Official Extra Long Telephoto Video Tools Thread - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 34 Old 01-06-2014, 06:13 PM - Thread Starter
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All important threads start with the word "Official", don't they?

As far as I know, there have been no "telephoto video" threads. Typically, the threads here examine cameras. My thought is that a thread aimed at telephoto video would be useful for some, including me. Obvious uses are wildlife and bird shooting. Some get to go to Africa! I want to be prepared for my next trip to Yellowstone.

My hope is this thread will attract some posts from others that have successfully shot very long telephoto video. Most consumer camcorders are limited. Some have tele extenders available. Bridge cameras like the FZ200 can be surprising. In other words, what combinations of equipment have worked and worked well?

I don't originate many threads, but last October I started one looking for advice on video equipment that would make a good telephoto kit: I started by looking at enormous lenses that would require a DSLR and a backpack or wheelbarrow to haul them around. I looked at the Canon EOS-M and a big lens.

Portability and weight were important. With help from this forum, I found a Panasonic 100-300 G Vario Lens. I learned that as a Micro Four Thirds system the 35mm equivalent is a double or 200-300. There are several bodies that fit the lens. For a price compromise and to minimize size I picked the GX7 over the GH3. The GX7 does not have a mic input, but I don't have a mic anyway.

I finally got the lens, the camera and a tripod. This week I've been on the Oregon coast hoping for cormorants, seals or whales. Not many were present this week! The challenge of extreme telephoto has to do with aiming and holding still. My goal this week has been to see if I can figure out what the lens can do. Then I will figure out how to do it consistently.

I put together a 3 minute video where I try the GX7 tele extender and the lens stabilization. It is going to be a boring amateur test video except for those that are interested in lens performance.

https://vimeo.com/83545625

Other than telling me that I need to point it at something more interesting than waves, let me know what you think! At this point, my thoughts are that there is video potential with this combination.

Bill
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post #2 of 34 Old 01-07-2014, 09:14 AM - Thread Starter
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GX7 high contrast clips are the test subject. There is a wide range of near black rocks splashed with near white water. If you are a GX7 owner or propective buyer, you might like a look.

My new thread on maximum telephoto is not attracting much interest. Maybe it is the competition with the 4K press releases.

With luck, I may get some more interesting long telephoto clips in the next few weeks.
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post #3 of 34 Old 01-07-2014, 10:33 AM
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Well, I learned:

1. The dynamic range looks good.

2. The lens is not parfocal - when you zoom, it loses focus and refocuses. This is pretty standard, but means that one really cannot zoom while shooting for the most part.

3. The video appears sharp, but the "extra-tele" seems less so. There is a visible difference.

4. One would think that a white bird against a dark background would be easy to focus on. Evidently not.
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post #4 of 34 Old 01-07-2014, 08:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for looking Mark.

"1. The dynamic range looks good."
---I was pleasantly surprised at how good it looked.

"2. The lens is not parfocal - when you zoom, it loses focus and refocuses. This is pretty standard, but means that one really cannot zoom while shooting for the most part."
--- I did not know the word "parfocal" existed. I'm not disappointed. At long tele settings zooming and holding the camera steady, even on a tripod, is easy. I don't like zooming in a video clip anyway.

"3. The video appears sharp, but the "extra-tele" seems less so. There is a visible difference."
--- I have to take another look. So far, it seems the "extra-tele" feature will be limited in usefulness. Stacked on bricks, the camera would be hard to keep steady at 1200 mm equivalent.

"4. One would think that a white bird against a dark background would be easy to focus on. Evidently not."
--- I'm fighting a little trying to understand the auto focus choices. I cut out the part of the clip that clearly focused on the rocks behind the fuzzy bird. For extra long wildlife shots, it may be the center spot focus is what is needed.

FWIW, from this point, I'll post any long tele clips if and when I get them. If I can get a hawk to fly by slow enough I might get what I want. This may be such a narrow nitch of videography that it has exceptionally limited appeal!

