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Anthony Kennedy

best/cheapest DSLR rig for event/wedding/bar mitzvah coverage

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I'm wondering what the cheapest set up would be for event coverage?


I have dslr and lenses, but it is more in terms of rig, lighting and sound recording equipment (something that can be operated by one person). The camera provided is a 60D. Lighting and rig are most important.

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Does it have to work, or just be cheap?

I know this is a snarky post alluding to "buy cheap, you buy twice", but right now this just needs to be functional. Simple shoulder rig, simple light set up.

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What's a simple light set up?


I wouldn't recommend a DSLR for event coverage. Look into a camcorder that can handle proper audio inputs, can shoulder mount, and you can mount an onboard light.

That's pretty basic.


If you're definitely using the DSLR, making it easy to use can get expensive. Audio input controllers, shoulder mount system, lighting rigs... etc.

Proper off camera lighting needs to be larger if you're working alone and need it sitting off to the side, just to be able to illuminate, or some kind of way to rig it onto the camera so you can also support a mic, maybe an EVF... etc.


Look at Berkey system for a rig. Modular, so you can kinda build what works for you. I think Zacuto is pretty overpriced.

You could try Redrock Micro too. They have some bundles. Not sure how the build is though. I only have their follow focus and it doesn't exactly feel amazing. I've read kinda crap things about their matte box system, so not sure how the rest of their rigs are.


What kind of lighting are you going for?

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I already have the camera, I certainly don't have enough money to buy a camcorder, I've seen people use those LED circle lights does anyone know about them. Sound isn't necessarily a must, that being said if people have compact suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

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Most on board lights are all the same... on board. I don't like using them because they annoy the crap out of whoever's in front of the camera.


My suggestion is to push the ISO to something mostly useable, then push the gain a bit later in post, find angles that take advantage of what's there, and focus on getting good shots. I've found with events that I shoot that most people don't really notice grain and stuff like that. And to get really high quality stuff, you'd need to rig your own lights around the venue to shape it how you want.

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I agree with the above... on camera lights can be problematic. (And ring lights are generally used for beauty/glamor and impart an unnatural look that's more hip hop than bar mitzvah.)


You also might want to check out cinema5d or dvxuser for that kind of info... However, since my other life is as a C100/5D Mark III owner/op, I have some experience with this stuff. (Professional DPs here generally do much higher end work than us and our questions don't interest them!)


I own this:




...and generally dislike it. It's unreliable and the quality of light is harsh. However, it's very bright and you can switch the color temperature with great control. I don't think it would look very good used at an event, except maybe if you were able to wrap it in black wrap to stop it from spilling and bounce it off the ceiling or otherwise soften it very heavily. I'd just embrace the dark look, though TBH with a fast lens (f1.4) you should be fine at 1250ISO/f1.4/1/30sec shutter/HTP off for virtually any interior event photography, just embrace the darkness past that point and don't push further or you will get an ugly picture.


For sound the zoom h4n is the thing to get, though other brands have recorders with superior pre-amps. On-camera pre-amps save a lot of time and can work well, too. The old beachteks were terrible but they have improved. I can't recommend a shotgun (the ME66 seems okay, but not my area of expertise here), but the Sennheiser lavs are wonderful.


The $25 cowboy studio shoulder rig is very nice for run-and-gun and balances well with dSLRs.

Edited by M Joel W

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I think it all depends on what sort of event you're shooting.


If it's a wedding, I know some videographers will use a small LED panel when shooting the reception--but this is VERY UGLY. Looks like you've mounted a GoPro to a cop's headlamp. Plus, it disturbs the guests and pisses off the client.


I'm with the previous posters who've suggested prying your aperture as wide as it'll go, upping the ISO to just-usable levels, and (if you absolutely have to), bumping down your shutter speed a hair. If you don't have a fast lens yet, try buying old Canon FD lenses ($50 on Ebay for a 50mm f1.4, then $30 for a decent adapter).


As concerns sound recording:


The Rode Videomic Pro is a good solution if you want to record into your camera. If not, the Tascam DR-60D is rig-mountable, and a freakin' beast in the built-in preamp department. If you need to put a lav mic on the groom or officiant (assuming it's a wedding we're talking about), GO CHEAP on the mic itself (google "best cheap lav mic"). Seriously, I have bought a chinese lav for $.99 on Ebay--that's a dollar, folks--and it sounds great. Wouldn't use it to shoot THE TITANTIC, but for a wedding, she'll do just fine. A wireless transmitter/receiver set will cost an arm and a leg for usable quality, so I'd buy a Zoom H1 (or just use your phone with the Rode Record app) and slip it into the groom's pocket. Speaking of the H1, it's a great tool for sampling from the DJ's soundboard. Just make sure you have 1/4'' and AV adapters handy!


