Canon’s low light ME20F-SH brings astonishing footage out of the Indonesian jungle

Written by Andy Stout

Offpring FilmsA tarsier filmed in he dead of night in the Indonesian jungle by the Canon ME20F-SH

Monkey business: Sky viewers in the UK had the chance to see some of the latest natural history work done with Canon’s 4 million ISO ME20F-SH camera over the holidays on ‘Monkeys: An Amazing Animal Family’.

Offspring Films' three-part series Monkeys: An Amazing Animal Family, which started airing on Sky 1 on Christmas Day, required a segment on tarsiers, who as you may or may not know are nocturnal animals living deep in the Indonesian jungle. DoP Mark Payne-Gill, who has previously used the ME20F-SH on shows such as Stargazing Live, went straight for it again.

The crew shot the tarsier sequences at 45db – the equivalent of 144,000 ISO – using an older Canon 150-600mm f5.6 EF-mount lens, and  thus documented the tarsiers at night time in full colour HD without the need for the lighting that would have scared the animals away.

What’s more, UK hire specialist VMI helped customise the camera into a handheld configuration, mounting it on a Vocas 15mm bar support with Hawkwood battery mount, TV Logic Alphatron viewfinder and a Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q recorder.


Mark Payne-Gill with the ME20F-SH custom rig

“I pushed the ME20F-SH to a very high ISO and we were still blown away by the results,” says Payne-Gill. “We got close-ups of the animal’s faces with their massive pupils in full colour. Being able to capture them in this way meant we could really tell their story.”

“Tarsiers have been filmed before,” added Monkeys… director Clare Dornan, “but filming them in colour, undisturbed in their natural environment has not been achieved before.”

Tags: Production


Related Articles

2 August, 2020

This is how the first DV cameras changed video production forever

The 1980s were the decade when video began to encroach on film – certainly for TV, if not for cinema. The 1990s was the decade when digital cameras...

Read Story

1 August, 2020

This is one of the biggest influencers on modern video you might not have heard of

If you’ve started using cameras in the last few years you might not be aware of just how far cameras have come. For some time one of the go-to...

Read Story

31 July, 2020

Why do we keep thinking in 35mm for focal lengths?

Replay: Do we really need to keep using 35mm as our baseline for focal lengths, or is there a much better way?

Read Story