Capturing snow leopards with Varicam LT for new BBC series

© Anna Place

A new BBC natural history series following the life of big cats made use of the Panasonic VariCam LT to track down the elusive snow leopards of Himachal Pradesh.

Shooting over five weeks in the freezing temperatures of Northern India, where snow leopards inhabit rocky outcrops that provide perfect camouflage, meant the production team of Big Cats needed to prepare for some of the most challenging working conditions on Earth.

“If you see one, it would be a kilometre away or even more, then you walk for as much as three hours to get to where it was,” comments Hector Skevington-Postles, DP on Big Cats.

As a result, the equipment that the operators carried needed to be relatively light. In addition, due to the cold weather and long walks, the batteries were also a consideration and needed to be sufficiently powerful for most eventualities.

© Anna Place

Because the cats are the most active at dawn and dusk, low light capability led the DP to choose the VariCam LT. The second dual native 5000 ISO enabled Hector to achieve a clean shot even in very low light conditions.

“I chose the Varicam LT, in order that we had the option to increase the ISO. It meant that, once we combined it with a Canon CN20 50-1000mm lens, we had the extra sensitivity needed to maintain the focus – which is always a problem over that kind of distance,” adds Skevington-Postles. “Another crucial reason for choosing VariCam was the viewfinder. I believe it’s the best out there and it makes so much difference to me.”

Issue 88 – July 2018

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