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Old September 24th, 2014, 11:03 AM   #1
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Lighting question when using Camcorders

We use XHA1 and XLH1 with on camera LEDS gain at +6 we can't seem to get enough light on our subjects with out turning lights to full brightness and washing out subjects that are close. We do use 1 DSLR and don't seem to have this problem as much because it allows more light. Not ready to switch to DSLR so trying to improve with what equipment we presently have. I thank you for your time in this matter.
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Old September 24th, 2014, 11:23 AM   #2
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Re: Lighting question when using Camcorders

Have you considered adding off-camera lighting?
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Old September 24th, 2014, 11:55 AM   #3
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Re: Lighting question when using Camcorders

Yes we do but feel leaving them on around the dance would interfere with atmosphere of the DJ lights, photographers, and the bride & groom always request the room to be dim. Most of our job's cater to the ambiance lighting look so having lights positioned in each corner of the dance floor would make our job easy but the B&G would be annoyed.
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Old September 24th, 2014, 12:16 PM   #4
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Re: Lighting question when using Camcorders

This has always been a battle.

Now, when I meet with clients, I try to bring this up and just say that if the light levels are too low, we'll turn on our external lights for the main events so we can make sure and see what's going on... at the reception only. Not during the Ceremony.

I've got 2 TorchLEDs I use on 9' light stands and that really brightens things up for regular camcorders.

Since I got those, I've started using a second shooter who has a Sony FS100 and it is amazing in low light, with really no need to extra lights. And my third shooter got a Sony a7s which is unbelievable in low light, so our days of dealing with low light are just about over.

I'd off load your gear and move to the FS100 or if you can to stay Canon, C100 and go with something like that for receptions.
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Old September 24th, 2014, 01:39 PM   #5
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Re: Lighting question when using Camcorders

Ever since I've done videography, as a DJ I leave the house lights up a little bit (dim, not dark) during the start of the dance, to help the photog/videographer. After the first 10 minutes, though, can't keep that up.

Other than talking to the DJ and/or banquet manager about the house light levels, I'd say you need cameras that do better in low light.
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Old September 24th, 2014, 03:58 PM   #6
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Re: Lighting question when using Camcorders

I use lights at virtually every reception and my customers never complain. Lights are not the issue, it's the operator. Put them up high enough that they are not in people's eyes and don't turn them up any more than necessary.

Your camera models are very poor in low light, very grainy when the gain gets pumped up. I would most definitely consider new cameras. The Sony CX900 is around $1000 and will produce images much much better then your current cameras particularly in low light, but they have no XLR. You can buy an adapter and mount both shotgun and a light on camera at the same time.
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Old September 24th, 2014, 04:18 PM   #7
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Re: Lighting question when using Camcorders

Hi Frank, if you want to keep using the equipment you have, try this...

Record footage that looks like grainy rubbish. Show it to the bride. Say to her, "If they don't turn up the lights at least for the speeches, this is what your video will look like. Could I ask the house to turn up the lights?" Then go to whoever is in charge of the lighting and say, "The bride told me to turn the lights up."

If the bride/groom is worried about killing the ambience, though it shouldn't matter for the speeches, just tell her/him, "If you can live with the dark footage, that's fine. Are you sure?"

Alternative plan: go to the father of the groom and say, "Is this light alright for you to read your speech in? Would you like it a little brighter?" Then go to the house and say, etc, etc.

Use similar method for anything that bugs you -- eg, table decorations right in the way of the speaker's face. Or just move the decorations yourself; most of the time, no one is going to question you.

