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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old April 27th, 2009, 12:04 AM   #1
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Mono Pod or Tripod for ceremony....

Hi all,

Starting out in NYC and looking for some advice on gear. Don't have much cash or time and wanted to know if people are using monopods during the ceremony/ receptions or tri-pods. I like to move around and get very candid shots so i think the tri-pod is a little constricting. If anyone is successfully using mono pods during their shoots please raise your hand or anyone using tri-pods please tell me i'm crazy for thinking about using a mono as my only stabilizer.

I'm thinking about the /Manfrotto 560B kind of a mono-tri mix. It has feet and looks very stable. Also want to quickly switch to glidecam 2000 from this monopod. If anyone has experience using the Glidecam 2000 with a monopod in their equipment setup please let me know. Also considering the Flowpod.

Using the HMC150 (loving it )

Thanks all,

Last edited by Steve Berg; April 27th, 2009 at 12:09 AM. Reason: Wanted to include model number
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Old April 27th, 2009, 12:23 AM   #2
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Hi Steve,

It is very difficult to get a rock solid steady shot from a monopod during the entire ceremony. I did not say it was impossible, but I prefer a tripod for the ceremony. We use a monopod and MultiRig for the reception.

I do not consider the flowpod to be as good as the Glidecam 2000 for "stedicam" type of shots. We use matching quick release plates, so it is very quick and easy to go from a tripod to monopod, to Glidecam to MultiRig.

It's pretty easy to find used Glidecams on the market. The Glidecam 2000 if fine for the HMC150, but if you plan on adding a light, wireless receiver, or a wide angle/fisheye lens to your HMC150, you may want to consider the Glidecam 4000.
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Last edited by Mark Von Lanken; April 27th, 2009 at 07:56 AM. Reason: added the phrase "during the entire ceremony"
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Old April 27th, 2009, 01:41 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Berg View Post
I'm thinking about the /Manfrotto 560B kind of a mono-tri mix. It has feet and looks very stable.
I've had 2 of these monopods and beware that the feet break off quite easily. I've switched to using a tripod.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 02:26 AM   #4
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The big question tripod, monopod or handheld? Shooting a posh wedding while carting a chunky tripod about is somewhat dorkish if you think about it - and the weight and bulk certainly don't allow rapid changes of position. Just recently I'd run to a new position as the bride and groom got out of their wedding car to receive their champagne. I quickly set up the Manfrotto, levelled the head, trained the Z1 on them, flicked in the second ND, thumbed the iris wheel, pulled back on the zoom a tad as I re-framed, checking the background and the zebras.

This all happens in what - 14 seconds, and that can seem like 13 seconds too long on an important day. The shot looked good so I hit record. Just at that very moment the stills photographer stepped smartly between me and the couple, perfectly on axis, and started shooting away. He was a big bloke in the 50'' waist category, so my shot ended up being of his massive and rather unattractive back.

Of course if I'd been on a monopod I could have reacted a lot quicker, but at the same time had to accept - as Mark says - less stable footage for all the rest of the time. So now when I arrive at a wedding venue I look at my kit and think: tripod or monopod today? Invariably I choose the triopod, and the 561B just had to go.

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Old April 27th, 2009, 04:03 AM   #5
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lol that was a very thorough step by step process which we all do every couple of shots eh??? I can imagine people would go like "woahh..?? you do all that in 14 seconds???"

nice one!

i don't check zebras though :P

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Old April 27th, 2009, 04:26 AM   #6
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I would forget the tripod if I were you and use a monopod, trying to run around with a tripod just aint feasable unless you are going to put it in a fixed position for the ceremony and the do hand held for the rest. I use a manfrotto 690B and look for something to lean against if possible just to make sure I am as steady as I can be not always possible but most of the other shots are candid apart from the signing and that is normally a short affair.
With regard to the wedding photographer the majority of them are all the same they think that they are the only people there hired to record the day, if it is possible to talk to them as soon as you arrive at the church and come to an agreeable arrangement ie:you won't block thier shots if they don't block yours.

Alan
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Old April 27th, 2009, 04:57 AM   #7
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I use a shoulder support for all the running around shots.
The only time i use the tripod is during the ceremony and the speeches.

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Old April 27th, 2009, 08:22 AM   #8
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I usually use tripod for the ceremony and for speeches at the reception. Handheld the rest of the time, though I'll take the tripod out for particular shots here and there if it fits an idea (eg. for timelapse or whatever).

I just bought a monopod, however, for Jewish weddings. During the ceremony, the family are in a circle around the brid and groom, and it's very tight. Impossible to use a tripod. Whenever I get stuck shooting an entire Jewish wedding handheld, it's a nightmare trying to stay steady for so long.

I got a chance to try it out at a wedding last week, and there are good and bad things about it. The good was the ability to get fairly steady shots without fatigue and be more mobile than with a tripod. You fit into a more confined area better. It makes high overhead shots easier.

The bad was that it restricts your ability to do low shots, or interesting angles. Tilting is possible, but restricted as well as you have to lean way forward or back, to tilt more. You tend to get a horizontal wobble in the footage. It's steadier than handheld, but no substitute for the rock steady footage from a tripod. The footage suffers every time you try to adjust a camera control. It's hard to change tapes and batteries cause you can't set the camera down.

