Jump to content

New to DSLR Film - Good guide or suggestion - wildlife


Recommended Posts

Hello all, i have been doing wildlife / birding photography for a few years now and i have always wanted to experiment with video and install magic lantern on my 5D II but have never gone ahead and done it, but i just picked up the 50D because of the possibilites of the raw video recording (and i needed to replace my old and beaten up 40D). 


Anyways i really would love to get into film making, especially wildlife filming, but i don't know ANYTHING about the basics of filming.  I am wondering if there is a good guide anywhere out there.  I will be using the 5D II or 50D (preferably the 50D because i use the 5D II for photography jobs).  


Also does anyone have any good videos of nature or wildlife videos?  I'm guessing landscape shots can make a popular subject, is anyone doing wildlife or birds?  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

EOSHD Pro Color 5 for Sony cameras EOSHD Z LOG for Nikon CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

I am by no means a wildlife filmmaking pro, but I've done a couple shorts in that vein. Here's one a from a few years ago, shot with the 7D:




If I were you, I would stay away from the full frame cameras like the 5D for wildlife (and bird) films and actually look into micro four thirds cameras. The crop sensor will get you in a lot closer to your wildlife subjects. A 50mm on a full frame DSLR gives you a 50mm field of view, but the same lens on the Micro Four Thirds Panasonic GH3 would be a 100mm field of view. The GH3 is also weather sealed, which is pretty valuable if you are really going to be off of the grid.


Or you could always wait for the Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera. Put the Panasonic 100-300mm lens on it, and with the Super 16 (approx. 3x) crop factor on that camera, you'll have an image stabilized 300mm-900mm field of view -- that will get you really, really close. Much closer than I could get for the film above.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the reply, that video is really amazing, great job!  I forgot to mention that i also started shooting video for my job but there is nothing creative about it.  I want to practice and do things on my own (mainly wildlife and birds) so i thought i would look into using my 5D II or 50D since i have SOME good canon glass in the 100-400mm f5.6 and 135mm f2.0 and 1.4x III and 2.0x III extenders.  I am thinking about getting the 300mm f2.8 for photography, but i may get into video a little and want to invest in that.  


Would it be possible to mount my canon lenses on a micro 4/3 camera?  or is there a better lens/camera setup.  


Also will i be able to use auto focus with any of these cameras or is it all manual focus? I would love to have the ability to use auto focus while recording, is that an unrealistic wish for birding/wildlife videography? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can adapt many different kinds of lenses to Micro Four Thirds mount cameras. It is a very versatile mount and sensor size combination. Dumb adapters usually run under $25 and they do make them for both Canon EF and Canon FD lenses.


If you are using EF lenses, you may have some difficulty because the camera won't be able to communicate with them electronically. So if you don't have a manual focus ring (versus direct coupled) or manual aperture ring, you may not be able to focus or change aperture while using a Micro Four Thirds camera. That would pose a problem. But if you are shooting with manual glass, then they will work beautifully. I primarily shoot with Nikon AI-S prime lenses from the 80s and they give me great results.


I think that depending on your budget, you may want to keep your existing kit and make a separate investment on the GH3 or the BlackMagic Pocket Cinema camera and the Panasonic 100-300mm f4-5.6.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh hey, i just realized you are in DC. I am in Northern VA working for a small video production company there working as a photographer and learning video! Small world isn't it?!? Anyways the company i work for is stuck in the 90's, they barely have any digital equipment so i can't go to them with questions on DSLR video, or much else for that matter..

So with my little experience recording wildlife with the 5D II, it was somewhat easy because i could prefocus using autofocus and then switch to video and start recording, and maybe making fine manual adjustments as needed. I understand if i were to do that i would need some kind of focus puller

I thought since i have the 5D II and now the 50D those could be good starter cameras, i would rather keep it in Canon so i can do photography and video at the same time, but i would be willing to look at my other options. Like you said, reach is very important and if those other bodies are getting 2x magnifcation it would seem like a no brainer to use those. Is the panasonic lens around $500 that you are talking about? I am using the canon 100-400mm L f4.5-5.6 with IS so i wonder if it would be much different than the one your suggesting?

Also here is one HD video i shot a few years ago when i was going to great falls park a lot for the great blue herons. I have the original in HD somewhere but can't find it at the moment.


