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Tools & Techniques for Nature, Outdoors, Wildlife & Underwater Videography.


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Old June 20th, 2007, 08:12 AM   #16
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Dear Brandan,

On the XL1s, XL2 and XL H1 and many other cameras, there is auto white balance and manual white balance.

In manual, you (usually) focus on a white (or off white) card, select manual white balance position 1 or 2, then press the white balance button. This process balances the camera and remembers it in position 1 or 2 so that you can go back to it at any time.

Auto white balance is a continous process in which the camera attempts to white balance the scene on the fly. In many cases it is very good. In you case, shooting outdoors in daylight, I feel that it will meet your needs.

However, you can always take a small white card with you and manually white balance. Just remember that this will need to be repeated as the color temperature of sunlight changes during the day.

White Balance does not have anything to do with the FU-1000, it is a camera function. However, when using the FU-1000 you lose all color reference and thus it is not obvious or even detectable that your white balance is off.

When shooting with a color viewfinder (properly adjusted) you can immediately know that the white balance is off. With the FU-1000, bad white balance will go undetected.

If you get an XL H1, first try the standard viewfinder. Using the FU-1000 requires extra skill and practice. However, achieving perfect manual focus is much easier with the FU-1000.

To summarize, I find that auto white balance is fine almost all of the time.
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Old June 20th, 2007, 08:54 AM   #17
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Brendan,

Thanks for the kind comments, actually they are all shot using manual focus. I was actually fairly close to the Dragonflies when using the 20x plus the diopters, but if you are patient and quiet it is surprising how close they will let you approach, also they have the habit of coming back to the same spot all the time so you can get some very interesting close-up landing shots.

With the Canon 300mm I gaffer tape the diopter on the front of the lens, any slight movement of the diopter besides changing the focus also moves the framing of the shot.

Bob

PS: I always only manual white balance
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Old June 20th, 2007, 11:39 PM   #18
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Bob,

Great macro work with the xl2 20x, right?? What exactly is the dioptor doing for you. I have never done any real macro work like that and I am interested in how you got such fantastic images!!!

this has been a great thread!!!!

thank you, all of you!!

It is great to have wonderful people share such useful information!!!!
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Old June 21st, 2007, 07:09 AM   #19
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Dale,

The diopter is just another name for close-up filter. It fits on the front of the lens and has no effect on the focal length of the lens, it just changes the minimum focus distance of the lens.

For example if the minimum focus of your lens is 6ft by adding the diopter this distance may be down to a minimum of 3 ft.
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Old June 21st, 2007, 08:16 AM   #20
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Dear Brandan,

I thought I would add a couple of comments about white balance.

I always manually white balance for important shots, if:

1. There is time to perform the white balance.
2. I can place a white balance card where I am shooting or under the same
lighting conditions.
3. The shot is static or not moving from one lighting condition to another.

In some other cases, such as when you are following a subject and the color temperature of the light changes, auto white balance may be better, but not always. The color temperature changes often inside buildings, either due to different types of lighting, ages of the bulbs, or outside light coming in through windows or skylights.

Consider Number 2 above. If you white balance in the open (in daylight), then zoom in to a lush (very green) forest scene, your white balance will be off. If you have a color viewfinder this should be immediately obvious. With a Black and White viewfinder the change is undetectable.

There are very good reasons to use the FU-1000. The resolution is much higher and it has a variable peaking control which is very useful to see when you are in focus. With this peaking control, when the image is in focus, all hard edges are much brighter (peaking is on).

To me, the image looks just a little like 3D with peaking on and the image is in focus. If you are used to a color viewfinder it has practice to use the FU-1000 successfully.
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Old June 21st, 2007, 01:13 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Keaton View Post
I always manually white balance for important shots, if:

1. There is time to perform the white balance.
2. I can place a white balance card where I am shooting or under the same
lighting conditions.
3. The shot is static or not moving from one lighting condition to another.

.... Consider Number 2 above. If you white balance in the open (in daylight), then zoom in to a lush (very green) forest scene, your white balance will be off. If you have a color viewfinder this should be immediately obvious. With a Black and White viewfinder the change is undetectable...

... There are very good reasons to use the FU-1000. The resolution is much higher and it has a variable peaking control which is very useful to see when you are in focus. With this peaking control, when the image is in focus, all hard edges are much brighter (peaking is on).
I have a few clips to prove that "If you white balance in the open (in daylight), then zoom in to a lush (very green) forest scene, your white balance will be off." Thank you Dan, for explaining how I did it. I rarely swing from bright to shaded situations in a hurry and because I'm on auto white balance (by default) XM2 gets time to adjust within 99% of situations which are usually well-lit outdoors.

