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Old July 13th, 2011, 08:43 AM   #1
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Down the Aisle with DSLR?

After reading a previous thread about down the aisle shots (Techniques for capturing the "coming down the aisle" shot?), I wanted to ask a little bit more about how everyone is doing this with a DSLR. My current set up is two DSLRs (A and B cam) and a Canon HV40 (C cam). I typically will set one of the T2i cams up about 20 feet from the bridal entry point, with a Sigma 20mm 1.8, so that I can get a good entry shot of not only the bride, but usually the party enters from the same place. The question I have is less about positioning, and more about focusing. I always have a hard time with this shot, especially when its the entire bridal party (lots of people walking down the aisle at once) and remaining in focus. Sometimes I feel like it would be easier using the HV40 in autofocus! A technical question about the softness of lenses. If I were to shoot at, say, f10 instead of more open, it seems like it would be easier to stay in focus? I am basically looking for any tips on how to capture this shot on a DSLR and stay in focus as much as possible. Obviously there isn't a magic fix, and using manual focus is about as good as it gets on a T2i, but any tips are appreciated. Have I heard that the 60d has better autofocus? And if so, is it much better for shots like these? I've read about a Sony A77 with real-time auto focus for HD video that sounded sort of interesting.
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Old July 13th, 2011, 09:25 AM   #2
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Re: Down the Aisle with DSLR?

Michael - this has been a challenge for me too. Obviously shoot with the highest aperature possible and hope you can execute a good focus pull. The other thing I've been doing is using my steadicam and following the bride from the side keeping my focus point the same. While my second shooter is at the alter getting the straight on shot. Then and I have a cutaway shot if he loses focus. Works best on outdoor weddings where you have more room.

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Old July 13th, 2011, 10:49 AM   #3
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Re: Down the Aisle with DSLR?

get a pana GH1 and use the continuous auto focus - I get great isle shots with this
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Old July 13th, 2011, 11:48 AM   #4
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Re: Down the Aisle with DSLR?

Michael,
The question seems a little confusing to me. My iphone app says, 5.6 f-stop using 20mm on a t2i with a subject at 10 feet will give you 5 feet in focus in front of the subject and 41 feet behind. Seems like plenty to work with to keep everything in focus? I use a 14mm lens and its focus is infinite (everything is in focus). Here is a good tutorial on the concept:

How to produce a ?Hollywood Style? Property Video with a DSLR camera | ShowMyHome.TV
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Old July 13th, 2011, 02:44 PM   #5
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Re: Down the Aisle with DSLR?

Practice.

Unfortunately, if you are using a DSLR for this its gonna come down to how well you can pull the focus. I routinely focus with the back screen on my camera and no assists and even had a jib operator shooting with an Arri for NFL films yesterday ask me how I can focus with such a small screen on a DSLR...

Practice.
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Old July 13th, 2011, 03:20 PM   #6
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Re: Down the Aisle with DSLR?

Practice -- lots and lots of practice -- is definitely key. If you log enough hours with the camera, getting used to the screen and the nuances of the lens, you'll surely improve and achieve better results. I've seen this myself as I do more and more work with the GH1.

I can't agree with Paul, though, about continuous autofocus being the answer. On both the kit 14-42mm and the 20mm lenses, focus hunting is a big issue in my experience. When I all but dropped the use of AF, I've consistently seen better results.
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Old July 13th, 2011, 03:31 PM   #7
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Re: Down the Aisle with DSLR?

yeah, practice pratice practice but learning the technique of ZONE FOCUS is very helpful. Of course that will be different with every lens and F/stop as well as where the camera is positioned relative to the subject but it can be one of the most helpful tools to know regardless of whether you're shooting HDSLR, video camera or stills. It seems to be a lost art today with the advent of auto focus but it's something left over from my days as a still photog regardless of whether I was using my trusty Nikon Fs with a 180mm or a 24 mm or a Deardorff 8X10 view camera.
Practice, try differnt things (not on the job of course) and see what works best for you.
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Old July 13th, 2011, 04:44 PM   #8
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Re: Down the Aisle with DSLR?

70-200 IS 2.8 wide open.
In the ideal world I try to stand in front of the groom and shoot over his shoulder.
This way i can focus on the end of the aisle where the bride will first be seen.
As she walks out of focus I pull to the groom and then wait for the bride to walk back into focus along side the groom.
It takes a bit of practice but works a treat once you've got it down.
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Old July 13th, 2011, 08:43 PM   #9
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Re: Down the Aisle with DSLR?

