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Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old June 3rd, 2010, 02:15 PM   #31
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Shaun, I look forward to hearing your experiences. Please post pics of your outdoor rig, I would love to see what it looks like.

As for what you are frustrated with - i.e. people posting about limitations on DSLRs - is just part of figuring out solutions. From your own admission you haven't had that much experience with them - and luckily, you've been able to get great footage from them. That's very good. But there are those who, even tho they are good shooters, and have good focusing skills, still have issues with these cams in high pressure, "get the shot or else" types of scenarios. Just for example, a bride isn't really going to care why, but she will care that you didn't get her in focus when they kissed, because at that moment your LCD was reflecting sunlight, or because you weren't quite ready to get the shot and weren't able to pull the LCD into perfect view before focusing, etc... it happens. With a regular videocam it happens too, but with it you can still point the camera at the subject and if the autofocus is much good at all, you'll more likely than not get a decently focused, usable shot. No searching for focus, no stopping down, no having to deal with a cumbersome rig and external monitor.

Manual focus is a skill, and it takes practice, as you and others have stated. However, there is more to it than just the DSLR. If someone asked me what camera they should buy to start doing weddings, I would NOT recommend a DSLR as the first/only cam - mainly because it DOES require much practice, and extra equipment to really get it right. I would recommend a good solid videocamera that lets the shooter concentrate on composition and smooth pans, zooms and such. It's going to make the job 10 times easier to do for anyone who doesn't want to mess with a DSLR and all the stuff that it requires. Is it possible to get out of focus shots with a videocamera? Of course! Is it easier to focus with a DSLR than a videocamera with a good autofocus? No, it isn't. And, a videocam can adjust focus very fast and correctly while recording - can't do that with a DSLR - you're going to have to hope you can get it right without over or undershooting your focusing, and that is exactly why it's not ideal in some situations. If you do overshoot your focus it looks unprofessional and really tacky - and I see it ALL THE TIME in DSLR footage. People edit around it, but it happens all the time.

I consider myself a good litmus test here - because I've been shooting with videocams for years, and now am using both videocams and DSLRs. I know the benefits AND drawbacks of each. My wanting to talk about both is not "bashing" or speaking only of limitations... but they do have them, and regardless how you dress them up, they still do. We need to be realistic about the good AND the challenges so that people on these boards can make informed decisions - including you and me.
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Old June 3rd, 2010, 06:12 PM   #32
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I shot an outdoor wedding on May 14 with my 7D. I'm a run and gun videographer. I have no problems with focus. I don't use a follow focus or external monitor. I use a Z-Finder. My A1 stays in the car. Is it more work to shoot with a DSLR? Hell yeah! But the results are worth it.
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Old June 4th, 2010, 02:37 AM   #33
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I was first scared to shoot with a 7D, that I returned it. Then I saw my second videographer shoot on his 7D and he footage never compared to mine. So i ordered it a 7D again from B&H and now I'm super happy with it. YES, the focus is an issue, but i've learned to be good at turning the dial in the right direction to keep it in focus. I find this camera keeps me on my toes. In the end BRO, this is all going to change with in the next year. Panasonic is going to release a DSLR camera that has all the functions of DSLR but with the auto focus so hold your panties and wait if you want too. I'm shooting solely on DSLR and nothing but solid reviews from brides.

I do use a regular camera for certain points of the ceremony, but that's it.

7D rules@!!!
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Old June 4th, 2010, 08:00 AM   #34
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There is a difference between the 5D and the 7D in terms of focus - the smaller sensor on the 7D gives it more DOF and that does help. When shooting with the 5D it is different - a bit more challenging to stay in focus.
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Old June 4th, 2010, 08:14 AM   #35
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Picking up a 7D may be well worth it for this, I guess one of my concerns is the HEAT. I can live with the heat on a 7d body, not like the lens is being affected. The 1D IV its another story, when you grab that body and feel how hot it is, not a good feeling at all, especially when its used all day every day to make your living.

I will continue to use it for specific short length shots, but am almost sure I am going with a second ex1r for my B cam. Time is my biggest enemy, having two identical cameras will save me time on the wedding day, and lots of time editing. I am by no means a great videographer, or editor so I need to keep it as simple as possible.

