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Old June 22nd, 2012, 09:59 AM   #31
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

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Originally Posted by Peter Riding View Post
one reason why videographers get booked so infrequently is because of the take-over-the-room size of all their paraphanalia which the couples do not want intruding on their day.
One reason why I want to get smaller camera's is that I"m getting tired dragging around the bigger camera all day (if you regard a xh-a1 big but I guess it is compared to a handycam) so I can carry all my important gear with me in one instead of 2 bags, just like the photog. But that still leaves me, and I"m sure many other videographers, with my steadicam bag, my slider, my 2 and sometimes 3 tripods and my monopod. Even if you don't have a big camera, setting up this equipment takes more space, then what a Photog would need.

About not intruding the couples day, to be honest, I often found the photog very "present" at formal events, while I am standing still in church operating my camera in a corner on a tripod they often run around, also during the priester's speech. It's in fact the only thing that gets really distracting during the ceremony, not the man behind the bigger camera. I have seen photogs laying on their back between the couple and the alter (while the priest was speaking behind his altar), just to get that cool frogs eye point of view, or standing right behind the priest at the altar while the priest was talking to get a great shot as well. I even have seen a few priests stopping the ceremony, looking at the photog because he was too present, untill he backed down a bit, this never happened to me in 8 years, while I was operating bigger camera's

So in my experience a photog is often more intruding the couples day then a videoguy does, especially when they are with 2, That videographers are booked less then photogs has other reasons, one reason could be that photo's always had something video can't provide, the fact that you can hold it, show it to people, hang it against the wall and you can show that one amazing photo instantly. With video you need some kind of player, people need to sit down and watch it for a longer period. It just takes more effort to enjoy a video, even though they add more then a photo, like sound.
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 11:13 AM   #32
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

In this thread I've been offering real life feedback from very many real couples who are actually getting married, regarding their views on videography. Its not my opinion its theirs - right or wrong. But it does illustrate why booking for video have for years been so abysmally low.

And the low bookings ratio is at odds with what brides actually say after their day, which is that one of their biggest regrets is not having got a video record or only having got some aweful footage from a relation holding a camcorder on their knee. I even got this from a fellow stills photographer who had her own wedding a few weeks ago!

I started offering video once that affordable and compact video equipment that could deliver acceptable results in low light without auxilliary lighting became available. That bridge was of course crossed in the stills field several years ago.

It ought now to be more mainstream but its not and its up to us to change that.

Nigel - the edit really doesn't have to be as you describe. It can be much more varied and of course with just one operator the chances of the "manic grinning dentist with his drill" so to speak appearing in shot are much reduced. I have both my 5DII's custom functions set up so that I can instantly switch from a mode optimised for stills to a mode optimised for video then back again. Which would be the C1 C2 C3 dials on your 5DIII's if you don't know that already. Its easy to sync the shorts from the 5DII's with the footage from the 3 or 4 "locked down" cams in post with good old Pluraleyes. However I find I shoot less and less with the 5DII's as they don't bring that much extra to a reportage style video. I have the 50mm f1.2L the 70-200 f2.8L etc etc etc but I am supremely unimpressed with shallow depth of field when used in wedding video. Same with sliders. Same with steadycams. My goal is to produce something that is just like being there but better, not to produce something resembling an advert for cars as so many of the samples on Vimeo are like.

Noa I've got to say that the stills operator behaviour you've described is very much the exception than the rule and nearly all pro photographers would despise it for the negative effect it has on the house rules for anyone following on from these muppets. But there are always some - and videographers as well - whjo just don't "get it". I doubt if anyone on the planet has not already seen the tog taking a tumble into the water video but just in case:

Wedding Photographer Falls into Holy Water

The tog and his work are well thought of in professional circles. Unbelievably some others rose to his defence on a private form of which I am a member. Their view was that he was totally justified in taking his position because he was getting a different perspective using a short lens near the couple rather than a long lens from a respectable distance. They even criticised the videographer for not jumping forward to save him!

