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


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Old November 2nd, 2010, 08:49 AM   #1
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Good general fstop for wedding-type events?

Hey Guys,
I decided to take a jump into the D-SLR world of video, but realized..... IT IS NOT EASY
I'm using a t2i w/ a canon f1.4 50mm and a Tamron 2.8 28-72mm

I was wondering what everyone thought was a good "general" fstop to use for weddings, parties, or other events when using a d-slr. I assume it is somewhere beteen 2.8-5.6?

Light wouldn't necessarily be an issue considering I would have an on camera light, but i really can't go above 6.3 because that would be way too dark (unless it is outdoor).
I had a really hard time finding a good stop to be at where the DOF wasn't so shallow that I was missing focus. I know this is something that I will have to figure out with much experimenting, but getting some input would really really help me out.

Thanks
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Old November 2nd, 2010, 06:37 PM   #2
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This is where a variable ND filter becomes essential.
When shooting outdoors I would normally set the aperture to f4 then use the variable ND as you would use the iris on a "normal" video camera.
When shooting indoors the tendency is to go wider to keep the ISO down.
I don't think there is one answer for this other than whatever looks good.

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Old November 2nd, 2010, 06:50 PM   #3
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For me, if the subject isn't moving that much, I'd go as low as f2.0 if its indoor. But when objects are moving, I'd go from 2.8 to 4.0 depending on what lens I'm using and how much light is available. I try to keep my ISO as low as possible.

I agree there is no one solid answer to your question. Some lenses have its best sharpness at certain f stop.
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Old November 2nd, 2010, 07:48 PM   #4
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I'm not a DSLR man but doesn't the hyperfocal distance system apply even when you're using the camera to record video? Of course if you're using the lens wide open it is less applicable but the OP seems willing to stop down a bit.

Last edited by Philip Howells; November 3rd, 2010 at 03:00 AM.
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Old November 2nd, 2010, 10:23 PM   #5
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Hey Nick. For me it really depends on what I'm shooting and choose the f stop according to what I am trying to communicate. During the wedding, i usually shoot the 85 1.2 on a 5D MK2 and with that lens i have found that the sweet spot is about 4 to 4.5 f stop at shutter 60. If I need to, I will drop the shutter to 30. I try not to go above ISO 1250. This will give you a little breathing room to stay on top of focus on your moving subjects. I'm sure you have discovered, focus is the challenge but with practice, you will do it in your sleep. For prep shots, I use lower f stops 2.8 or less. The big shift in going from the standard video camera to the dslr's is that you are forced to think about your shot and depth of field and how that is going to communicate visually. I'd just experiment a bit.
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Old November 7th, 2010, 04:55 AM   #6
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Quote:
I was wondering what everyone thought was a good "general" fstop to use for weddings, parties, or other events when using a d-slr. I assume it is somewhere beteen 2.8-5.6?
It all depends what you want the shot to look like and how the available light is. When it gets real dark you don't have any other option then to open up the iris and when there is sufficient available light you choose the iris value depending on the fact if you want shallow dof or not.

That it is not easy is because a dslr is a photocamera with a videofunction, as simple as that. Getting constant good focus, exposure and whitebalance during a wedding can only be done right if you have 2 or more dslr operators so you have the option to switch between camera's during a church recording for instance. If you work alone that's asking for trouble, I see enough video's in a situation where you only get one chance to get it right where the focus is not spot on or images that are overexposed or wrong whitebalance and that's all because a dslr requires more setup time to get it exactly right. A dslr can give you some wonderfull images but it can also cause a totally ruined shot.
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Old November 7th, 2010, 05:10 AM   #7
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I second noa.

On bride prep when I want some nice shallow depth of field, I put my 50mm 1.2 lens on f1.4
On groom prep when people are putting their jacket and there's a lot of movements going on I'd put my lens on f2.8

filming bride walking down the isle on my steadicam i'd put my 17-40 lens on f5.6-f8 although sometimes I go f4 if its really dark.

Filming vows with my 135mm I'd use f2 cause they are static

different situations need different settings.
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Old November 7th, 2010, 07:19 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Howells View Post
I'm not a DSLR man but doesn't the hyperfocal distance system apply even when you're using the camera to record video? Of course if you're using the lens wide open it is less applicable but the OP seems willing to stop down a bit.
Philip, the hyperfocal distance applies just like any shooting stills, which is why I love the Canon 14mm (3 feet to infinity) and 24mm (10 feet to infinity) in good light. But, if you are shooting from the back of the isle or the back of the room for speeches and need that head & shoulders shot then you have no hope of anything by shallow DOF with (say) a 200m lens at (say) f2.8 and ISO 2500.

I'm not sure how so many people seem to shoot weddings with only short lenses and still be discreet.
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