Event videography with smaller, mirrorless cameras like the Canon M and M2 can be a lot of fun. While the smaller cameras offer some challenges, the small form factor actually allows you to do far more creative things with the cameras that you couldn’t otherwise do with larger, more expensive cameras. Find out how you can maximize your camera’s functionality.
These cameras are small! Your cell phone is likely wider and longer than these cameras. But this small form factor allows you to do a lot more. Firstly, you could shoot handheld for a very long time without getting fatigued. Your arms, hands, and neck will thank you because you don’t have a 5 pound weight hanging from your neck. You could actually hold these cameras with your hands for hours and not even notice. They weigh about 300 grams, which is about what a cup of coffee weighs.
Being small, no one would know you are actually taking professional level video or pictures. Some places don’t allow pictures or video, no one would notice these cameras unless you are being loud or obnoxious. You can be very discreet. The only downside is that you may not “look professional” enough when you are hired to shoot a wedding or an event, but no one will be able to argue with your final results. You could always get a camera rig to make your camera look bigger.
You can use these cameras on boom poles, quad copters, drones, on car mounts looking into the car. And because the Canon Eos M is relatively cheap, you won’t freak out if you destroy or harm one. Where as you would go crazy if you destroyed a $6000 camera.
You can easily afford a multi camera setup. You can buy ten Eos M or M2 cameras for the price of one 5D Mark III or C100. Imagine shooting a wedding or music video or lecture from two different angles? Then splicing it all together? Some wide shots, a closeup, even overhead shots. That would be awesome!
The APS-C sensor on the M and M2 is the top of the line APS-C sensor Canon has to offer. It’s not the older one that is in all the T2i-T5i series. It’s unbelievably sensitive to lowlight. Only the C300 and C100 offer a better lowlight sensor, but those are video/cinema only cameras with only an 8 megapixel sensor, but the sensor is large and optimized for lowlight situations. And they cost $5-15k depending on what package you get. The M and M2 sensor is a very accurate sensor and with the right lenses can produce spectacular, very cinematic video, with very shallow depth of field that gives you a very 3D look to your videos. The new M3 has an even better and newer APS-C sensor and should look even better.
The on board audio on the M and M2 is not bad. Previous Canon cameras took horrible audio recordings with lots of floor noise and hiss, but these two cameras have quieter pre-amps and the automatic gain controls are actually pretty good. Sure, you can use a Zoom H4N or Rode Videomic Pro and have it input directly into the camera, but the M and M2 have nice audio. I’ve shot many events without the professional audio products, and they turned out useable. A lot of times you get the, “Hey, do you have your camera with you? Do you think you can make us a nice video?” Spur of the moment, you can easily shoot nice video with above average audio. But of course, if you are shooting a real project or a real wedding ceremony, you better bring your Rodes and Zooms.
You should definitely install Technicolor Cinestyle picture style and shoot your videos in this flat picture profile. This picture profile doesn’t allow the camera to unnaturally add saturation, sharpness, and contrast. It shoots flat. The pictures come out looking muted. But allows for more information to be stored. It also doesn’t use the camera on board processor to make those adjustments, letting the camera worry about other things and store more details. If the camera adds back sharpness, saturation, and contrast on the fly as you record, you lose lots of data and detail. You don’t want to do that. You want the camera to take as pure and as clean of a picture as it can without adjusting anything. You can edit all that in post processing. You can add back as much saturation, contrast, and color as you like without destroying the original footage.
Set the white balance yourself. Look at the environment you are in a choose a white balance that matches. If you are under florescent lights, choose that. If you are under tungsten, choose that. Outdoors? Cloudy? Choose the white balance that works. You can always adjust it later in post processing, but pre-selecting one that’s close makes your life easier. If you want to be extra accurate, carry around a 50% gray card to shoot first in the lighting you have to get accurate color balance later in post.
Set everything manually. Especially, focus. Your camera should not be spending time, resources, and energy trying to focus. It uses up battery life, wastes seconds, and gives you ridiculous looking video. The easiest way to look “amateur”, is to let the camera keep trying to focus. Just set your focus and film. It will look really cinematic when people are dancing on the dance floor going in and out of focus depending on how far or close they are to the camera.
Another great feature of the M and M2 for events is the touch screen pull focus and rack focus effects. You don’t want to use this a lot at live events, but you can set up a scene where the bride is in the background out of focus and a candle is in the foreground in focus. Start filming, tap the bride in the background, and it will slowly bring her into focus and the candle fades away into blurriness. It’s a really nice effect. Make sure you are on a tripod.
Changing focus while filming. You should have your focus set and just film. But lets say you are far away from the action, and something is starting to happen far away. You can easily tap the screen on that area and then half press the shutter to cause it to focus on the distant area. If AF Servo is on, once you tap the screen, it will focus on that area without you having to press the shutter button. I recommend leaving AF servo off for many of the above reasons. Set everything manually.
You can use your monopod as a crane or boom pole. The M and M2 are very light. If you have it set up on a monopod, you can quickly raise the monopod up into the air to get higher angled shots. Especially of dancing or anything else. And then bring it back down quickly without missing a beat. They are so light and small, that you could use them almost like a GoPro. If you had a large camera, you’d have to raise your center pole, extend the legs, and still might not get high enough. You can easily get to 18 feet high with a monopod and an M or M2, and back down again. It would take a few microseconds to raise your arm. The tripod adjustment could take up to two minutes. You may miss the shot completely. And then have to reset everything back down again.
Another really cool effect you can do is use a wide angle lens and place the camera on the floor flat facing the ceiling as people dance around in a circle. This gives a very cool effect and view from below. You can be really creative with these small cameras.
Hopefully, this gives you a lot of insight and direction as to how to use these cameras properly. Enjoy them! And remember, it’s not the camera that makes the photographer/filmographer. It’s your framing and story!