnt always available.
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Old December 17th, 2006, 10:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
1. The PD170 is the king of low-light.--------------- None of these cameras can match the low-light sensitivity of the PD170 and it's sisters. Still, they should all be better than the VX1000 as it uses older CCD technology (pre HAD) that was less efficient.
Actually, HAD CCDs have been around for some time. My 18-year old Sony EDP-10F (ED-Beta) has HAD (Hole-accumulated Diode) CCDs.

Although the PD170 has the same imaging capabilities and ability to grab a picture in low-light as the VX2100, the latter model has a better and higher-level noise-reduction system and so it can generally shoot more usable footage with very limited illumination.
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Old December 21st, 2006, 01:06 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Coit
My mich problems have been two fold. I get way to much at the camera noise, and I dont get crisp audio of the turkeys gobbling as they come in. Ambient sounds seem to drown out everything. I have been able to overcome alot of that in the editing process but the transitions are noticable and take away fromt the veiwing experience. If you guys have filmed any turkey hunts in particular, I'd sure like to know how you are setting up to catch crisp turkey sounds without the michs being over run by the calling near the camera?

Do any of you use a second audio recording unit? It's not a gurantee that i could always place it before the hunt happens but to be able to catch the sound away from the caller where distortion is always a problem but closer to the bird would give me the ability to catch quality audio and then over dub later. The drawback of course is more gear and more set up time which isnt always available.
Some of my best footage was of turkey coming in from 200 yards to 10 feet of me! The sound of the arrow being pulled back spooked him in full strut, but I got awesome footage with the XL2.
(See the opening of PSE Bowhunter season 3 for the shot)

Hook up a shotgun mic either to the camera or on a hand grip (make sure not to bump it or you will get a horrible pop) and get a wireless lav on the hunter.
Set for 12 bit recording to get four channels so you can record both inputs.

J*
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Old December 21st, 2006, 10:51 AM   #12
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gl2/2x

Brendan,

I will shoot a short clip one with the century 2x and one without and post them this evening. Of what I am not certain as yet, probably a bird of some sort.

Dale
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Old December 21st, 2006, 10:59 AM   #13
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turkey s

just a thought on the turkey shooting and audio. Were you to use a dual channel wireless mic system, you could set up so that you have a couple omnis out in the area you expect to see the gobblers to come in and strut their stuff. If you had an xl2 you could then also use a shotgun mic on the camera. I would wager you will get good audio.
I will do this this coming spring filming grouse on their leks. I have some fine footage but as you mention the audio is not up to the caliber you would want.


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