The Perfect Gear to Improve Your Wedding Videography
Is "Cinema Quality" Realistic?
If you are looking for credible advice from an experienced wedding videographer you are in the right place.
Your mission as a wedding filmmaker is to make every wedding look as professional as possible. I am sure you can agree, we try to achieve the film look and strive to make our wedding films more cinematic. Reality is, every movie that we see is well funded, has many crew members and unlimited tries to get the shot. Millions in camera gear plus 8 months or more to think of every shot and angle makes for a pretty production.
You won't have that. Chances are you have yourself, one or two videographers, a few thousand dollar budget, and one chance for each shot. Maximizing this limited budget and shot chance is where my gear flow comes in big.
You want to know the best gear to use for your wedding videography. You already have looked to see many perspectives. There is one thing I wish I would have had in your position. Someone to explain past the tech specs of the gear. Someone to explain the practical use of each piece and how they all work together to make your wedding day easy.
You may not like it but I will not be showing you the "best" gear. There are better cameras, better lights, better recording devices. What you will discover is why I found the gear useful and how having the best can sometimes limit you
Overview of My Gear
My hope is that you see why I streamline my gear. Having a good flow with your gear from each part of the day is key.
I want to first show you how I bring my gear to a wedding. It's important to have an easy way to protect and carry your gear while looking professional.
There are many hard cases out there but I went for ConditionOne because of their cost to quality ratio. This first one has my cameras, lenses, and stabilizers in it. The second has my Lights, audio equipment, batteries, etc. I have as on-stage speaker stand bag to carry my tripods and monopod.
I use a Rock-n-roller cart to carry these and I sewed on straps to lock everything down to the cart. It works great even for weddings that you might have to go through grass or gravel.
Every piece of equipment I have I thought of with intention and did lengthy research. There is nothing in my wedding video kit that I will not use on the wedding day
Camera's and Lens choice
The most debated element in a wedding videographer's arsenal is camera and lenses. You don't have to listen to my recommendations, there are plenty of comparable systems. Although, I will tell you how I use my cameras and lenses and why that is important.
Panasonic stole my heart from Day one. I started with a G85. My first 8 weddings were using that camera only. I had a 20mm (40mm) and a shotgun mic and that was it. It taught me how important it is to be in the right place at the right time. Now I have 3 GH5's and I dust off the G85 for the ceremony and speeches. More about this later.
For lens choice, I use the 25mm (50mm) and 45mm (90mm) Olympus M.Zuiko Pro f/1.2, two 75mm (150mm) M.Zuiko f/1.8, 40-150mm (80-300mm) M.Zuiko Pro f/2.8, and for gimbal work the 15mm (30mm) Panasonic Leica DG Summilux f/1.7.
Each of these lenses have a specific purpose during the wedding. I prefer lenses with a fast aperture because you are not always able to control the lighting at a wedding. It's nice to be able to stop down and keep the iso closer to native/optimal. You can find your cameras preferred iso setting in the manual or online. The native iso for the GH5 is 400. I will have the iso at 400 all day until it's too dark to shoot.
Below are the focal lengths, their advantage, disadvantage, and how I use them at a wedding.
Close to natural and realistic
Makes the viewer feel like they are looking in 3rd person.
Great for medium shots
Not great for wide-angle shots
You will get to close to the couple and guests to get intimate shots
Not great for the ceremony
Bride & Groom Prep
Portrait length, flattering to the couple
Create more fore, mid, and background separation by bokeh
Great for intimate shots
Has a very tight field of view
Not great in limited space
Can be a hard lens to use for a new videographer
Bride & Groom Prep
On the higher end but still in the flattering portrait-length
High compression makes the wedding seem larger than life
Great for close to extreme close-ups
Not as versatile
Horrible in tight spaces
Speeches / Dances A-Roll
40-150mm (Not as necessary)
Get intimate shots from a far distance
Get a wider shot from same tripod
Too big to use without tri-pod
Not as versatile as the focal length suggests
Not as fast, won't do as well in low light.
Wide-angle shots come easy
Light and easy for gimbal work
Great for establishing shots
Close to the 35mm look
For its use it does not have any disadvantages
Establishing shots of the venue
The GH5 works like a gem with each of these lenses. As you can see I have my lenses already on camera and ready to go. When my second shooter and I show up to a wedding we grab the cameras and head in.
Now the GH5 has some key features that make wedding videographers job much easier. Although, my goal of this video is not to sell you on that camera but the total flow. If you want to know these features comment below and I will make a more in-depth video.
Audio is Important
The key to a quality wedding film is quality audio. We make sure that we have a back up for every key moment in case of audio failure. Here are our audio devices, their advantages, disadvantages, and how we use them.
Zoom 5H Field Recorder
Great for field recording
Low Noise Floor
Easy to use
Short battery life
Getting a feed from the DJ/PA System
Because of it's unreliable battery life I recommend using the included power cord. Most places you will be using the H5 will have power available.
Tascam DR-40 Field Recorder
Solid Back up field recorder
Good battery life
Versatile mic pattern
Noticeable noise floor
Not as nice of sound quality
Not as easy to use
Record crowd noise or record a speaker
2x Tascam DR-10L Mini Recorder
Small form factor
Easy to use
Great battery life
Not able to monitor sound levels
With Lavaliere microphone
I leave a lav mic on the groom the entire day except picture time. The little sound bites that you can get from it can make your wedding film more personal.
Make sure that you have every possible cord you will need to get a feed from the DJ's booth. I would recommend these RCA, 1/4", and XLR cables.
Side note. We also started using these radios with these headsets. They are amazing if you can get past looking like secret service. Being able to communicate to the team about shots, problems, etc. is so fast and fun because of these.
If you are not aware yet, quality lighting is what makes a video look okay or epic. The best thing you can keep in your wedding video kit is some quality lights. Here are the lights I use for my weddings and how I use them.
Soft Diffused On Camera LED Light
The reason I didn't specify the one I actually use is because there are so many. Watch Caleb Pikes video comparison to find one that will work best for you. My recommendation is to get one that is as soft as possible. The only time we use this light at a wedding is during prep to shape the light.
2x Godex 60w + Aperture Fresnel Lens
2x Newwer 480led Light Panels
This might seem like overkill but these come in handy depending on the layout of the ceremony and reception. I will always light the reception but every now and I light an indoor dark ceremony. I use the Godex lights with a fresnel lens only if I can use them without blinding the guests. If there is not a place of high elevation I will use my light panels. The light panels are a flood of light and can be closer to the subjects without disturbing the guests. The fresnel lights have an intense spotlight. You must point it on the subject only or risk blinding their guests. Trust me, you don't want the venue manager coming up to you and telling you to turn your lights off.
Organization = Success
Take time to organize your gear. I keep a craft case I got from Walmart with all my batteries cables etc. You will end up losing gear if you are not organized. Keep an inventory list and go over it before and after every wedding. This will keep you from leaving things behind and forgetting you even did so. I have spent hundreds of dollars replacing batteries, lens caps, chargers, polarizer, you name it.
Finding Peace Among Chaos
You have to trust me on this. The organization and purpose of every piece of gear will make your wedding career easier. I went for years without this level of organization. It will bite you in the butt. Don't wait, get the right gear for the job and make yourself organized!
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