Thread: DSMC system and Wildlife Photography

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  1. #1 DSMC system and Wildlife Photography 
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    Hi everyone. Its my first post in the forum but been following it for a while now. I was hoping for some advice from experienced hands regarding the Helium and still images for wildlife photography.

    The option of being able to shoot motion/stills for both documentaries as well as prints is a chance too good not to take, as I've been forced to choose between the two for years, though there are still a few contradictions which I was hoping someone could provide clarity on.

    When using DSLR's on smaller subjects such as birds we always try to maintain as fast a shutter speed as possible (I regularly shoot at 1/2000 - 1/5000 with high ISO's and wide open apertures to freeze them in flight). I noticed the Helium can operate at same shutter speeds as DSLR's pending available light, but according to some sources when shooting at high shutter speed, stutter can be introduced to video, therefore giving you quality stills but choppy video? Would shooting at 60 FPS negate the stutter and offer both crisp images as well as smooth quality video? When shooting at general settings for stills I've seen on the forum (speeds of 1/100s come to mind) too much motion can be introduced to wildlife images as smaller critters are amazingly fast.

    Another very important consideration when using stills images in international wildlife competitions, is that stills need to be verified for authenticity as no untoward editing is allowed on them (adding/removing objects, too much tampering in terms of settings etc.). I've been playing around in CineX Pro and exporting TIFFs, but is there a way of exporting a single RAW frame as the original RAW needed for verification, and what viewer will you need to view the file? I tried the Adobe Bridge CC RED update but unfortunately it did not want to open the exported R3D raw frame. Is it possible to view an exported R3D snapshot with a general purpose viewer like Bridge?

    Those were basically my 2 biggest worries before taking the plunge, though I am dead keen to get back to video again. Combining both would be a dream come true

    Thanks in advance

    Charl
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  2. #2  
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    Charl,

    To be honest, I always hope for more from my stills from 8k, and much rather shoot on stills camera if photos are my objective. Shutter speed is a limitation as motion yields a lot of blaring at 1/50th. I also find you frame for motion and the movement in the frame which is different for looking at that split second moment you want to capture.
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  3. #3  
    A little math can go a long way. Whether it's an eagle or a cheetah or a gecko or whatever, the limbs of every creature that moves basically operates according to a sinusoidal velocity curve: zero velocity when they are at the extremes of their motion and highest velocity in the middle of the motion. Here's a Royal Society article with some nice figures and even more details: http://rsif.royalsocietypublishing.o...9.figures-only

    The exception to this (which works in your favor) is when the middle of the motion is a glide or a leap, when they freeze their self-relative motion.

    This cheetah motion study, shot on a Phantom Camera at 1200 fps shows that when you take 1200 fps footage down to 24 fps to show things in real-time, the video does indeed look choppy: https://vimeo.com/53914149

    And the hummingbird footage shows that even at 1200 fps, their little wings are a blur in the middle of the wing beat cycle: https://vimeo.com/10561925

    In both cases, however, the camera itself very well tracks the subject in question. If your camera is not tracking the beast, then the whole animal is going to be blurred relative to your frame, which is where a high shutter-speed is the difference between a useable still and a useless blur.

    So, if your know your cycle time (a cheetah does a 21 foot stride (6-7m) stride up to 3.5x per second, a humming bird beats its wings 12-80x per second, depending on species), and you know how many still points there are per cycle, you can estimate how fast your shutter speed needs to be to get the right number of frozen frames per cycle (and how much blur you'll get in between those points).

    If you shoot 96 fps and 1/96th of a second at 6K 2.4:1, then you can combine two frames and drop two frames to create 24 fps at 1/48th of a second for perfect motion and you can still choose whatever still frame works for you (with a 1/96th shutter speed and 6144x2592 image size). Shooting 96 fps means you get approximately 24-40 frames per cheetah stride, two to four of which have a paw stopped on the ground.