Bill
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post #5 of 34 Old 01-08-2014, 07:02 PM
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I think overall things looked fine considering the combination of equipment you had. However, IMO the most critical part of video shooting in the situation like this is the quality of the tripod and tripod head. At 1200mm 35mm equivalent, even the slightest nudge of the system will cause magnified vibrations that often render the footage useless. Zooming while recording should be avoided unless the lens is true par-focal and your shooting system has a truly smooth power zoom mechanism. Every time I was out shooting extra-tele range subjects with my usual combination of a Sony AVCHD handy cam plus a 1.7x or 2.0x physical tele extender making it around just under 1000mm at most, the thing that I always yearned for was a better tripod and head. My usual set for tele shooting has been Manfrotto 547B + 504HD head. The combined weight sitting on that head was around 1 kg which was lighter than yours. A professional O'Conner set would definitely have given me better results but of course I couldn't afford it.

The key thing is the system's mass (the whole system mass not your camera's and lens') has to be substantial enough and the center of mass low enough to withstand slight nudges and touches or wind breezes. The head itself must have absolutely no "gripping" resistant at the start of the movement and no recoil and the end. From my experience I've found the really useable footage was the part almost always somewhere 3-4 seconds after the head and 2-3 seconds before the tail of the actual recordings.

Handholding at this range is next to impossible even with any kind of camera's built-in stabilization. I don't think any kind of built-in IS existing now can do anything much with the 1200mm AoV. A very solid bean bag or anything similar would help though it may not be as solid as a good tripod but has its strength in the ability to absorb slight nudges and external vibrations. The use of CMOS sensors in modern cameras is also another factor going against this type of shooting. The way the rolling shutter effects (jelloes, wobbles etc.) respond to vibration-induced change in the framing of subjects at 1000-1200mm range is simply unacceptable even with the help of the camera's IS system. CCD-Equipped cameras would definitely fare better but that's another issue for another day.
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post #6 of 34 Old 01-08-2014, 08:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tripod advice. I used the excuse of the new camera and lens for a new $100 carbon fiber model at Costco. It is rated at twice the camera weight. The initial problem is that the lens does not have a mount and the balance is way off using the body mount. I can kludge something together but, a German machinist will send be a beautiful piece of work for $90. It locates the tripod mount at the center of gravity.

There is no doubt that hand holding at 1200mm will not work. Part of my initial efforts are to learn what my 67 year old hands and arms can hold steady. If it turns out that I can hand hold half the lens capability and tripod mount for the rest, I will be happy.

My goal (dream?) is a collection of wild animal video clips. I'll find a way to get the camera rock solid. All I want is for the animal to show some motion in a clear video. It is doubtful they will be watched by anyone but me. I have no documentary goals or plans.

When I started this project the first advice I got was from a Montana based wildlife shooter. He suggested a $3500 Nikon and $1500 Sigma lens. With his recommended tripod, the kit weight was about 30 or 40 pounds. I went a different direction with a price of about $1500 and kit weight of about 6 pounds. I feel a bit like a pioneer.

Next week I'm camping next to a tree that attracts humming birds. When I was there last year I was under equipped. We'll see how it goes.

Bill
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post #7 of 34 Old 01-08-2014, 09:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by P&Struefan View Post

The key thing is the system's mass (the whole system mass not your camera's and lens') has to be substantial enough and the center of mass low enough to withstand slight nudges and touches or wind breezes. The head itself must have absolutely no "gripping" resistant at the start of the movement and no recoil and the end. From my experience I've found the really useable footage was the part almost always somewhere 3-4 seconds after the head and 2-3 seconds before the tail of the actual recordings.

If you have a remote, you could try that to start/end recordings rather than the physical control. That way you don't have to touch the camera.
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post #8 of 34 Old 01-08-2014, 09:48 PM
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If you don't have a wired remote unit that clips on the tripod head handle, you can use the supplied wireless remote with your other hand. This way it's even better at avoiding the nudging of the physical controls but ties up your other hand that otherwise can be used to grab the legs to help steady the system. Zooming is however less precise and varying the zoom speed is very hard, at least on my supplied units that come with the cameras.
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post #9 of 34 Old 01-09-2014, 07:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Appreciate the help. The GX7 does not have a wireless remote. There is a smartphone connection option, but I'm a dumbphone hold out. I got a "Vello" wired remote for the GX7 from B&H. It was only $10. The Panasonic brand was $50! It helps more with photos than video. I almost always end up trimming video clips anyway, so the initial shake from pressing the video button is not a problem.
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post #10 of 34 Old 01-09-2014, 08:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsprague View Post

Appreciate the help. The GX7 does not have a wireless remote. There is a smartphone connection option, but I'm a dumbphone hold out. I got a "Vello" wired remote for the GX7 from B&H. It was only $10. The Panasonic brand was $50! It helps more with photos than video. I almost always end up trimming video clips anyway, so the initial shake from pressing the video button is not a problem.

