Hi, I'm working on my 2nd nature video about Piping Plovers, a very small bird that nests on beaches. I'm using a Sony Z5U in HDV. My issue is that I'm finding it very hard to keep the camera steady even with a tripod...albeit a low end head 501DV. Since I'm using a 1.6 extender, even the slightest move shows up. There is an LCD, but even with a hood, its not large/bright enough to focus, so I've been putting my eye up to viewfinder...I think this is what is shaking the camera. I have to keep one hand on the focus and constantly follow focus, even at F.8. These birds move very fast on the ground in short and start and stop bursts.
I guess I'm wondering how the "big guys" do it, do they use field monitors or the viewfinder as well or does anyone have any tips how to film nature videos? When you see those Planet Earth shots following flying birds and they are perfectly framed and focused...how is that done? Thanks
Two answers: lots and lots of practice, and a very good tripod head. The 501D does not cut it for what you are trying to do, though with lots of practice and careful breathing you can reduce your shakiness. Unfortunately, any head you want (on good, solid sticks that will not twist) costs substantial bucks. And even these can run into trouble is there is a significant wind. In that case, you have to build a wind shelter for the unit.