Beating the wind when shooting video

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by ashleypomeroy, Jul 8, 2010.

  1. I've been shooting a lot of video with my 5D MkII, with the camera mounted on a Gorillapod. I've been using an old Canon 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5, because it's small and light and optically quite good; and I'm shooting mostly at f/11 and the slowest shutter speed I can use in daylight. I am shooting bandit-style, as lightweight as possible.
    The tripod is nice and stable in still air, but England is plagued with gusts of wind which make the tripod wobble intermittently. I can mitigate this by shielding the camera with my body, and I can generally cure it in post-production with Deshaker. Let's assume for the sake of argument that the tripod is non-negotiable, and that I can't enclose the camera in a streamlined fairing. I've tried talking to the wind - trying to negotiate a settlement - but sadly my words are all carried away. The wind does not hear. In fact the wind *cannot* hear.
    Therefore is there a technological solution for the problem of intermittent camera shake? Can I beat the whites with the red wedge?
    My first thought is an image stabilised lens, but I'm not sure how Canon's implementation of image stabilisation operates when the lens senses that it is on a tripod. I am under the impression that the image stabilisation simply turns off, but I could be wrong. Nonetheless, can anybody suggest a lightweight, small, image stabilised full-frame lens with a handy range? Sharpness is less important in this context than effective geometric and CA correction. For filming in daylight on a tripod I do not mind if the lens has to be stopped down to f/11 for good results, because I will be shooting at a slow shutter speed. My 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 is in fact generally ideal except for the lack of image stabilisation and the limited telephoto range.
    The 28-135mm IS springs to mind. The 24-105mm f/4 L IS is another obvious option although it's large and heavy and expensive. I can't actually think of another full-frame image stabilised general-purpose Canon zoom lens that doesn't weigh a tonne. The 18-55mm IS would be ideal but of course it is not a full-frame lens. Is there something from e.g. Sigma, Tamron? Bueller?
  2. Solutions:
    keep the zoom as wide as you can for the shot. wobble will be less obvious at wider angles.
    take the camera off the tripod and use a monopod or fig rig, your body will soak up the wobbles and the shot will almost be as steady as on a tripod. A tripod has 3 sets of vibrations. a monopod one, a fig rig none.
    If you need to be absolutely rock steady then look at a manfrotto super clamp and a micro-ball head, or one of the pistol frip ball and socket heads.
    Your shutter should be 1/50th for UK region unless you have very specific requirements for a fast shutter (grabbing stills for sports analysis etc)
    By shooting at a small aperture you are losing one of the main beenfits of the DSLR sensor over a camcorder: the potential for very shallow depth of field, a polariser would bring you back up to around f5.6, a safe aperture given the f-drop with this lens.
  3. My first thought is an image stabilised lens, but I'm not sure how Canon's implementation of image stabilisation operates when the lens senses that it is on a tripod.
    Canon has come up with a whole bunch of different IS implementations, and there are three different behaviours with regard to tripods (or, more correctly, situations in which the lens detects that there is no motion). Canon is not always a great source of clarity on exactly which behaviour applies to exactly which lenses (and they famously documented it incorrectly in the manuals for the IS superteles), but I can maybe help you out a bit here, at least with regard to the two specific lenses you mentioned.
    One note about IS first, since I take it you have little or no experience with IS lenses. IS doesn't totally eliminate the effect of camera motion; it transforms it to something that causes less degradation to still images. If you're watching through the viewfinder while handholding, what you see without IS is that the image moves in a jerky fashion. With IS, the image moves slowly and gradually. In both cases, the motion is more or less random, but with IS, the motion is much less rapid. The lens doesn't know anything about video, of course, so what you'd see in a video is the same as you'd see through the viewfinder: the image appears to swim slowly around. In your situation, the motion due to gusts of wind would likely appear somewhat similar to that of a handheld camera (albeit perhaps more violent, as if you'd had too much coffee), and as long as the motion is within the limits of whatever IS can correct, I'd have to imagine the results would be somewhat similar as well, but as that's not typical of what/how I shoot, I'm just guessing on that bit.