You do not need a "smart" phone for a wireless remote - any cheap Android tablet will do. The advantage of remote by tablet is not just the shake (which is trivial as you say), but you can remotely *view* what the camera is seeing (and focus and zoom). Thus you do not have to be next to the camera/tripod to shoot video. If you worry about spooking animals/birds by your presence, this is a great way to stealthily take wildlife video - you can hide or at least be farther away from your "prey."

I was able to shoot (sort of) an elusive cardinal remotely, using the ZS30 (with its 20X lens):




Select 1080p.
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post #11 of 34 Old 01-09-2014, 09:39 AM - Thread Starter
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" great way to stealthily take wildlife video - you can hide or at least be farther away from your "prey."

Nice! A great idea for my quest of wildlife clips.

My "cheap Android tablet" is a Kindle Fire. My DW bought it for me to read books, store my .pdf instruction manuals, watch occasional Amazon (free) prime movies, etc. It also does a credible job as a video playback device for my own "productions" and favorite clips.

Unfortunately, Amazon "tunes" the Android system. One of the Amazon app store apps that gets bad reviews is the Panasonic remote app. Amazon does not like you to put Google owned Adroid store apps on "their" machines. I've seen ways around it, so will probably investigate in the future.

For now, I have to admit to myself the ignorance I've maintained over "modern", state of the art automatic exposure, automatic focusing and image stabilization. I need to be able to work those to my advantage. Next week is a break in my 6 month road trip. The goal is to diminish the ignorance and see how to take advantage of what the camera can do to help with extreme telephoto. I need to know when automatic will work better than manual. And, the opposite.

Bill

PS: Largely due to your months old thread on the ZS30, we bought one for our son's birthday in December. We are pleased that he is pleased. He is far too busy making a living and being a stellar Dad to have much time for photography or videography, but does enjoy the camera.
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post #12 of 34 Old 01-09-2014, 12:50 PM
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Bill,

if you live near a microcenter store, you can go out and pick one of these up.

http://www.microcenter.com/product/423567/A700_Tablet_-_Grey

its $49.99 and comes with the full 'google' app store.
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post #13 of 34 Old 01-09-2014, 08:32 PM - Thread Starter
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I didn't know you could get a a tablet that cheap!
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post #14 of 34 Old 01-10-2014, 01:45 PM
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Testing an (equivalent) Lumix 130-500mm+ power zoom (on the BMPCC) on a very dull day: is it parfocal? how smooth is the power zoom?

The first part shows the zoom. Focus is retained all the way, but because the lens is not constant aperture (as most are not), you can see the brightness changing (but smoothly). The second part is at full telephoto (500mm+) and captures some remote action (hey, here in New England this time of year we take what we can get).


Select 1080p
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post #15 of 34 Old 01-10-2014, 03:14 PM
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Thanks for posting this, Mark. I have been tempted several times to buy this lens. It's at a great price point, but micro 4/3 needs a parfocal constant aperture power zoom. I would pay real money for that.

Sony's affordable 8.3x f2.8 lens on the RX10 shows that it's not entirely outside the realm of the possible.

Best,

Bill
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post #16 of 34 Old 01-14-2014, 08:21 AM
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Testing the Olympus equivalent 200-900mm ED lens on the BMPCC (Manual zoom).


Select 1080p.

Manual zoom to test whether the lens is parfocal, although manual zooming is clearly not easy to do smoothly. 900mm shots.

RAW video edited in Resolve.
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post #17 of 34 Old 01-22-2014, 09:25 PM - Thread Starter
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I got some clips!

No it is not RAW or 4K. But the original is 1080p60!

The GX7 and G Vario 100-300 lens work when I get it pointed and focused. It is hard to hold it still and I'm having difficulty getting the best from the auto-focus.

https://vimeo.com/84832972

For a bonus, here is a still:


Bill
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post #18 of 34 Old 01-23-2014, 07:15 AM
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These are great. Try manual focus, it is easy and I think your camera has focus peaking. For example, the autofocus liked the nest and not the bird. No need for RAW or 4K here!
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post #19 of 34 Old 01-23-2014, 07:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by markr041 View Post

These are great. Try manual focus, it is easy and I think your camera has focus peaking. For example, the autofocus liked the nest and not the bird. No need for RAW or 4K here!
Thank you. The bird in the nest is a tiny humming bird. Based on clip quality, I should have discarded it. The excuse to keep it was the unusual structure of the nest. I think the 40 second video has about 6 clips in it. I discarded about 60 clips that were worthless!

