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


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Old July 24th, 2009, 07:34 PM   #1
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Budget Camera Suggestions???

Hi All
You probably all know by now that I shoot weddings for brides on a low budget rather than cinematic masterpieces but please bear with me.

I did the last season with 2 x MD10000 cams (same as the DVC20 but PAL) and they did an excellent job but have one major flaw which is 4:3 only!!!!

The market around here has developed to a point where most clients own a whopping great LCD/Plasma flatscreen TV but still use an SD DVD player (most cannot even spell BluRay!!!)

More often than not the TV is set to zoom images to full screen so my video ends up a little stretched unless I crop the footage to 16:9 in the editor which drops resolution!!

I need to shoot in 16:9 and as SD cams are now virtually un-obtainable the only alternative is to shoot in HD and downconvert so at least my aspect is correct

In the sub $3000 market here I'm stuck with either Sony HVR-HD1000's which will shoot in SD or HD and also downconvert to SD OR Panasonic HMC72's (same as the HMC70) which shoots only in HD in AVCHD format so I would need to convert the footage to SD via VAAST's Upshift software NB: I don't want to edit HD... that means a new computer as my DuoCore will battle with AVCHD format!!

The Panasonic has 3 x CCD's and the Sony uses a single CMOS chip which seems to indicate a low light issue from threads I read here. The Panasonic does also have two XLR channnels which are useful for radio mics, but the Sony has the advantage of direct downconverting or even shooting in SD.

Can anyone make a sensible suggestion as to which might do the job better???

Any advice would be greatly appreciated

Chris
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Old July 24th, 2009, 08:39 PM   #2
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How much is an FX7 in your part of the world? Around here it's $2k, only a few hundred $$ more than an HD1000 but miles better with much more manual control, 3 chips and a vastly superior lens.
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Old July 24th, 2009, 08:50 PM   #3
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Hey Adam

The FX7 when available is around $4000 here almost double the price of the HMC72 or HD1000 which are $2160. The FX1000 is closer to $5000 (Oh that's AUS$ but there is not a huge exchange difference!!)

I can get a Panasonic HMC152 from the same supplier for as low as $4500 but a $10,000 investment is beyond my means at the moment for two new cams. $5000 I can manage!!!

Chris
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Old July 24th, 2009, 09:00 PM   #4
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There was a pretty substantial price drop on the FX7, should be far more economical now, and is a good choice over the HD1000 IMO.

Then pick up an XR500 for B cam (not a lot of manual control, but very good image quality for the money, especially in low light). Or any of a number of other small cameras could serve that purpose, I just like the low light capability of the XR. Heck, I even saw refurb HV30's for $500 from a major web retailer today!

Be aware that since you're used to shooting a shoulder mount style, you probably should plan for some sort of additional support for the different form factor.
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Old July 24th, 2009, 09:08 PM   #5
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The JVC HM100 looks pretty nice too.. not sure if it's within the budget. I'd love to find something better than the Sony XR500.. a little more professional, but under $2K. It seems we go from about $1K top of the line home consumer cameras, to bottom line $3K or so cameras. Sure would be nice to find one that has some manual options, decent low light, handle and the boom mic and hood option, for around $1500 or so.

I've been saying and reading a lot about the "looks" a camera sadly brings. A camera with hood, boom mic, handle, and somewhat larger seem to be the "Yes, you qualify for professional". Where as a home camera like the XR500 or Canon HS-10/100 don't count.. yet they shoot just as good video from what I've seen, with possibly the low light exception.

What amazes me is some of the footage on these <$1K cameras that are used for 2nd/3rd cameras for more footage.. they look every bit as good to me in the final products as the $6K cameras when the final is put on dvd. They all shoot dvd quality, with better compression than dvd now, so I get kind of put off with this misconception that the XR500 and such can't be used for weddings and other events. It's sad that even with most people carrying around amazingly small advanced electronics, that the sight of a small camera makes them think uncle bob could have videotaped the event for them for free. I am still debating if it's worth going into this business just from all the posts I've seen in this forum + all the costs of gear.
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Old July 24th, 2009, 10:18 PM   #6
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Thanks Guys

Kevin, you are right on the button!! If you walk into a wedding with a 15 year old still camera with a honking great tele lens on it, you are a professional. It's all about perception!!! The Sony HD1000 is essentially a Sony HC7 in a big plastic box. However trying to pose as a wedding videographer with an HC7 just doesn't cut it.

