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Wildlife videography camera and lens combination decision

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Amin Zargar
Wildlife videography camera and lens combination decision
on Jan 29, 2018 at 6:36:21 am

Hi All,

I have been a wildlife (mostly birds) photographer and videographer hobbyist for a few years. I'm not happy with the quality of the videos I produce and as such, I would like to upgrade to a better gear.
I have done an extensive research and I have come to the conclusion that the following configurations are the best for my needs.
I have 2 main contenders and a tertiary. The main configurations contending are:

1- Sony A7R III + Sony FE 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM OSS and
2- Panasonic GH5S + 100-400mm
(3- Canon C200 + Canon 100-400mm f4-5.6 USM II)

The main reasons for going for the Sony option are:
- Better auto focus
- Better marginal low light/high ISO performance
- Better colors
- Higher effective dynamic range
- Full frame sensor
- In-body stabilization
- overall image quality and composition

However:
- It lacks 8 bit color space
- Slow motion capability are limited compared to GH5.

So except 8 bit recording (which is a big deal for me) in all other senses A7R III is just about perfect for my needs

For the GH5S, pros are:
- First & foremost, 10 bit recording
- flip out screen
- cropped out sensor (MFT) plus ex. tele conversion option adds to the reach

Cons for GH5S are:
- Lack of in-body stabilization
- Mediocre auto focus
- Dynamic range is marginally lower and cannot pull out colors in shades and overall colors are darker.

It seems to be a straightforward choice, however, 10 bit recording is a big deal for me. Especially if I decide to sell some of my footage at some point in the future -- I would like to know how important is 8 bit vs 10 bit recording. So that would be my question ... I would highly appreciate your thoughts :-)


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Bouke Vahl
Re: Wildlife videography camera and lens combination decision
on Jan 29, 2018 at 12:54:27 pm

What do you need 10 bits for? Advanced color correction?
Not for publishing, as all intenet / television delivery is 8 bits, and you have to be lucky if your end user has an 8 bit capable monitor. The theatre is 12 bit, but there is no single one on this site who solely produces for the theatre. And if you do, you should be able to afford a normal cam.

As you stated yourself, the Sony is highly seniitve, so you should be able to do proper exposure untill dark.
(Ok, hard to shoot owls.)

Now, if your shot is not steady, you have to trash it.
If your shot is out of focus, you have to trash it. (I know birds, they tend to fly around a lot, hard to keep focus.)

So, anything that makes focus / stabilization easy is of utmost importancy.
For editing, give me 10 decent exposed / stabilized shots over 10.000 bad ones any day. The end result with just 10 good shots WILL be better.

So, pick your poison.

Or, go work at the local factory for a couple of weeks and get an FS-7.

Bouke
http://www.videotoolshed.com


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Matthew Ross
Re: Wildlife videography camera and lens combination decision
on Jan 29, 2018 at 1:07:10 pm

I'd recommend renting each of them for a week and trying them out. Nothing beats some good ol' hands on, in-the-field testing. I've done that before, and it's pretty reasonable from places like lensrentals.com or borrowlenses.com (I've used both and have had good experiences).


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Blaise Douros
Re: Wildlife videography camera and lens combination decision
on Feb 2, 2018 at 12:57:12 am

Don't listen to Bouke. 10-bit color is EVERYTHING, especially if you want to sell stock footage--the additional color latitude you get is absolutely invaluable. 10-bit log footage has something like 95% of the data of RAW, at a quarter of the bitrate. Get the GH5s and a big heavy fluid-head tripod--that'll keep your shots nice and stable. 2X reach is huge for birds--400mm is just not that long on full frame.

I DO agree, though, that if you want to be really deliriously happy, the FS7 is lovely--I use one every day. However, it costs a LOT more than a GH5s system.


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Amin Zargar
Re: Wildlife videography camera and lens combination decision
on Feb 2, 2018 at 9:16:02 pm

thank you Bouke, Mathew and Blaise.
I am actually thinking of at some point selling my footage. I think the 10 bit is something that would simply be required of me.

For the FS-7, I have studied C200 vs FS-7 (MkII actually) for a long time. To me C200 wins on the grounds of:
1. better low light/high ISO performance (2/3 of reviews I'm reading indicate this way)
2. superior auto-focus
3. wider collection of native lenses, specially telephoto lenses
4. size & weight (however by not much)
5. better LCD & EVF combination

Also true that in-body 10 bit rec is not available on C200 but I'm OK paying the extra $ for extra memory for the 12 bit Raw Lite.
All that said I have to say I prefer FS-7 colors.

So C200?


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Blaise Douros
Re: Wildlife videography camera and lens combination decision
on Feb 2, 2018 at 11:11:17 pm

Sounds like you've made up your mind, in a different direction. The only thing I'd caution you about the C200 is that its slow motion capabilities aren't quite up to the FS7's, at 180 fps in 1080p XAVC-I. The C200's 120 fps isn't bad at all, though.

I'd say you should probably remove autofocus from your list of things to worry about. There's no way autofocus is going to work well for wildlife video!

As for lenses, the E-mount adapts lenses with ease, so I'd remove that from your list of things to worry about, too.

At this stage, what you really want to do is rent both of them, and play for a day with each. Then you can make the most informed decision--the one based on how well you like working hands-on with the camera.


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