Regarding peaking, I think Per said XLH1 has an inbuilt peaking facility ... Am I right in thinking of "peaking" as an image sharpener for use solely with slow-moving or almost stationery targets? using manual focus? and tripod ? Or could peaking be used to sharpen flight footage even briefly?

This thread has helped me to find focus in more ways than one ... this is the first time I have dragged out of myself the thoughts and words to describe the challenges of shooting bird flight footage. I am particularly grateful to you Dan for inspiring these observations, questions and for working out the responses. I was just about to say that you're the only person I've met on DVInfo who uses autofocus for anything, but now I see that Don DesJardin (in reply to today's question on Northern Harrier thread) also finds autofocus useful for bird flight footage. I'll look at that later but now I'm asking you to think about the tilt function using your Sachtler ...

I use a sturdy Benbo Trekker with a Manfrotto 701rc2 head & it's handy for close work with guillemots and gulls and nesting birds ... it's also handy for those predictable shots of "landings" and "take-offs" but that's about it. I'm fairly sure Don took his flight clips of various raptors using his strong tripod with runner-plate but I think he could do so because after much observation and within a bird reservation he was able to predict, now and again, the eye-level (or slightly-above) flight path of his birds ... Anyway, I cannot imagine how to access my viewfinder to frame a bird that is on a flight-path that starts below me and ends above me or vice versa and moving 180 degrees from right to left IF my camcorder is stuck to a tripod ... please confirm that (a) my problem is not entirely the result of a miniscule IQ and (b) that there is no tripod + head, Sachtler or otherwise, which can tilt sufficiently to help me overcome the necessity to handhold in such situations.

The tripod could be very handy for parking the cam on while resting my wrists and arms (XLH1 is nearly 4 kilos) ... the quick release on the Manfrotto is slick enough, but in very rough situations I might be better off rigging up a secure temporary small shelf/platform of stones to leave the cam on and avoid the danger of nudging the tripod over the top of a cliff ...

Or perhaps I should be more selective about my footage and only shoot when the bird is within a very limited field of best view ... and then spend more time doctoring/editing the high-class snippets into a magnum opus ... what do you think, before I put you to sleep? Others have suggested that some of my flight clips were tedious and I must admit there is some truth in that ... so much of my footage was shaky that I did use distant flight sequences ONLY BECAUSE THEY WERE NOT SHAKY !!! Now the truth is out at last, oh my God, I've splatted the beans all over the floor now, bloody hell ...
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Old June 21st, 2007, 02:38 PM   #22
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Dear Brandan,

Yes, the XL H1 has a peaking control. It is either on or off. The Peaking Control on the FU-1000 is better in that it is variable.

On the XL H1, the "Peaking" and "Zebra" functions can not be used simultaneously (with the standard color viewfinder).

If you are using the FU-1000, then you can use the XL H1's "Zebra" function and the Fu-1000's variable "Peaking" function simultaneously.

Peaking does not sharpen your images as recorded on tape or out the HD-SDI or Firewire ports. It is only a feature that brightens, in the viewfinder, the hard edges of an image so that you can tell if it is in focus or not. With peaking, the image will appear to "Snap in Focus" when it is in focus.

This is a very useful feature, both on the camera itself and on the FU-1000.

I have film friends that state that they will "never use autofocus for anything". This of course is their decision. However, when I edit their footage it is apparent that much of their footage is out of focus.

My eyesight is not perfect so autofocus helps me personally.

Last year I recorded a live event for a friend. It was under ok, but not great, lighting conditions. There was only a few seconds out of 60 minutes that were out of focus. These were caused by a microphone stand between the camera and the subject.

I simply cannot devote 100% of my time and attention to focusing while I am attempting to frame and zoom during an hour long live event. The autofocus function does devote 100% of its time to autofocus, while I devote time to other concerns.

I am not trying to convert anyone to using autofocus, especially if they are good at manual focus. For staged shots in which there is plenty of time for focus, it is perfectly fine in my book to use manual focus, especially with the peaking and magnification tools that are available in the camera.

I do however, feel that if one uses an XL H1, that it is useful to try out the autofocus to see what it can and can not do successfully.

I am not an "Auto Everything" kind of guy. Audio "Auto Level" is out of the question for me in all but the strangest of cases.

In reference to "Tilt". A good tripod has a high degree of tilt. In my opinion, the limitation is not usually the tripod, but the ability of your head/face to stay in the viewfinder while tilting from looking at your feet to looking amost straight up. I would consider a good shoulder/dual hand grip mount for your camera. If you do purchase an XL H1, I could send you mine to try out. I am in the Augusta, Georgia area and your friend in Atlanta is only 150 miles away.

