The Best Week Ever!

Lately I have been playing around with video.  For years, I have switched my dSLR over to video mode every once in a while, to record some of the wildlife I was seeing, but recently I have been doing that more often.  My Nikon D850 takes good 4 K video but I find that the autofocus and focus tracking do not work very well in video mode, while they work very well in regular camera shooting mode.  My Canon 5D Mark IV did a much better job following focus.

When I go out in the kayak with the Nikon, I have my Tamron 150-600mm G2 lens mounted. This has always served me well for my still images.  But the lens is large and heavy and when I shoot video, I have to switch it to Mode 1 for the Vibration Control, while I use Mode 3 for my stills.  And since the lens is so heavy, there is no way I can hold the lens, and the camera and zoom at the same time.  I would need a third arm and hand to do that.

So, I borrowed a Sony RX 10 Mark IV bridge camera from my friend Michael Corlew. The great thing about this camera is it has a built in 24mm- 600mm Zeiss lens with a motorized zoom control. This allows me to video from wide angle to extreme telephoto in a small light weight package. The biggest plus is I can zoom smoothly by just moving a lever. But alas, I have some problems as well. Some of the problems may be user error, but I have watched several videos and used several books to try and figure out the best setting, but to be honest I keep getting very frustrated. The camera loses focus and hunts throughout a wide range before picking up focus again. I find it to be very contrasty and if I try to use the sLog setting to get more dynamic range, then the minimum ISO reverts to 800 and even stopping the lens all the way down to f/22, my exposures are too bright by 2-3 stops at that ISO.  I would need a 3 stop ND filter to make this work.  But I do love the zoom!

As many of you know, I have been photographing on the American River near my home for the past 6 ½ years. I have seen many wonderful sights. Some days are better than others. Last week I had two of my best days yet!  And I was using the Sony camera those two days. This video contains footage on those days. Most of the film was made on one amazing day that started with two deer along the trail on the way to the river. Followed by watching a Great Blue Heron catch and eat a catfish. Then a beaver, two merganser families, wood duck family, four White-tailed kites, and a coyote!  Everywhere I turned there was something to film. Then two days later I went out again to find a mother river otter with four babies. I was able to get my kayak within twenty feet and watch them for over half an hour. The mom felt so comfortable with my presence that she even left the pups out in the open and went off to hunt. She did this twice! I had never before seen such young baby otters. It was a great week!

Here is the link to the 25-minute video I made of all the wonderful sights I had that week. If you have a 4K monitor, I suggest you click on the little gear icon in lower right and select 4K and then click on the 4-arrow icon to the right of the gear and watch full screen!