(4K VideoJournalist Blog) — The first time I really got to experience the power of the Sony G 25X zoom lens that rides on the PXW-X180 was on a cloudy and dark day out in some Idaho farmlands. We had been slogging down a mucky dirt road in galoshes just for fun — no cameras in-tow. Then almost magically, two rough-legged hawks, which were almost certainly a mating pair, appeared low and circling very near to us.
The rough-legged hawk, also known as the “Winter Hawk” around the Native American Church, is a spectacularly painted bird of vastly varying black and white plumage. This gorgeous bird possesses a unique ability to “kite” or practically suspend itself in mid-air without scarcely a wing-beat while it is on the hunt. The only other birds we’ve seen that can do this as well are a few members of in kite family itself.
As soon as we realized this pair was likely nesting in a large nearby tree, we started hoofing it as fast as we could back to the house to grab the new X180. Unfortunately, we were a long ways off, the winter days were short, and by the time we returned to the same spot it was after sunset and at first the haws were no where in sight.
After sitting there a little bummed and thinking of what could have been earlier in the day when we had the amazing rough-legged air show right in front of us, we prepared to pack it in as it was now almost dark. Suddenly, the smaller, and likely male bird came cruising over the horizon and right towards us.
I could roll tape on the bird for only a few seconds before he cruised off and landed in another large tree WAY down the road. I cranked open the iris and punched the gas on the rocker and was astonished at how fast the 26-650mm zoom lens was on the long end.
Even though it was full on dusk and we were zoomed to full power, I was able to maintain the gain at 0 and could make out the hawk, even though it must have been a few hundred yards away. (INSERT VID)
Make no mistake about it, this is an AWESOME lens with tremendous versatility. A few night prior, I had enjoyed the excellent wide-angle benefits on this lens as well while I was taping a public meeting where the speakers where far away from the commission they were addressing, still in a tight indoor setting, but now in a low light outdoor setting we were really getting to experience its real power.
In my humble opinion, you could easily (shell out) several thousand dollars or more on a zoom lens of this length and caliber, so having one of the most tried and true run-and-gun video-camcorder lines behind it doesn’t hurt either. Following in the tradition of the XDCAM line, the G series 25X lens that comes with this all-in-one camera packs a wallet. Another good example of when Sony has done this in the past was with the PMW-EX3 and the 14X Fujinon lens that accompanied that classic camera.
Oddly enough, I shot a video of a pair of rough legged hawks in the wintertime in Utah several years back with the EX3, and even though the birds were quite far away and it was on a bright day that required filters, we were still able to come out with a pretty clean HD image for the day. (CUT to VID)
Over the years, Sony has really perfect the user-friendlieness and streamlined the design in the XDCAM family, and the X180 is no exception in those regards. The compact size and weight with the 25X G lens on this camera, coupled with a very high quality low noise HD image and all of the enhanced run-and-gun XDCAM features make this camera the perfect choice for the documentarian or news cameraman.