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Canon EOS Crop Sensor for HD
APS-C sensor cameras including the 80D, 70D, 7D Mk. II, 7D, EOS M and Rebel models for HD video recording.


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Old August 23rd, 2010, 11:38 PM   #1
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My First DSLR Wedding Experience

Just finished a 6 hours wedding the first time using DSLR. I planned this a month ago. Been ordering all that I need. Here’s a list of what I ordered
  • Canon T2i x 3 (with difference lens and lens kit)
  • Canon Battery Grip x 3
  • Sandisk 16GB Class 6 SD card x 10
  • Rode VideoMic x 2
  • Lilliput 7” Monitor x 1
  • Cinecity Rail x 1
  • IndiFocusMini x 1
  • IndiSliderMini x 1
  • LP-E8 Battery x 12

Here’s a few things from my experience.

Focusing
Manual focusing is a pain. I can do well with the focus ring gear and a 7” monitor. However, my assistant was not familiar with DSLR (and so am I). For the first half of the cermeony, he has the wrong focus. Luckily it’s the B-roll only. I still have my main cam footage covered. Also, the couple goes with standard definition DVD package only. Sizing down the HD footage to SD will make the out focus not noticeable.

12-Minute Time Limit
I thought it would be an issue. It turns out, I always remember to pause recording whenever I can. As the other cam is rolling, there is no lost of footage. Now I realized the problem is not the 12-minutes time limit, it’s T2i’s way reporting remaining time on LCD display. It makes it difficult to know when the card is about full.

Overheating
I am aware of the overheating issue and I tested the cameras. For that 6 hours coverage, I have the overheat warning appears twice on my main cam. None on the second cam. I turned off the camera right away. Flip it back on after 10 seconds, the warning went away. I still have to keep in mind whenever I’m not recording, or standby, just turn off the camera.

Follow Focus
After the first hour, I already noticed it is useless to use the Follow Focus. The reason is, after I zoom, I don’t have enough time to move my hand from the zoom ring to the FF to adjust for a good focus. For live event, it just impossible. I trained myself to adjust the zoom ring with my thumb and index finger. Then adjust the focus immediately with the ring finger. Therefore, the FF is not necessary. The focus ring GEAR is necessary for such quick and accurate moment.

However, the Follow Focus + rail does give a stunning look of the whole rig. It gives a lot of talking point too.

Audio
Everybody agrees T2i's onboard audio with AGC is bad. The Rode VideoMic will comes handy. Not only it makes the rig looks good, it does actually record great sound. I'm also recording audio with a wired lav mic with a audio recorder hanging in front of the speaker, I can get a master audio track for synchronization in post.

Recording Good Sound at Event | L.A. Color Blog

Slider
I really like the effect done by the Slider. However, at a short event like that, I don’t have a lot of time to get the slider to be used. Used it twice only.

Battery
As a guy selling batteries, using a lot of the LP-E8 battery is not a concern at all. I have 12 batteries all fully charged. At the end of the night, used 10 and 2 left. So I need more if I don't want to hunt for outlet to charge battery throughout the day.

Memory Card
I have ten Sandisk class 6 16GB card. Used up 9 of them at the end of the night. Of course I have 4 more backup SD cards that I didn’t open yet. Now I know I need to get even more to prepare for a full day wedding.

Copying footage takes about 15 minutes for each card. Compared to the realtime capturing in the DV/HDV days, it saves me a lot of time. In the old days after a full day wedding, I have about 15 to 20 tapes. That always take 2 to 4 days just to capture them.

Steadicam
Since I have a Merlin steadicam already, it is not on my investment list. I have a t2i on battery grip (must use battery grip because the merlin plate blocked the battey door). The added weight surprisingly makes the merlin balance way much better. Later on, I added a Tokina 11-16mm lens. It balances even better till almost perfect. I have never been so happy of my Merlin with HV30. Now the whole setup won’t sway. The Tokina lens rocks too in low light!

Lens
I am using a Caon 18-135mm lens on the B-cam. It is good enough at 18mm with aperture f/3.5. Since the b-roll is mostly at wide zoom out all the time, it captures bright scenes. On my main cam, I am using a Sigma 18-250mm, f/3.5-6. It performs poorly at zoom. However, I do need the zoom range and I have the Comer 1800 lights to fill. It works even better than my XH-A1 with the 20x zoom.

The Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 is a solid super wide angle lens. It's perfect to be used with Merlin to achieve cool close up feel. It's pricey but totally worth it.

External Monitior
The big 7" screen Lilliput monitor makes it much easier to focus. However, there is one big problem. T2i HDMI output switches from HD to SD after the record movie button is pressed. Because of the switch of signal, the monitor screen goes blank for 3 to 5 seconds. I have to guess or just wait for the screen to come back om. It’s a bit annoying but I can get over it. Also, the screen is much brighter in default mode. Some of the recorded footage turned out much darker. I will need to lower the brighness of the screen to match the actual output.

*****

Overall, I would say the shooting was a success. It won’t be perfect but it’s a good start. I love the DSLR output with the shallow depth of field that I could never achieve with my Xh-A1. There’re all these limitations to deal with but I can manage it. .. and there're still so much more to learn. =)
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Old August 25th, 2010, 04:00 PM   #2
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That was a great read. Cheers!
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Old August 25th, 2010, 04:18 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taky Cheung View Post
External Monitior
T2i HDMI output switches from HD to SD after the record movie button is pressed. Because of the switch of signal, the monitor screen goes blank for 3 to 5 seconds. I have to guess or just wait for the screen to come back
I'm shooting commercial spots with my T2i and Lilliput, and noticed the same thing. After checking the footage, the recording does in fact begin the minute you hit the button, although the output of the Lilliput doesn't reflect it while shooting.

It is a pain, but I like having the larger monitor, and the clients notice (and appreciate) it too.

Nice review btw. I'm not shooting long form event stuff, but it's always good to hear how people work around the limitations of the camera.

Terry
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Old August 25th, 2010, 04:53 PM   #4
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Yes, recording does start the moment the record movie button is pressed. The delay in display is due to the switching of HDMI signal. It's a bit annoying as a trade off. Focusing with a 7" monitor is way much better.
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Old August 25th, 2010, 08:19 PM   #5
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I actually find it easier to nail focus on the 3" cam screen compared to an outboard on the 550D. The higher rez HDMI out is the biggest advantage the 7D has over the 550D.
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Old August 25th, 2010, 09:13 PM   #6
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You need faster lens for wedding Taky, those lens that you are using only good for outdoor wedding, trust me.
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Old August 25th, 2010, 09:52 PM   #7
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Taky, looks like you are using the Jag35 12 inch rails, are you content with those?
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Old August 25th, 2010, 10:00 PM   #8
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I'm using the rail from CineCity. I bought the wrong one for camcorder. So it doesn't work as well. It's the tripod plate blocking the FF. The raised platform also make the lens higher over the rail that I can't get the Jag35 DFocus to work.
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Old August 25th, 2010, 10:02 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Khoi Pham View Post
You need faster lens for wedding Taky, those lens that you are using only good for outdoor wedding, trust me.
I'm well aware of that. But as a start, I also have to keep an eye on my budget. Buying all those things at one time cost me over $7000 already.

I bought the 18-135mm lens kit on purpose for the B-cam knowing it will be used at wide most of the time. So f3.5 will be acceptable. Then I bought the Sigma 18-250mm for the all purpose zoom as I don't want to change lens. Knowing I have Comer lights to work together, I wouldn't worry about the aperture in low light. it turns out, it perform similarly to my Xh-A1. I'm actually quite happy with the Sigma with such great zoom range.

I don't mind start with crappy lenses. I'm sure you all agree it will be a bad idea for someone to buy his/her first car a Mercedes. There're always room to improve and grow. Then I will appreciate what I was missing.
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Old August 25th, 2010, 11:16 PM   #10
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You sold me some stuff and the services was perfect and you are a good guy, I only want you to get the best out of your new toys that is why I think you should have faster lens for weddings, you will be amaze once you get some fast lens. Take care.
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Old August 25th, 2010, 11:18 PM   #11
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Thanks for the advice... you are a good man too! hehe.. I was just copying and pasting the response from another forum since someone also warned me the use of these lens are not optimize in low light.

