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  1. Member CP/M User's Avatar
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    Hi Folks!

    Bit of a Dilemma I'm having concerning a SD Video Camera and a Digital Still Camera with a powerful Zoom lense. I'm looking for something which can take photos and video of small birds which tend to zip here, there and everywhere. One good thing I picked up while I was on holidays was small birds tend to easier to take photos of when their in dead trees or plants (provided their not in them - obviously! ), I currently have a camera which is 4 Megapixels and 10 Optical Zoom and while it did a good job with some photos, small birds from a distance or some birds high in the sky (Birds or Prey) had some issues. So I'm looking to get a Camera with 12 Megapixels and 20 Optical Zoom (which gives between 28mm & 560mm). All I know is it's more powerful to what I've got and must be able to show something closer. But the other problem which I could see the other day is what these birds are doing - moving here, there and everywhere, which makes it harder obviously to take photos of, and thought I might need a Video Camera as well. What I've been looking at is a Standard Def. Camera around $500 and you seem to get a fairly good Zoom Lense for it, around twice the power that that Still Digital Camera has. I'm assuming though these new Still Digital Cameras have the samer problem that my old camera has - no Zooming while Movie Making is running. The camera I've been looking at (which is a Canon PowerShot SXC20IS) has some improvements in Movie Mode including Stereo Sound and HD 1280x720 and while I'm thinking about getting that camera to do stuff like that for, I have some concerns with regards of it forefilling all those things I'm asking for.

    I was also wondering if someone knows of some good pictures which shows what your getting based on what a lens capability your getting, that would be good!
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  2. A standard definition video camera only has a resolution of 720x576. Your 12 megapixel still camera has a resolution around 4000x3000. Assuming both have optics good enough for their resolution, 10x zoom on your still camera will give you better resolution than a 20x camcorder. Ie, you could just crop the still image down to ~720x576 and the bird will be bigger than it appears in the SD camcorder frame. A 1920x1080 HD camcorder with a 20x zoom (and good glass) would give you roughly equivalent resolution.

    You can simulate this by taking one of your sharp 10x 12 MP shots, cropping down to 2000x1500 (the field of view you would get with 20x zoom), then resizing down to 720x576 (not adjusting for pixel aspect ratio). You'll see that the small bird (or whatever) has less detail in the 720x576 frame than it does in the larger frame.

    Of course it may be easier to capture what you want with a camcorder than a still camera.

    There are other things to consider too. Size of the primary lens determines how much light enters the camera. That along with the size and quality of the CCD determine how much noise you will have in your pictures.

    You'll be spending a lot of money to get an HD camcorder that can beat a 35mm still camera.
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  3. Member CP/M User's Avatar
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    Yes I forgot to put into consideration the size of the image, I've just used Google Images to download a couple of 4000x3000 resolution photos which is roughly 12MP and can see imediately that the image itself is going to be 105.82cm x 79.37cm (or 41.66 Inches x 31.25 Inches), so it gives a big area. And like you say it's perhaps easier to take a photo at 10 x 12MP and use the detail to crop the image and get the detail that way.

    I didn't put into consideration that even a Camcorder with what seems to have such a powerful optical zoom hasn't got quite the same magnification that a Still Digital Camera would have, but since you mention the resolution it offers (720x576), I can see where a Still Digital Camera would make up for. A Camcorder like that might have a few problems taking images of small birds quickly flying around and having done some Movie Making on my Old Still Digital Camera which does 640x480, moving the camera around too much or too quickly makes it unwatchable on a TV.
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  4. Mod Neophyte Super Moderator redwudz's Avatar
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    Film cameras are still handy for large telephoto lens. I have a 500mm mirror lens for my Cannon 35mm that does fairly well for enlarging small objects at a distance. I also have a 2X adapter that brings it out to 1000mm, but with a loss of contrast. Along with a motor drive, you can burn a lot of film in a short time. Nothing really beats big glass for telephoto. One tip too, if you're shooting with a lot of sky in the background is to try a circular polarizer. It can give you a nice blue sky and kill a lot of reflections if the sun isn't quite where you want it.

    Some birdwatchers use a spotting scope with a camera attached. It works well if you can find the bird in the viewscreen when using a strong telephoto. And with any strong telephoto, a tripod is usually a necessity, even with fast film or a fast electronic camera.
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  5. Member edDV's Avatar
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    I was also going to suggest a spotting scope with remote start/stop trigger. You would shoot with the camera zoom a bit wide, then do a Ken Burns style zoom inside the frame later in post.

    I did something similar using my 1440x1080 HDV camcorder with large Egret birds nesting in a tree. It was difficult to zoom in on one bird because they were in motion. I learned to shoot wide from a tripod and later reframe the action in post.