As concerns rig:


Amazon sells a basic Neewer rig for $88. No follow focus, no matte box, but plenty of mounting points. For a follow focus, Hondo Garage's $50 Follow Focus Pro (which is really $85, go figure) is a great option. Just know: it won't work with the canon 50mm 1.8! You'll want a couple 50mm clamps and mounts, which can be found on B&H for $100+, or on Ebay for as little as $2. Your call.


One last tip:


You can power most Canon DSLRs with a dummy battery and the OXA Metal Box S1 (on Amazon for $36). Quadruples the battery life. Incidentally, the OXA will simultaneously power the Tascam preamp/recorder I mentioned earlier (though I wouldn't hold out much hope for powering a ring light). I velcro that bad boy to the shoulder mount on my Neewer rig. Perfect.


Hope that helps!

Edited by John Burton

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I've always quite liked the look of the Tilta BS-T03 baseplate. Gives you a lot of what a conventional ENG camera has in terms of handleability and layout.



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I think it is usually best to custom-build your shoulder rig from different manufacturer's parts.

Especially the baseplate and the handles should be very well made, but you can go cheap with some parts, especially some connecting parts, shoulder pad and counterweight.


I would go with a baseplate that has separate quick release plate for the camera so you can fine-tune the camera position easily, and I would choose rosette mounted handles system which does not need to be over-tightened to be usable. If you are using follow focus, make sure it locks to the rods so that you have easy access to the locking knob/lever, there is lots of cheaper designs where the knob is in a position where it is difficult to access when the rig is fully built.

The rods should be extendable and quite good quality. Risers are very good for tuning the rig more ergonomic but the cheap ones will do if the budget is tight.


As for the handles, I think simple foam handles just don't work. Not rigid enough and can make disturbing noise at times. Rubber/wooden/leather handles are very good, although some rubber handles have a sharp texture which may be best for operating with gloves, not bare-handed. The handles placement is quite critical and should be adjustable, especially the angle/offset/height and how close they are from each other. I would say it would be best to use rosette parts and extensions for the handles to get ergonomically very good positioning. I think even the chinese rosette parts would do well if the locking levers are good enough.

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Events/weddings/etc can be tricky here in terms of lighting to recommend, as they'll often not allow extra lighting.

The most important thing is to have a couple of cameras, three or four even! Heck, I'll often bring 5+ cameras to a wedding.


Personally I much prefer a video monopod than a shoulder rig for weddings. So get that, plus a heavy duty tripod with a good fluid head (plus a basic and lighter tripod for each other camera, which are unmanned).


Ideally a Sony A7s would be a great camera to get, it has amazing low light. Nothing can touch it!


But... it is a tad expensive, especially when you multiple it by two or four. (for how many cameras you'll need).

Instead I recommend the Sony A5100, I picked mine up "like new" from Amazon for just US$320! At its price, there is nothing I believe that can beat it. For instance, when you compare it to the Canon range, it beats the stock Canon 5Dmk3.


Look at how well it does in low light with only a single candle:



As you can look at all the stuff Andrew Reid and others have said about either the A5100 directly of the cameras which it built upon, the clear conclusion is it is a very good one!

It has got the best APS-C sensor of any stills camera! (well... with the potential exception of the Samsung NX1, but that comes huge extra amount of baggage.... you'd have to love living on the bleeding cutting edge to get the NX1 and embracing all the hiccups and road bumps that come along)

He and others said a lot of great stuff about the Nikon D5200 (and this is the camera which I'm using currently), which is the same sensor in the A5100:


Then the A6000 takes this sensor in the D5200 and improves upon it (i.e. mirrorless, yay! Focus peaking, etc.... but loses the mic input which the D5200 has :-/ ):

Then the A5100 takes the A6000 and further improves upon it. (cheaper, yay! Touch screen. XAVCs codec. Loses the EVF & hotshoe however :-/ )

So it looks pretty much amazing when you research it like that. Would appear to be the next best choice to get after the current top kings of MILC/DSLR filmmaking, which are the Panasonic GH4 and Sony A7s.

Another option is to get the Sony A7s as your main camera, and then fill in your B and C cameras with cheaper ones such as the Sony A5100. Which is exactly the path I've gone and taken.

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You do know that you can rent cameras quite easily? Try lensrentals.com. They may be able to rent you a rig and sound gear too.


..I'd forget lights and rent an A7sii. Or maybe a G80 and a speedbooster. Or take that suggestion about buying an f1.4 50mm... although won't crop factor make the lens narrower than you want?

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You do know that you can rent cameras quite easily? Try lensrentals.com. They may be able to rent you a rig and sound gear too.


..I'd forget lights and rent an A7sii. Or maybe a G80 and a speedbooster. Or take that suggestion about buying an f1.4 50mm... although won't crop factor make the lens narrower than you want?

The thread is 4 1/2 years old so he has probably already found something. The bar mitzvah boy is probably married by now.

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