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Old August 30th, 2017, 05:23 PM   #1
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Shooting Stage-Events with M4/3 mirrorless cameras

I hope it's OK to post here even though my question is more about just plain stage event video and not streaming. The wedding/event forum is all about weddings and no one posts about stage events.

I used to do a fair amount of stage-event video. This kind of work -

I used two Sony EX1r camcorders feeding into a Panasonic switcher and from there into a Ronin recorder. I sold DVD's and more recently, BluRays. But my stage-event work has dwindled down to two jobs per year and so I'm thinking about selling my gear and simply using my wedding cameras - Panasonic GH5's.

I do mainly weddings now with micro 4/3 Panasonic GH5 cameras so I'm wondering if I could make them work for stage events. Panasonic sells a XLR adapter so I could get feed from the sound board and mix it in-camera with a shotgun, just like I do now. They have dual SD card slots so I could definitely do long, long runs if need be. I wouldn't try and live switch between the two (or three) cameras - I'd just do the switching in editing software after the fact. Slower but a bunch less gear to haul around and clutter up my home.

My main hesitation is lenses.

For one I know I won't have smooth, motorized zooming.

The 14X Sony zoom lens of the EX1 is going to be impossible to replicate with it's 35mm equivalent 439 mm reach. Olympus makes a 35mm equivalent 80-300mm f/2.8. Anything longer and I'd be stuck with f/4. Shooting in 4K and cropping in post, is a possibility if tighter shots are needed to compensate for less lens length.

Which brings me to my other concern: low-light. Some of my stage events are low light and while I know the GH5 with it's much bigger sensor is better in low light than the Sony EX1, the maximum aperture on a long zoom lens on the GH5 is probably only going to be f/4. So I'm wondering how the faster camera with a slower lens is going to compare to what I've been using.

Thoughts from experienced stage event guys? Am I crazy for even thinking about this?
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Old August 30th, 2017, 06:12 PM   #2
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Re: Shooting Stage-Events with M4/3 mirrorless cameras

Also consider keeping the Sony xdcams instead?
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Old August 30th, 2017, 07:31 PM   #3
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Re: Shooting Stage-Events with M4/3 mirrorless cameras

Hi Geoffrey

I ran my Panasonic FZ2500's for streaming events for 6 months (and it actually has a pretty smooth zoom too) but I still find that for events I prefer a real video camera with a rocker zoom the time I added XLR adapters I simply found the small body was just too cluttered to be really functional!! I'm using the AC-8 now which gives me tons of space and a perfect zoom ..Sadly the sensor is a bit smaller than the 1" sensor but I get by. The main issue you will find will be working space on the body of the GH5 !!
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Old August 31st, 2017, 10:11 AM   #4
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Re: Shooting Stage-Events with M4/3 mirrorless cameras

Geoffrey - here are a couple thoughts.

One is there are two issues here: first the image capture (lens, camera, cam, etc., and second, the audio.

On the audio one, you mention about the long cable run and without knowing the details I visualize something run along the floor, gaffer tape, people walking on the cable (Iíve had an aversion to anyone walking on my cable, audio or power cords, ever since I worked as an apprentice n construction. The power cables we used back then were extremely heavy-duty and, even so, it was verboten to walk on them.)

Besides potential damage to the cable, there is the hassle of stringing the cables out and getting ones hands all dirty, and the problematic reliance on the sound system for audio.

One option is to set up a stand with your own mic near the stage. A couple weeks ago I did this at an outdoor wedding (not a stage, though) and the audio was fantastic, nice and clean. Used a Tascam DR-44WL recorder connected to a Sennheiser ME-66 shotgun mic and not only was the setup clean but the audio was as well. The 44WL is Wi-Fi controllable with On/ Off, and gain on both the recording channels (individually) as well as the two safety tracks. There is an app for the iPhone and perhaps for the other ones, too. Much more audio control than the PA system and one doesnít have to rely on anyone else.

