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Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old November 21st, 2007, 11:51 AM   #1
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HDV and Low Light...

Hi Everyone,

I used to use two sony vx2000s for all of my multicam gigs, and that worked really well. I decided to "upgrade" to a sony FX-7 to start the move to HDV, and no surprise here, I'm extremely disappointed with the low light capabilities. It's not an issue at this point because I shoot in a well lit theatre most of the time, but I'd like to start doing weddings and other events where low light is required.

That being said, those of you that use HDV cameras for weddings, how well does it work? It seems like none of the current HDV cameras handle low light well enough, is that incorrect?

The reason why I ask is that I'm considering investing a large amount of money into two of the new sony XDCAM EX, PMW-EX1s. I figure they're a long term investment since they shoot 1080p on solid state media and are great in low light. What more can you ask for... or could you ask for in the next 5-10 years?

Any advice would be very much appreciated.

Thanks!
Wesley

PS: I suppose the other option would be the new sony HVR-Z7U... but it's priced co closely to XDCAM and has 1/3'" CMOS instead of the XDCAM EXs 1/2" CMOS
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Old November 21st, 2007, 12:12 PM   #2
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My two cents.

Irregardless of the low light of HDV, if you turn out the lights at a wedding/reception, your video will be darker. That's something I cover with my clients. It's in my contract infact, dark room = dark video.

That being said, we use on camera lighting and strongly suggest that some lighting be kept on. But my rationale with my event coodinators is, if you want me to light the whole room up, then why did you turn the lights down to begin with?

Technically though, HDV needs decent lighting. I'm not a numbers person, but with a decent amount of lighting, we get a really nice picture. I have two Sony V1u's and a Sony Z1u. I've been happy with all three.
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Old November 21st, 2007, 01:00 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Alfvin View Post
Hi Everyone,

I used to use two sony vx2000s for all of my multicam gigs, and that worked really well. I decided to "upgrade" to a sony FX-7 to start the move to HDV, and no surprise here, I'm extremely disappointed with the low light capabilities. It's not an issue at this point because I shoot in a well lit theatre most of the time, but I'd like to start doing weddings and other events where low light is required.

That being said, those of you that use HDV cameras for weddings, how well does it work? It seems like none of the current HDV cameras handle low light well enough, is that incorrect?

The reason why I ask is that I'm considering investing a large amount of money into two of the new sony XDCAM EX, PMW-EX1s. I figure they're a long term investment since they shoot 1080p on solid state media and are great in low light. What more can you ask for... or could you ask for in the next 5-10 years?

Any advice would be very much appreciated.

Thanks!
Wesley

PS: I suppose the other option would be the new sony HVR-Z7U... but it's priced co closely to XDCAM and has 1/3'" CMOS instead of the XDCAM EXs 1/2" CMOS
That's gonna be the next big thing. and the larger 1/2" chips should suck in light. although the long record times required for wedding coverage might make that camera a bad choice unless you really stock up on flash cards.
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Old November 22nd, 2007, 08:02 AM   #4
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I wouldn't count on it.

You're looking at over twice the pixel count within a CMOS thats only about 30% larger (1/3 vs 1/2). In turn, you have at LEAST 50% more pixels within less than 30% space when compared to SD. This leaves at least 20% unaccounted for, which will more than likely bring the luminance close to what we now see in SD, if not lower.

The difference however is that as a 1/2 sensor is inherently larger, noise levels decrease when using gain, considering the density of the CMOS/CCD. The EX was perfectly acceptable at 12+. 18+ was passable and very usable in extreme conditions. The EX DOES go higher than this with gain, much like its big brothers, but I wouldn't trust that level of noise with this codec.

As an aside, the Canon A1 at +12db is slightly noisier than a DVX at 9db, BUT just as bright. Whereby the DVX 12db was unusable, the A1 makes up for this in sharpness. It's perfectly usable, its just not desirable.

HDV is a format that works. Its a codec which has made many sacrifices to bring higher resolutions.

If noise and low light performance is an issue, consider other alternatives to HDV. I was a Non-HDV purist, until the A1 was released. I won't say I'm converted, but its the next best thing considering cost. My new A1s payed for themselves within 2 jobs, so it's a non-issue regardless.
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Old November 22nd, 2007, 09:51 AM   #5
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Wesley

As Steven said, always point this out to your clients, but nevertheless I also have an FX7 and I am happy with the performance at low light, I use the gain for that and an on camera light. It captures the mood anyhow.

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Old November 26th, 2007, 06:05 AM   #6
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I have V1P using Lighting on SONY the LED light. Performance I can say is good. A lighting should apply in low light shots.
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