But what to do for the first dance? The house is pretty much always going to turn the lights down. If your cameras can't cope shooting ISO ridiculous, you'll have to have your own lights handy...
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Old September 24th, 2014, 06:55 PM   #8
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Re: Lighting question when using Camcorders

What I do is set the gain limit on my cameras so that the dark area of the reception is nice and clean with no noise in the shadows. Then set your zebras at 90% and use the light just as a fill only ..if you get stripes on a shirt 6' away then you simply have too much fill. The huge issue is, of course, that you want (or expect) the on-camera light to cover at least the dance floor people and it does! BUT the people 3' away from the camera will naturally be overlit and the people 15' away will be in shadow. If you want the entire dance floor then bottom line is that you have to light it either with the house lights or overheads as mentioned already. When the dancing is going on and you only have the DJ lights and your LED camera light, your only option is you shoot just a couple of dancers at a time and then switch to a new couple...a direct ahead on cam light cannot ever light the whole floor evenly as the output drop dramatically with distance.

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Old September 24th, 2014, 08:10 PM   #9
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Re: Lighting question when using Camcorders

Thank you all for your feed back fully appreciate it!
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Old September 25th, 2014, 02:51 AM   #10
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Re: Lighting question when using Camcorders

It may just be that the cameras are old enough they don't handle low light well (not terribly uncommon with early HD sensors).

I've found that adding a smallish "fill" LED light with a dimmer works great. There are plenty of them around, but I like the dirt cheap ones from ebay... CN brand seems to be decent for low coin - I've picked up a couple each of the 1000, the 480, the 560 and the 360... I've got some larger ones, but they tend to be overkill.

You still have fall off as the distance from the light increases, but with a dimmer, you can control the amount of light output to "just" what you need to get the shot. The array of LED's helps soften the light as opposed to just a couple of LED's. I've actually found photographers and others ask me to please use the light! So I guess it doesn't "ruin the ambience" and is actually appreciated for those trying to get a picture!
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Old September 25th, 2014, 07:29 AM   #11
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Re: Lighting question when using Camcorders

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Garrod View Post
We use XHA1 and XLH1 with on camera LEDS gain at +6 we can't seem to get enough light on our subjects with out turning lights to full brightness and washing out subjects that are close. We do use 1 DSLR and don't seem to have this problem as much because it allows more light. Not ready to switch to DSLR so trying to improve with what equipment we presently have. I thank you for your time in this matter.
Hi Frank. Similar situation to mine. I have an A1 and A1S with LED lights equipped with dimmers. You are correct about +6 gain being the max usable gain. What I've done for weddings, while still not perfect, is avoid maxing out the brightness of the lights and rely on adjusting the curves while doing color correction in post. It's like the curves in Photoshop for images.

I've found it's much better to bring up the brightness a little more in post for the darker areas. There's really no way to fix overexposed areas. So I avoid overexposure.

At the present time, like you, don't want to switch to DSLR and their problems because the low light problems are just a minimal hassle for me. Most of my work is not weddings, so I just turn on the lights. For a wedding, I just adapt as best I can. So far, no complaints from the clients.
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Old September 26th, 2014, 07:11 PM   #12
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Re: Lighting question when using Camcorders

I own the Canon XHA1 and the bottom line is, its just not a great camera for low light events. What I normally do is put an LED light on a boom pole and have an assistant follow me with it. This way i'm only lighting the area that I need to shoot and I can turn it off when its not needed.
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Old October 2nd, 2014, 01:24 AM   #13
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Re: Lighting question when using Camcorders

I use a couple of the cheapie square LED lights that Dave mentioned. I have a few smaller ones that have no dimmers and I never use them. The dimmable ones are great as you can dial in just the slightest bit of fill or crank it right up for the speeches. They also come with an orange filter to approximate tungsten which is very handy.

For the dance I have one on my moving camera and another on a light stand up nice and high next to the 2nd cam wide shot. Shooting the couple with this light behind them looks great.

Even if you have very sensitive low light cameras, they will still benefit hugely from some subtle lighting.

If there's time, I put a strip of flexible 12V LED lights along the bridal table with a dimmer so I can bring the levels up a bit. Great for adding to candlelight. You get the stuff off eBay - 5m + a dimmer for like $25. Just be sure and get the warm white one.

Cheers
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