But for every clip like that there are 50 shots of some idiot with a boompole fishing over the couples heads or someone wheels around what looks like a hostess trolley with all their worldly posessions attached to it.

Pete
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 12:02 PM   #33
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Do I understand you right that you do video and photo at the same time?

Quote:
I am supremely unimpressed with shallow depth of field when used in wedding video. Same with sliders. Same with steadycams. My goal is to produce something that is just like being there but better, not to produce something resembling an advert for cars as so many of the samples on Vimeo are like.
I agree that you don't NEED sliders and/or steadycam or even dslr with very shallow dof to make a compelling wedding video, they only add some nice eye candy. How do you treat your sound, do you record that separately or just use the internal microphones from your locked down camera's or 5D? The only way I see to produce a video like being there is to have very clear sound, without that you just have moving pictures.
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 02:09 PM   #34
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Hi Noa, yes you've got it right.

I started off thinking that the two 5DII's and one Zoom H4n would be fine and that the final product would comprise some video content and a lot of stills. But I very soon realised the limitations of that in so far as the real value of video can be to capture the emotions in a way that stills simply cannot do. Too distracting for the viewer to jump between stills and video during the course of the same sequence of events, and disappointing for them if the "climax" to a build up is missing from the video.

So I added a small cam to act as a B cam. It quickly became apparent that the more b cams you have the more interesting is the final product and also the less demanding it is on the operator - because you always have some footage to cut to in the event of a whoops moment. I settled on 3 b cams and the GoPro will be a fourth.

As you might imagine I have amassed a bunch of tripods over the years but for video I prefer to use heavy duty lightstands of the type whose feet automatically collapse when you pick them up and spread when you place then down; so they are very easy to reposition during ceremonies even though I'm also carrying two stills cameras. The lightstands also have a height advantage over tripods plus a narrower profile so are far less intrusive. I use Manfrotto 501 heads on them - again small and unintrusive and they do the job. I have tripod straps on all the lightstands s that I can shoulder several of them at a time to transport.

The lightstands are not as stable as tripods - obviously - but the Pannys have excellent Image Stabilisation so its a non-issue. They can also just about manage a 5DII with a 70-200 f2.8 IS if the attachment is made via the lens collar rather than the camera body.

I've found that the Zoom H1's give just as good audio as the H4n's for wedding purposes so I added 3 of those. I prefer them because again they can be hidden in flowers, attached to lecturns, furniture etc. I also have an array of magic arm type brackets, suckers, table top stands etc and so even though I carry up to 4 lavs they seldom get used as I can get an H1 near enough without the hassle. My Senny radio kit is gathering dust; that was a waste of money for my purposes.

I also have the various cables pad cables and adapters should it be possible to take a feed from the venues audio system. In practice that opportunity seldom occurs and even if there are suitable sockets the operators don't understand what I'm asking.

I never use the audio from any of the cams other than to help sync to the digital recorders in post. I do have a Rode NTG2 running into one of the cams but that is only as an insurance policy in case something very unpredictable and unscripted happens.

One thing that has become apparent is that I get a lot more respect and co-operation from the officiants be they clergy or civil registrars. It must be a couple of years since I've had any restrictions fired at me. And that includes churches where they even publsih serious restrictions on their website :- )

So don't let anyone tell you it cannot be done or that it will compromise stills or video. It can be done and it won't compromise a documentary style approach. There is a lot of fluff that could be cut out of many videographers coverage. For example panned high definition stills of the venue, or the wedding breakfast room before the guests charge in, or the bride's flowers can work much better than video shot on a slider. And I won't even mention that cringeworthy moment that is the guest interview :- )

In the medium to long term I see customer demand for stills coverage narrowing down to the posed groups part of the day when a good knowledge of lighting and posing will make or break the photographer. The currently popular reportage style stills coverage of other parts of the day will be satisfied as far as the clients are concerned by the massed ranks of guests shooting with good quality camera phones and uploading to a shared site. I have one of the new Galaxy S3 smartphones and it does a remarkably good job of stills.

