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


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Old March 4th, 2014, 11:20 AM   #1
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Building up camera gear

I have started building up my filming gear over the past few years and have decided to put some profits back into my business. Currently we have all the "basics" and are looking at building out. We currently have an xf100 which has a ntg-2, sony wireless lav and fluid head tripod. For our b cam we have a 6d with a 24-105 f/4 with a video mic for backup audio and a manfrotto fluid head monopod. We have a glidecam hd2000 that seems to work farely well and a home build slider that could use an upgrade. We have a emergency video light for extreme low light receptions if necessary.

With that out of the way we are looking at getting a 3rd camera which will be the only unmanned cam. We have been pulled in a few different directions here. Our cheaper option would be to get a 70d and spend more on gear such as prime lenses and a pocket slider. Our next option would to go the pricier route and look at getting a 5d mark iii or possibly saving for a c100. Were just not sure if our market can quite justify that investment yet. Which route would be wisest?

The last question I have is about lenses. We are looking into getting some prime lenses. One wide angle and some standard focal lengths. We were looking at the canon 24mmf1.4 but is hard to justify a 1700 price tag. The new Rokinon lenses have caught our eye at a 3rd of the price. Only negative being we couldn't take advantage of the autofocus if we use then on the 70d. So as you can tell, one decision really affects them all! Any words of wisdom from the wise clan of wedding videographers out there? :)
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Old March 4th, 2014, 11:53 AM   #2
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Re: Building up camera gear

If the camera will be unmanned, then the 70D doesn't provide a benefit, does it? Of course, if you'll use it for parts of the day like prep and the reception, the autofocus is great, and then you can pair it with some other lenses, like the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 (works with the autofocus but is made for APS-C) or a 100mm f/2.8 macro (kill two birds with one stone: long reach and a macro lens).

If it really will be unmanned, maybe get another 6D instead, which is a nice camera, inexpensive, and you're already familiar with it. Then use the money you've saved on the other gear you'll want/need.
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Old March 4th, 2014, 12:19 PM   #3
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Re: Building up camera gear

Having cameras that mix well together is always a good idea. If it also has to be an unattended camera then DSLRs are not my first choice. Since you already have an XF100 then I'd give great consideration to getting a second one because you'll be able to run them together for ceremonies and speeches, either manned or unattended and not worry about recording times. It also gives you another audio solution.

We have three XF100s typically used for ceremonies and speeches and since we can match the white balance (using the kelvin temp) they just match in post without much effort at all. Matching camcorders with DSLRs or even one DSLR with another can be problematic at times. Matching XF100 to another XF100 is trivial!

The 70D would be good if you need the AF and the option of shallow DOF (to a more limited extent with the crop sensor) and then use the XF100 as your unattended camera, but you'll always have trouble mixing them. When running a DSLR unattended you may not have much DOF to play with, so if the subject isn't exactly where they are supposed to be then your image could turn out to be a little soft. Also the battery life doesn't lend itself well to unattended use, even with Magic Lantern hacks, so you could end up also having to buy battery grips just to get more battery life.

In terms of lenses for DSLRs, the Canon 24mm f1.4 L II is an awesome lens (as was the mk1) and well worth the money if you "need" it. It's one of my favourite lenses. I also have a couple of Samyang lenses and while they are great for the money, they don't have AF and I tend to only use them when I am tripod based and both the subject and I am totally static (corporate / interviews / speeches etc) or when I'm using a follow focus with hard A/B stops for rack focusing. I like to have the option of AF at all other times, especially weddings. Whether I use AF or not depends on the situation and how fast things are moving.

There have been times when I've been shooting at very high ISO and f1.4 (on the 24mm f1.4) in order to get the shot in dark rooms and the camcorders (XF100) just wouldn't have got that shot in any reasonable way because the high gain/noise would have been beyond the limit I like to work at.

OTOH, for me at least, that lens doesn't get as much use as it should for the price. It's a tough one. My favourite lens on the DSLRs is the 70-200 f2.8 L IS II by a long way. f1.4 primes come in right behind it though I love the 24-70 f2.8 and 24-105L as general work horse lenses and the 24-105 is on my C100 much of the time.

