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Canon XA10 Video Camera Review

by John Mueller 31. December 2011 08:26
John Mueller

For those of you looking for a new video camera for next season the Canon XA10 from Campbell Camera's is one of the most advanced compact video cameras on the market today. Small in size, but very big on features. This compact camera has all the bells and whistles. But it is still very user friendly, for guys like myself who aren’t video experts. Some of the advanced features actually make it easier for the novice videographer. I have used mine the whole 2011 hunting season and will now give you my personal review. I just know a lot of you have that Christmas bonus burning a hole in your pocket. This would be money well spent.

A few controls are located under the flip out viewfinder.

There is not much this little camera can't do.

My camera complete with the 3rd Arm Tree Arm.

There are many things I like about the XA10, but the number one reason I decided on this camera is its size. Since I do all of my own filming and hunt in very hilly terrain, I need a small lightweight camera, one that fits in a small pack or carrying bag and doesn’t weigh a ton. The XA10 is just that, not that much bigger than a point and shoot digital camera. I carry all my camera gear in the Campbell Camera’s small carry bag.

Not that much bigger than my Android.

Two other really neat features on this camera are the Infrared Mode and the Touch Focus feature. The IR mode allows for filming in complete darkness. Much like the IR trail cameras, this produces a black and white video with very good picture quality. I find this most useful when doing interviews in the stand. I can do an interview either before the hunt or after while still in the stand. Sometimes I don’t want to be talking after sunrise or need to wait till after sunset if there are deer near my stand. The Touch Focus mode is great for those of us that self film our hunts. Once you have your deer in your view finder you simply touch the deer on the viewfinder screen and the touch focus locks in on the deer. Even if the deer moves or you move the camera, the camera stays focused on the subject. This prevents the deer from becoming blurry if it walks behind a tree or a branch gets between the camera and the deer. I totally love this feature when self filming.

Just touch the deer on the screen and the touch focus keeps it in focus.

The XA10 has a 64GB internal flash drive which can hold 6 hours of video when set on the highest quality setting and also comes with 2 SD card slots for additional recording time or for simultaneous backup recording. This means no fumbling with changing tapes or worries about running out of tape in the middle of your hunt. The SD cards really make it simple to download the video to a computer for viewing or editing. Just pop the card in the reader slot and away you go.

Another great feature is the lowlight capabilities of the XA10. This camera can film right up to the end of legal shooting light as long as you don’t have to zoom in too much. I was completely surprised at how little light is actually needed to get usable video with this camera.

I don’t have enough time or space to tell you about everything this compact camera can do. The truth is I’m still learning myself. What I have learned is this camera is very easy to use, with most of the controls on the touch screen.You can be as basic as you want be or explore all of the features and make some amazing video with this outfit. I plan on doing more research myself and adding more to my videos next season.

Most of the options are controlled right on the viewfinder screen.

The handle houses the sound level controls.

Even though the XA10 only has a 10 optical zoom, I have been able to use the digital zoom with very good results. As long as I have a steady rest I have no problem zooming in to 60-80x.

If you would like to see some of the video I’ve shot using the XA10, click on this link.

You can also get more info on the XA10 and ordering info from Campbell Camera’s here.

Q&A With the Pros: Camera Equipment For Filming Hunts

by Justin Zarr 13. December 2011 03:22
Justin Zarr

I recently had the opportunity to interview Jeremy Leu of Campbell Cameras about camera equipment and methods for filming your very own hunt.  There is a lot of information available in regards to the equipment and tactics of filming hunts, these are answers for just a few of the most common questions we hear... 

Q: If you’re a bow hunter looking to film your own hunts, what are the bare essentials that you’ll need to get started?   

A: A good mid range compact HD camcorder package like the Canon HFS30 Whitetail package will have everything you need to get started.  The bare essentials would include a camera, camera arm, camera case, recording media and a spare battery.  From here you can add to and upgrade your camera equipment.

The Canon HFS30 is an excellent package to start filming your hunts!


Q: Assuming you have a partner with you to run the camera while you hunt, is there any additional or special equipment that you should consider purchasing?

A: If you can budget for it I would scale up on everything if you have a dedicated videographer. Most of us operate on a budget so the items would definitely suggest are a LANC controller and wireless microphones.

