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Old January 3rd, 2014, 12:36 AM   #1
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DSLR Shooters - What Focal Length?

DSLR Shooters - what focal length do you find works for your shot from the back of the church during the ceremony? I'm getting rid of my standard video camera in the back and swaping it for a DSLR too, so I'm wondering what lens am I going to need on it. Does something like a 70-200 get you in tight enough most of the time?

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Old January 3rd, 2014, 01:03 AM   #2
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Re: DSLR Shooters - What Focal Length?

It depends on the type of body you're using (full frame or cropped) and how tight a shot you would like. The longest lens I own is a 70-200 and it does a fine job on a 1.6 crop sensor camera. However, in a very large church with strict restrictions on how close we can get to the altar, I can see where I might want a longer lens once in a while.
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Old January 3rd, 2014, 01:10 AM   #3
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Re: DSLR Shooters - What Focal Length?

Yeah, my back camera will be a 1.6 crop as well. I was thinking 200 should be enough - at least hoping so.

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Old January 3rd, 2014, 02:47 AM   #4
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Re: DSLR Shooters - What Focal Length?

Hey Cole, I've got a feeling this sort of stuff is so variable that any reply people give (including this one), won't mean terribly much. Depends on church layout; depends on your taste; depends on what you're using that rear camera for. For instance, is it supposed to get a shot of bride entering the church door, and then swing around to be a safety net wideshot camera? If so, then 70-200 might be too close for church door shot. Is it supposed to get a wide angle of the entire bridal party standing at the altar? If so, might not be wide enough depending on how large your church is. Or is it supposed to zoom in to get a close up of groom's expression as she enters? In which case it might be perfect... depending on church layout and size.

For what it's worth, I'm finding that a 24-70 on full frame works for me as a wide shot rear camera for basically every ceremony. If it's not close enough, I pick up the tripod and move it closer. But I should mention that I seldom use that rear camera to zoom in to get a two-shot during the vows -- it really is just a wide angle safety net.
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Old January 3rd, 2014, 04:31 AM   #5
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Re: DSLR Shooters - What Focal Length?

As soon as you go over 200mm the lenses become prohibitively expensive heavy and awkward unless you are prepared to accept a slow aperture which itself would likely make it unusable.

You should be able to get waist up couple and priest from a long way back with say the 70-200 f2.8L IS. You could of course shoot wider if you have to and crop a little in post.

You could combine it with a convertor - the 1.4x or the 2x. Both these increase the best aperture, 1.4 takes f2.8 to f4 and 2x takes f2.8 to f5.6. So with the latter you may get into unusable shutter speed territory plus it can degrade the image slightly. I have the 1.4x but I never use it, preferring to have f2.8 available and to crop. And having 70mm available at the wide end may get you out of jail if there are unscripted moments.

I'd get the MK1 70-200 rather than the newer Mk2. I don't think the extra cost of the MK2 can be justified for video. You do need the image stabilised version as at 200mm / 1.4x 280xx your support must be rock steady unless there is some IS to compensate. IS also makes monopod use more feasible.

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Old January 3rd, 2014, 04:39 AM   #6
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Re: DSLR Shooters - What Focal Length?

The 70-200 worked for us too, especially on a crop, but wasn't so good on the full frame.

One of the hardest things you'll have to deal with is depth of field. At 200mm your DOF could be as little as 4 or 5 inches so if they move about at all, or you're trying to get more than one person in focus it's going to be tough.
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Last edited by Dave Partington; January 3rd, 2014 at 09:41 AM.
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Old January 3rd, 2014, 06:13 AM   #7
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Re: DSLR Shooters - What Focal Length?

You could get Canon 600d 24-70mm and use the 3 x zoom to bring it up to 210mm plus the crop factor takes it to 300 and something. Please someone explain it better for me.
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Old January 3rd, 2014, 10:14 AM   #8
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Re: DSLR Shooters - What Focal Length?

I like a wide shot from the back and tight shots from up front.

200mm is usually good (I actually use a vintage Sears 80-210 f/4 on a full frame), though I did pick up a couple of cheap Canon 75-300mm f/4-5/6 (used $80). I don't want to use it because it is not a good lens, but I can't afford the good lenses at that focal length since I wanted 3 in my bag in case of emergency - being stuck really, really far away. (why 3? If it's a HUGE church and all three cameras are being forced to be far away).

If you're going to have a crop factor camera, consider having a 135mm f/2.8 prime in your bag. That would cover you if it's overly dark.

If you haven't already picked your camera, and are going Canon crop factor, I highly recommend the 70D. We *LOVE* having the live auto focus during the day (We plan on pairing it with the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 next season for prep and dancing).
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Old January 7th, 2014, 10:29 AM   #9
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Re: DSLR Shooters - What Focal Length?

Thanks for the replies everyone. I currently shoot with 2 60D's and 2 video cameras in back. A real video camera works great for a back camera because it's easy to zoom in and out and stuff, but the quality just doesn't compare to DSLR. So I think I'm gonna pick up another DSLR and run it and a video camera locked off on wide shot for saftey in the back. Just trying to think through it all. It always makes me nervous changing up my system!
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Old January 7th, 2014, 10:58 AM   #10
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Re: DSLR Shooters - What Focal Length?

I don't know what video cameras you are using but the Canon DSLRs are not great for a wide shot for saftey in the back as the resolution isn't that great. They of course shine for close-ups where the softness is flattering. I am now using a Panasonic G6 with 14mm F/2.5 lens for my wide safety shot where previously I used a Canon XF105 camcorder. The G6 has better resolution and much better low light capability than the camcorder. It can also be operated remotely with a smartphone or tablet. If I were buying now I would be awfully tempted by the new Panasonic GM1 which is really small & discrete with outstanding image quality.
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Old January 7th, 2014, 11:53 AM   #11
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Re: DSLR Shooters - What Focal Length?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nigel Barker View Post
I don't know what video cameras you are using but the Canon DSLRs are not great for a wide shot for saftey in the back as the resolution isn't that great. They of course shine for close-ups where the softness is flattering.
I've never noticed a resolution issue.

I love the look of our DSLRs, even from the back. For the rest of the day, our 5d mark iis are great in the low light of the dance; and still great everywhere else (primarily a nice tight shot of each the bride and groom for the vows with a nice bokeh to keep your attention on them). Our 70Ds have live track focusing, making them wonderful to use during prep, processional, recessional.
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