    I suppose this would work with a large format digital camera with Motion JPeg compressed video frames. The problem is most of these cameras limit video resolution to 1280x720. The more expensive Canon 5D Mk2 would do 1920x1080 h.264 but not at 60 frames per second.

    Alternate is to shoot a sequence of higher resolution stills (a few per second) and edit those into a video.

    Just some thoughts.
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  6. Member CP/M User's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by redwudz
    Film cameras are still handy for large telephoto lens. I have a 500mm mirror lens for my Cannon 35mm that does fairly well for enlarging small objects at a distance. I also have a 2X adapter that brings it out to 1000mm, but with a loss of contrast. Along with a motor drive, you can burn a lot of film in a short time. Nothing really beats big glass for telephoto. One tip too, if you're shooting with a lot of sky in the background is to try a circular polarizer. It can give you a nice blue sky and kill a lot of reflections if the sun isn't quite where you want it.

    Some birdwatchers use a spotting scope with a camera attached. It works well if you can find the bird in the viewscreen when using a strong telephoto. And with any strong telephoto, a tripod is usually a necessity, even with fast film or a fast electronic camera.
    Okay it sounds interesting, sadly I'm a bit more of a Digital Camera nut, not that I have anything against Film Cameras, the trouble is I'm an amateur whose looking for good photos but with some self-automation. One thing I have with my current camera is an UV lens filter which works as a lens filter though also protects the lens, I'm assuming their the same as a circular polarizer. Blue Sky is usually good when taking photos of birds, though cloudy and overcast days seem to make it harder - I'm hoping that if I can zoom further and get closer to the object I want to take it will help reduce this problem?
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  7. Member CP/M User's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by edDV
    I was also going to suggest a spotting scope with remote start/stop trigger. You would shoot with the camera zoom a bit wide, then do a Ken Burns style zoom inside the frame later in post.

    I did something similar using my 1440x1080 HDV camcorder with large Egret birds nesting in a tree. It was difficult to zoom in on one bird because they were in motion. I learned to shoot wide from a tripod and later reframe the action in post.

    I suppose this would work with a large format digital camera with Motion JPeg compressed video frames. The problem is most of these cameras limit video resolution to 1280x720. The more expensive Canon 5D Mk2 would do 1920x1080 h.264 but not at 60 frames per second.

    Alternate is to shoot a sequence of higher resolution stills (a few per second) and edit those into a video.

    Just some thoughts.
    Yes the Ken Burns effect looks interesting and would probably look at trying that at some time. I was fortunate one time to get a series of continuous photos of a bird close handy doing it's whistle and everything, the only thing missing is the sound track, so I'll need to get it's whistle sometime.
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  8. Member edDV's Avatar
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    You need to add a shotgun mic.
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  9. Originally Posted by CP/M User
    One thing I have with my current camera is an UV lens filter which works as a lens filter though also protects the lens, I'm assuming their the same as a circular polarizer.
    No, different beast:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photographic_filter#Clear_and_ultraviolet
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photographic_filter#Polarizer
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  10. Mod Neophyte Super Moderator redwudz's Avatar
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    I don't use my 35mm much anymore either. It's about ten pounds with all the extra lens and accessories. I use a pocket electronic camera now. A circular polarizer can do things like remove reflections from windows and water waves, but it can also darken a pale blue sky, depending on the sun angle, and improve the contrast. A UV filter is good for protecting the lens and works really well at higher altitudes to help with sky colors. Doesn't do much otherwise with a electronic camera. You can rotate a circular polarizer to vary the effect.

    If your existing camera can use a screw on filter, you might find a spotting scope adapter for it also. Lots of times with rapidly moving targets, you just aim in one area and keep your fingers crossed that your subject comes into range.

    Other than that, try to keep the light behind you and shoot as high a resolution as possible and crop and enlarge in software. You also can pick up a bird whistle that sometimes get a birds attention if you aren't a good whistler. Check your local bird watcher groups for more ideas.
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  11. Member CP/M User's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jagabo
    Originally Posted by CP/M User
    One thing I have with my current camera is an UV lens filter which works as a lens filter though also protects the lens, I'm assuming their the same as a circular polarizer.
    No, different beast:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photographic_filter#Clear_and_ultraviolet
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photographic_filter#Polarizer
    I'm afraid that is not clear to me in terms of what they are, cause to me they do the same thing! Wikipedia should divide these thing's if they are two seperate things.
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    Originally Posted by edDV
    You need to add a shotgun mic.
    Not really sure what one is, but I had a look at it on Wikipedia, though I feel I don't need to go that serious just to get a picture.
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  13. Member CP/M User's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by redwudz
    I don't use my 35mm much anymore either. It's about ten pounds with all the extra lens and accessories. I use a pocket electronic camera now. A circular polarizer can do things like remove reflections from windows and water waves, but it can also darken a pale blue sky, depending on the sun angle, and improve the contrast. A UV filter is good for protecting the lens and works really well at higher altitudes to help with sky colors. Doesn't do much otherwise with a electronic camera. You can rotate a circular polarizer to vary the effect.
    Okay I had a look at the Wikipedia site with a Polarizer and can see some interesting photos with it on, though by comparision is a polarizer more expensive than a UV Filter?