The Canon HV30 produces same amazing images BUT it looks like it was made by Fisher-Price so people just don't take you seriously!! My current DVC20's are also a domestic GS series camera re-packaged into a big case. I have had people come up to me and say "Wow!! those cameras must cost at least $40,000!!" (They go for a mere $1200!!!)

With that out of the way (apart from the fact that I have always had shoulder mount cams) looking for another shoulder mount camera makes sense!!! Looking at wedding videography from purely a marketing point of view...if you look like a TV station cameraman you have a much better chance of getting the job!!

HM100's are over $4000 here!!!

Chris
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Old July 25th, 2009, 12:19 AM   #7
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Chris - I shoot regularly with my 1000U and in the right circumstances it can hold it's own with cameras 2-4x the price. Being a shoulder mounted cam has many benefits including and in addition to the perception factor. My main issues with it have been the lack of a manual gain or iris control and no XLR. In low-light it can be noisy but not more than many of the other cameras on the market. Where I find it struggles the most is not low-light but mixed light. I recently shot a wedding with fluorescent overheads, incandescent cans, and large windows and those images were quite noisy. In it's defense, the combination was rough on my PD170 too. It is a good camera for the price-point and in your budget, I would say it is a strong contender.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 12:25 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
The FX7 when available is around $4000
Wow, that's shocking. Even the PAL version here at B&H is much less than that... about $2500.

Sony | HDR-FX7E "PAL" 3CMOS HDV 1080i | HDRFX7E | B&H

But no idea what shipping and duties would be to get it to you.

You're absolutely right about the perception differences between the HC7 and the HD1000. If perception weren't more important than reality, there would be no advertising and we'd all be out of work.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 02:15 AM   #9
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Thanks Bryan

I read all your posts in the HD1000 forum and they were most informative too!! The reason I included the HMC70 was purely that it's the HD "clone" of my current cameras so the changeover would be easy and the feel would be virtually identical!! I do like the fact that you have 2 XLR channels as well with manual controls. I know I shouldn't be, but I'm a little wary of shooting everything onto a tiny SD card and then finding out it's corrupt but I have been assured that with decent cards it's as safe as tape!! The AVCHD edit issue can now be easily overcome with plenty of software that will write the MTS files back to an HD AVI as for me having to get a new 'puter was something I was trying to avoid. I can get either cam within $60 of each other and my current 3 chip cams even at 1/6" have almost noise free low light video. Is the video noise an issue with CMOS as a whole or simply due to the fact that the HD1000 has only a single chip. I also have a few concerns with CMOS if I use the cam on my stedicam rig as if you tend to move too fast the image can sorta "split" (see it a lot on fast pans) Unless you have a gaggle of photographers, the rolling shutter is simple to overcome with some discrete cutaways. What I DO like is the ability to shhot in SD and HD. My delivery is always SD and I need to edit in SD as well so the downconversion from the camera is brilliant.

Still have to decide and haven't yet heard from anyone using HMC70's at weddings but my season finished last weekend (it's Winter here) and the bookings restart towards the end of next month which gives me a little time to re-equip!!

Thanks Bryan and also to Adam (FX7's are listed as high as $5500 here! Crazy!!!)

Chris
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Old July 25th, 2009, 03:13 AM   #10
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CMOS is not inherently noisy, the new "R" CMOS is a real winner, don't know why Sony isn't putting it into the whole line - but I'd presume that the FX7 and HD1000 are both due for a refresh... but you don't have the time to wait.

Rolling shutter artifacts are a very objective "problem", if you've got good steady camera technique, it's not a major issue, though some find it highly annoying - personally, I don't find it bothersome.