I would say that what you buy next depends on where you are trying to head in terms of style, and will probably make you head off in that direction because you'll either have two camcorders or two DSLRs.

Both camcorder and DSLRs are valid workflows and people are buying videos shot with either one. Neither one is right or wrong in absolute terms, but they each lend themselves to different styles.

If you're a lone shooter then DSLRs are both a blessing (size/weight) and a curse (difficult to work with in many ways). Not being able to run continuously is a major PITA and by the time you've fully kitted out a DSLR with audio solutions and figured out how to make it run unattended you're way over the cost of another XF100.

Other cameras to look at are maybe the XA-20 or some of the Panasonic / Sony equivalents, though again, if you're mixing and matching brands then the colour differences from one brand to another can be a major headache as you try to match them in post.

The 'safe' route would be another XF100.

The more sexy route (recommended by many seduced by the look) would be another DSLR. However, only you know how well that would suit your situation and style.
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Last edited by Dave Partington; March 4th, 2014 at 01:25 PM.
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Old March 4th, 2014, 01:30 PM   #4
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Re: Building up camera gear

I forgot to mention that we always have 2 shooters. The reason we keep the xf manned is to monitor audio levels. The autofocus on the xf100 is little iffy in low light, it can start hunting at times. I have been slightly disappointed in the low light performance often found in a church, and even worse at a dark reception. Anything above 6-8 db is bordering on unusable IMO. If I would change direction it would most likely be away from the xf100. You do bring up a good point about about dslr recording time on an unmanned camera. I had heard rumor that the 70d had continuous recording, is that true?
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Old March 4th, 2014, 01:44 PM   #5
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Re: Building up camera gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek Neustaeter View Post
The autofocus on the xf100 is little iffy in low light, it can start hunting at times. I have been slightly disappointed in the low light performance often found in a church, and even worse at a dark reception.
Interesting you speak of the AF hunting. ONE of ours does hunt but the other two are pretty spot on and we haven't seen any problems. Never got around to sending it in because it wasn't a big deal. We tend to manually focus during ceremonies anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek Neustaeter View Post
Anything above 6-8 db is bordering on unusable IMO. If I would change direction it would most likely be away from the xf100.
You'll go further than me on the gain then ;) I stop out at 3db where possible and 6db is the max for me. If you're in a static situation (most ceremonies and speeches are static) you could always drop the shutter to give you better exposure. Just don't do it for first dance ;)

Quote:
I had heard rumor that the 70d had continuous recording, is that true?
The only Canon DSLR with continuous recording (past the 29:59) is the 1DC because it's really a 4K video camera, even though it's based on a 1Dx. The reason for the 29:59 limit is european taxes that were brought in to protect the (now dead) french VCR industry! We all hate it and wish it weren't so.

So, no, the 70D can record continuously up to 29:59 and then it will stop, just like the 5D3.

Are you specifically looking to move away from camcorders and go DSLR only? That would be very helpful information for anyone trying to help you.

If you're looking for (or willing to consider) camcorder solutions for unattended recording then that's a completely different ball game and you may want to look at the XA20 amongst several others than other people have experience of and may suggest. I know some around here love some Panasonic models while others love Sony. As long as you can match them well in post it's no problem, but the last thing you want is to have colour mismatch where you get the green right and the reds look orange, or you match the red and the green look blue etc.

For DSLRs with continuous recording you need to get something that can take the Magic Lantern hack and suffer the 3 second drop every 30 mins.
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Old March 4th, 2014, 02:30 PM   #6
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Re: Building up camera gear

The 70d with a 17-55 2.8 with IS would be really versatile, especially with the 3x crop giving it a greater range (though you lose auto-focus).
I am using it often with a 24-105 f4 in pretty low light, and am finding 3200 ISO still pretty usable, but I wish the lens was a 2.8 and that it was wider on the 70d. Great camera, though.
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Old March 4th, 2014, 03:44 PM   #7
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Re: Building up camera gear

I am leaning towards the dslr side which is one reason I was considering the c100, it's like a dslr mixed with a camcorder which is perfect. Unfortunately the price tag isn't. I find that unless you spend 5 g's on a camcorder to get a really crisp professional looking image, and at that price usually still can't swap lenses or have much control over your dof. I thought the 70d would work great for the procession/recessional and give me more options by having the cropped sensor. Hoping to get all this sorted out before Saturday. I WILL buy a camera this weekend! Haha
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Old March 4th, 2014, 04:17 PM   #8
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Re: Building up camera gear

If you do plan on using it for the moving moments like the processional/recessional, then, yes, it's great for the money.

