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


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Old November 4th, 2011, 01:29 PM   #1
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DSLR for Weddings

I know it probably be discussed somewhere on these forums, but I am not sure where. Anyhow I would let your guys (and girls) input on which DSLRs you would advise to use for Wedding Videography. I have been leaning toward the Canon t3i. I will be using it mainly for Video. I would like a camera body for around $1000, It needs to be able to record for about an hour straight with out stopping or overheating.

Also as far as lens go. I would like a good lens (500 to 700) dollars, I would also like to get a Prime 50mm 1.4f.

So lets hear it, should i go with Nikon, Canon, or Sony?

I don't have any lens so I will be starting from scratch. Thanks for your input!
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Old November 4th, 2011, 02:31 PM   #2
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Re: DSLR for Weddings

We use Nikon D7000s and Panasonic GH2s.

The image from the Nikon is beautiful. The camera is very well built and native support for the F mount gives you access to a plethora of old AI-S manual optics that are both cheap and amazing. The Nikon 50mm f1.2 AI-S is my favorite lens. The downsides are that the camera's handling in video is odd (you can't change the aperture on G type lenses while in live view) and the compression is a little high (though you can smooth it out with noise reduction). We've never had one overheat though you are limited to 20minutes per clip. Body only you are looking at about $1200.

The Panasonic GH2 is a great video camera. You can record as long as you like limited by memory card and battery. You can adapt any lenses to it and it is very small and light. The image is very sharp as long as you couple it with good lenses. The downside is that the smaller sensor is limited in dynamic range and noise performance. Compression is very good though but AVCHD is a bit unwieldy. You can get them for about $900.

Canon and Sony cameras are good too. I don't think you can really go wrong.

For lenses I would recommend at least a wide angle zoom, a standard prime, and a telephoto prime. For your T3i if that's the one you choose they would be:

Tokina 11-16 2.8
Sigma 30mm 1.4
Samyang 85mm 1.4

You can get these for the other cameras (or adapt them) as well. Additional lenses you should consider is a 50mm 1.4/1.2 and a 70/80-200 2.8.

Avoid variable aperture slow lenses and try to stick to lenses 2.8 and faster. Slower lenses make your life more difficult.
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Old November 4th, 2011, 02:47 PM   #3
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Re: DSLR for Weddings

Tyson, if recording for over an hour without stopping is a deal breaker, then Canon cameras are out, as they need to be stopped and started every 12 minutes. This can be broken with the Magic Lantern firmware hack.

As for Sony, I have been reading some real good things about the Sony A77, as this camera has Image Stabilization (IS) built into the camera, so you get IS with ALL lenses, with or without IS. This camera doesn't record constantly, but it does record for 30 minutes straight before record needs to be pushed again.

For constant record times, the Panny GH2 seems to be the best going right now. As it will record continuous without stop.

Keep in mind though that these cameras are not video cameras, so it's of course best to treat them as photo cameras. Manual control over the picture is MUCH more important than a video camera. Especially constant focus. So if you don't know photography, then I suggest that you read up and learn about f-stop, exposure, and working with light. As these will yield yo the best results.

We use 1 Canon T2i and a pair of Sony NX5Us for filming. The Canon T2i is strictly used for creative filmic shots, and the NX5U is used for the bulk of the filming. If I wasn't a solo shooter, then I might look into all DSLRs. But for run and gun shooting DSLRs requires much more planning and hands on than a video camera needs.
Personally I would rather work with a video camera such as the AF100 of F3. But funds don't allow it at this time.
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Old November 4th, 2011, 03:53 PM   #4
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Re: DSLR for Weddings

Tyson - I shoot with the T3i. I think it's a good value as it has the same video guts as the bigger Canon brothers 7D and 5DmII. I'd save up for a 24-70 2.8 zoom (or similar focal length with another brand) as this is my most versatile lens for run and gun wedding work. You can also pick up some cheap nikon primes and use with an adapter. I have a nikon 50 1.4 that I bought for $125 that produces amazing images.

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Old November 5th, 2011, 07:23 AM   #5
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Re: DSLR for Weddings

I have been shooting with the AF100 and and the GH2, both AVCHD, and I don't know what you mean by "unwieldy". I have tons of hours on these cams, and I don't see a drawback with the footage. Good quality, grades pretty nice in my opinion, and noise is very acceptable in my experiences, even on the highest ISO settings.
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Old November 5th, 2011, 10:24 AM   #6
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Re: DSLR for Weddings

My Canon 60D hates brickwork, roof tiles and any fine detail in foliage etc - the moiré effects are horrifying. Do be aware of this limitation before you plunge into weddings because the run 'n' gun nature of a lot of this work means you might be tempted to abandon the differential focus route to make sure you capture the unfolding action.

The GH2 is better in this regard, but in my view it's still not the movie camera for the unexpected.

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Old November 5th, 2011, 10:38 AM   #7
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Re: DSLR for Weddings

I can only speak on the Canon.

If you are going to shoot weddings, you will need TWO DSLRs. It's not worth the risk of overheating. Just keep in mind the time limit, which seems to be a deal-breaker for you. Getting into weddings you should have two cameras anyway, makes life much easier and safer. If you are concerned about budget get a NICE 3rd party lens like the Tamron 17-50 2.8. The Canon 50mm and 55-250mm are awesome lenses as well.

