I'm a videography beginer. I am an experienced enthusiast photographer.
I am trying to move into wildelife videography as a hobby. My aim at this stage isn't to create full peices but just to get good at capturing high quality, aesthetically pleasing footage of wildlife. As such I'm using photography/hybrid equipment, which I know is probably a stumbling block but it's what I can afford, and also it seems a lot of wildlife videographers use photographic lenses.
Having done some initial research, I have obtained a sturdy tripod, fluid head, and tiny rig that allows me to use a tilta follow focus with my lens.
My lens is a fly-by-wire focussing 100-400mm Fuji zoom, and I'm using a Fuji XH2s. I have been trying to practice tracking wildlife near me - deer, and also birds in flight at locations near me where there are lots of birds to practice on.
I am having struggling in two major areas, and wanting to know if it is likely that this is principally due to my skill level, or technical factors such as the gear I have, or both, and what i can do to improve.
Even with the Manfrotto fluid-head (MVH 500AH, which has fixed fluid drag for both tilt and pan), I struggle with smooth panning and tracking. My issue is keeping the speed of the movement uniform. I also find it impossible to go from stationary to moving with a noticeable jerk. I have tried adjusting the drag of the head but this doesn't seem to help, nor does turning off the camera & lens stabilisation. I appreciate that the use of a long lens will be making this harder than if it were a wide shot.
Is there anything in my set-up that might be making this more difficult - e.g. could some of the issue down to the performance of my fluid head; would one with variable drag be a lot better? In terms of my skill, are there any known techniques or practice exercises that I would benefit from knowing about?
Focusing whilst tracking
Whilst the camera has subject tracking, I'm keen to learn to MF as a skill in its own sake, and also because I don't think the tracking is reliable or necessarily pleasing in how it tracks. I appreciate that my lens being fly-by-wire focussing isn't a good start, but I think most longer tele lenses are and the youtuber I've been learning from uses a lens that works this way (and acheives results that nat geo use). I've fiddled with the settings to require less throw for focusing which has helped. However, one thing I'm struggling with is whether to use focus assist (where the display shows a crop of the overall frame) in addition to peaking. Without this assist, I struggle to see the peaking for further away subjects (e.g. a bird coming towards me - it's at infinity but i need to be able to tell when I'm going to start to need to bring the focus in). However, in the crop focus asssist view, tracking a fast moving bird becomes really difficult, and even for slower subjects obviosuly i can't see what else may have come into frame etc. Furthermore, as one hand is on the pan arm and the other on the follow focus knob, I don't have a third had to operate the button that toggles between full/cropped view. The camera has an option where it switches into the crop view when the focus ring is moved, however it then stays there till a button is pressed so I have no way to get it back and am stuck in the croped view.
How do people tend to deal with this issue? Do they rely on more video-specific set ups than have function buttons operable from the pan arm or elsewhere? Do other camera systems have more sophisticated manual focus assist systems (e.g. a dual view that works for video capture). Would it help a lot to have a larger LCD or an external EVF, rather than relying on the camera's built in ones?
Or is it more likely that I just need more practice, and if so, again are there any known techniques or practice exercises that I could look into?