Thanks for all the input and to be honest I am super glad to see the 7d have good reviews. I know there are work arounds using DSLR, and many will be great with them. My eyes are not what they used to and our crew does photography and video and I need to make things as idiot proof as I can. For ME DSLR is too demanding for my situation.
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Old June 4th, 2010, 10:29 PM   #36
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Hey Denny I've been using DSLR only for my last 6 jobs. There are many frustrations I have with it and yet you do get a nice pleasing image. The funny thing for me though is that my XHA1 footage looks just as good because of the color. The more I look over my XHA1 videos in comparison to my DSLR footage the more I like both cams. I'm a little confused as I have read many posters say they leave their XHA1's in the car and yet I'm very thrilled with the look I get out of it. The difference is the DOF and a more 3D rendered look to the DSLR. For me both will have their place in future jobs. One thing I wish canon would do though is make the XHA1 tapeless. The XF300 is nice but the XHA1 is more than enough for me. They sure can be used on event jobs but there is so much that goes wrong you will definitely start to lose many hairs from the stress.
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Old June 5th, 2010, 11:31 AM   #37
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Hey Denny I've been using DSLR only for my last 6 jobs. There are many frustrations I have with it and yet you do get a nice pleasing image. The funny thing for me though is that my XHA1 footage looks just as good because of the color. The more I look over my XHA1 videos in comparison to my DSLR footage the more I like both cams. I'm a little confused as I have read many posters say they leave their XHA1's in the car and yet I'm very thrilled with the look I get out of it. The difference is the DOF and a more 3D rendered look to the DSLR. For me both will have their place in future jobs. One thing I wish canon would do though is make the XHA1 tapeless. The XF300 is nice but the XHA1 is more than enough for me. They sure can be used on event jobs but there is so much that goes wrong you will definitely start to lose many hairs from the stress.
I hear so many good things about the XHA1 but my image is lousy. I have 2 friends that have the XHA1 and their image is lousy also. My GL1 has a better image than the XHA1. What are you doing to make your XHA1 image so good?
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Old June 5th, 2010, 12:05 PM   #38
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I am also using a Canon A1s and I can tell you that if you use it with manual control and custom presets you can get amazing images from it - including shallow DOF (the DSLR can do this easier, but it's still possible with the A1). As for it using tape, I use a Sony MRC1 CF recorder to record, which I have used now for four or so shoots and LOVE it. Now I have the quality of the Canon camera, lens and sensor with tapeless capability. It does eliminate capture time - the transferring of A1 files now takes minutes instead of hours.

One thing about the tapeless A1 workflow tho - it brings the files in as HDV files - you have to then convert them to something friendlier if you want to mix footage with other cams.

With proper tweaking I have found cutting between the A1 and the 5D to be painless, or close. Sometimes I tweak the color on the A1 to match the 5D a little bit better, but I'm also planning on creating or finding a preset for the A1 that is designed to match the 5D.
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Old June 5th, 2010, 01:40 PM   #39
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We transitioned from XHA1's to 7D's, and I guarantee you that the image you get from a 7D is better than the image you can get from an A1. The A1 is a great camera, no doubt. You can play with the settings and get a great looking image. But at the end of the day it just doesn't hold up to an image from the 7D. Anyone who thinks these cameras produce equal image quality needs an eye exam. d;-p

The 7D has much better resolution, sharpness, color reproduction, DOF, low light and so on. That said, and as others have pointed out, it's definitely not as easy to use as an A1. Sometimes I miss that about my A1's. But I don't miss the A1's image.
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Old June 5th, 2010, 06:13 PM   #40
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Yes Travis, totally agreed on the A1 vs. DSLR (Canon, anyway) cameras as far as quality of picture - but I do think they can still co-exist effectively if you are willing to squeeze the juice a bit harder out of the A1. What it lacks for me in terms of picture quality I think it gains in other ways, such as on-board professional audio inputs and very detailed color space adjustability, zoom, autofocus, and other on-board videocam features. Also with the MRC1 unit I'm able to record up to 244 minutes of data continuously - and I love that.

I think that there's probably a market right now for a device that will automatically start a new file on a DSLR by mechanical means so that a DSLR can be left unattended as a stationary cam without manually restarting every 12 minutes. That would help a lot of event shooters.


I think we're all waiting for the ultimate mutation of DSLR and videocamera strains to give us the perfect hybrid cam. The next couple of years are going to be extremely interesting in the prosumer/entry-level camcorder market.
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Old June 5th, 2010, 06:18 PM   #41
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Over the next year or so, we will be able to have our cake and eat it too. The new video cameras with large sensors and video-centric backs will start to become available.

