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


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Old May 8th, 2008, 11:50 AM   #1
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Second Camera Questions

Currently, I have a GL2 and HV20 for weddings. My primary camera is the GL2.

Here's the issue - my wife will be helping me with the second camera and I know that image is everything. Although I love the quality of the HV20, I just can't shake the thought that it doesn't look "professional" enough.

So - to replace my HV20 - I'm looking at 2 cameras

Sony DCR - VX2100 (thoughts on a used one?)

or

Sony HVR-HD1000U

I know that many people swear by HD, but I'm torn. Do I want an entry-level HD camera, or an SD camera that performs better in low light situation.

What would you all do in this situation?

Thanks in advance!
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Old May 8th, 2008, 03:33 PM   #2
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"image is everything" - the question is WHICH image - the image quality of the video, or the perceived image of the "professional"?

For a few hundred bucks you can accesorize the HV20 with a shotgun (probably needed anyway with this cam), a WA lens and hood, maybe some type of bracket rig or stabilizer... it'll look plenty "pro", AND you'll get great footage. Add a light and diffuser for low light if that's a concern.

In all honesty the HD1000 seems to be very much an example of "perception"... IIRC it's basically an HC7 in a big box to LOOK impressive... umm, no thanks. I'd rather take the HC7/9, or another of the small cams (like your HV20), add the accessories and shoot with great results. You've already got the HV20, not sure you'd want to "sidegrade" - better to accessorize the HV, upgrade the aging GL to a Sony FX7/FX1 or Canon A1 and get a better "big" cam with HD, at least that's my take on it.

FWIW, I've gotten lots of comments on how high tech my small rigs look, and I frankly like the smaller less obtrusive gear - not everyone wants a "hollywood set" with big cameras running around, and I've been thanked for how discreet I am while shooting. Good deliverable end results don't hurt either!

In the end it's up to you, but accessories sometimes do "make the cam", and for many situations, small is really better!
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Old May 8th, 2008, 04:51 PM   #3
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Thanks Dave for your reply.

I bought the GL2 last December and I really don't have the budget right now for a Sony FX7/FX1 or Canon A1.

I know I'll eventually have to be 100% HD - I figure by the end of 2009 I'll be in the market for a new primary camera. I'm just waiting for the prices to drop a little.

There hasn't been much demand for HD from my clients for the time being. But, I'm that will change as time goes on.
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Old May 8th, 2008, 08:24 PM   #4
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Nick - that's pretty wise if you ask me. Always let your purchasing decisions be based on need and not want.
Other than image quality bump, the only other upside of being HD right now is the buzz word factor of it for marketing purposes. Give it another year or so and the term HD wont have the same luster as it does right now, especially when Joe Public is running around with his $600 HD camera shooting his kid's soccer games and showing those to his buddies. Heck, it's already not as big of a deal as it was just a year or two ago.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 04:00 AM   #5
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Nick,

I would much rather be using a PD 150 over a small consumer level HD camera any day not that I am telling you to buy a PD 150. I would not invest in SD gear at this point for weddings.

Image does matter when you are on a wedding shoot....both image quality and the image of how your clients, guests and other wedding professionals see you.

My client's have 40k to 100k budgeted weddings and if I showed up with some small consumer level HD camera spruced up with a light, bracket and external mic...I am more than confident I would not be perceived as a professional camera operator by anyone and no matter how good the footage may look, the 200-300 people looking at you at the wedding don't see the image quality...all they see is you and your equipment the day of and don't think for a second that what they see doesn't matter because it does!

How many photographers are showing up with Canon Digital Rebels as their cams....I've never seen one so how are videographers any different.

Think of it this way, how would you feel if someone was shooting your wedding with small consumer level HD cam? Personally I would never hire someone with this type of equipment as their "PRIMARY" cams.

I use a small Sony HC5 as a unmanned balcony cam from time to time but I have 2 Z1U's as primaries and a FX1 as a back up cam....not to mention I still have and shoot with 2 Sony PD 150's....yes, I mix footage now and then or use the PD's for some time lapse stuff and I also shoot super 8 mm film too.

Larger cameras are not "intrusive"...however, intrusive camera operators are! Accessories do not "make the cam"....not by a long shot. Accessories such as lens attachments, wireless mic systems, on board cam lights are mandatory tools needed to get the job done right in many cases.

I'm not sure of the specs on the HD1000 vs the HC7/9 but if they are equal....and I had to choose which cam to be shooting with during a wedding event, I wouldn't be caught dead running around with the HC7/9 and at that point the concern would be "my image" vs image quality....that is given that they are equal in image quality.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 10:40 AM   #6
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Thanks Joe. At this point, I'm not booking any high-end weddings - but someday....

I basically use the HV20 as a secondary cam - if I don't have a second operator, it's on a tripod in the back during the ceremony.

I've read some reviews and looked at the footage of the HD1000. It's pretty decent, but the price tag is around $1500. For that money, I could get a used SD camera.

But, I guess the smart thing to do at this point is to crank away with what I got, edit to impress, and wait about a year or so to upgrade the cameras.

I don't want to fall victim over the "iphone" effect - purchase something and a month later, there's a price drop.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 10:51 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Nick Avdienko View Post
I don't to fall victim over the "iphone" effect - purchase something and a month later, there's a price drop.
The sad reality is that at the pace technology is progressing, it's hard not to have this happen to you. Unless you're making huge money, there's no way to stay ahead in the arms race and not spend yourself out of business. I'd say your thinking is pretty sound.
Be careful buying the little HD cams for weddings unless you're prepared to deal with a lot of noisy images. Of course if you shoot mostly outdoor weddings they'll be just fine.