Basically, I know.. but I also need to see how much I can afford. Go the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8. The big aperture makes a huge difference. I am already amazed.
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Old August 26th, 2010, 12:27 AM   #12
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Zooms have to be constant aperture to work on the dslrs. the aperture change messes with the camera causing the footage to strobe and flash.

Those are expensive though. My 24-70 f2.8L and 70-200 f4L work great (for double the T2i price)

On the fast lens thing, get a 50mm 1.4 or 1.8. Neither will break the bank and you will have a new favorite lens. Bokeh is incredible and they seem generate light when there isn't any.

I'd also recommend a loupe. I have a Z-Finder and it's much easier than using a monitor on the T2i.
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Old August 26th, 2010, 12:31 AM   #13
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Hey Taky, this was my friends' wedding! Taky was the hired professional and I had volunteered to shoot some extra footage (mainly behind-the-scenes type stuff) for the bride and groom. I was also using a DSLR in video mode for the first time so here are some things I learned:

My equipment:

Canon T2i
Canon 17-35mm f/2.8L (non-IS)
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L (non-IS)
OConnor fluid head and tripod
Sony PCM-M10 recorder

I was using the camera stock--no external monitor or LCD viewfinder. I wear glasses and I found out that when I was handholding the camera, I had a hard time focusing on the LCD with my eyes because it was so close. I often had to take my glasses off. That was a pain. When I was operating on the tripod, it wasn't as bad. Handholding is also terrible when you have to hold the camera out in front of you. An LCD viewfinder would probably help because you can push it against you eye for stability. But nothing beats a tripod shot. The best footage I shot was while operating on a tripod with a fluid head. I actually really enjoyed operating this way.

I also think a mechanical follow focus is not really needed and would get in the way. I had my hands on the zoom and focus rings all the time. What's really needed is a much wider focus throw. The throw on these lenses are just too short for manual focus precision. Maybe someone will eventually make an electronic focus controller that uses the existing ultrasonic motors in the lens and then scale up the focus range electronically to a focus control knob.

The camera LCD is fairly sharp, but it's often hard to tell if you've hit critical focus, especially on a telephoto lens where just moving the focus ring a tiny bit moves your focus point several inches. In low light, the detail goes down as you crank up the ISO so it gets even harder to judge focus. I kept wishing I had access to the 5X and 10X magnification while recording. I felt that after some practice I was able to pull focus pretty decently but the problem was I could not judge if I was on the money because the LCD is not sharp or big enough. I had tested the HDMI output before the wedding and also found the delay and reduced resolution when you hit record.

The other thing I found out is not all lenses hold focus throughout their zoom range. I often zoomed all the way in just so I had a big enough picture to pull focus but then I zoomed back out the lens would lose focus slightly. Arrggghhh.

Regarding exposure, I learned that although your lens might be a constant aperture, the T-stop probably isn't constant. My 17-35mm loses at least half a stop as I zoom in. This was really annoying and the damn thing is an L lens! I was also using manual exposure and I didn't like that the shutter speed is controlled by the main dial and aperture is controlled by pressing a button and the main dial. I kept getting these two mixed up. So sometimes I changed the shutter speed when I meant to change the aperture. Moving the main dial also shakes the camera a bit and makes an audible noise.

All in all, it was tough operating but these cameras sure are capable of some pretty nice looking footage, despite the lack of resolution. During the reception I got some shots that had a very filmic feel to them, thanks to some nice rim lighting.
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Old August 26th, 2010, 12:38 AM   #14
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Hey Tim, so you are one of the many guys out there that night? Were you the one prepared the slideshow too?

I did setup two of my comer lights on light stand.. but you are right, it was nice the hotel provided some rim lights that makes the image more dynamic and flimic.

My Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 on Merlin rocks! I got lots great steadicam shots (that daddy Elvis Presley) and some dance shots in great lighting.
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Old August 26th, 2010, 02:07 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Tim Le View Post
I was using the camera stock--no external monitor or LCD viewfinder. I wear glasses and I found out that when I was handholding the camera, I had a hard time focusing on the LCD with my eyes because it was so close. I often had to take my glasses off. That was a pain.
I am pretty shortsighted but actually find that an advantage as I can take my glasses off & then focus down to about 4"(10cm) which means that I can see the LCD on my 5DII very well for focusing & that screen is smaller than the one on the T2i/550D.
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