The GX7 does have focus peaking and I need to learn how to do it quickly. In manual focus, the GX7 book says you can force a autofocus and then "tune" it. That might be the right path.

I also want to try and work with the pinpoint focus. With telephoto wildlife it seems necessary to try to center the animal anyway.

The snapshot above was shot RAW and "artistically" dramatized with grading, manipulations, tuning and other enhancements. If this were a photo forum, I'd post my HDR blooming cactus!

Now that I have four video capable cameras, I've changed my work flow. I used to use the camera provided software to move photos and clips to my computer to preserve lossless editing capability. Now I use Lightroom. It will move the photos and clips to a folder structure I created. Previewing functions for both photos and clips from all the cameras is well done in Lightroom.

I look forward to when cameras shoot a video format that functions like RAW photo formats in Lightroom. Lightroom is wonderfully easy for getting the best out of a photo and still so very limited for video clips. Serious photographers have largely given up on compressed .jpgs and shoot RAW. It works so well, I can see videographers discarding compressed .m2ts clips for RAW when they can post processed as easily as photos.

Bill
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post #20 of 34 Old 01-23-2014, 07:51 PM
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This the best I could do with my measly 300mm (eq.) lens shooting RAW video:



This is one video frame, "developed" in Lightroom.

Btw, DaVinci Resolve makes using RAW video just like normal video: each video RAW "clip" (a folder of RAW frames) is seen as a video clip with sound, not just photos, and you have all the color controls for that clip, plus merging, trimming, transitions, titling. Makes editing RAW video the same as for any compressed video plus all the fun of developing RAW images.
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post #21 of 34 Old 01-23-2014, 08:33 PM
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Hey bill, I really dig how you are also a mad keen experimenter.

I shoot tons of jet skiing video and other water sports up the river, so, here are few tips:

Water:
use a circular polariser
expose low if possible, I use -1ev

general:
sharpnes set to 0 or what ever the minimum is on you camera - you can always butcher it up in post as desired
big, heavy, smooth tripod.
I use a Sachler FSB6 head on some HD Manfrotto CF legs, with a 10kg bag hanging

shutter speed: well... this is a comprimise (isnt it all...) If shooting 30fps, 60th sec will give you a nice smooth vid, but is not fast enough for action. 120th looks 'flicker' on a plasma TV or projector, but is ok on a LCD TV. but, the fast shutter speed makes for much better slow mo !

Fstop ? Look up the MTF charts for your lens http://www.photozone.de/all-tests to find out what the sharpest F is and the best CA - most lenses is around F6 to F8

Less glass is usually better - ie, if you can get away with out the lens extender = better images.

and ... uhhh, bus stop
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post #22 of 34 Old 01-24-2014, 07:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsprague View Post

I got some clips!

No it is not RAW or 4K. But the original is 1080p60!

The GX7 and G Vario 100-300 lens work when I get it pointed and focused. It is hard to hold it still and I'm having difficulty getting the best from the auto-focus.

https://vimeo.com/84832972

For a bonus, here is a still:


Bill

Awesome clips Bill! Very nice. It's great having access to that kind of wildlife.
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post #23 of 34 Old 01-24-2014, 08:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markr041 View Post

This the best I could do with my measly 300mm (eq.) lens shooting RAW video:



This is one video frame, "developed" in Lightroom.
I don't think there is anything "measly" about 300mm. Was it hand held?

Thanks for posting the example. My goal for this thread is to (hopefully) make it a reference for long telephoto video.

Bill
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post #24 of 34 Old 01-24-2014, 08:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Awesome clips Bill! Very nice. It's great having access to that kind of wildlife.
Thanks for the compliment and the encouragement last November to consider the GX7. I shot a clip yesterday where what I think is called "dynamic range" surprised me. It is not a telephoto shot, so does not belong here. It was high noon and I got unexpected detail in the shade and open light. Long live AVCHD!

It is rare getting great wildlife access. I don't have anything that comes close to the hawk still posted here in all of my negatives or digital files. That one shot makes the GX7 and 100-300 lens worth the price. A large framed print will likely hang on my office wall for a long time.