 

Q: When picking out a camera to use, what do you believe are the most important features to look for?

A: The things I would look for are; Low Lux rating, 10x to 20x Optical zoom, manual focus option and 1080 HD recording format.

 

Q: What do you think are the most important technical features that every amateur videographer should learn about their camera and other equipment? 

A: Learn to use manual Focus!! Also don’t over use your zoom!  Zooming in and out can  be nauseating for an audience, only allow the subject to fill up about 1/3 of the screen.

 

Q: What camera and camera arm combo is the best bang for your buck right now?

A: The Sony NX70U and the 3rd Arm Bandit is a great setup.

Jeremy picks the Sony NX70U as the best "bang for your buck" camera.


Q: What are your feelings on Point-of-View (POV) cameras like the Epic Cam and GoPro?

A: Point of View cameras are a necessary tool for all videographers now days, solo hunt videographers especially. It allows the self videographer to set up multiple views from their stand live as they happen. I don’t go into the field without at least 1 but usually have 2 or 3.

This is a still photo taken from a video recorded by my Epic Cam.


Q: When filming by yourself where is the optimal location to mount your camera?

A: I prefer to have the camera on a small tree arm in front of me, centered but down low. That way when I stand up to get ready for the shot I can shoot over top of the camera and get full range of motion for filming.

 

Q: When filming with a partner, where should the cameraman be located in relation to the hunter?

A: Of course opinions vary and there is no true right or wrong way, I like to position the camera stand 90 degrees to my right and high enough to not affect my shot but low enough to allow the camera operator to get that perfect over the shoulder shot.

There is no "perfect set" for every situation, but this is one we strive for.

 

Q: What is the biggest mistake you see amateur cameramen make while filming hunts?

A: Using auto focus and zooming in too tight or zooming in and out too much. Also audio can be over looked by beginners.

Using manual focus is key when it comes to filming quality hunts.

Q: What are the top 4 things you should check on your camera every time you go into the woods?

A: Make sure the batteries are charged, card or tape capacity checked, lens is cleaned and free of scratches and the audio is operating properly.

 

Q: Is the extra time and money really worth it in the end?

A: Depends on what level you are at or what you plan to do but any HD camera will provide good quality footage, the difference is in the lens size, low light capability, and size and number of sensors for color processing.  

Sometimes cameras, equipment and everything that goes with filming a hunt can be quite overwhelming for something that most of us do as a hobby.  If you have questions about camera gear don't hesitate contact the guys at Campbell Cameras and they'll be sure to give you sound advice, whatever your goal may be.  Also, don't forget to check out the photo/video forum right here at bowhunting.com!

The Highs and Lows of Self Filming

by John Mueller 7. November 2011 14:11
John Mueller

Self filming your hunts can be one of the most rewarding experiences in your hunting career when you capture that trophy of a lifetime on video or as I recently discovered, the most disappointing. You must remember to hit record to capture that hunt of a lifetime. I was recently bowhunting on my property and had a nice buck put on a fine show, but I never hit the record button. So I’ll relive the hunt in written form for you to enjoy.

The evening prior to my hunt I had seen my first shooter buck of the season cruise over the ridge I was hunting on. Later I could hear him grunting down the hillside, presumably chasing does. Once the chasing starts happening on my farm I have a stand I head to down in a hollow. There are a bunch of small fingers that feed into the area around my stand and the bucks cruise up and down these fingers and through the bottom looking for receptive does. I purposely have stayed out of this area, leaving it alone until the chasing starts.

The ridge the buck took down into the hollow in front of my stand.

My Lone Wolf Hang On high in a Hickory Tree.

It was particularly windy that late October afternoon when I headed down to the stand nicknamed “The Well”, for it’s location in the bottom of the hollow. I figured the wind would also push deer movement down out of the windy conditions. Once settled in I could see both scrapes and rubs from my stand. To say I was excited is an understatement. My first deer sighting was a small fork horned buck. This was appropriate; I think I’ve turned into a fork horn magnet this year. I’ve seen more of them than any other type of deer. I did get some good video of him passing by the stand and working a scrape, completely unaware of my presence.

One of the many scrapes in the bottom of the hollow.