JS
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Old November 5th, 2011, 01:42 PM   #8
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Re: DSLR for Weddings

Tyson, as has been said, if you want to shoot for an hour or more continuously, as I do for Catholic Masses, the GH2 isn't just your best option, it's the only option, unless I'm not aware of a DSLR that can do the same thing.
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Old November 5th, 2011, 06:25 PM   #9
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Re: DSLR for Weddings

Thanks for all your input! We are currently using Sony FX7s and they are terrible in low light! After I watch the videos using DSLRs it about makes me sick. I thought I had pretty decent video quality until I watched a few videos that were shot with DSLRs. I know they are more work but I think I am ready for the challenge! :) I just need to decide with one to go with!
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Old November 6th, 2011, 12:32 AM   #10
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Re: DSLR for Weddings

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the FX7 (honestly one of my favorite cameras ergonomically and feature wise) is getting quite relatively OLD... and virtually ANY recent backlit CMOS sensor based camera can probably beat it in low light and image quality. Any of the XR/CX5xx series or the newer CX7xx would easily outperform it.

Depending on your budget and goals, you might take a look at the Sony VG20 (just released, large sensor like a DSLR, but in a video camera format, meaning no time limits, and likely no heat issues). One cheap way to get your feet wet might be a new NEX5n (not the older "5") - it's getting rave reviews, and has nifty features like peaking to help with focusing. Not a DSLR (a mirrorless design), but big CMOS, and interchangeable lenses, plus you can buy lens adapters and mount a LOT of different glass on it...



The minute you start down the DSLR road, you'll find some obstacles - most have heat issues IF you're in a hot environment, some more serious than others - it comes from having a big sensor in a tight, sealed, relatively small body. Other than the GH2, I think you'd have heat as at least a possible issue.

I don't know of ANY still camera that doesn't also hit a time limit (again excluding the GH2), Sonys will go to 29 minutes, IF the heat thing doesn't bite you first (turn off the steady shot, or you're looking at far less than that on the Alpha bodies, NEX with in lens stabilization should be better, though there have been reports of heating...).

Are you prepared to manually focus? It's an issue for most DSLR's, excluding the SLT and NEX series (and again the GH2?), depending on what lens(es) you're using.

Before you dive in, you also need to realize that you're committing to at least some degree to a "system" of body and lenses. And part of getting good low light performance is FAST lenses, faster lenses, and oh yeah, really fast and (probably) expensive lenses.

Don't forget image stabilization - whether in the body (Sony Alphas) or in the lenses... all of these factor into the ultimate cost of your "rig" (and if you want a "rig" to stabilize the potentially awkward still camera form factor... more $$).

Not trying to be discouraging, but when both your "deal breaker" criterion rule out almost every option out there... it would be wise to do a LOT more research - the good news is there are a lot of good options in newer video cams AND dual use still/video cameras... if you're prepared to accept what they will and won't do.

Fortunately, DVi has forums with extensive user experience, no matter WHAT camera you're wanting to explore...
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Old November 6th, 2011, 05:59 AM   #11
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Re: DSLR for Weddings

Could get a Canon G10 videocamera and while not a DSLR, for $1200 it would destroy the 1/4" sensors in the FX7, which is not a native widescreen sensor to begin with. Glad you like the camera Dave but to date still the least favorite of all my camera purchases. Difference would be night and day. Add a XA10 with XLR and a second G10, and for $4400 dollars he'd have three matching cameras that would make his current video look so bad he'd wonder why he didn't do it six months ago.
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Old November 6th, 2011, 12:06 PM   #12
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Re: DSLR for Weddings

I have been using 3 T2i and now 3 T3i for weddings for the past 2 years. It's more difficult to shoot than before using XH-A1. However, the result is very rewarding.

From my experience comparing with shooting with transitional camcorder,
- Manual exposure
- Manual focus (fixed by Magic Lantern focus peaking feature)
- Can't use LANC controller
- Audio (fixed in T3i)
- Record 12 minutes at a time (fixed by Magic Lantern)
- Camera view angle (fixed with T3i)

Also you will have to invest in some prime lens or fixed aperture lens., I like zoom lens so I bought

Canon 18-55mm F2.8,
Canon 70-200mm F2.8L,
Sigma 17-50mm F2.8
Tokina 11-16mm F2.8

T3i 3X crop zoom feature also very helpful with shooting with my 18-55mm 2.8 lens.

I also use battery grip for all my T3i. It doubles the battery life and make the camera not toyish.
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Old November 6th, 2011, 02:20 PM   #13
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Re: DSLR for Weddings

So If I wanted to just sell my FX7 and upgrade to something that provides better low light coverage, records to memory cards, and provides great video quality, what would you guys advise?
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Old November 6th, 2011, 03:50 PM   #14
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Re: DSLR for Weddings

If you are think about canon DSLR, t3i and 60D are popular choices.

Not only the camera body, fast lens is more important than just the camera body.
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Last edited by Taky Cheung; November 6th, 2011 at 04:35 PM.
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Old November 6th, 2011, 07:33 PM   #15
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Re: DSLR for Weddings

Well I have been looking around and I think I might be changing my mind from the T3i to the GH2. My only question is what do you guys use for audio? Im guessing there is a audio input on the GH2s.
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