Sony has an interesting concept with this camera slated for release later this year. Sneak Peek: New Sony Camcorder in Development SONY make.believe It shares the lens and mounting system with the NEX-5 and NEX-3 which are being released this month. The New Sony Ponies - Sony's NEX-3 & NEX-5 | Digital Photography insights

Both cameras use the Sony APS-C sensor which has a crop factor of 1.5. Sony's APS-C is slightly larger than Canon's with its 1.6 crop factor.

Don't like this approach? Stick around; the competition that is heating up between the camera makers will insure that a variety of choices will appear on the market.

When these large sensor video cameras are well represented in the market, DSLR cameras will largely revert to their intended purpose - taking photographs. Those who moved early and invested their heart, soul and hard work to become proficient with shooting video with a DSLR achieved some spectacular results. As a result they fell in love with their cameras and we know that love is blind. This love will only be displaced AFTER the new crop of large sensor video cameras are already on the market. Only then will it become clear that the clunky back on a DSLR camera is intended to serve photographers, not videographers. The video focused functionality and features of these large sensor video cameras will provide the tools that allow more shooting capability for video work.

If you have any friends that are using DSLR cameras now for video work, don't agitate them by mentioning this to them. It's too early for them to realize the benefits of the coming large sensor video cameras. They will only get defensive or even angry. Cut them some slack; they will realize what's going on in due time.
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Old June 5th, 2010, 06:56 PM   #42
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The NEX cameras were a sort of a let down, but there are rumours circulating of something else in the Alpha line crawling out of the Sony labs (and not just the NEX based handycam, which has it's own intrigue). If the rumours pan out, might be VERY interesting, if they don't make it overly "auto".

The concept of "camera" is changing - we must begin to consider that we may be looking at "lenses", and "bodies", along with various other components to create a "system" for image acquisition. Certainly we will still have "prepackaged" cameras of all sorts (right down to 8Mpixel cell phones that do video), but it will all come back to CONTENT, whatever the means used to acquire it...

About the only consideration I have is whether I acquire an image with sufficient quality and detail to deliver an end product that looks great, whatever the shooting conditions were...

I've been fascinated by the "dual mode" cameras, but have yet to find one that does both stills and video optimally, not that you can't get impressive results, I just feel like there are some compromises not yet ironed out entirely. Doesn't mean it won't be happening soon enough.
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Old June 5th, 2010, 07:04 PM   #43
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I think that there's probably a market right now for a device that will automatically start a new file on a DSLR by mechanical means so that a DSLR can be left unattended as a stationary cam without manually restarting every 12 minutes. That would help a lot of event shooters.
the panasonic GH1 can shoot to the limit of the card - no 12 min limit
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Old June 5th, 2010, 07:49 PM   #44
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the panasonic GH1 can shoot to the limit of the card - no 12 min limit
Panasonic did a good job with the design of the GH1 in a number of ways that makes it more video friendly compared to the Canon DSLR's. Aside from the no 12-minute limit, it isn't likely to overheat. The electronic eyepiece allows a good 3-point brace when shooting hand held. (2 hands and your forehead). Those shaky 2-handed DSLR shots are hard to look at. Only the shooter can love them.

The GH1 also has an articulated viewfinder which allows a great deal more creative camera positioning when shooting.

It also allows auto focus to be selected if desired for video shooting. There are times when that is very useful such as when shooting flying shots on a stabilizer. This is a MAJOR limitation with Canon DSLR's. If you look closely at flying shots that have been shot with Canon DSLR cameras you will notice that the shooter keeps the same distance from the subject - either that or shoot out of focus shots because they can't adjust focus while they are shooting on a stabilizer. That's quite a creative shooting crimp.

It's clear that the GH1 was designed with video in mind rather than an afterthought. It has a micro 4/3 sensor which gathers a tad less light (2X crop factor) but it is still more than adequate for most applications.
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Old June 5th, 2010, 08:14 PM   #45
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perhaps that's part of the point.
I purchased a t2i only to be better with my Ex1.
I can be lazy with the Ex1 letting auto iris, auto focus and other auto features. Picture is perfect, but i feel the camera is deciding for me.
The t2i does not give the choice, you have to learn and be good.
And it still can be used as B-cam for small shot with DOF effect, or low light shot, or other occasion where a big camera does not fit.
But i would not try to build a perfect video camera from a DSLR (by adding costly equipement), when a simple workaround is to switch on my Ex1.
systematically recommanding a video camera for every problem you got with a DSLR is as silly as wanting to do everything with a DSLR , but as says the common citizen...
"when you got a hammer , you see nails everywhere"
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