A good sized rub nerby my stand.

About 6:00 I spotted a deer coming down one of the fingers in front of me. I threw up my binos and saw decent antlers on its head. In one motion I stood up turned on my Canon XA10 and wireless mics and grabbed my bow. I glanced up and he was still traveling straight to my stand. I searched for the buck in the cameras view finder. Considering I use reading glasses whenever I need to see something closer than arms length, this is no easy task. I finally find him on the screen and zoom in, all the while trying to decide if I’m going to shoot this buck. He’s no monster by any means, but I haven’t shot a buck in 2 years, so he’s looking pretty good to me. He proceeds down the small ridge into the bottom and stops at a scrape 15 yards directly in front of me. I swing the camera on him and catch him working over the earth in the scrape and then he turns his attention to the licking branch. First he rakes it back and forth with his antlers and forehead, and then he takes it in his mouth and deposits his saliva all over it marking it as his. Well after that show I figure this will make a great episode for Bowhunt or Die and if he offers me a shot, I’ll take it. After working the scrape for a few minutes the bucks takes a few steps and slightly quarters away and stops. I draw back, take aim high on his last rib and touch off the shot. I see my arrow disappear and the buck blasts off across the hollow and up the other side. As he comes to a stop 1/3 of the way up I swing the camera over and find him in the viewfinder just as he starts to crash down the hillside and come to rest on the floor of the hollow.

I’m thinking, wow did that just happen, that was awesome and spin the camera around to catch my reaction…………That’s when I notice the little light in the viewfinder that is supposed to be red………is still green. In my excitement to find the buck in the viewfinder as he was originally coming down the hillside, I never hit the record button. I had just failed to capture the whole hunt on video. So now I had a borderline shooter buck on the ground with absolutely no video footage of the kill. I wanted to jump out of the stand with my safety line around my neck. I literally felt sick to my stomach, as you can see in this week’s episode of Bowhunt or Die. This is not the reaction I wanted to record when I swung the camera around after the buck hit the ground.

There was a great blood trail, but I didn't need it this time, I watched him crash.

So about all you get from this buck harvest is my sick feeling in the stand, a shot of the bloody arrow, a short walk to the buck (interrupted by a neighbor) and me sitting behind the buck the next morning. I really didn’t feel much like filming after I got down out of the tree that night and I had to get 2 buddies just to help me get him out of that hollow. It’s too steep to drive my four wheeler down there to haul him out.

The buck I thought I was making a "Movie Star" out of.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy filming my hunts and have some great footage from other hunts that I will no doubt relive time and again in the future. But this was the low of lows and I can assure you it will NEVER happen to me again. If you don’t already do so, I highly recommend videoing your own hunts or team up with a partner and capture your hunts on video. When it all works out you have memories for the rest of your lives to share with family and friends and the hunting community. When you do decide to start videoing your hunts, give our friends at Campbell Cameras a call. They have everything you need to get started from cameras to wireless mics, tree arms and all the accessories too. Happy filming………..and don’t forget to hit RECORD!!

Final Food Plot Preparations and Whitetail Photography

by Cody Altizer 25. August 2011 11:06
Cody Altizer

I hate this time of year.  Late August and early September to me is like Christmas Eve to a 5 year old youngster ready to jump on mom and dad’s bed the minute they wake up on Christmas morning.  So close, yet so far away.  What I enjoy most in my simplistically complex world is about to begin so, so soon: college football, the fall season, but more importantly the start of another bowhunting season.  This last stretch is brutal, because I can see myself sitting in an opening day stand, but it’s all a little blurry still.  However, the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler and I’ve just spent the final month prepping my final food plots and getting a gauge on the caliber of deer in my area.  It won’t be long folks, it won’t be long…

I am counting on these oats to provide a consistent and reliable food source this fall.

My food plot season has been very erratic this year so far.  If you are a follower of my blogs, you read back in May how exceptionally well my clover was doing.  With spring rains and warm nights, it had grown to lush 17 inches in height and the deer couldn’t eat it down if they tried.  Fast forward to mid-August, and my clover was on the brink of exhaustion.  As deer farmers across the country are well aware, this summer has been brutally hot and dry, and West Central Virginia was no exception.  From July 4th to August 15th, we went without a drop of rain.  And when I say not a drop of rain, I don’t mean a trace here or there, I mean zero drops of water touched my food plots.  Still, there was a respectable amount of Imperial Clover in the plot, but it was hurting badly.

