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CAMERAS THAT MAKE YOUR WILDLIFE VIDEOS EPIC!


Passion lies in divergent places…some find it in the euphony of music…some in the sagacity of writing..and some in the enigmatic beauty of nature- it's wilderness! As John Hope Franklin has rightly said - “We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey.” This is what “Wilderness Films India” is all about, as they go about archiving India and placing it online as part of their 'Visual mapping of the Indian subcontinent project' which is live at wildfilmsindia on Youtube. Owned by the charismatic Rupin Dang, he has an energy level which is almost contagious. Having solved numerous mysteries of the wild and having captured incredible nature through his cameras over the years, I was lucky enough to indulge him in a candid chat about the best video cameras one can use to take in the beauty of the wilderness - up close and personal.

Many leading high-end manufacturers have created masterpieces suitable for nature and wildlife videography. But with the quotidian evolution of camera and lens technology, older models are getting obsolete faster than ever before and yet there are a few that are still indisputably the best in town.

One of these is the Sony NEX-FS700R Super 35 Camcorder. Owing to its massive rate of fps, i.e. up to 900, it produces breathtaking and flawless super slow motion videos which miss out almost nothing! For instances which require enormous detailing, such as if you're lucky to witness the courtship dance of a mass of Demoiselle Cranes in Rajasthan - or maybe a chameleon lashing out its long tongue to capture its prey - or a Pied Hornbill flying in to a Ficus tree with its huge wings flapping noisily - that’s when the magical impact of slo-mo videos comes in to play!

The lens which has been the unparalleled wildlife champion for years is the Canon HJ40x14B and its companion the HJ40x10B. They represent the pinnacle of Canon portable High Definition EFP high zoom range lens design. These super-telephoto lenses capture incredible long distance and panoramic shots. They can achieve focal lengths of up to 1100+ mm with the built-in 2x extender which is inevitably required for capturing raw footage of wildlife. Owing to the rugged magnesium alloy body, these lenses are exceptionally light-weight and long-lasting. The hand-held Sony PXW-FS7 optimizes everything from the lens mount and recording codec to the media plus includes on-board 4K (3840 x 2160) and full HD (1920 x 1080) recording. With an extremely shallow 18 mm flange-back distance, the camera's E-Mount, along with Sony's new generation of E-Mount lenses and also accepts an extensive range of PL, Canon EF, and other SLR glass via third-party adaptors such as Metabones. It also features exceptional 10-bit 4:2:2 imagery at just 50 Mbps.

The Sony Alpha a7S Mirrorless Digital Camera with unmatched and uncompressed 4K (3840 x2160 pixels) features stunningly wide sensitivity range from ISO 50 to 409600 due to which one can replicate their exact vision on camera independent of unnatural light. The fast, intelligent and accurate AF (169-point) performs stunningly in light as low as -4 Exposure Value. However, while the a7S's body exactly resembles its original 24 and 36MP sister models, the a7 and a7R (the a7 II's design is slightly different, and superior given its internal 4K recording ability!), it includes a whole raft of features and tools to support the videographer. These include the low contrast S-Log2 tone curve that allows more of the camera's dynamic range to be fitted into its video files and the option to record time code.

The Sony PMW-500 is work-horse Sony Professional's first XDCAM HD422 Camcorder with solid state recording. It supports full-HD 422 50-Mbps MXF record and playback based on highly developed MPEG-2 Long GOP compression technology. It comes with a unique ability to be switched to record in HD 420 35-Mbps MP4 format which makes for seamless integration when used alongside XDCAM EX models. Its outstanding picture quality and low-light performance are attributed to its 2/3-inch type three Power HAD FX CCD sensors. Ease of use and portability in the field is further enhanced by the reduced weight and power consumption owing to its exceptionally ergonomic chassis. Sony's XDCAM product range sets the benchmark for high speed, superbly flexible, and file-based workflow.

The Canon EOS 5D series is arguably one of the most recognizable camera lines of the digital age and the newly-launched Mark IV is designed to appeal to the same wide range of enthusiasts and professionals. Nearly identical-looking to its predecessor, it receives substantial upgrades including a higher-resolution sensor with Dual Pixel autofocus, 4K video capture, an upgraded AF system, a touchscreen, improved weather-sealing, built-in Wi-Fi/NFC, an interval timer and GPS. All this adds up to a camera that fits into Canon's product line nicely as the all-around full-frame option.

Fujinon HA42x9.7-BERD-U48 2/3" 42x ENG HDTV Lens with Built-In Stabilizer and Fujinon HA23x7.6BERM-M6 ENG Lens with Digital Servo Zoom are the parallel counterparts of Canon HJ40 and HJ22 respectively. The Fujinon HA42 is a 2/3" lens with 42x optical zoom designed specifically for HD broadcast and video acquisition. It comes with a 2x extender for instant telephoto and is highly acclaimed for its high build quality and precision optics. The Fujinon HA23 is a 7.6-175mm lens, designed to provide 2/3" cameras with a wide to super telephoto angle-of-view. The lens has a 23x zoom ratio, and a 2x extender which effectively doubles the focal range. The maximum aperture is a fast f/1.8 at 7.6-175mm and stops down to f/2.65 at 175mm. The lens also includes a digital servo for zoom control and manual focus.

Being a filmmaker, photographer and most importantly a nature lover, Mr. Dang has been a part of the broadcast industry out of sheer genuine love and passion. Driven by these same emotions, he has years of experience in wildlife videography. I guess being a strong believer in the saying “The Wilderness holds answers to more questions than we have yet learned to ask”, he intends to find most of them and unravel its very magic through his cameras!