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Thread: Amateur wildlife photographer moves into video

  1. #1

    Default Amateur wildlife photographer moves into video

    Well like the title says I am an amateur photographer with an interest in wildlife (though sadly time constraints and inexperience on my part mean most of what I have is zoolife ) looking to make the jump into the video world. My intention is to head into primarily wildlife video work, however whilst I have some experience and understanding of digital photography, my understanding of video is very little - from both the technical and editing side through to the hardware side. Having little idea of what the different systems on the market do and how they compare to each other means that I am very much adrift in finding some gear.

    At the moment I have my growing collection of photography lenses - Canon - as listed below and I have searched for a video camera which would let me use my existing gear rather than a whole new system - combining the two is my ideal aim (really helps cut down costs and carrying gear around!). So far I have had the Canon XL range of video cameras suggested, a quick look at thier prices shows them as being far out of reach for a long time (I recall one was in the 7000+ area though another was more reasonable in the 2500 area I think). Another suggested the older XL1s second hand on ebay and that seems to have a far more reachable price to it (1100+ area).
    I am not opposed to spending money on good gear, but I also have to factor in time - no point spending years saving for the top range camera and waste all that time missing experience and slowly draining money renting gear (or having to wait to borrow it).

    However beyond price I have little that I can draw upon to compare the different cameras and what they truly offer me and how they will meet the requirements I ask of them - wildlife and working out doors with a limited weight aspect and mobility to also consider.

    So can any here give me some suggestions as to camera models to consider as well as resources where I could learn a bit more about video cameras in general as well as any that would be more specific to my area of interest?

    I am hoping to get onto a wildlife and media BA course either this year or next year (since I am applying late for this coming september) with the intention to follow that with the new MA wildlife and video course in the UK - finishing with getting onto a BBC course after that - so I do hope to get some formal training as well as contacts and experience with this.

    I would welcome any advice - thank you

    Note I currently have the following lenses:

    Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS L
    Sigma 150mm f2.8 macro
    Sigma 70mm f2.8 macro

    I was also aiming for a Canon 300mm F2.8 lens but with the price rises and such I have decided to go for the cheaper Canon 300mm f4 to give me some better range (though I admit I have no idea what (if) the crop factor of video cameras is).
    I am also aware of the Canon 5DM2 camera body with its HD 1024 video feature, though I think I am right in thinking that erganomics as well as other factors would make this a poorer choice than a dedicated video camera for one looking to move into the field in a more serious way

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Bristol uk
    Blog Entries


    Virtually no consumer cameras have removalbe lenses. The canons are just about the only ones until pro cameras.

    However, video camera CCDs are tiny compared to stills camera, unless you spend 20,000 up.

    I think the canons is 1/2 inch. All your lenses will be effectively much longer on the canon - I lack the savvy to know how much.

    My geuss is that it will be best to stick with proper video lenses as they work very closely with the camera - many functions will be lost with a stills lens.

    I guess you want long - the canon has a very good quality lens that goes all the way to 20 times and extenders are available.

    Budget for an excellent tripod or that lens will be useless. Given the long lens I would think about something well sturdy like a libec ( 600 ish i think ) - my 300 tripod is too wobbly for long zoom stuff.

  3. #3


    Thanks for your input
    I take it that the smaller CCDs in video cameras is not a major limitation for their intended output of video media - as compared to digital stills cameras. Is that the case or not?

    Further what features would be lost with a stills lens compared to a digial video lens - aperture control? Af? image stablization?

    Also are the extenders worth the additional cost or do they seriously impact image quality - I suspect the more increase the less the overall image quality, but that there is an optimum extender (one where the gain in range is more than the loss in image quality).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Bristol uk
    Blog Entries


    Double is typical for tele adaptors - and you do get what you pay for - pay over 100 but try befor you but id poss.

    I only use wide adaptors with my cameras and the quality does vary hugely.

    CCDs with video is the same as with stills.

    Bigger CCDs give better low light perf and cos of the physics bigger CCDs means shallower dof at low f.

    It is almost impossible to get shallow dof with .333 inch CCDs, just effective with 0.5 inch but really you need a full frame sensor to get ' filmic' shallow dof. F frame is only avaialbe on cvameras that cost as much as a house, or at least a 5 berth caravan.

  5. #5


    Well its back to natural backgrounds then - I don't think I am ready for a caravan priced camera just yet

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