I am looking forward to a continued wildlife telephoto shooting adventure. But, realistically, results may not get better for a still.

Bill
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post #25 of 34 Old 01-24-2014, 09:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Does anybody have examples of long telephoto video shot with big Nikons or Canons with 400-500 mm lenses?
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post #26 of 34 Old 01-25-2014, 07:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsprague View Post

Thanks for the compliment and the encouragement last November to consider the GX7. I shot a clip yesterday where what I think is called "dynamic range" surprised me. It is not a telephoto shot, so does not belong here. It was high noon and I got unexpected detail in the shade and open light. Long live AVCHD!

Bill

The GX7 is a great camera, Bill. I've always been very impressed with its video capabilities to say nothing of its ability to shoot great stills.

Enjoy!
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post #27 of 34 Old 01-25-2014, 09:02 AM - Thread Starter
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In the amateur photo world, there seems to be a popular telephoto zoom nicknamed the "Bigma", which is short for "Big Sigma". It comes in mounts for Canons, Nikons and Sonys. On an APC-C camera like the Nikon D7100 it will get an "equivalent" of around 1000mm for around $900.

One example may fit the Canon EOS-M: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/549255-REG/Sigma_737101_150_500mm_f_5_6_3_DG_OS.html.

Tamron has begun shipping a new competitor, the SP 150-600MM F/5-6.3 for about an extra $200. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=Tamron+SP+150-600&N=0&InitialSearch=yes&sts=ma&Top+Nav-Search=

The "Bigma" was where I started my long lens search. It was too big, the camera bodies were too big and the price was high. The Lumix 100-300 provides the same "reach" on the smaller M43 GX7 body. Additionally, the price, weight and size were more to my taste.

Curiosity has me looking for wildlife video clips with these two lenses on any camera, but I'm failing to find them. With the hope that this thread becomes a resource for video shooters with big lenses, does anyone have any links to video clips shot with these lenses on any camera?
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post #28 of 34 Old 01-28-2014, 02:36 AM
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https://vimeo.com/85154254
https://vimeo.com/85172622
Filming wild Otters is difficult most of the time because they move so fast feeding,a long lens is needed for close ups but avoiding jitter then becomes hard except on the rare times they are still.
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post #29 of 34 Old 01-29-2014, 07:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsprague View Post

In the amateur photo world, there seems to be a popular telephoto zoom nicknamed the "Bigma", which is short for "Big Sigma". It comes in mounts for Canons, Nikons and Sonys. On an APC-C camera like the Nikon D7100 it will get an "equivalent" of around 1000mm for around $900.

One example may fit the Canon EOS-M: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/549255-REG/Sigma_737101_150_500mm_f_5_6_3_DG_OS.html.

Tamron has begun shipping a new competitor, the SP 150-600MM F/5-6.3 for about an extra $200. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=Tamron+SP+150-600&N=0&InitialSearch=yes&sts=ma&Top+Nav-Search=

The "Bigma" was where I started my long lens search. It was too big, the camera bodies were too big and the price was high. The Lumix 100-300 provides the same "reach" on the smaller M43 GX7 body. Additionally, the price, weight and size were more to my taste.

Curiosity has me looking for wildlife video clips with these two lenses on any camera, but I'm failing to find them. With the hope that this thread becomes a resource for video shooters with big lenses, does anyone have any links to video clips shot with these lenses on any camera?

Hi Bill - from the Panasonic G6 Group over on Vimeo, here's the Sigma 150-500mm for Canon mounted on a G6 shooting birds in a distant tree, courtesy of Peter Linov.

Peter starts with a 12-35mm lens as a baseline at 12mm and 35mm (which he doesn't convert)., then steps up to 150 (which he converts to 300mm), then 500 (which he converts to 1000) and then he turns on the 2.4x crop ETC mode (converted to 2400).

My favorite part of the video is the ending, with the language bleeped as he tries to nail the birds at extreme telephoto range. He's swearing in Russian, so most of us wouldn't have understood the curses anyway smile.gif



Cheers,

Bill B.
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post #30 of 34 Old 02-02-2014, 05:33 AM
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Another great birding video from Don DesJardin - using the GH3 and a variety of Panasonic and Nikon lenses out to 400mm (see Vimeo description for the details):


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