Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Video tips for the outdoors?
Display Avatars Sort By:
Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
Video tips for the outdoors? on 11/30/2013 11:56:40 MST Print View

Hello all, I recently started playing with the video feature of my Canon 5DII. I figured, hey, if they used the camera to film part of Ironman 3, surely I can take a decent video. Hahaha...or maybe not.

For anyone who has taken videos with a DSLR while backpacking, how do you deal with wind noise? Is there a decent way to cancel it out but still be able to hear talking? Or do you leave the wind-noise in as part of the whole "great outdoors" ambiance.

Second would be focusing...do you use manual or AF, and on a related note, what f-stops or ISO would you recommend? Any tips would be great. I'm sure there are tons of places on the internet for checking out how to make good videos, but I'd also like to hear advice specifically for what works well for backpacking.

Thanks in advance.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Video tips for the outdoors? on 11/30/2013 12:18:48 MST Print View

First of all, if you try to use a built-in microphone, you are doomed. The wind noise is always a problem. I go by one of two methods. One method is to use a shotgun microphone mounted high on the hot shoe. Then over the microphone you need to use a dead cat wind muffler. I found the commercial dead cats to be too big and heavy for backpacking, so I made my own. It is small but still gets the job done. The trick is in finding the right kind of super-fuzzy fabric to use.

The second method is to use a separate sound recorder. I use a digital voice recorder, and I put it near the target with super-fuzzy fabric on top of it. Alternatively, I use my own down beanie. Then I have an ultralightweight clapper in order to synchronize the audio to the video. It works. Which method you use kind of depends on your target. I mostly go after wildlife, although panoramas can be shot off a good tripod. For panoramas, you do not need to synchronize the audio to the video.

--B.G.--

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
mics on 12/01/2013 00:08:33 MST Print View

Thanks for the tips Bob. I'll look into remote mics and see how that works. I was shocked at how sensitive the built in mic is...even with a tiny breeze it sounds like you're recording in a hurricane.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: mics on 12/01/2013 00:36:10 MST Print View

I suppose that there might be some way to build a dead cat over the built-in microphone on the camera. It really depends on how directional you need the pattern to be. On this forum we've recently discussed a bit about trail cameras, and some have a built-in microphone on the bottom surface with no dead cat to muffle wind noise.

The other thing is that if you can split the audio track off separately from the video, then you can post-process it to _try_ to filter out wind noise, which tends to be low frequency. It's a lot easier if you can filter it before the microphone rather than after it is recorded.

And then, if you want to go crazy, get a parabolic microphone.

--B.G.--

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Video tips for the outdoors? on 12/01/2013 01:04:49 MST Print View

"Second would be focusing...do you use manual or AF, and on a related note, what f-stops or ISO would you recommend?"

I don't think that there is anything magic about operation on a backpack trip. I normally leave my camera in P mode and Live View, then let it rip. If it is in normal daylight, then you will have plenty of light, so the camera will figure out the exposure pretty easily. Focus is a bit tricky, simply because of the nature of the DSLR and how it does autofocus. If you are able to half-press to get the initial focus lock and then leave it there, it is the easiest. If your primary target is moving toward the camera (like wildlife), then it gets a lot trickier. Although it is possible to shoot handheld, you generally get much better results with the camera on a decent tripod with a smooth panning action. Sometimes that is not possible, so you can try to do it with image stabilization in the lens, but that makes some video viewers get motion sickness. Video also tends to eat up a lot of battery power, mostly because of the Live View display, so carry along lots of spare batteries. That adds weight, and that goes against our BPL creed.

Like all video shooting, you will get better results if you can plan out the entire shot in advance.

--B.G.--

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
trail cameras on 12/01/2013 01:08:18 MST Print View

Yeah, speaking of trail cameras, I'm right at the point of deciding what I'm going to carry. I have a Canon 5DII with 17-40 lens, and I'll be getting the 70-200 lens again. I love this camera, but it is a beast to carry, along with the two lenses and tripod. I've been eyeing the Sigma DP2 Merrill and am sorely tempted by it as a backpacking landscape camera. The Sigma fits my photography style. I take very few photos, and none of them are quick, or of moving objects (at least while backpacking).

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: trail cameras on 12/01/2013 01:36:01 MST Print View

Maybe I can clarify one point. A trail camera is an automatic motion detecting camera that is typically strapped or chained to a tree, and it photographs wildlife by day or by night. Kat posted some mountain lion shots that she got that way.