    If you really want to shoot 8K you need to drop your speeds to 48 fps and 1/48th of a second to get perfect motion (dropping every other frame). In that case you get 12-20 frames per cheetah stride, which means you won't get get the limbs frozen, though the body of the cheetah can still have readable spots.

    If you don't mind having slightly off-speed motion, or a little chop in your motion, you can bend upward to 72fps and 1/72th of a second. You still risk not ever freezing the paws. But you cut your worst blur by 50% over 48 fps.

    You can export an R3D RAW still from RCX-Pro, and such a still can be viewed by RCX-Pro, Premiere, and even Photoshop (but you have to manually open the file in Photoshop--Photoshop won't advertise itself as willing to do so on its own).

    One thing you get with DSLRs shooting stills is very good auto-focus. While there is some auto-focus on the RED, it's nothing like using a Canon with a big Canon tele. You may find that focus, not shutter speed, is not your biggest challenge.
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  4. #4  
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    Thanks guys

    I suppose it boils down to shoot for stills if that is what you want, and shoot for video if that is what you want. I am a bit of a pixel peeper when it comes to freezing motion in my stills, favouring high ISO's and wider apertures to let droplets stand still, but if the video will be suffering as a result it becomes a worry.

    Thank you very much Michael Tiemann for your thorough response, I really appreciate you taking the time to assist with this, the video workaround you suggested and Photoshop's ability to open R3D Raws.

    Regards

    Charl
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  5. #5  
    Are you wanting to extract stills from motion or use the camera in stills mode?

    I see the utopian benefit of stills from motion and there's a nice technique for doing that above but i wonder whether you'd be okay shooting in just stills mode.

    I confess that was an aim of mine but so far i've not really gotten familiar with the EW as a stills camera, i'm still using an A7sII. I'm slowly building up the way i want to use it, i have an evf now which makes a difference and aiming to find some nice short cuts for messing with the shutter speed - even 1/100 is probably not enough.

    So i'm hoping to reach the point where i could pick up the red instead of the sony. Areas like HDRx and the sheer amount of images that can be fired off do make it an attractive proposition.

    cheers
    Paul
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  6. #6  
    HDRx adds an interesting option if you have DR to burn. Overexpose your video by a stop while underexposing stills a stop and you can get a shorter still shutter speed.
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  7. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulcurtis View Post
    Are you wanting to extract stills from motion or use the camera in stills mode?

    I see the utopian benefit of stills from motion and there's a nice technique for doing that above but i wonder whether you'd be okay shooting in just stills mode.

    I confess that was an aim of mine but so far i've not really gotten familiar with the EW as a stills camera, i'm still using an A7sII. I'm slowly building up the way i want to use it, i have an evf now which makes a difference and aiming to find some nice short cuts for messing with the shutter speed - even 1/100 is probably not enough.

    So i'm hoping to reach the point where i could pick up the red instead of the sony. Areas like HDRx and the sheer amount of images that can be fired off do make it an attractive proposition.

    cheers
    Paul
    Hi Paul

    My main aim was to extract stills from motion, though at high frame rates and associated compression rates coupled with video shutter speeds it is probably not the best practice for wildlife photography, but still useable for static portraits. I agree that shooting in stills mode would be the best for obtaining stills and switching between modes using the side handle is apparently super quick. I know of 2 well-known wildlife photographers who've used the system with very positive feedback from both, though at the time I assumed they were shooting motion to extract stills, which is probably not the case. Will see if I can coax more info from them as well

    Regards

    Charl
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  8. #8  
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    I would say I dont think it will replace your still camera but it can do things your still cannot. By filming at high fps you can vapture complex motions. You can use hdrx to get lower shutterspeed otherwise they will be just too blurry but they you will get half the fps for uour video. Another problem is that you dont have auto focus. Howevere you have pre record. I filmed bee eaters which are very fast. Very hard to photograph when they land but trivial with the epic.
    I think you will get more noise than from say a Canon 1Dx ii at iso 10.000 which wr shoot at however at lower iso Red has pretty much zero noise.
    To get the best of both worlds we have both a 1dx and an Epic
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