Oh, and one more observation: I show clients in consultations video on DVD bluray and on a laptop. Then I also show it on an Ipad3 and lately on the Galaxy S3. The latter two devices are a revelation to most and do start to make stills and albums look like very old hat.

The final product is a standard definition DVD with the option of BluRay plus an MP4 file optimised for computers tablets and phones. Its mostly video with some stills from certain parts of the day. As a stills photographer that part of the delivery is obviously the edited high resolution stills files, prints, albums etc.

Pete
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 04:17 PM   #35
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Do you really do an all day wedding by yourself shooting video with several camera's, securing your audio with several recorders AND doing photography at the same time? :)

Sorry if I keep repeating myself but I cannot understand how you ever pull something like this off alone and still have acceptable results. Just take the exchange of the rings, do you hold the 5d in your left hand for close up photo's and a handycam in the other for the video? :) Even if you let the locked down camera's cover it by zooming and framing accordingly, if the bride or groom would just move half a meter, or even turn a bit into the wrong direction, how do you ever secure those important shots when you are dealing with a photo and video camera at the same time?

I already have my hands full with video alone and that needs 100% of my concentration, I can't imagine how I"d ever take photo's simultaneously. You must have an extra pair of arms :)
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 05:39 PM   #36
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Noa I do it week in week out and get lots of gushing praise for the results from my clients. If you think you cannot do it then you won't. But if you try to find ways to make it work you may surprise yourself.

I wouldn't want to go into fine detail because that would just help my local competition. But to take your example of the ring exchange: I always have the two 5DII's on my shoulders for stills, usually one with a 70-200 f2.8 L IS and the other with a 24-105 F4 L IS. I may put a 50mm f1.2 on instead of the 24-105 if the conditions are particularly dark. I also have a 15mm fisheye on my belt as its great for wide angle scene establishing plus its very forgiving because of its enormous depth of field and wide aperture of f2.8. Sometimes I'll have the 20-35 f2.8 L as well (yes it does exist but its discontinued). At least one of the bodies will have a flashgun on as well for use in the posed photos with the register - NOT for use in the ceremony. Both bodies have the extra battery grip - which is not strictly necessary but I had trouble getting used to the "little" 5DII's when I moved to them from the Canon 1 Series which have the grips built in. You'll be getting the picture by now I'm sure - each body configuration is far too heavy to use with just one hand in the low shutter speed scenario of most ceremonies. Two hands are a must to get decent stills.

One video cam lives on a lightstand of the type I described earlier and is very close to me. So I can adjust it very quickly to account for changes. The Pannys cope very well with autofocus auto white balance and also backlight compensation so they are particularly well-suited to being trusted. They also shoot 1080 / 50p and can take a lot of cropping in post without degradation so framing is not life or death and I err on the side of too wide. The other two cams will have been positioned to offer alternative views of the scene and if it has been practical to move around during the ceremony I will have repositioned and reframed a number of times. After all I'm moving to get alternative stills shots so why not just do the video cams as well?

I can move to account for couples being off cue but as with stills photography I would never move to such a position that my presence dominates the scene for the assembled guests n.b. the scenario you described earlier where a photographer went behind the priest is just bang out of order. So if the view of the rings is not perfect so be it. The funny thing is that I may sometimes not be able to shoot ideal stills at that point but I've probably got a better view on video from one of the other cams :- )

Moving up from 2 video cams to 3 make life a heck of a lot easier. In fact its overkill in some civil ceremonies.

I have 4 digital audio recorders but again I don't always use all four. Big churches with a choir, a reading lecturn, a wandering priest, and the couple yes. A simple civil ceremony of 15 minutes in a small room, no. I switch them to record in plenty of time and then just chop off the unneeded beginnings and endings of the WAV 48/16 files in Audacity before using them. It is handy to have 4 in the speeches though, so whilst other videographers are running around trying to switch their one Senny transmitter and lav between speakers my units just sit hidden on the table very close to each participant.

