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Old January 10th, 2011, 09:32 PM   #1
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Going DSLR for wedding videography

I'm a wedding videographer who shoots with Sony FX1000, FX1, etc. I'm seriously thinking of going DSLR.

Is the Panasonic GH2 and it's lenses an ideal starter cam for video purposes? There seem to be so many options now: the Rebel series, the Canon 60D, etc. I don't know what to start looking at. When it comes to video cameras, I know what's what and what I like. When it comes to DSLR, I know little except that I've had a Canon 40D and I loved the images. I do know I love canon lenses.

Any thoughts from experienced wedding shooters that use DSLR? Full frame cameras are absolutely out of the question due to budget constraints.

Can a suitable cam and lenses be put together for under $2K?
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Old January 11th, 2011, 07:12 AM   #2
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Hi Jeff,

I'm in a similar boat to you but will still use a camcorder as my primary cam. My V1p is starting to look very tired against footage from newer cams, and as part of my upgrade I want to incorporate more DSLR - using the GH1 I already have and probably getting a GH2 as well.

If you want a DSLR as a secondary camera, then $2000 should get you a fairly useful setup - something along the lines of a body, a wide zoom (Tokina 11-16 for Canon or the 7-14mm for the GH2) plus a nice fast prime and maybe even a glidecam 1000.

I just shot a wedding and did some experimenting with a 5dmkII, 17-70mm lens and a glidecam and was absolutely blown away by the results. I didn't really like working with the Canon, but the super wide-look espescially coupled with the stabiliser is just amazing for some shots like dancing or walking. I'm looking forward to turning my GH1 into a similar set-up with a super-wide lens, which should give me a really lightwight steadycam rig.

If you want to go all DSLR, then you'll be looking at a significantly higher investment. Something along the lines of 2-4 bodies, (2 cams, each with a backup in case of overheating, and so you can have bodies already prepared so you don't have to switch lenses). Then you'll also need a rig/shoulder mount/cage or something similar so you can mount an audio recorder like the Zoom H4n, a follow focus, and all the other things you'll want to make a DSLR more video friendly.

As far as the GH2 goes, I don't know but I have got a GH1 and love it. Small, simple and versatile. I haven't used it on a wedding yet but will very soon. I've shot some promo pieces with it and the clients were blown away by the pictures it produces. It's mainly my "fun" camera at the moment but hopefully that will change soon.
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Old January 11th, 2011, 08:27 AM   #3
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John, thanks tons for your detailed response. I had forgotten abou the 12 minute limit (you mentioned overheating). This is a reminder as to why I hadn't made this move before. SO many complications for a multicamera wedding shoot. Could handle everything else, but the 12 minute limit? No way.

My "seriously consideing going DSLR" has been replaced with wait and see again.

I can only hope a camera manufacturer will start producing videocameras with DSLR sized chips, like the new Panasonic, but more affordable and with the features of the videocameras we use now.

The HV30 uses a 1/2 chip, why not a full 1" or more?
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Old January 11th, 2011, 08:50 AM   #4
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The GH1/2 don't have the overheating problem, nor the 12 minute limit (although Europe has a 30 minute limit). That was why I picked it over the Canons - because it also can be used effectively as an unmanned camera up the back of the church. So for that purpose it gives you the exact same functionality as something like an XR550 - and more, in fact.

Incidentally, the HV30's chip was 1/2.7" so closer to 1/3" than 1/2", but I know what you're saying. At the moment it seems the only missing link is smooth zoom - the AF100 and to a show lesser degree the VG10 have shown that these chips can be effectively integrated into a camcorder, now we just need a power zoom to match the functionality of current prosumer cams.
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Old January 11th, 2011, 09:11 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Harper View Post
I'm seriously thinking of going DSLR. Is the Panasonic GH2 and it's lenses an ideal starter cam for video purposes?
Keep in mind that the GH2 is not a D-SLR (since it doesn't have a mirror, a penta-prism or an optical viewfinder).
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Old January 11th, 2011, 09:39 AM   #6
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I had forgotten abou the 12 minute limit (you mentioned overheating). This is a reminder as to why I hadn't made this move before. SO many complications for a multicamera wedding shoot. Could handle everything else, but the 12 minute limit? No way.
Actually the 12 minute recording limit hasn't been an issue for me - you just need to manage around the ceremony or a long toast. Biggest issues I've found are lack of autofocus, quality of audio and ergonomics - having quick access to controls on body of camera. Despite these drawbacks I'm shooting more and more on DSLR. Probably phase out the video cam by next year.
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Old January 11th, 2011, 10:08 AM   #7
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GH2 has autofocus, but I've never used it. From everything I've read the GH2 is the best out right now in terms of IQ. I'm having a little buyers remorse buying a t2i as a b-cam.
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Old January 11th, 2011, 01:13 PM   #8
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Yes, after doing some quick reading the GH2 seems best for weddings...didn't realize it didn't have the 4GB limit, that is very good news. And yes, the HV30 chip is smaller than I thought, thought it was closer to 1/2 inch...oh well.

