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


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Old August 27th, 2015, 03:54 PM   #1
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Low light, grain, and fast glass

I'm on a 5DMark2 and I have to bump up the iso at receptions pretty high, so I'm getting pretty grainy footage even with my fastest lens which is a f2.8.

Take your average reception, if I invested in a wider prime, let's say a 1.4, would I be able to keep the iso at 1250 or lower?
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Old August 27th, 2015, 05:16 PM   #2
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Re: Low light, grain, and fast glass

When we used 5D2s we would push them to ISO3200 if we really had to. Using an F/1.4 lens instead of an F/2.8 would give you 2 extra stops so if you were using ISO3200 at F/2.8 you could use ISO800 on the F/1.4 in the same light for the same exposure.

The trick that that can be used in desperate situations is to drop the shutter speed form 1/50 to 1/25 (PAL) or 1/60 to 1/30 (NTSC). That gains you a whole stop & for many situations like the reception or speeches there is not a lot of motion so it looks fine. Better to have a bit of motion blur but be well exposed than to have none but be grainy as hell.
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Old August 28th, 2015, 02:28 AM   #3
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Re: Low light, grain, and fast glass

You only need to consider the very shallow dof when shooting at f1.4 on a full frame camera, depending on your focal length in some cases your subject can't move or they are out of focus.
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Old August 28th, 2015, 10:29 PM   #4
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Re: Low light, grain, and fast glass

Joe, for receptions we have two shooters with two Canon C100s and the lenses we use are Canon 28mm f/1.8, Canon 50mm f/1.4, and Canon 85mm f/1.8 (around $1200 for the set). This works great and we can cover pretty much any type of lighting situation. However, it only works because we've got two shooters where one of us will have a wider lens than the other. This means that we always have one camera with the 28 and the other one switches between the 50 and 85. If you don't have a 2nd shooter then you'll probably get frustrated having to switch lenses all the time, or having to stick with a focal length that may not be ideal for certain situations.

As Noa mentioned, shooting with a full frame camera at f/1.4 will make focusing very difficult. These days some of the newer cameras are very good in low light making it less important to use fast lenses in low light situations. The 5D2 that you have is a great camera but if it's not sensitive enough in low light (and may require the purchase of multiple lenses) then you may want to consider selling it and buying a camera that excels in low light. Ones that come to mind are the Sony A7S ($2500), Sony A7R II ($3200), Canon C100 Mk I ($3000). These will all offer a much more detailed image, much better low light ability, and each one has other great features that I'm sure would help you out while filming weddings.
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Old August 28th, 2015, 11:28 PM   #5
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Re: Low light, grain, and fast glass

Once the next wave of updates hit, I'm planning to invest in a new camera. I've used the C100 before, not only was it nice to work with more of a video camera, but I loved being able to bump the iso to 5000 if necessary and not care.
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Old August 29th, 2015, 08:55 AM   #6
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Re: Low light, grain, and fast glass

in keeping with michael's suggestions... the Canon 35mm f/2 is a very nice lens in that price range as well for something a little wide, but not landscape.

We've also got a 5d Mark ii, and a pair of 70Ds which should really only go up to iso 1600, so the mark ii is a dream, relatively speaking, at receptions.

Do you film dancing? I don't know if you'd actually use f/1.4 or 1.2, since the focal plane would be so thin, but those extra 2 stops of light would be really nice at certain places where its painfully dark.
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Old August 29th, 2015, 11:20 AM   #7
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Re: Low light, grain, and fast glass

My opinion is, If you shoot on any Cnanon camera for night receptions you have to

a) carry light rigs just in case
b) accept that they are outdated and start saving.

f1.4 should quite simply not be used for this kind of shooting.

In fact, 1.4 should not be used that much at all in a standard wedding day. Its a really specific look which should be utilised sparingly.

Using it on a dancefloor will make life difficult for you, and lead to a lot of missed focus.

We want technology to get to the point where we are no longer finding workarounds, or making the best of a bad situation.

a7s was a big step in the low light direction.

Other aspects I'd like to see in future to improve our product are:

- ND built in
- Stabilisation built in
- Dynamic Range improved
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Old August 29th, 2015, 11:52 AM   #8
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Re: Low light, grain, and fast glass

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive McLaughlin View Post

Other aspects I'd like to see in future to improve our product are:

- ND built in
- Stabilisation built in
- Dynamic Range improved
With better low light being understood (even a clean 6400 would be nice), I'll add
4K
same focusing as the 70D

I agree about f/1.4, though, same as having those lights around, just in case, it would be nice for those truly awfully dark places. Just a few months ago we worked a reception that, once the dance started, had zero lighting except the DJs, and a few floruscents on the far side of the room (80 meters away).
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