Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Visit To Middle Creek-The Film

I have featured photographs from the recent trip to Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area during the last several posts and during that time I have been working on a short film dealing with the trip.

Most of the clips were taken with the Canon 7D and a variety of  Canon lenses.  The film begins with sunrise at Middle Creek Lake.  This segment was shot with the 28-135mmF3.5 IS EF.  Other lenses used were the 500mmF4 IS with 2x extender, the 100-400mmF5.6 IS L, and the 17-40mmF4 L.  A few of the clips were filmed in previous years but included here to make the story more complete and interesting. These were recorded with the Canon XL-H1 camcorder.  The first example is  tundra swans swimming in the lake.  We only saw a few of these birds flying at long distance this year.  The most notable is the eagle in the closing shot which was taken in 2009 and is at extreme distance.  The 100-400mm was used with an EF adapter, which yields an effective focal length of 2,880mm when mounted on the XL-H1.  This same rig was also used this year to record two close-up clips of ring-necked Ducks and one clip of flying snow geese, in which case the normal lens was used which has an effective focal length of approximately 40mm-780mm.

The XL-H1wins hands down against the 7D when it comes to ease of use and versatility (as a video camera) for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it has a decent shotgun microphone as standard equipment and much better audio controls.  In addition one needs only the standard 20x zoom lens to go from moderate wide-angle to extreme telephoto, and it has decent auto-focus, while the 7D does not in video mode.  On top of that it becomes a formidable long range wildlife filming tool when the 35mm lenses are mounted by using the EF adapter.  This results in a 7.2 magnification factor.

At face value it would seem that there is little point in using the 7D for wildlife filming, but that is not the case.  For one thing there is just something about the look of its' picture.  Another is the ability to record to flash media instead of videotape, although this will soon be a moot point as it will not be long until tape based cameras will be gone from the market place.

Cost is also an important consideration.  If one does not already have a wide array of lenses, it is more expensive to put together a DSLR based outfit that will cover the focal ranges that most camcorders do with just one lens.  The situation is somewhat different; however, if you already own a battery of lenses, or if your primary purpose for buying the camera is for still use, in which case the video function is a bonus feature. The bottom line is that it gives one the ability to shoot high quality video without having to invest in a prosumer camcorder, although one pays a certain price in ease of use.

I for one am excited about the trend and find myself using the 7D more and more for serious filming. I hope the day arrives that there is no need to own a dedicated video camera.  I think it is likely that most if not all still cameras will soon have the ability to shoot video and one must bear in mind that things should only get better, with higher resolution, a usable auto-focus function, manual audio control, and more.  We are truly living through a revolution in the video world.

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Ruth's Photo Blog said...

I feel like I was right there.The video was excellent.I imagine that if Jake and I could visit a place like this our cameras would be kept busy,but it would be so much fun.Have a great weekend.

Tom said...


I have now watched all your video's and if anyone else is reading this... make yourself a coffee, and settle down and watch the others.... You will NOT be disapointed.

Anonymous said...

This was a nice video, Willard. I enjoyed it.

I just ran into the same upload problems this morning. It wanted me to use Picasa web albums. Anyway, I went to my Windows Live Writer and from that platform I can upload the pictures and change all the formatting and at the same time all of the text.

Go to windows or type that in the search like at Yahoo Search and it will give you the link. Windows Live Writer. It may come as part of a suite but it is worth getting.

Tom said...

Hi Willard, a very nice, peaceful video. I enjoy reading about your thoughts on video. Although I shoot stills almost exclusively now, my next Canon DSLR with certainly shoot video, and I can tell I have a ton to learn.


Brad Myers said...

Willard, I always enjoy your videos. You have the ability to know what to film and how to put it together to make a pleasing video.

I am glad you are happy with the new canon and it's video feature. I did make the purchase I asked you about last week. It just came Monday now I can't wait to get out and use it. It looks like Wildlwood and Middle Creek will be the places this weekend.

Thanks for the help, Brad.

HANNIBAL said...

I love your videos! I need to practice with my 7D but carrying a tripod around does not appeal to me. I need to just do it anyway...

Thanks always for the knowledge on video!