Quality fertilizer will give your food plots an added boost!

I still had to get my fall food plots planted, though.  So, with on August 14th my dad and I got the tractor, seeder and spreader ready to plant our fall plots.  There was rain in the forecast so we going to take advantage of a sunny Sunday and trust the weatherman.  We had a lot of success last year broadcasting oats, turnips and rape so I stuck with that combination again this year.  I manned the hand seeder and dad hopped on the ATV with the spreader and we got our seeds in the ground in no time, although we were both a bit dusty.  The next step was to throw down some fertilizer to give the crops a boost once they germinated and hopefully taste a little bit sweeter to the deer this fall.  The final step, a step that is critical for all food plotters and one I feel they often neglect, pray for rain.   And rain it did!  That night and into the morning we got a slow steady soaking rain, the perfect rain to get those seeds germinated and growing in no time!  The following afternoon we received another good soaking and I, along with the wildlife in West Central Virginia all took a deep breath and gave Thanks.

What's bare earth now will hopefully be loaded with turnips, rape and oats here soon!

The moisture we received from those rains should be enough to shock my clover plots back to life, and get my fall plots off and running.  Provided we get average rainfall (and I type this with my fingers cross, pretty talented, eh?) my plots should be alive and well come October 1st.  I have never had a consistent, reliable food source on my property during the hunting season, but I am confident I will this season.  Despite the harsh weather this summer, I stand by my prediction that I will shoot a whitetail opening day.  While a specific stand hasn’t been decided on (why can’t the wind blow from the North West all the time?) I will either shoot a buck or doe going back to bed after a nightly feeding in my food plots during a morning hunt, or arrow one on their way to snack during the afternoon.  It will happen.

I was also able to get out and snap some photos on the deer on my property as well.  I’ve had my worst summer ever running trail cameras, but I had a little bit more luck with my Canon 7D.  I was able to get some decent photos of a couple does and a young 8 pointer making his way to feed in a hay field one afternoon.  If outdoor photography is something that interests you, let me recommend Cambell Cameras to you.  They have everything the aspiring outdoor photographer and videographer could want or need.  Enjoy the photos!

This doe already has it figured out and the season is still over a month away!

I intercepted this buck on his way to a freshly cut hay field for an afternoon snack.  I still haven't made up my mind if I would shoot this buck or not?

Over the years my family and I have done a good job of keeping doe numbers in check, but each year brings new opportunities to harvest does.  Hopefully, I'll get an opportunity at one opening day!

As close as I am to sitting in a tree stand, I still have over a month to wait.  That’s a harsh reality that I, and many of you out there, must accept.  True, it will be here be we know it, but that doesn’t make that time go by any quicker.  Think of it this way, after reading this blog, you are that much closer to your opening day.  

Campbell Outdoor Video School: Learn To Self-Film Your Bowhunts

by Bow Staff 24. February 2011 08:38
Bow Staff

Would you like to learn how to film like the pros? Get tip and tricks to break into the industry? Learn from the best outdoor videographers in the industry? If you would like to start your outdoor filming career today attend the 2011 Campbell Cameras Outdoor Videography School.

The Campbell Outdoor Challenge has teamed up with several leaders in the outdoor video industry to bring to you one of the most informative and hands on training courses for outdoor videographers ever!

 

No experience? No camera equipment? NO PROBLEM!

The Campbell Outdoor Challenge has teamed up with several leaders in the outdoor video industry to bring to you one of the most informative and hands on training courses for outdoor videographers ever!

 

Learn everything from starting your own outdoor television show to how to obtain sponsorships to in depth outdoor video techniques. This video school will supply you with the tools and knowledge youneed to be successful in this remarkable outdoor industry!

When: April 13-15, 2011

            May 18-20, 2011

Where: Carmi, IL

Our Price: $1295.00/Person*

*Includes Lodging and Meals

Visit Campbell Cameras website to learn more about the Campbell Cameras Outdoor Video School!




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