My thoughts on lenses and setups and how they work for me at

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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 June 6th, 2013, 10:22 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Charleston, SC
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My thoughts on lenses and setups and how they work for me

Iím going to put up my opinions for a few various lenses and setups with my DSLR video usage. Weather this helps anyone decide on a lens or a setup great, if not, Iím just here to ramble then. Iíve shot hundreds of short films and a handful of weddings to date.

I shoot primarily short films in studio or home location, and we are gearing up to shoot more weddings, as the wife really enjoys them.

Equipment that I use is a Canon 550D with Magic Lantern, Manfrotto 055XPROB Legs with a 501 HDV Head, Manfrotto 561BHDV, Lilliput 7Ē HDMI monitor, Scorpion Cam Caddie, 2x Interfit Octobox and a Panasonic HMC40. Sound is a Rode Stereo Video Mic Pro on the Canon, and Rode NTG-2 and a Wireless Lav setup on the Panasonic.

Lens setup is Tokina 11-16, Sigma 30mm 1.4, Canon 70-200 2.8L IS, and just sold my Canon 24-70L and swapped to a Tamron 24-70 2.8 VC.

We shoot our custom videos 90% of the time and weddings the other 10%. Basically weddings are my wifeís project and we do it more for enjoyment, as we make more on the custom videos.
Iíll leave the Panasonic out of the discussion for now, unless anyone has questions.

I started using the 550D with the Cam Caddie and the Lilliput with a cheese plate on top of the Tripod and as nice as the external monitor was, it was too big and just not mobile enough to move around like I wanted to. Too much extra work, I picked up a knock-off Z-finder and things were good again.

Since purchasing the Manfrotto monopod I havenít used the tripod as much, as I can setup faster and move around, although it does not give as nice a shot as the tripod obviously, as it is very easy to not be level, as it has no built in levels.

Letís talk lenses. The Tokina I bought for indoor shots, as the 550D is crop and the 30 wasnít wide enough, and I did not have the 24-70 at that time. Since purchasing the 24-70 I havenít used the Tokina except for a wide shot of the venue at our last wedding, which I probably could have gotten with the 24-70. Itís a great lens, the Tokina, but I will most likely sell it to fund a Cine lens. The Sigma 30mm is a great lens. I want to not like it, as when shooting from far away it shoots really soft for me, but when shooting between 10-18 feet or so, this thing is razor sharp. It focuses dead on, although the focus ring is a bit stiff for my liking, Iím most likely going to sell it for a Rokinon 35 Cine, although there really is no need to, I would just like the smoother focus ring and the no clicking aperture on the cine.

The Canon 70-200 obviously is awesome. No denying this. I love shooting weddings with this thing, beautiful picture, and yes the IS is very helpful, even on a monopod. Before I had used the IS version, I tried a friends version that does not have IS and zooming and focusing were very jittery, for video I would say the IS is a must.

Now the 24-70 dilemma. I really, really wanted to like the Canon, and for photo I would have kept it. Great lens, the focus and zoom are awesome, although the zoom sticks a bit at 24-28. If used on a tripod Iím sure it would have been fine, but if I was going to use it on a tripod, I may as well have used a prime. I shot our last wedding with it on a monopod, and a few of my custom videos. The picture was nice, not as sharp as my Sigma. Even on the monopod, the lack of IS was noticeable when compared to the 70-200 that had IS. There were shot that I had to go in and stabilize in post to make it look similar to the 70-200. My wife noticed the small jitters, and she never notices that kind of stuff so I sold the Canon and picked up the Tamron. Have only used it yesterday on one shoot, so this is only one dayís opinions on the lens. The outdoor scene, the colors were very nice, I was pleasantly surprised. It seemed soft at F22 which could have been user error since I forgot my Z-Finder and it was very bright, I could have missed focus a tad. Now the focus. This lens defiantly seems harder to focus manually than any of my other lenses. The focus ring itself feels great; itís just that it seems that it is a much smaller focus field than the 70-200 or the Sigma at 2.8 and subsequently harder to lock on focus. The zoom is much stiffer than the Canon, and zooming while filming smoothly seems almost impossible. Maybe this will smooth out over time, Iím not sure. I hate the reverse zoom of the Tamron, itís a pain after using a Canon lens, and having the focus ring and zoom ring reversed can be confusing. Is the IS or DC in this case worth switching over to Tamron from Canon? Time will tell. I did shoot handheld on this shoot to get in some angles that I wouldnít have been able to get in with the monopod, and that is something I wouldnít have been able to do with the Canon (this is just the camera, no rig or brace, or handle).