BTW, my spell check recommended that you last name be spelled "evidence". Whaaa?? Who designs these things?
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Old May 9th, 2008, 12:29 PM   #8
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Nick,

The budget for a wedding doesn't dictate what a professional should have for gear. If I were shooting a wedding with an overall budget of let's say 10K....I would still not use a small consumer level HD palmcorder as a primary camera.

Ebay is a decent resource for used gear if you know what to look for and who to buy from.

Best of luck with your new purchase.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 12:44 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Joe Allen Rosenberger View Post
Nick,

The budget for a wedding doesn't dictate what a professional should have for gear. If I were shooting a wedding with an overall budget of let's say 10K....I would still not use a small consumer level HD palmcorder as a primary camera.
True, budget does not dictate that, but clientele might and usually the two are closely related.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 12:53 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Ethan Cooper View Post
True, budget does not dictate that, but clientele might and usually the two are closely related.

A "professional" would not show up for a shoot with "consumer" level equipment period....regardless of wedding budget. You can argue that til you'll bleed....
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Old May 9th, 2008, 01:54 PM   #11
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I'm using the GL2 as my primary cam. But, somehow we got into the topic of using the HV20 as the primary cam.

And Joe - I agree 100% - showing up with the HV20 as the primary cam is not a wise thing and would be something I would never do.

I'm just stuck in limbo right now. It seems that I got into this business at the wrong time. As much as I love the GL2 and HV20, I'm disappointed that I didn't find this forum when I made the purchases. Oh well...

But I know that they are temporary (1 year or so). After that, I will have to upgrade.

Technology, feh...
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Old May 9th, 2008, 02:02 PM   #12
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Nick - you may be over thinking it a bit. Are your clients happy? Are you getting plenty of booking? Are you satisfied with the results you get out of your tools?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then you've nothing to regret other than not having enough budget to buy 3 EX1s and enough cards & batteries to run them all day. Very few of us have that budget, so don't worry about it. Learn to do the job with what you have and new gear will come with time. Good gear doesn't make for better story telling, it just makes for cleaner images.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 02:45 PM   #13
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Joe -

We are talking second cams here, and you yourself admit to having an HC5... go a little easy, that's not much of a camera <wink> *ducking*.

Not everyone has the same market by a long shot. Props to you for having and booking weddings with larger budgets, I know lots of areas in California "can" afford those budgets (with the recession and Real Estate collapse, maybe not so many)...

From a practical standpoint I've seen that "locally" for myself and probably many others here (in their local areas) the budgets are so low as to make it almost impossible to justify showing up with 15K+ in equipment, but these nice clients still would like a decent video of their special day, "professionally" done, regardless of what equipment it was shot with. I've seen guys locally "charging" $600, and delivering stuff so bad it makes community access look "pro". The guys charging more and delivering decent stuff are more or less out of business... tough market.

True, "consumer" cameras have their limitations, but may be WAY more camera than the client has any possible access to. SO, what are you giving them in terms of value in access to better gear AND your expertise in shooting the event? And can you meet a limited budget?

I learned a long time ago in audio that a big fancy recording studio crammed full of all the latest and greatest gear could still produce crap, and a guy with some talent and a 4 track could knock it out of the park.

The OP knows his local market and budget considerations, and they clearly aren't the same as yours, please go a bit easy on the guys on a budget, eh? There is more than one way to skin the proverbial cat, right?

I've shot enough weddings with "low budget" gear that I suppose you'd turn your nose up at (heck I would too NOW...), and delivered results that were not only acceptable to me (and I'm picky), but made the CLIENT ecstatic... NO complaints about "my camera's not pro enough" (except from ME!)

As budget and good deals present themselves, I've upgraded to where I get results I know are clearly better and take less tweaking in post to get where I want the final result to be. I think that's where the OP was coming from, that's what I addressed my advice to.

The equipment doesn't make the shooter, though better gear certainly doesn't hurt, and sometimes having the right accessories can make a huge difference in perception as well as quality. I thought that was a fair observation from experience, YMMV.

Just an observation, I'd bet I could hand you a consumer handycam, give you 5 minutes to explore the functions, and you could shoot some pretty good video with it - yeah, the image quality might not be as good (equipment limitation), but the framing, composition, and general video quality would be good. Uncle Bobs video would look horrid by comparison. Consider that for a moment...

Equipment doesn't make the operator, but you also can't show up to the drag race in a Pinto... hopefully this mixed metaphor will be helpful to the OP in his dilema, and we can agree, sans bleeding!
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Old May 9th, 2008, 04:06 PM   #14
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Thanks Dave & Ethan.

Yeah - I'm overthinking things (blame my Master's Degree!) - but I just want to make the right decision with some expert advice.

But the bottom line is - my clients have been incredibly pleased with my work, I have 8 weddings to do for 2008 (many on referrals), and I have a full time job - so the income is really a bonus to my salary.

And you're right, thanks for putting it into perspective for me. If they are happy, then what's the problem?
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Old May 9th, 2008, 10:05 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Nick Avdienko View Post
Thanks Dave & Ethan.

Yeah - I'm overthinking things (blame my Master's Degree!) - but I just want to make the right decision with some expert advice.

But the bottom line is - my clients have been incredibly pleased with my work, I have 8 weddings to do for 2008 (many on referrals), and I have a full time job - so the income is really a bonus to my salary.

And you're right, thanks for putting it into perspective for me. If they are happy, then what's the problem?
Hey Nick,

Like Ethan said ... those 8 weddings you've got for 2008 have been booked based on your current work and gear .... not on what camera you could be shooting on.

Another idea, maybe a smaller investment into some colour correction software (if you don't have some already) could be one way to take your footage to the next level, without the expense of a new camera.

Cheers,

Matthew.
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