It's just basic video but i just wanted to see the quality of the video and sound, i was kind of happy with the results. Just gotta practice more and keep recording.

and here is a tight photo that i took of one of the guys. I am pretty good at stalking so i can get myself into position well, just gotta figure out the video side of things

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess, after thinking about it, i have a few basic questions:


what would be the best body and lens combination for around $2000-4000. 

Needs: Long reach, any kind of autofocus before or while recording


Would you stick with a 5D II /50D and my canon 100-400mm EF L f4.5 - f5.6 USM Image Stabalized lens on a wimberley head or go with a new type of camera body and lens all together, or a combo of something. 



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm in Northern VA too. I'm very familiar with the herons of Great Falls and I really like the photo that you got. Nice shot!
If you can wait, I'd suggest the BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera $1000) with the Panasonic Lumix 100-300mm lens (goes for around $500). If not, the $1,300 GH3 gives you weather sealing and 60 frames at 1080P (for slow motion; no other DSLRs that I know of offer this). Here is a sample that I found with that very combination:

Panasonic GH3: $1300
Extra Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery: $80
Sandisk Extreme 64GB 95MB/s SD Card: $120
Lumix G Vario 100-300mm F/4-5.6 OIS Lens: $500

TOTAL: $2,000


Replace that with a GH2, and you can shave $600 off of that price. You'll lose 1080P slow motion (you'll only get 720P) and the weather sealing, but you won't have to worry about moire patterns as you do sometimes with the GH3.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After thinking about it and considering that i just ordered the 50D, i will stick with that and practice for a few months and maybe by the end of the year or next year i will possibly look at the gh3 or pocket or anything else.  I need to get a good video head and a few other key things first i think, before i spend too much money and get crazy when i already have some useful gear that i can work with in my L lenses (16-35mm L f2.8, 24-105mm f4 L IS, 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 L IS, 135mm f2 L, 40mm f2.8, 50mm f1.8, 85mm f1.8). 


I have a decent tripod, a manfrotto 055cxpro 3 column carbonfiber tripod but i only have a cheap knock off wimberley type head in the Opteka GH1.  So my next purchase should be a new video head.  Anyone have any suggestions?  Looking to spend under $500 and maybe one that travels well.  Is there a way to modify a wimberley type head to do video?  


Also is it possible to control the zoom via a remote like professional video cameras, on any current DSLR?  Like can i attach some kind of cable to the USB port and control the focus mainly like in live view preview?  With the GH3 or black magic, can you control the zoom or manual/auto focus better than the canons?  Like will it be easier to work with the panasonic 100-300mm because of some ability to zoom through buttons or do you have to manually zoom like my canon 100-400mm.


Also lastly, if anyone has any other suggestions on essential tools i may need i would love to hear them.  I think i need to get a good microphone that can record mainly 20-50 feet away, any suggestions?  Mainly filming birds at first.  


the 50D will arrive today, i am very excited!!  Oh i also forgot i have the tokina 12-24mm that i can finally use again!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am thinking about going with the manfrotto 701HDV for $115 (after mail in rebate at BHphotovideo) and an arcatech leveling base (for $150) for a grand total of $270ish.  I will plop that on my manfrotto 055cxpro carbon fiber and i should be good to go.  


Anyone think i should upgrade the head?  The other option i was looking at was getting the Sachtler Ace mid section tripod/head combo because i am working with a sachtler head for my video job right now and i think it would be comforting to use that, but i just wonder if the extra weight is going to make me go out less.  I am thinking less weight the better, especially since i am having back problems.  I am not opposed to purchasing the 710hdv and arcatech leveling base to try it out and use it as a second tripod if i decide to move up to the sachtler at a later time.  I am just mainly concerned that it will be too heavy while hiking to my spots.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

i got the Manfrotto 701 and shot this last week and finally put it together, thought i would share it with you guys! Do to back injury i haven't had a chance to shoot much but i found this snake in my backyard and couldn't resist, since i knew it wouldn't be moving for awhile.  I used my 50D and 100-400mm on the 701HDV and also used extension tubes to let me get closer than the 6 feet minimum focusing distance.  


Overall i enjoyed it, now i need some comments or suggestions.  I think i have auto white balance on, so in the future i'm sure i'll have to change that.  Thanks for watching. 


edit: Here is the vimeo



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • EOSHD Pro Color 5 for All Sony cameras
    EOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs
    EOSHD Dynamic Range Enhancer for H.264/H.265
  • Create New...