Art, I'd like to hear more about your technique of following the bride from the side with a steadicam.
Where are you standing when you walk like this? If you're walking down a parallel aisle, how do shoot over the guest's heads (since they're standing for the bride)? If you're walking in the same aisle as the bride, how do you stay out of the other cameras' way?

Thanks
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Old July 13th, 2011, 09:22 PM   #10
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Re: Down the Aisle with DSLR?

[QUOTE=Greg Fiske;1666878]Michael,
The question seems a little confusing to me. My iphone app says, 5.6 f-stop using 20mm on a t2i with a subject at 10 feet will give you 5 feet in focus in front of the subject and 41 feet behind. /QUOTE]

Wait... What's the iPhone app?
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Old July 13th, 2011, 11:00 PM   #11
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Re: Down the Aisle with DSLR?

Don mentions zone focusing, and I don't know the term, but it sounds like it might be what I do, maybe not.

I run at least GH1/GH2s, usually four, to always have something to cut to. From down front I focus on the door, and then attempt to follow focus. If I lose it, then I focus ahead of them, wait till just before they are in focus and very slowly start to follow focus again. If it's a long aisle, I end up usually focusing ahead of them several times, as I'm still learning.
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Old July 14th, 2011, 01:01 AM   #12
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Re: Down the Aisle with DSLR?

[quote=Chris Bryan;1667014]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Fiske View Post
Michael,
The question seems a little confusing to me. My iphone app says, 5.6 f-stop using 20mm on a t2i with a subject at 10 feet will give you 5 feet in focus in front of the subject and 41 feet behind. /QUOTE]

Wait... What's the iPhone app?
I'm not Chris, but the iPhone app I use is DOF Master.
Depth of Field Calculator for iPhone / iPod Touch

I thought I had a good understanding of DoF, that is until I started shooting DSLR. I always thought that the f/stop determined your DoF, but your focal length (mm) and focus distance greatly affects your DoF as well. Download this app and play around with it.

Set your focus distance to 12 feet, f/stop at 2.8 and watch how greatly the DoF adjust depending on your focal length (mm). Start out with your wides lens, in my case 11mm, and work your way through your longest lens, in my case 200mm.

Another educational experiment is to do the same exercise with faster lenses, f/1.4-1.8. The DoF with my 20mm 1.8 is huge compared to my 85mm 1.4. That's why its so tough to keep a moving subject in focus when shooting at f/1.4 on my 85mm, but when I nail focus, the payoff is huge.
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Old July 14th, 2011, 06:21 AM   #13
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Re: Down the Aisle with DSLR?

Mark, you are 100% right about DoF. So many things can affect it, length of lens, shutter speed/F/stop which is affected by ISO, lighting, position of camera to subject, where you want the "talent" to be positionwise when in focus...I learned these things mostly by trial and error back in the 70s as a still photographer with my trust old Nikon Fs. We didn't have apps to give us help, heck I don't remember if we even had any magazine articles, maybe we did, but in any case, learning the art of follow focus and zone focus with todays cameras can not only make the job easier but keeps one from getting gray hair because of worry about focus. Plus it can really help in the creative shots where a proper DoF can make or break the shot.

Jeff, Zone Focus is simply focusing on a spot and allowing the DoF to cover the area from X point in front of the spot to Y point behind the spot. This way the talent walks thru the shot and therefore are in focus at all times as long as the camera is not moved or settings changed or altered in anyway. Call it safety shot, I call it smart thinking especially with the HD-DSLRs and the small screen/VF to work with.
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Old July 14th, 2011, 06:54 AM   #14
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Re: Down the Aisle with DSLR?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Corey Graham View Post
Practice -- lots and lots of practice -- is definitely key. If you log enough hours with the camera, getting used to the screen and the nuances of the lens, you'll surely improve and achieve better results. I've seen this myself as I do more and more work with the GH1.

I can't agree with Paul, though, about continuous autofocus being the answer. On both the kit 14-42mm and the 20mm lenses, focus hunting is a big issue in my experience. When I all but dropped the use of AF, I've consistently seen better results.
I find the continuous auto focus on the GH2 totally unusable because of hunting.
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Old July 14th, 2011, 06:58 AM   #15
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Re: Down the Aisle with DSLR?

For those unfortunate enough not to have an iPhone here is an Online Depth of Field Calculator
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