Am I going to continue to use the zoom lenses for anything but weddings? Probably not, the prime provides such a nice, sharp picture that Iíll use it when I can. Obviously the zooms are going to be used on weddings as you donít have the time to setup and swap lenses constantly as itís live and no one is going to wait for you.

I hope this helped someone, maybe it helped me wrap my head around my current setup and see what I liked and didnít like about it. In a few months I plan on selling the Panasonic as itís terrible in low light and purchasing a C100 and foregoing the 550 and just keeping it as a backup.
If you would like to see a sample of the lenses in action Iíll provide a link.
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Old June 6th, 2013, 11:25 AM   #2
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Re: My thoughts on lenses and setups and how they work for me

I have the Tokina 11-16 as well; it is a fantastic superwide, but doesn't get as much use because even on a crop sensor 11 has some major wide-angle distortion, too much for most people shots.

At the 16 end... do check out the higher quality zooms that cover about 17-50mm. I'm using the 17-55mm f2.8 IS Canon, I love it for its ability to go from a true wide to a moderate telephoto, and the quality is outstanding. It's really my go-to lens, an extremely useful zoom range for shooting people at good working distances.

Don't confuse it with the 18-55 Canon kit lens, it's night and day different.

OTOH, that's just what works for me. If the 24mm of the new Tamron is wide enough for you, it does have that greater reach to pull a closeup from the edge of a dance floor.
30 years of pro media production. Vegas user since 1.0. Webcaster since 1997. Freelancer since 2000. College instructor since 2001.
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Old June 6th, 2013, 12:48 PM   #3
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Crookston, MN
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Re: My thoughts on lenses and setups and how they work for me

We have two T3i's and a Mark ii.

We picked up a Rokinon 14mm for our wide shots, and may use it as a side shot of the aisle, raised up 8/9 feet and let the bride walk through the shot. I prefer primes for everything that isn't the ceremony, so also have the Canon 35mm, 50mm, and an old FD 135 f/2.8. My wife insists on zooms, though.

As crazy as it sounds, I like the much, much older lenses for zooms during weddings. Instead of a ring, you push or pull and it just goes smoother when doing a long zoom or pulling back. I use an old FD 70-210mm f/4 in the back of the church, mostly, and the newer Canon 28-135mm from the front side aisles.

Dan, we sold our 550D/T2i and got a gently used Mark ii (he wanted to go back to the 7D) precisely because of lighting vs. noise issues on the Rebel series. At ceremonies we've gotten by, but at receptions, it's just not happening except with a 35 or 50 at f/2. Now I can put the 135mm f/2.8 on the Mark ii for tight/medium shots of speeches and 1st dance, and a 50mm f/1.8 on the crop sensors for the wider shots, and have enough light in each. Usually.

Amusingly, when DJ'ing last Friday, they had their cousins filming everything with a 7D with kit 18-55mm. Even during speeches it was almost pitch black on her screen.
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Old June 6th, 2013, 12:50 PM   #4
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Location: Charleston, SC
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Re: My thoughts on lenses and setups and how they work for me

Thanks for the feedback.
Really looking forward to purchasing the C100.
Actually selling my Tokina right now, as yes I prefer primes as well, where the wife likes zooms :)
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