A lens like the 24-105 will give you a lot of range to switch between moments without changing lenses. We use the 28-135mm a lot at the ceremony site, since I want the reach of the 135mm during the ceremony itself, but the 28mm-50mm range for the processional and recessional. If i have help, I use a 35mm f/2 and a 135mm f/2.8 instead and go ahead and swap lenses.
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Old March 4th, 2014, 05:02 PM   #9
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Re: Building up camera gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek Neustaeter View Post
I am leaning towards the dslr side which is one reason I was considering the c100, it's like a dslr mixed with a camcorder which is perfect. Unfortunately the price tag isn't. I find that unless you spend 5 g's on a camcorder to get a really crisp professional looking image, and at that price usually still can't swap lenses or have much control over your dof. I thought the 70d would work great for the procession/recessional and give me more options by having the cropped sensor. Hoping to get all this sorted out before Saturday. I WILL buy a camera this weekend! Haha
You can most definitely switch lenses and have a shallow DOF with the c100. I highly recommend it but not sure how well it would match to an XF100.
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Old March 4th, 2014, 05:48 PM   #10
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Re: Building up camera gear

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You can most definitely switch lenses and have a shallow DOF with the c100. I highly recommend it but not sure how well it would match to an XF100.
Yes, you can absolutely get shallow DOF with the C100, given the right lenses of course, and I've been matching (or trying to match) footage from the C100, XF100 and 5D3 all day. Hmmm.... where to start?

I'm really not sure how to explain it and I really don't want to start saying this camera is better than that camera etc, because it's all about picking the right tool for the job.

But, there is a major problem with getting a C100 that you need to be aware of, and it's not really the fault of the XF100 or the 5D3 as such, but the C100 is just so much better in terms of dynamic range and sharpness that it makes you truly dislike the total lack of detail in the DSLR images, detail you perhaps didn't realise was missing.

We're not talking DOF here, but how little detail they actually resolve (resolution), how poor the dynamic range is, how badly they crush the blacks (even with flat settings) and how easily they posterise certain colours, especially in grading.

In many cases the XF100 holds better details (resolution) than the DSLRs, albeit with slightly more noise, and it's easier to match those shots to the C100 than it is from the DSLR.

It's easy to get misdirected by the DOF issue and not realise that so much detail is being lost, but lost it certainly is. You only have to shoot some text on the side of a box from across the room and compare.

Of course once you're in to low light the XF100 can't hold a candle to the DSLRs or the C100, so it's all a bit of a compromise and a case of picking the right tool for the job.

The codec from the XF100 (4:2:2 50mbit) holds up much better to pushing and pulling than the DSLRs do, but you have to be prepared to do a LOT of pushing and pulling to even come close to the C100, or you have to dumb down the C100 so much to make it match the DSLRs. Your choice. the C100 internal codec holds up amazingly well for 24mbit AVCHD, so much so that I'm really not using the Atomos Ninja as much as I thought I would.

If you try to match shots from DSLR to the C100 from relatively close angles (e.g. one of you was close and the other wide) then you're going to cringe at least as much as mixing DSLR with shallow DOF and XF100 with the whole world in focus. The colours are different, the details are different, you may as well have been shooting with totally different brands.

You'll need to be at significantly different angles to allow the eye chance to accept the different pictures and you're likely to spend a lot more time in grading to match colours.

Unfortunately I can't upload any complete shots from yesterday's shoot because it's all under NDA until it's released, but let me at least show one crop example.

• The chair was bright green and the green from the C100 is just about perfect while the 5D3 has way too much yellow in it.
• Both were set to the same kelvin temperature with no other custom white balance offsets.
• Both focused on the material of the chair (this was a test shot for lighting prior to the talent arriving),
and for the avoidance of doubt,
• The 5D3 had been manually focused using the 10x zoom function on the LCD and it was visually tack sharp, but alas not so sharp once it's been de-bayered and recorded/encoded. < sigh >.