For a backpacking camera, I carry one Canon DSLR with Canon 100-400mm lens, and I carry it in a quick access shoulder bag. That's specifically for wildlife. If I need to shoot a scenic panorama, then I switch over to a Canon 18-200mm lens with a tripod. So, I seldom carry more than those lenses unless I know the walking distance is short enough to carry a longer lens with major tripod. If I think there will be audible wildlife, then I carry a shotgun microphone. That's about ten pounds worth of camera gear.

On rare occasions, if I think that my total load will be too high, then I switch over to a completely different camera rig that is much lighter in weight.

--B.G.--

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
trail camera on 12/01/2013 11:34:39 MST Print View

Ah, I see what you meant by trail camera. I had assumed you simply meant a camera to hike with.

10 lbs is a lot more than what I want to add to my backpack, as I already don't pack ultra-light (actually "light" is my goal, not UL). I know many photographers carry even more than that.

Truth be told, I'm a pretty crappy amateur landscape photographer. I don't take wildlife photos while backpacking. The only thing I like to bring my camera along for is to get photos of pretty scenery, so that months or years after the trip I can go back and look at the cool areas I hiked through. Until now I've been carrying my DSLR, tripod, and lenses for this purpose, but I'm starting to think that is a lot of overkill for my intended use and my photographic abilities.

When I take photos of my kids playing, or my dogs running in the snow, etc., the DSLR provides great photos. But I'm starting to think that for backpacking, I'm carrying a howitzer when what I really need is a slingshot. I want excellent image quality, but it sounds like the DP2 Merrill can provide that at a fraction of the size and weight of my current gear.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: trail camera on 12/01/2013 11:43:02 MST Print View

Another term for a motion-detector camera is a camera trap.

Some backpackers have been known to set one up where their food is stored overnight.

--B.G.--

Brendan Swihart
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
DP2 Merrill on 12/10/2013 12:29:48 MST Print View

Hey Doug,
Just wanted to give you some thoughts on the Sigma. I've been using one since last March and overall if it fits your style of photography it's pretty unbeatable for the price/size/weight.

Pros:
-Outstanding final image (if it's the right type of image for the camera)
-I like the menu system.
-simplicty
-I love the FL of the DP2 but if you want wider or longer there's the DP1 and DP3

Cons:
-I don't really care for the colors, although it seems to be a bit improved in recent FW updates. I mostly do B&W so for images that I really care about this isn't too much of an issue. The DP3m reportedly has much better colors.
-Crazy noisy above ISO400. Doesn't matter too much to me since I usually convert to B&W. There's also weird banding noise in shadows. Overexposing by .3 to .7 and then pulling it down in SPP helps mitigate this.
-It's has a way of making skin and people look horrible.

Basically, for what it does well it's a monster but it definitely has its limitations. I'm happy to answer any questions. There's lots of images from the Merrill on my blog outlivingblog.wordpress.com

edit: back to the original topic, if you're wanting to do video the Sigma isn't your tool

Edited by brendans on 12/10/2013 12:44:55 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: DP2 Merrill on 12/10/2013 12:40:11 MST Print View

In the thrift store, I was reading book about videoing. Several ideas I remember:

Don't use autofocus - it doesn't work very good and is contantly changing

Don't use zoom - same - if you want to zoom in, walk closer

To reduce camera motion, you want a much heavier camera. Light camera will move around a lot easier. One way to make camera heavier is to attach it to a large weight, like a container with water or a rock.

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
tips on 12/12/2013 01:19:12 MST Print View

Thanks for the video tips Jerry, I appreciate it.

Brendan, that was sort of the thoughts I was expecting about the DP2M. It actually should have been delivered today, but I missed the UPS guy. I can't wait to give it a shot, and I have no intention of using it as my general use camera. My 5DII is very capable as a do-everything camera, good video quality, etc. This DP2M is a single purpose backpacking landscape camera for a fraction the weight (and better IQ) photos than my 5DII. I've heard a lot of similar experiences to yours about the ISO. I will follow the advice and try to leave it at 100 as much as possible. I heard that like you said, up to 400 is usable, but it only really shines at 100-200.

Thanks again, and I'll check out your images,
Doug

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Video tips for the outdoors? on 12/12/2013 03:47:37 MST Print View

From my experience:

Camera shake is usually 10 times worse than you think!

If you must pan or zoom (and both are OK), do so VERY slowly. A proper video tripod and head is really recommended for this. Otherwise your viewer will get motion sickness.

Manual focus with very few and very slow changes is definitely best.

If you want to make a video out of what you are filming, figure on somewhere between 10 minutes to 60 minutes of raw video for 1 minute of finished video. Yup, you will discard HUGE amounts as really crappy.

Cheers