    If your existing camera can use a screw on filter, you might find a spotting scope adapter for it also. Lots of times with rapidly moving targets, you just aim in one area and keep your fingers crossed that your subject comes into range.
    Yeah the technology looks interesting in those spotting scopes, not sure if it would work with my current camera which has a 55mm filter thread. One adaptor I checked out looks costly in itself at $149!

    Other than that, try to keep the light behind you and shoot as high a resolution as possible and crop and enlarge in software. You also can pick up a bird whistle that sometimes get a birds attention if you aren't a good whistler. Check your local bird watcher groups for more ideas.
    Usually australian birds need funny little chirping sounds just to get them going and it appears they only respond to you at certain times of the year. I've flush a few out though which has been good cause I can take photo after photo of them while chirping away. Unfortunately this doesn't seem to be the time that they will answer to you cause they are usually busy nesting and making out with their mates.
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  14. Mod Neophyte Super Moderator redwudz's Avatar
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    Circular polarizers are a bit expensive compared to a UV filter, but fairly common, especially in 55mm. They have two pieces of glass and you rotate the front optic. They can be a PITA when using a camera that rotates the lens barrel when focusing or zooming, though. I think the Vivitar circular polarizer for my Canon camera in 55mm was about $20US.
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  15. Member CP/M User's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by redwudz
    Circular polarizers are a bit expensive compared to a UV filter, but fairly common, especially in 55mm. They have two pieces of glass and you rotate the front optic. They can be a PITA when using a camera that rotates the lens barrel when focusing or zooming, though. I think the Vivitar circular polarizer for my Canon camera in 55mm was about $20US.
    It would be handy to know if there's some guide which lists which cameras rotate the lens barrel when focusing or zooming, though I dare say a lot of cameras with Zooms do this. Perhaps mine as well. Haven't seen anything mentioned in that regard in the manual. Is the lens barrel not moving while zooming in and out any clue as to it's rotation? That's about all I can say with the camera I have now - it only moves in and out when your switching on and off the camera.
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  16. Just put your finger on the UV filter as the camera focuses. Does it rotate?

    A circular polarizer does cut down on the amount of light that enters the camera. That means the camera may have more trouble focusing, more possibility of motion blur, and more noise.
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    Originally Posted by jagabo
    Just put your finger on the UV filter as the camera focuses. Does it rotate?

    A circular polarizer does cut down on the amount of light that enters the camera. That means the camera may have more trouble focusing, more possibility of motion blur, and more noise.
    No I can tell you straight off that the UV filter doesn't rotate because it's screwed into an adaptor ring which screws around the Lens. I'm assuming that's good!

    Oh okay, I was reading in that Wikipedia link that Polarizers are good for taking pictures of Vegetation - Plants and such, and since I only have a UV filter, I thought a Polarizer might be good for when taking photos of vegetation. Sorry I didn't mention this earlier! Having said all that I seem to get lots of great feedback saying I take great photos of plants, some days it seems to be harder and overcast days are usually the best because there's no sunlight or shade or shadows to worry about, and small things I find are the hardest particularly if the camera can only focus on the background.
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  18. Glare from shiny objects is polarized. A circular polarizer reduces that glare.
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  19. Member CP/M User's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jagabo
    Glare from shiny objects is polarized. A circular polarizer reduces that glare.
    Hmmm, I don't seem to have that problem, unless this includes taking closeups on Sunny days where there's Sun & Shade for the Camera to deal with. Likewise if a background is too dull or dark, I think the camera has trouble with. Usually if it's sunny and I have to take a small closeup of something small, I use my own body to shade it in.
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  20. Blocking the sun isn't always an option. The examples at Wikipedia show when a circular polarizer is useful. For example:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Polariser_on_Vegetation.jpg
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  21. Member CP/M User's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jagabo
    Blocking the sun isn't always an option. The examples at Wikipedia show when a circular polarizer is useful. For example:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Polariser_on_Vegetation.jpg
    Oh okay I can see it's useful on Glossy vegetation.
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