My conclusion was that it was useful for specific situations, but I liked my hand held footage better when running around, and the footage from tripod was the ideal.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 10:36 AM   #9
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Thanks All. I'm new to DV Info and am so impressed with the wealth of information and speed everyone replies. It's a true community; thank you! Seems like it's a half of one 6 dozen of the other with the mono or tripod. As cameras get lighter (like the HMC150) I feel like the mono might be a better option - although not as stable, more practical? Im thinking of the situation where Im trying to grab a shot in 14 seconds. I picked up the Manfrotto 560B this weekend and it seems like it's solid but not a steady as a tripod of course. Im going to play a little and post some tests - for $133 it seems like something I will get use of at some point and should have on hand anyway. I will most likely add a tripod later on, but starting out- it seems this would be a practical one stop shop.

EVERYTHING IS ADDING UP SO darn QUICKLY!!!

Mark, thanks for responding (so quickly), big fan of your work! Regarding the glidecam 2000 VS the 4000. I plan on using the HMC150 with Litepanel Micro + shotgun mic + wireless receiver with the large battery. It looks like the Glidecam is going for about $200 ish on ebay and 4000 is more. The 2000 can hold up to 6 pound and the 4000 6 pounds and over. I think I can get a good deal on the Glidecam 2000 so wondering if you strongly feel like this might be too much weight for the 2000 with my gear listed above. The 4000 is actually a few pounds heavier so it might cause more strain on the wrist if its borderline I rather go with the 2000. Thoughts?

Also, not to hijack my own tread here, but also looking for suggestions for shotguns and lavalieres. On a budget for $600 for audio all in. Confused with the whole UHF vs. VHF for lavaliere. Seeing some good deals in the VHF - world buyer beware?

Thanks again all!
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Old April 27th, 2009, 11:11 AM   #10
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Hi Steve,

Thanks for the kind words.

Your rig is going to be pretty heavy. With all of that, you will need the GC4000, not to mention...a lot of upper body strength and endurance. I fly my HMC150 with the GC 2000 without the extra gear you mentioned because I use it for specialty shots. I have another camera getting the wireless feed.

If you need to get audio on your GC camera, I would recommend getting the smooth shooter vest, that is unless you are endowed with strong muscles.

It will be tough to get a shotgun and lav system for less than $600. You could look on the used market. I use the Sennheiser G2 wireless systems. The are really cost effective while still offering good quality. You don't want to try and save $100-200 on the wireless system. It will come back and bite you. A new G2 is about $500 give or take. You should check out the Rode shotgun mics for a good budget shotgun.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 01:40 PM   #11
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Tripod is great for static shots and for long ceremonies where you can just shoot up the aisle. Also handy to have a couple (don't need to be expensive fluid heads or anything, just stable) for unmanned second angle cam(s).

I've tried Monopods, but I can't keep them from rocking, the ones with feet I tend to bump, and they still aren't 100% stable.

Having spent quite a bit of time on trying various floating type systems, I would say unless you're Popeye, with "guns o' steel", you really need a vest - even a small cam on a Merlin gets tiring to operate fairly fast. Try holding a 10 pound barbell out as if it were a cam rig, and keeping it stable while walking about... and remember it's easier to control, it won't be trying to turn or rock around on you.

Mark mentioned the DV MultiRig - while I don't own one, I know a lot of people swear by them, and I have a very similar rig I cobbled up from bits off eBay (low budget means you do what you have to!), and it's the best way to go. I'd still love to have a spring pod waist support!

By using shouder support, handgrips and a waist support, it turns you into a "tripod" ("active bi-pod" actually!) when you're standing still, allows good multi axis camera control when you're moving (have to get used to gliding, not galumping), and can get pretty close to a gimbal rig when you spend time perfecting it's use - plus to put it bluntly it's easier to work with on the fly than a rig you've got to balance and tune. Since most of the weight is on your shoulder and the waist belt, fatigue becomes a minor, almost nonexsistent issue.

If I had to shoot a single setup, I'd go for something like the MultiRig - it's as close as you can get to ideal for live event type shooting IMO. Have a QR to move it to a tripod for long ceremonies though.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 09:45 PM   #12
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I think it really depends on the location you're shooting at. In a large church, with lots of space to move around, I use tripods. But I have to say for quick position changes in a tight situation, I'd never be without my monopod. I'll take some slight shake over missing a key moment any day of the week. Plus nothing sounds worse than a tripod leg "clanking" around during a ceremony. I saw a photographer drop a piece of camera equipment once during the ceremony and caused everyone to look her way. Looked like one of those South West Airlines commercials when the guy says.. "want to get away"?
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Old April 27th, 2009, 10:50 PM   #13
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I believe firmly in a combo of monopod and tripod. I go mono for entrance and exit and slip to the back and go to tripod for the main event back to mono for candle lighting, back to tripod...(if the location and b&g want you to move around to get shots.) If I had to stay on mono for whole ceremony the footage would get wonky for sure...
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Old April 28th, 2009, 12:28 PM   #14
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- 60/40 split -

Being a solo shooter I need to be omnipresent when possible. I find myself using the monopod a little bit more than the tripod mainly because of the added mobility. I have the same quick release head on both items which allows me switch from one to the other with relative ease.
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Old April 28th, 2009, 02:53 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick View Post
... The shot looked good so I hit record. Just at that very moment the stills photographer stepped smartly between me and the couple, perfectly on axis, and started shooting away. He was a big bloke in the 50'' waist category, so my shot ended up being of his massive and rather unattractive back.
tom.
I've had this happen enough to invest in a 561B monopod. For me I slightly favor the monopod for ceremonies because of the mobility. I do hate giving up the rock solid image though. I don't think my clients notice the slight movement of the monopod but I do and it really bugs me. Ideally I'd like to have a super lightweight tripod that I could move as easily as the monopod.
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