Have I wetted your appetite yet :- )

p.s. one of the 5DII's will often have a Gitzo monopod hanging from its base attached via a Manfrotto 501 head to aid video stability.

Pete
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 07:32 PM   #37
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Thx Pete for taking the time to share your workflow, if in your case your clients are happy with the result, that's really all that matters.

Quote:
Have I wetted your appetite yet :- )
Actually, no :)

Like I see it you are a Photographer first as that seems to be your background, that's why you control your 5d's manually because you know that's the only way to get professional results, otherwise you might as well just lock the 5d's down on a lightstand, set the timer and let them flash every 10 seconds and reposition the stands now and them, that's exactly the same, no? :)

For me this more looks like the video is just an added bonus to make some extra cash but if you would take it seriously, you would control at least one camera manually (like you do with your photogear) and keep an eye out for the other camera's as well and check up on them to see what they are doing from time to time (not just repositioning but actually looking at the display to see it's still behaving right.)

It's just my opinion, but that's not taking the art of creating video seriously. I don't know if you have seen my video at the beginning of this thread, I don't consider myself that good, but creating that video takes up all my attention and concentration throughout the day, and I could never imagine taking photo's in the meantime, not without it having a very negative impact on the outcome or end quality of my videos. Unless I would just put them on stands and let them fire away, but that's not actually real photography, then I would just try to make something extra out of it and hope for the best, not sure this would be fair towards the couple to let them pay for this.

Also in regard to your statement that 1080/50p can take a lot of cropping in post without degradation, you do know that 50p is not a format that is any different from 50i or 25p when it comes to cropping your image? Once you crop the image WILL start getting softer or de-gradate. Only if you work in a 720p project, you do have do have some cropping space when your footage is 1080p but if you edit natively any cropping will affect the image.

Pls don't take my comments too personal, their just my opinion.
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Old June 23rd, 2012, 04:09 AM   #38
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Peter, I respect your ingenuity in offering a video product as a supplement to your stills photography but I 100% echo Noa's sentiments regarding what you are actually delivering to your clients. I applaud your efforts in trying to find some sort of photo/video combination to give you clients as we have been kicking around similar ideas. However it's not how we want to do video as we know that the product can be so much better than a version of CCTV. While large cameras & intrusiveness may have historically been a reason why video has not been popular with wedding couples the most important negative has been that there is a perception that wedding videos are boring & tedious not least because of being shot from fixed positions. Multiple camera angles can improve that but there needs to more to it.

You are totally correct that photographers who promote reportage or photojournalistic wedding coverage are cutting their own throats especially when they emphasise using only natural light because this means that all the other wedding guests with digital cameras & phones are just as capable of taking pretty decent photos that the couple will love. The extra skill that the photographer offers is in posing the couple & the use of flash & artificial light to create stunning imagery that is far beyond what the amateur can create. Exactly the same is true of video. There needs to be creative movement & camera angles. There needs to be creative editing to tell a story not just intercut between cameras for a real time documentary. Otherwise the video can be satisfied by the venue installing fixed cameras & offering a video as part of the package. To be sure it will be a record of the day but it won't have the same impact & lasting worth as a beautifully crafted video just as photographs on a website won't have the same impact or lasting worth as a beautiful wedding album or large framed prints.
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Old June 23rd, 2012, 04:19 AM   #39
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Incidentally lav mics on digital recorders will provide far better sound than the same recorders just laid on the table. We now use Yamaha C-24s as they are more pocket-friendly than even the Zoom H1. CPC have great little lav mics for about 5-6 each.