You're actually probably safer with a card based camera - no dropouts, and if you get a decent card from a known source (not some knockoff from eBay), you should have no problems. The problems come from knockoff cards, IMO, been there, done it. Frankly once you shoot tapeless, it's real hard to want to deal with tape again. Just be sure you work out archiving files if you anticipate needing them in the future - that's the one thing that tape still rules, if you don't mind having a pile of tapes around - I still do, and have to go rummaging through them sometime to see what really needs to be kept - all my AVCHD stuff gets edited and mixed more quickly - it's so much easier to be able to dump the footage at 3x speed and go through the clips while still fresh, at least for me. I usually will drop clips and sync a multicam shoot right away, then I can edit when I feel like it, but the project is already started, which helps with "finishing"!
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Old July 25th, 2009, 03:34 AM   #11
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Chris - You brought up the down conversion in camera a few times and I meant to mention that I have never tried that. I always shoot it in HD (to future proof) and downconvert in NLE with excellent results. You might want to throw a quick search through the HD1000 forum to see if anyone has used that feature because I am not sure how good a downconvert it does in camera. I see you listing this as a boon but not knowing how it handles in this setting it might be good to hear from someone who tried it...

...and thanks for the compliment on my other posts.

Sidebar: here is something funny - SD card slots on the camera make me nervous too but I have total faith in the MxR/KxR adapters for the EX cameras. I always have to remind myself the technology is proven if you get good cards. Irrational fears can be the worst...
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Last edited by Bryan Daugherty; July 25th, 2009 at 03:38 AM. Reason: additional sidebar...
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Old July 25th, 2009, 04:34 AM   #12
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Thanks again Guys

I asked about CMOS as Bryan's lowlight pics on the HD1000 forum show an awful amount of noise (almost like it's been shot thru a pair of ladie's stockings) My little 1/6th inch chips handle that sort of situation way better and there certainly is little or no noise even with gain full up. That's the reason I was asking about the ClearVid chip in the HD1000!!! It would be nice if the HD1000 was given another better chip!!!

Even with a card based camera I can always convert to another HD format so I had better learn to trust them!!! The HDV format that the Sony puts out is easily handled by a DuoCore computer but AVCHD needs some conversion unless you have a powerhouse!!! We trust tapes which, technically, should be less reliable with all the moving parts!!

Chris
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Old July 25th, 2009, 01:22 PM   #13
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I believe this is the thread you are referring to and even My PD170 got a little grainy under those extreme circumstances so I would be highly surprised if any 1/6th cam handled that circumstance better.

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/sony-hvr-...-hd1000-2.html

Image 1 is afternoon shade
Image 2 is last dusk (the candle in front of the couple is one of those old LED candles to put in reference not bright in RL/quite bright in capture)
Image 3 deep dark night with only rope XMAS lights to illuminate...
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Old July 25th, 2009, 08:04 PM   #14
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Hi Bryan
You are 100% correct. You were actually there and experienced the bad lighting. My only question was the quality of the HD1000 image in low light. It just seemed like Sony have given the camera excessive auto gain. I have shot on a dance floor with only Xmas lights before I started using an LED light and I must admit even at full gain the blacks were black but my image would have been a lot darker.

Am I correct in saying that with a decent on-camera light that image would have been good?? (not your fault the couple said "no lights") Dunno about you but I often have times at weddings where there is really no time to setup your camera manually..I have to snap it to auto, grab and shoot!!! In these sort of situations would the Sony handle the shoot on auto as long as you had the on-cam light on????

Chris
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Old July 26th, 2009, 03:16 PM   #15
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IME you are correct there is too much gain on this camera but if you tweak the exposure down a little and run an on camera light then you can get less noisy images in that type of scenario. In my case, I only had one on-camera light with me and it was on my wide shot camera (PD170.) If I had it to do over, I would put it on my HD1000 but in this case they did not want the light right in their face...

I corrected those images in post and what I delivered to the client was greatly improved, but to illustrate the point in that thread and this, it made more sense to show a screengrab from the raw footage.
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