    The 28-135's IS is an old implementation and doesn't know anything about tripods. The manual says to turn IS off if using a tripod, because otherwise IS may introduce some motion. Here's some speculation on my part, so take it with a grain of salt: that motion is likely to be relatively modest, and the degradation for video purposes is probably less than the benefit you would get from IS when it gets windy, so you might actually be better off with IS on than off in your situation, particularly if your shake-removing software can then clean up whatever motion is left.
    The 24-105's IS does what many (but not all) newer IS lenses do: when it detects a tripod, it stops moving the IS elements. The sensors remain active, which is why the manual recommends turning off IS to conserve battery power when using a tripod. I don't know how quickly this type of IS would respond to a situation in which a formerly stationary camera suddenly starts moving, but it's probably better than nothing.
    The third one, found only (as far as I know) on big IS superteles, does something different when it detects a tripod: it switches into a mode which is designed to counteract mirror slap. You're not likely to run into this one for your uses, so I mention it only for the sake of completeness.
    Is there a shop in your area that rents lenses? If so, it might be worth renting an IS lens such as the 24-105 (which, combined with the 5D II, isn't that much larger or heavier than the 28-135, though it is certainly more expensive) and testing it in the field.
  4. I have the the 24-105 ?F4L IS, 70-200 F4L IS (both about 5 years old) and 100-400 L IS which is about 2 years old. I have tested each one to see if IS turns off when on a tripod. None of my lenses will detect the tripod and turn off. It is my understanding that only the L supper telephoto lenses (or at least some of them will automatically detect a tripod. I don't know of any none L lenses that will detect IS. But that said if your tripod is moving or shaking due to the wind when on a tripod IS might have enough motion to work well. You also might want to also look at different tripods. Some tripods will handle wind better then others.
  5. Steven F:
    This snippet is from a response to my posting several years ago:
    The EF70-200mm f/4L IS USM has the ability to detect when it is mounted on a tripod. If you keep the shutter button half-pressed, or better yet, use a remote switch to simulate a half-press, the stabilizer mechanism will drift the image downwards for the first second or so, then the mechanism will stop moving. (It's for this reason as well as battery power conservation issues that the instruction booklet recommends shutting off the IS system while the lens is mounted on a tripod.) You can see this effect if you look through the viewfinder while half-pressing the shutter button.
    Hope this helps!
    Best Regards,
    Chuck Westfall Technical Advisor/Professional Products Marketing Division Consumer Imaging Group/Canon U.S.A., Inc.
  6. Peter, yes I have seen that in my own test. While not a large movement it will affect the picture. Don't know how much of it will be visible in video.
  7. What would we do without Chuck Westfall? I hope that when he dies someone pickles his brain. The stuff he has in there is too valuable to lose.
    On a more specific level, I'm using the 5D to make timelapse movies by shooting lengthy video sequences and then speeding them up with Virtualdub. I find this a lot more flexible than assembling thousands of still frames, and it is presumably a lot less wearing on the shutter. For this reason a monopod would not be appropriate. The footage has to be as still as possible. When viewed at normal speed, the footage appears more or less steady, with the occasional small jitter from the wind. It's not very disturbing when the footage is viewed at normal speed, but when sped up 10x the intermittent small-scale jitters become distracting.
    I'll add as well that the last bunch of footage I took was on London Bridge, which wobbles on account of the traffic passing over the bridge, and also the nearby underground station; the ground around the bridge is hollow. This is why I am fixated on image stabilisation. As far as I can tell, short of isolating the camera from the ground in a kind of steadicam harness, not even a very solid tripod will help in a situation where the ground itself is moving.
    In practice, Deshaker seems to be a very good job - I suspect that in this particular situation there is no other solution. Here's what I came up with, by the way:
    As you can see there are instances when I am standing on a wobbly bridge, shooting footage of a solidly-grounded building that isn't on the bridge. The ideal solution would be some kind of hovering anti-gravity platform that can keep the camera at an exact point in space, but sadly that kind of thing does not yet exist.
  8. A new heavy-duty tripod and head would cost you less than a new lens, plus rooting firmly the legs in the ground

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