On another thought if videographers use additional lighting it's for the same reason as photographers use flash i.e. to produce a better image. With the cameras that we use now the image can always be exposed adequately just by opening up the aperture &/or using high ISOs. However without some extra light for fill or modelling the image can still look awfully drab & flat. So another reason why historically wedding videos have been movies & TVregarded as poor is because they are badly lit when compared to . Wedding couples need to be educated that if necessary we will add light in order to record the best possible video just as the photographer will use flash to get the best possible photograph.
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Old June 23rd, 2012, 05:10 AM   #40
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

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We now use Yamaha C-24s as they are more pocket-friendly than even the Zoom H1
have that one too! Just like the small handicams, great quality in a small package :)
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Old June 23rd, 2012, 03:50 PM   #41
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Just to get a bit more on topic; I have been thinking about how to use the cx730 next time when I have to stand up at the altar to film the exchange of the rings, I had a houdloupe lying around here collecting dust (you know that type with the elastic band that you have to tie around the dslr body, didn't use it as it was to cumbersome, bought one which attached with a magnet instead afterwards. Anyway, the hoodloupe had the right size to fit the lcd screen from the cx730 and I managed to make a small kind of latch attached to the hoodloupe which makes it easy to slide the hoodloupe onto the lcdscreen and once in position it won't move anymore, it also detaches very quickly. It's also not too heavy so the lcd stays in place.

My eyes are not what they used to be an I need such a hoodloupe (with a diopter adjustment) to asses focus, like I do on my dslr, from a distance I never can be sure when I select spotfocus to see if the camera is focussing right. Instead of holding the camera in front of me during the vows, I can keep the hoodloupe pressed against my eye and adjust exposure with my thumb on that small wheel, if I need to do a quick refocus I could press the small button on the front wheel and assign focus to it, not the fastest way but better then nothing and more accurate then spotfocus when it's too dark.

I also ordered a hotshoe adapter to go from the Sony's Active Interface Hotshoe to a normal hotshoe, so I can attach my rode videomic (that has been collecting dust as well for a long time) The rode is quite bulky but it can be positioned in such a way that it's closer to the camera and not extending the lens of the camera too much so it will not be in the image when the lens is wide.

When you press the hoodloupe against your eye when it's attached to the cx730 it has a bit of the feel and look of a dslr, especially when coupled with the rode. The hoodloupe is a valuable accessory, the rode is just for looks, unless I find the audio quality better but have not done a test, just a bit afraid of getting to much contactnoise.

First I was thinking of using a monopod but that will only slow me down and limit my movements too much, the image stabilisation is so good that you don't need that for run and gun. I also like to be as mobile as possible, the hoodloupe is also attached with a strap around my neck so I can detach it quickly and don't have to hold on to it. the rode is also quickly removed and added in a small bag. I will post a pic as soon as I receive the adapter for those that might be interested.

Are there any more here that have customized their handicam for easier handling? Someone care to post pictures? (Like Rickey did at page one)

I do feel a little excited, I know the small handicams can be more tricky to operate when you quickly need to change something, especially since I"m used to my xh-a1 ease of use. (but it is certainly easier to handle then a dslr) But just the thought of not having to drag all that bigger gear around makes one less thing to worry about. I always had to think what to use when, "should I leave the xh-a1 in the car and take only the dslr? But it's a cloudy day with sun coming out meaning constant changing light conditions and I have to film a important moment partially in the shade and in the sun, then it's better to take the xh-a1 and leave the dslr in the car, or maybe take the xr520 because it's quite dark inside the house as well, but there's not much space and the 40mm lens is very limiting, maybe take the dslr anyway and use a 14mm, or maybe......" :)

Now I just put the cx730 in a small holster attached to my belt and one dslr on a monopod with a strap that I can hang around my schoulder, I have both with me all the time and can switch very quickly if circumstances ask for it. Wideangle, low light, shallow dof in 2 small packages. What a joy, no more headache and worrying what or what not to take, just go out and film. :)
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Old June 24th, 2012, 06:59 PM   #42
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Hey Noa, I use a xa 10 for weddings along with a 5D and t3i, To answer your question, yes you can turn the focus ring and exposure ring at the same time and it still looks good. It is a gradual change, not a step change or like dslr where you can visibly see the light changing. It is so great that I'm going to buy another to replace my t2i. I will run with 2 xa 10's a 5d and a t3i. The xa 10 is very good in low light as well. I did shoot a pastor last sunday and the lights where somewhat low and the xa 10 lost focus for a second. I quickly hit the manual focus button and adjusted focus myself. If you need to switch back, just hit the same button and autofocus will take back over.