I do understand that panning, tilting and keeping your face glued to the viewfinder is difficult.

If, due to your nature filming, your camera and tripod are placed in jeopardy, I would consider buying insurance.
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Old June 22nd, 2007, 05:33 AM   #23
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Dan Keaton wrote ...

Peaking does not sharpen your images as recorded on tape or out the HD-SDI or Firewire ports. It is only a feature that brightens, in the viewfinder, the hard edges of an image so that you can tell if it is in focus or not. With peaking, the image will appear to "Snap in Focus" when it is in focus.

This is a very useful feature,

"If this works almost instantly during autofocus it would probably persuade me to buy XLH1 "

My eyesight is not perfect so autofocus helps me personally.

"It's my hearing is packing it in, and my favourite bird, never videod, is the musician wren (cyphorhinus aradus) in far away Amazonas"

Last year I recorded a live event for a friend. It was under ok, but not great, lighting conditions. There was only a few seconds out of 60 minutes that were out of focus. These were caused by a microphone stand between the camera and the subject.

"This is a powerful tribute to autofocus. I need to hear this because for bird flight in uncontrolled situations I have no option but autofocus ... "

For staged shots in which there is plenty of time for focus, it is perfectly fine in my book to use manual focus, especially with the peaking and magnification tools that are available in the camera.

"Does this imply that "peaking" is only available with manual focus?"

In reference to "Tilt". A good tripod has a high degree of tilt. In my opinion, the limitation is not usually the tripod, but the ability of your head/face to stay in the viewfinder while tilting from looking at your feet to looking amost straight up.

"That's well-described Dan; that's exactly when any tripod is redundant"

I would consider a good shoulder/dual hand grip mount for your camera. If you do purchase an XL H1, I could send you mine to try out. I am in the Augusta, Georgia area and your friend in Atlanta is only 150 miles away.

"Very thoughtful and generous of you Dan. It does raise a short string of questions but here goes:-

Does your shoulder/dual hand grip mount actually simplify ...

... panning, tilting and keeping your face glued to the viewfinder ?

Is the mount lightweight in itself?
How long does it take to connect and disconnect XLH1 to/from the mount?"
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Old June 22nd, 2007, 07:54 AM   #24
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The "Shoulder Mount" that I am recommending is:

http://www.birnsandsawyer.com/cgibin...talogno=200016

I am certain that there are others, but I am familiar with the above unit. This was originally designed for the XL1, but I find it works with the XL H1. An updated model, or one designed specifically for the XL H1 may be better.

The grip handles are adjustable as well as the ergonomics of the mount.

With this, the camera becomes as extension of you body. As you, and your hands move, the camera moves also, with your face glued to the viewfinder all of the time.

The viewfinder on the XL H1 is adjustable in that the whole unit may be moved forward or backward relative to the camera position about 2 inches. This allows you to find a comfortable position for the camera (on the mount) and the viewfinder (on the camera).

Yes, it adds weight, my guess is about three pounds. But, the back of the unit hangs from your shoulder, allowing some of the camera weight to be on your shoulder.

For long periods, I would want a tripod as a good tripod is inherently stable.

But, there are trade-offs. A good tripod is far heavier if you are hiking.

While we are talking tripods, be sure to get one with many levels of drag. With the Sachtler (and others) you also have a setting of zero drag. This may be helpful to you when you need to do "Whip Pans".

"Peaking" is available in both auto and manual focus. But when using auto focus, you generally do not need to use "Peaking".

The mount has a standard tripod thread to mount to the camera. Additional quick release mounts could be used, but they would add extra weight.
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Old June 22nd, 2007, 11:48 AM   #25
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Brendan,

This thread has been great.

shooting birds with the gl2 can be a challenge at times.

shoulder support: I have a shoulder support and it is a single forward handle. for shear steadiness, make sure you get a two handed one like the one mentioned. also look up spider brace, a little more economical and may do for you.

http://www.spiderbrace.com/

I use the single one because that is what I bought first. However i do keep my left hand on the camera barrell to adjust focus, hit nd or focus control while I am filming if necessary.

With the gl2 and using autofucus if I am filming falcons that have any altitude at all quite often the camera has a difficult time findiing them!!! When the falcon is close, say within 200 feet the camera is just fine!!

