Using video recorders for birds

To: <>
Subject: Using video recorders for birds
From: Simon Mustoe <>
Date: Thu, 12 May 2011 08:04:02 +1000

In the low light conditions you are talking about, you should consider a Canon 
stills camera with video. If you're flush, the Canon 5D Mark II. I use the 
Canon 550D, which is amazing and retails at probably <$1000 now. If you want 
close-up, it's a cropped sensor, so it works well with any existing zoom lens 
to get medium-distances. If you're talking about birds displaying in the tops 
of trees, it might be worth considering using it with something like a 
Swarovksi scope and UCA adaptor. This doesn't perform so well in low-light but 
is still very good. 

Here are a few examples (note, these are quite heavily compressed): 

This video of Golden Bowerbird was shot in the bottom of a VERY dark forest. 
The conditions were montane forest just post-dawn and it was raining (you can 
hear this on the video). It's about the worse conditions possible. An ex BBC 
Nat Hist Unit cameraman I know uses the same gear and raves about how good it 
is in low light conditions.

This video uses the Swarovski and UCA adaptor. It's at a distance of about 30m 
and was in full sunlight.

This video is of Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo and was taken below the canopy. It 
was about mid-morning but overcast. So it was just bright enough.

There's more information about the digiscoping setup here:

Hope this helps and good luck. Let us know what the results are. 




Simon Mustoe 
Tel: +61 (0) 405220830 | Skype simonmustoe | Email 

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> From: 
> To: 
> Date: Wed, 11 May 2011 08:53:33 +0100
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] Using video recorders for birds
> Hi Birding-Aussers,
> Just wanted to see if anyone out there can offer any thoughts.
> We are planning a visit to PNG in the future and felt that in order to 
> properly record the activities of all those Birds of Paradise which we would 
> hopefully see, then some kind of moving image would be more effective than 
> stills. 
> Peter, my other half, is quite taken with the idea. He is an experienced bird 
> photographer but has never dabbled with "movies" before. It seems that modern 
> camcorders (e.g. Panasonic TM900) have really decent zooms and can produce 
> good quality material in low light - both essential conditions of bird 
> photography. 
> Have any of you tried it?? Was it successful?? Any tip and hints??
> Rosemary
> Rosemary Royle, Wales, UK
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