Seriously, if you don't want to be unhappy with both your other cameras, steer clear of the C100. Get yourself a matching DSLR and be happy. Spend the extra money on glass, especially glass that you can carry forward as new bodies come out.

Once you start shooting the C100 you'll wish you had two (or more). I'm seriously thinking my 5D3s have got to go because it's causing too much work to make them match.
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Old March 4th, 2014, 05:56 PM   #11
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Re: Building up camera gear

Yeah the C100 has been a god send for me. I absolutely HATE matching DSLR footage with it because DSLR looks very "plasticky" and completely falls apart outdoors.
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Old March 4th, 2014, 06:08 PM   #12
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Re: Building up camera gear

Back to your lens choices:

I suppose it depends on where your work level is now, and where you hope it will be. We're a modest talent, ourselves, and can't afford the good stuff (yet?) so I like to pick up a variety of primes to work with. It gives me choices for my one camera, but also across all 3 cameras we use (two 5d Mark iis and a 70D). Key during the reception, when things get dark.

For modestly priced primes:
14mm f/2.8 Rokinon (really like it on our 70D, even without autofocus)
35mm f/2 Canon (also like it a lot)
50mm f/1.8 Canon (two of them. They're OK, but give us some flexibility. On a 70D, they're 85mm equivalent)
135mm f/2.8 Canon (love the reach and the compression is flattering)
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Old March 4th, 2014, 07:20 PM   #13
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Re: Building up camera gear

I have learned quite a bit when it comes to matching our 6d with the xf, unless the light is too low of course. Here is a video we made recently, maybe makes it a little easier to gauge the caliber of our work. What do you think about the grading?


We did recently buy a 50mm f/1.8 but have some concerns about the focus ring on it. It is very difficult to grip and operate without getting your finger in the shot! Big downfall for me! Been looking at selling and getting the f/1.4.

I do agree that getting a c100 would not be our best option now. I think we will be investing in some primes and a 70d :)
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Old March 4th, 2014, 07:32 PM   #14
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Re: Building up camera gear

Yeah I would invest in getting faster lenses, lights (the reception is dark and flat) and nd filters to control the highlights outdoors.

The grading is a bit too warm and flat indoors imo. Definitely up the contrast during the ceremony and cool down the mid tones.

I'd definitely suggest not skimping on a quality lens with a good focus ring since it can be very hard to find focus with the cheaper lenses. Rokinons are a good mid range compromise between the cheap and higher end Canon L or Zeiss lenses.
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Old March 5th, 2014, 05:43 AM   #15
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Re: Building up camera gear

Thanks for posting the video.

I do agree in that reception light the XF100 is going to suck big time and we'd have lights on for sure if we were shooting there with only XF100s. People really don't mind as much as you'd think they would as long as you can get the lights fairly high and not directly in their faces.

In your situation I think I'd be going for another 6D so you have matching cameras and then get some faster glass.

The 50 f1.8 is nice and cheap, but you get what you pay for. The focus ring is nasty and even worse there is quite a big of barrel distortion there too. We had one and sold it within a week having compared it to both the 24-105 @ 50mm and also a 50mm f1.4. While still not perfect, the 1.4 is a much better lens.

A 24mm f1.4 or 35mm f1.4 would be ideal for wider shots in low light receptions like this one, but the other lens you should really be looking to acquire is the 70-200 f2.8. You don't need to spend the money on the IS version unless you're planning on using it on a monopod. On a tripod (recommended) you'll be turning the IS off all the time anyway. This will allow you to get those long shots on the 6D while still being able to open up to f2.8 in lower light (be careful of the shallow DOF at 200mm f2.8!!!). While the f4 version is cheaper/smaller/lighter, we found we needed that extra stop from time to time. Also, put a vary-ND on the front of the 70-200 f2.8 outside and you can get some nicely isolated shots while still being quite a distance form the couple (see below).

If you don't mind manually focusing then the Samyang 24/35/85 are great lenses for the price and you can get all three for the price of the Canon 24 1.4. We use all three focal lengths quite a lot at weddings. Punching in the 10x zoom (I assume the 6D can do this via the set button like the 5D3?) makes focusing much easier, though having AF is nice when you need it.
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