I'm going to be reading more on the subject, but I feel very inclined to put up my FX1 for sale!
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Old January 12th, 2011, 07:47 AM   #9
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I feel very inclined to put up my FX1 for sale!
I know how you feel! I wouldn't sell my V1p though, as I'll need something to play back all those 100's and 100's of HDV tapes with.

The low light capabilities, the dynamic range, the colour rendition, the lens choices, the DOF control; there are just so many areas where DSLR/hybrid camera's put my "professional camcorder" images to shame.

It looks like Panasonic in particular have tackled all of the issues and almost solved some of them completely (in both the AF100 and the GH2). The moire, codec issues, AGC, record limit, soft images, lack of autofocus, etc have been fixed in either one or both of their latest cams. If I had the ability to zoom smoothly and silently with a GH2, then I would have no reservations in leaving behind fixed lens camcorders completely.
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Old January 12th, 2011, 08:43 AM   #10
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Hi Jeff, we are in the same both basically. I fear the 12 minute limit coz I shoot solo. I have done research before I actually dive in, you can put up a decent DSLR system for $ 2K. The super tacumar lenses can be had for less than $ 300, an Digital Voice Recorded should be around $ 100- $200, Rode shotgun microphone around $ 250. I think it is very important to have continous audio recording and B-rolls to offset the 12 minute limit. Instead of ditching my video camera I was thinking of having it as a B-Cam, shooting wide and non-stop (again to offset the 12 minute limit).

My 2 cents
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Old January 12th, 2011, 08:52 AM   #11
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John, the DSLR concept/trend is not new to me, I've been aware of it since it began, but never seriously considered it. Initially it seemed like a fad, and way too much work. Fast forward to present day, and last week I lost two gigs to competitors who now use DSLRs exclusively.

Additionally, I cannot stand to look at my own videos any longer. I am amazed at how great DSLR footage looks even in SD, at least on the web.

Am I correct that edited footage (when properly shot of course) when shown in SD is still superior to my FX1?

My first concern is outfitting the camera...I have no clue which lenses I would need. Will two (2) lenses be sufficient for wedding work, or are more required? Would a 30mm 1.4 and a zoom lens work?

Can you or anyone recommend the basic kit required to begin with this venture?
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Old January 12th, 2011, 09:21 AM   #12
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Noel, dont' forget as has been mentioned, the GH2 has no 12 minute limit! I believe with the 32GB card it's good for around 30 minutes, but I'm not sure.
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Old January 12th, 2011, 10:51 AM   #13
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Am I correct that edited footage (when properly shot of course) when shown in SD is still superior to my FX1?
Well I've not put any of my GH1 or other DSLR footage side by side with an FX1, but I can say that the footage compared to my V1p or the XHA1 I sometimes use is worlds apart. Clean, noise free images in ridiculously low lighting and very rich colours - thats before you even think about bokeh or particular lenses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Harper View Post
My first concern is outfitting the camera...I have no clue which lenses I would need. Will two (2) lenses be sufficient for wedding work, or are more required? Would a 30mm 1.4 and a zoom lens work?

Can you or anyone recommend the basic kit required to begin with this venture?
This will depend on whether you want it as your primary camera for the ceremony or not. For a main camera, you'll want to cover focal lengths from about 30-300mm (35mm equivelant), while keeping all the lenses relatively fast. If you want to use it for specialty shots only, then a nice fast prime and a wide zoom would be a good combo.

What are your thoughs regarding number of cameras you'd like to shoot with and what type? (ie do you want to eliminate camcorders altogether, or keep one as your main camera during the ceremony or just leave one un-manned for a wide shot?)

At the moment I'm just hooked on the look of a 17mm lens on a glidecam - it opens up so many possiblilites! I think I'll get the 8mm Samyang for my GH1 (16mm in 35mm equivelant terms) and a Glidecam within a few weeks to start using at weddings.
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Old January 12th, 2011, 11:36 AM   #14
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Initially, I'm thinking of offering a DSLR package with one GH2 as primary (with one backup video cam for wireless) until I could afford a second GH1. Specialty shots not a concern at this point. I'm actually moving away from artsy, cinematic, though with this camera it would be tempting, of course. I'm primarily interested in standard, conventional video with stunning images.

The major issue I see would be a fast zoom lens...extremely expensive. Shooting with a single GH2 would be challenging, to say the least. I believe a fast zoom would run $2K, though I haven't looked into it specifically.

Your 17mm on a Glidecam would be killer.

It's possible that with these kind of images my interest in the cinematic look could return. But generally speaking I'm tiring of weddings anyway, especially the fru-fru.
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Old January 12th, 2011, 07:47 PM   #15
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You can get fast zooms, just not not natively.

Something like the Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 can be had for under $1000 new. Of course you won't have autofocus, but if you buy the Pentax or Nikon mount version then you can use an adapotor with an aperture lever so you will have iris control.
From the comparisons I did, f4 on my GH1 is about equivelant to f/1.7 on my V1p. Seeing as I'm normally zoomed in quite a bit during the ceremony or speeches, the lens is usually at around f/2.2-2.6 which means anything faster than f/4.5 on the GH1 should be an improvement in low light.
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