TV wildlife video photographer using Canon lenses on a Nikon body?

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Chris R-UK
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TV wildlife video photographer using Canon lenses on a Nikon body?
8 months ago

BBC TV in the UK is currently running one of its major annual wildlife series - Winterwatch.  This is a mixture of live and recorded footage controlled (in this series) out of a few huts in a National Park in the Scottish Highlands.  It has a very large on site crew (50-100 people).

Unlike other wildlife series you often get to see what camera gear is being used, normally very large professional video cameras on big, heavy video tripods.  The cameramen sometimes act as presenters as well.

One of the cameramen/presenters who was searching for golden eagles on bleak Scottish mountainsides was using a DSLR with a Nikon D800 neck strap on it and a big long white prime lens, possibly a 400mm f2.8 or 500mm f4.  He was shooting video only and had a magnifying loupe over the LCD for manual focusing.  I assume that he was using a DSLR simply for reduced carrying weight.

The really intriguing thing was the use of a white lens, presumably Canon, on a Nikon D800.  There was certainly some kind of adapter and possibly a TC.  (It just possible that the body was actually a Canon with a Nikon neck strap hanging from it.)

Some questions:

  • Is is possible to mount Canon EF or FD lenses on a Nikon body?
  • Can anybody think of any reason why a professional photographer would use a Canon lens on a Nikon body for video when there are plenty of Nikon alternatives available.  It can't be cost because this is a very expensive series to shoot with lots of high tech gear.
  • Putting the question the other way round, is there any reason for using a D800 for video instead of, say, a Canon 5D MkIII?
  • Apart from weight, is there any other good reason for using a DSLR instead of a professional camcorder for this type of video.  I can't imagine that short DoF was that important when shooting eagles at very long distances.

This is the first time that I have seen a DSLR used for video in this kind of wildlife series.  A Canon DSLR with a short prime lens was used in another sequence in the show, hand held for a close up of a squirrel taking nuts inside a barber's shop.  I think in that case it was used simply for size since the room was pretty small and already contained the main camera and sound crew, the barber, a customer plus the squirrel.

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Chris R

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