As far as small cam vs big cam. I personally struggled with this about 2 years ago as I made the switch to dslr. My take is I book more brides and grooms from seeing my work then I do seeing my equipment. It's that simple, at least for me. If you are at wedding and someone sees your setup and you have big cams, they may be impressed but most likely they still want to see your work. As where it normally doesn't work the opposite way. If people see your work and its great, a vast majority will care less what it is shot with. I have shot over 50 weddings over the last two years, and I think 2 grooms ask me what equipment I use. Then when I told them they just said ok and that was that. They didn't expand or ask any specifics. One time a groom asked me, and I rattled off all the cams and model numbers, then all my lens and focal lengths, and he just looked at me like I was speaking another language! He just said ok, and we moved on. As a matter of fact, since weddings are fast paced I actually prefer the smaller lighter cam nowadays. I can go on and on, but this is just my experience over the last 2 years. I completely understand where your mind is, but trust I think it matters more to you then your potential clients!
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Old June 25th, 2012, 03:41 AM   #43
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Thx for letting me know about the exposure control Keith, I already started a separate thread to get some more feedback about the xa10 features.

About small vs big, some weeks ago I came out of church, my xh-a1 was in the bag around my shoulder but I was holding my Sony xr520, outside a second wedding couple was waiting to get in and their cameraguy had a professional shoulder mount camera, no backpack, tripod or second cam, just that really big heavy camera that he was holding with two hands and I saw him looking at my camera and he smirked at me :)
But I bet my 2 cam set up will look better then his one camera, just that one extra angle does make all the difference. :)

About telling your clients what camera's use you, believe it or not but yesterday I had a couple visiting me for a wedding next year and the guy did ask about my equipment. I showed them some weddingdemos first and then I showed him a 550d body (without a lens to emphasize the small size) and my new cx730 and he smiled, looked at this girlfriend and back to me and said "wow, really?" :D.
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Old June 25th, 2012, 04:20 AM   #44
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

One more question a for those solo operators that use a 2 to 3 camera set up at a ceremony. Do you run your unmanned camera in full auto mode? And do you whitebalance all your camera's?

If I have a ceremony at a venue I usually have enough time to setup, when the lightsource doesn't change I manually whitebalance all my camera's and lock the focus on the unmanned camera's. But in a church wedding I have about zero setup time and then I have to leave them at auto everything and I noticed the cx730, with the lens wide (26mm) seems to do a very good job judging whitebalance as what I've seen on my monitor so far is the same as what I saw in reality. I wonder how you guys cope with challenging lightconditions with the unmanned camera's.
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Old June 25th, 2012, 04:50 AM   #45
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

I"m on a roll...:) Anyone any experience in using a Beachtek DXA-5DA xlr adapter with handicams that have no xlr?

Just thinking out loud as the cx730 would be 40% cheaper (there's still a cashback action for this model) then a xa10 with the beachtek included, I could even get a extra Sennheiser ew100 eng g3 and be at the same price as a xa10. I won't have any matching issues at all , like in color. The beachtek does have the same width and length as the sony and adds about 4 cm in thickness. The extra wheight would be very welcome as well as the sony is too light currently to balance on my blackkbird and I can use the beachtek with my 550d as well when required. The Beachtek doesn't have any phantom power but my at897 can be powered with aa batteries, as well as the Sennheiser. This also would mean I don't have to sell my xh-a1 and keep it for more specialized purposes. Am I thinking too much? :)
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