The other option is to use a preamp. Iíve used the JuicedLink pre for several years and it has a reputation for clean audio and a clean noise floor. On the lowly CX211 there are two XLR inputs, mini input, and separate controls. Would require cable to run to it though.
[edit: the above page link is on the dvinfo web site but don't know if it is accessible without logging in. Here is another link DV Info Net to a picture also on the web page, but ditto above. Attached a picture of the CX211]

The great advantage with either route, the recorder + mic or the pre, is that it isnít cam or camcorder specific and would have higher resale. The pre I picked up on eBay years ago for cheap and theyíre still there today, and even better models. The recorder could have so many other uses besides just connecting it to the cam so added versatility there, and Iím sure youíd have the recorder long after any of the cams were sold.

Hope this provides some food for thought.

Made up a small plate to mount the recorder on using a plastic 4-square electrical box cover plate and a 1/4" screw. On the tripod side, the plastic plate was thin enough to fit between the mic and the quick-release plate.
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Shooting Stage-Events with M4/3 mirrorless cameras-img_4379.jpg   Shooting Stage-Events with M4/3 mirrorless cameras-user79458_pic783_1359436267.jpg  

Last edited by John Nantz; August 31st, 2017 at 11:53 AM. Reason: "thin" instead of "think"
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Old August 31st, 2017, 11:26 AM   #5
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Re: Shooting Stage-Events with M4/3 mirrorless cameras

Lenses would be the killer for me. Stage work is probably my most common video job - all sorts of stages, all sizes and all genres and any lens that cannot zoom smoothly and most critically stay in focus, is no use to me at all. HD in 1080 variety, with B4 lenses is my standard, and zoom demands and sometimes focus too are things I cannot do without. The ability to zoom in quickly, focus then zoom out, knowing I can go in at any point slow or fast without losing sharpness is critical. We do all types of theatre work - sound, lighting, video, production etc and yesterday we weren't doing video but one of the turns had a DSLR and asked if I could find a few minutes during the show to shoot him some material they could stick on the website. It was a GH5 with a zoom - I had no time to investigate which one, but it was horrible, and not only was zooming slowly a real pain, I found manual focusing as people moved very tricky because there was a slight lag in the flip-out viewfinder he was using. The images collected looked really good, but as a cameraman's camera it was pretty nasty to use compared to 'real' video cameras.

With my B4 lenses, most of the time the aperture sits around 2.8 - 8, and even from perhaps 15m from the stage, I can follow focus and do lots of slow smooth movement.
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Old August 31st, 2017, 03:08 PM   #6
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Re: Shooting Stage-Events with M4/3 mirrorless cameras

I shoot concerts full time. I would never think of using a DSLR except as a lock down. even consumer camcorders are better than DSLR's when you need to follow action and especially, to zoom. any camera with a LANC connection allows you to have a zoom rocker right on your thumb on the tripod handle. you can also get adapters to LANC for Sony camcorders without LANC itself. and instantaneous autofocus, with the option to go manual, is a great help. I rarely need to use manual zoom.
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Old August 31st, 2017, 11:36 PM   #7
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Re: Shooting Stage-Events with M4/3 mirrorless cameras

I do stage events too and like everyone says, you need a servo lens to do smooth zooms on your main camera. A dslr could work for your wide angle lock shot as long as the dof isn't too shallow.

I wouldn't sell those Ex1s They might be old but are perfectly fine for the stage work and shouldn't be the reason that side of your business is dwindling. There is plenty of stage work to be found if you put the time and effort to look for it. There are many other factors besides your camera that can effect your business. Impossible to know what it could be.

Last edited by Pete Cofrancesco; September 1st, 2017 at 06:19 AM.
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Old September 1st, 2017, 05:43 AM   #8
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Re: Shooting Stage-Events with M4/3 mirrorless cameras

I did a Funeral today plus a Wedding so long zoom shots at the funeral compared to much shorter shots at the cramped registry wedding using my DSLR's simply wouldn't have cut it UNLESS I did tons of short shots and stitched them all together and then attempted to sync the audio. However on both gigs we were live broadcasting so we definately needed a servo zoom in either case and of course that's what we used!!

I would keep the EX1's for now but if I was to switch I just might consider going for a good PTZ camera or two and running them through a switcher. You can pre-program these units to store a good half dozen different angles and zooms and then just switch to each using RS232 cable control on the older models and now wifi on the newer ones. They do really make doing stage shows incredibly simple and easy. Worth looking at !
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