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Old March 5th, 2017, 09:42 AM   #1
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Clevelnd, OH
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Desperately Need Exposure Help

I am going to be videoing a dance performance that is being held in a wedding/banquet type facility. We'll be shooting with 2 Canon XF300 cameras. The dance floor, which is approximately 30 wide x 25 deep, will be surrounded on 4 sides by the audience. All of the house lights will be turned off except for 4 chandeliers above the dance floor; those lights will be dimmed way down. Essentially the only significant lighting will come from two 600 watt halogen video lights shooting through an umbrella, one at either end of the 30 width. That is all the lighting we are allowed to bring in. Not ideal!

My dilemma is how to set the exposure, manual or automatic? and what other settings should I change?

If I set the exposure to manual based on, say, the light values in the center of the floor, the dancers will become overexposed as they move closer to the lights, and under exposed as they move further back on the dance floor. The exposure on the dancers will vary dramatically.

If I set the exposure to automatic, then as I zoom in on the performers I will get one reading, but if I pull back to a wider shot so that I capture some of the dark background along with the dancers, the exposure will again change, since the meter will be reading part of the dark scene.

There does not seem to be an ideal solution, but I am leaning toward auto exposure.

To make matter worse, in testing the manual exposure it appears as though we may need to bump the gain up to 21db to get a descent exposure. Ouch! I expect that the noise will be horrific.

I've read other threads where people suggested shooting in 24p so that 180 degree shutter will be 1/50th instead of 1/60th. Someone also suggested shooting in 720p instead of 1080p since, according to them, at 720p the camera is more sensitive to light.

If you have shot in this type of situations before (i.e., significant lighting values in different parts of the scene) I would very much appreciate your suggestions and specifics for camera settings.

Thanks, Dan
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Old March 5th, 2017, 10:11 AM   #2
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Re: Desperately Need Exposure Help

Dan, is the lighting effect dictated by the couple or the venue? If it's the couple you need to explain the problem and what you would like to ensure that THEY get the best possible picture. If they say no, then that's down to them and they will have to accept it.. If it's down to the venue, have a word with the couple, explain the problem and see what they suggest. What about a low wattage on board light?

You can only be guided by what the couple want, as long as they don't come back complaining.
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Old March 5th, 2017, 09:57 PM   #3
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Re: Desperately Need Exposure Help

A "director's monitor" for the lighting guy might be a solution. Get him working for you and not against you.

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Old March 6th, 2017, 02:43 PM   #4
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Re: Desperately Need Exposure Help

So Dan. Here's my thoughts, having used the XF300 for quite a few years now.

First off, I would never shoot auto. You are asking for problems in that situation. The camera is likely to max out gain, which would be terrible. I never shoot auto. Ever. The waveform is your friend.

Set the light metering on 'spot' and test if you can in advance. You might find you can set it to standard for better results. Try both before the actual event.

Set your white balance using Kelvin.

If the light is that low, you should seriously think about using a FF DSLR such as a 5D or C100 like camera. That's the right tool for that job. The xf300 just is designed for lots of light. It really works great when I'm filming stage performances with bold lighting. Or outside in sun. I've made it work, but it's always fighting me.

If you can't, then yes, shooting at 35 Mb at 1280x720 at 24fps will give you the best low light ability with the kit.

If you can't get any external monitor to work with then trust your waveform. Drive your exposure and gain based on that using the scale from 0 to 100. Highlights should get as close to the 100 as you can in that situation . It works. Everything else is false. Test it to validate what I'm saying.

Also consider 12 db or more. I've gone to 24 db and used a clean up program in post like Neat.

Could you replace the 500 watt with 1000?

Hope this helps! Good luck!
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Old March 6th, 2017, 11:18 PM   #5
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Re: Desperately Need Exposure Help

I agree with everything Al said. XF300 just loves light. Just finished an internal, dingy, dark building refurbish. Waveforms for gauging and NEAT Video for cleanup.
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