I combat this issue by focusing on something in the distance about the range i expect to shoot. I pull back as far as I can and keep things focused. When it is time to shoot I grab the falcon and then zoom into the point it is focused. At that point with left hand on barrell i can put it to auto and then slowly!!! zoom more as needed and odds are in my favor for good focus!!!
When I shoot a two camera shoot, I leave the gl2 in auto focus mode and the xl2 we manually focus. I think the auto focus on the gl2 is pretty excellent.
I am sure i could round up a short clip of a falcon well in the sky with this technique to email you if you like.
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Old June 22nd, 2007, 02:36 PM   #26
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That's a useful intervention, Dale. In the middle of all this theory I was overlooking that in practice my vultures do appear from behind and before and from above and below and from any angle ... therefore I have to have a finger on my zoom button to pull back from or close in on the flight of the bird.

That means, Dan, that I could only work the shoulder-mount with both hands when the bird is flying along a path in mid-distance within the originally framed view. This equi-distant flight does happen and XLH1 footage should be very good from such sequences. But some of my chances come from birds gliding around in a 50 yard circle in front of me, like this ...

http://www.hbw.com/ibc/phtml/votacio...?idVideo=15072

I could have zoomed out during this clip from Crete but I was surprised when the vulture seemed unaware of me and came much closer than usual (within 15 yards).

The cliff top location in this clip, Farangi Rosas, produces vulture flight in fairly rapid succession, from different angles, for a few minutes in every hour. Sometimes I can see it coming from a distance and that's easy to line up BUT I have to have ready access to the zoom button. When the flight appears suddenly from behind or closes in from the front as in the clip I have to react instantly with autofocus and zoom.

The challenge I see now is: How to make enough good use of an XLH1 during the limited chances that arise to justify the purchase? I am satisfied that I will promptly leave it down beside my swivel seat when the sky is empty, that's easy but it's not exactly productive. I am also going around the house holding up 2 x 2 kilo bags of wholemeal to build up my own hardware ...

Then there's that whole treasure chest of possibilities in "post" which Dan has recommended ... but really what I love doing is getting good footage; don't we all! And then there are many birds other than vultures, some run 'n gun like the hoopoe and the bee-eater, for which I should keep the XM2 handy, or perhaps the XLH1 is not too awkward out a car window? I have a little cushion ...
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Old June 22nd, 2007, 03:04 PM   #27
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Dear Brandan,

The Varizoom zoom and focus controls (and others) could be mounted to one of the handgrips. I have not yet done this myself. This would give you more control.

Once you use the XL H1, the XM2 will probably be used rarely. You could have it mounted on a tripod, as a second camera, pointed to the general area, but the footage would probably not match up well in post.
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Old June 22nd, 2007, 05:29 PM   #28
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varizoom

Brendan,

I use a varizoom when on the tripod in particular. When shooting off the shoulder I have found the zoom is great but the focus in to small of increments and if you have to make a fast focus it wont do, then you are racing a hand up for the barrel and you just blew your steadiness!! I have done this so much i do not even bother with the varizoom focus control while shoulder shooting. I do an aweful lot of shooting off the shoulder, bottom line is the less you have to do when filming the more you can concentrate on steadiness, and it takes work!!

On the shoulder with the varizoom auto focus might be a lot better and you have very good control of the zoom then.

A thought about shoulder mounts. Mine being is a single as mentioned. I do not like the fact that the handle is really to far out from the body.

Were I to buy again, I would make certain that the handles allow the elbos to be down more toward the body which will also aid steadiness. Ideally you would want the arms and the camera to make an equangular triangle for greatest steadiness!!

wouldn't it be nice if a lens could be infinite focus like some of the high priced binoculars!!!!

We are going to a prairie Falcon eyrie on sunday if the weather holds up. I will post a gl2 and a xl2 clip.
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Last edited by Dale Guthormsen; June 22nd, 2007 at 05:32 PM. Reason: add on
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Old June 23rd, 2007, 05:33 PM   #29
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Dear Brendan,

I use the Varizoom for zoom and the contol of the zoom speed is fairly easy.

Yes, the Varizoom can be used for focus, but I've never used its focus function.

So, I agree with Dale, it would be useful for zoom, but probably not focus.

On another note, the Birns and Sawyer shoulder mount is adjustable in many ways. It may not be obvious, but you can full adjust the grip handles. They can be placed close together, or to form various angles.

As you adjust the angle of the grip handles, in effect you are modifing the distance they are apart which also controls the distance from your body.

The mount for the camera is also adjustable, this allow you to find a comfortable position for the camera and viewfinder.
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Old June 27th, 2007, 07:10 AM   #30
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L. Kirk Kauder has solved a similar problem with a SteadyStick and I've ordered one from:

http://dvcreators.net/steady-stick

Thank you Kirk.

Has anyone else used a steadystick?
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