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


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Old October 9th, 2004, 07:22 PM   #1
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Which camcorder to shoot weddings?

I'm shopping for an event camcorder; weddings and Bar Mitzvahs. Is the DVX100A a good tool for capturing weddings?

I'm concerned that the lens' zoom range is insufficient in a large church. Also, given the lack of exterior space on the camcorder, what's best place for a wireless receiver, camera light and battery?

And finally, if the DVX100A isn't a good tool, what other camcorders are good for weddings? I've used the DVC200...a wonderful camcorder for weddings...but my budget isn't that generous.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thank you.

Bob
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Old October 9th, 2004, 09:10 PM   #2
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There are good wedding cams for the money:

Sony VX2000/VX2100
Sony PD150/PD170
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Old October 9th, 2004, 10:40 PM   #3
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I own both a DVX100A and VX2000 but when its time for a wedding I leave the DVX100A at home.

All four cams that Frank mentions are noted for their above average low light peformance and that will help you when you're are at the mercy of a dim ceremony or reception with little to no control over lighting.

I just shot a wedding this past Saturday (as a wedding gift for the bride) and as usual my VX2000 came out like a champ.

I think the DVX100A is the better cam in just about every other aspect other than low light performance compared to the VX/PD cams. Either way you're getting a great cam no matter which of these you purchase.
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Old October 10th, 2004, 04:33 PM   #4
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JVC GY-DV5000 with FUJINON s20x6.4BRM-SD lense. Actually it is my big camera configuration. 8 )
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Old October 10th, 2004, 04:47 PM   #5
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Leigh, I believe JVC GY-DV5000 is around the same price as the DVC200 and out of Bob's budget. Nice cameras though.
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Old October 11th, 2004, 08:15 PM   #6
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I'm thinking a Panavision 35mm would make the bride look halfway decent.
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Old October 12th, 2004, 04:17 AM   #7
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Then you'd have to spend big bucks to have it converted to VHS. There goes the profit.
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Old October 13th, 2004, 07:07 AM   #8
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I just shot an out door wedding with the DVX100A in 30 fps progressive mode and the footage turned out quite stunning. I switched to 60i for the reception and was not as impressed in the low light as mentioned in other posts. Even with an onboard light I had to crank in 12 dB of gain. Footage wasn't bad but I wished I had one of the Sony's for the reception.

Ideal situation would be to have both cams for the options. I used a DVC30 for a second cam during the ceremony but I'm not sure how much better it is in low light than the DVX so I didn't use it during the reception. Has anybody used the DVC30 in a low light yet?
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Old October 13th, 2004, 03:19 PM   #9
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I'm using a Canon GL1 and a GL2 and I'm happy with the image quality from this combination, plus they both have a full 20X optical zoom range. The GL2 is noticeably better in low light and has handy audio controls with an on-screen audio display, and if you buy the shoe-mounted XLR adapter that gives you a perfect spot to mount a wireless receiver. The GL2 can also shoot 16:9 video which is reportedly fairly decent, although I haven't tested it for that purpose. And it shoots one megapixel digital stills to an SD memory card, if you have any desire to do that.

All in all the GL2 is a big improvement over the GL1 and suits me nicely for event work. I bought mine a few weeks ago for under $2000 after a Canon rebate, and I doubt you'll find many better cameras in that price range.
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Old October 13th, 2004, 03:55 PM   #10
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Bob, don't take my sentiments in the other thread that I'm downing the DVX100. It is indeed an excellent camera- I once use to shoot wedding with it. I just feel that each camera has it's strengths and weaknesses and it just so happens that the PD-170/VX2100's strengths are ones that are helpfull to the event/wedding videography genre.

I'll break down my take on the DVX100:

Pros
- Very high amount of in-camera image adjustment
- The ability to shoot 24p
- True zoom lense, not zoom by wire
- Stock lense is quite wide and good for shooting in expansive churches

Cons
- Not the best low light performance
- 24p is definitly film'ic but it doesn't lend it'self very well to slow motion, 60i is much smoother
- Despite the fact it has a real zoom lense it's dials feel sloppy and there is a noticable amount of play in the zoom ring
- Tele is a bit short at only 10x
- The highly regarded "cinegamma" setting crushes the highlights a bit. The brightest brights seem to overexpose a bit early. Lack of dynamic range?


What I like about the PD-170 (some soley opinion)
- Has the ability to shoot DVcam (I know not all find this an advantage but for really important shoots I go DVcam to greatly lessen the possibility for video errors ..ie dropouts)
- Produces the cleanest image with realatively high gains applied, hence it's ability to peform in low-light. Try comparing low-light reception footage from a VX2100/PD-170 to a DVX100/DVC80...there's no comparison.
- Despite it doesn't have true manual lense adjustments the dials roll smooth as silk and offer a good resistance. Rack focuses are cake.
- Color rendition. To me the PD-170 offers the most neutral color rendition out of all the cams I've shot with....with the XL-1s being on the opposite spectrum offering the most color casted results (very warm).
- NP-960 batteries....the longest lasting batteries for a camera in this class. I charge one of these and it's good from the start of the day in the salon with the bride- all the way to the end of the night at the reception when the lights go on and the DJ is kicking people out. I still had a marked 200 minutes left. That's another bonus...with Sony Info Lithium batteries you'll get an actual "minute" reading for how long the battery has left.
- It has a longer zoom than the DVX100, at 12x. Doesn't sound like much but equates to a considerable amount when in the field shooting. It's not as wide as the DVX100 lense but Sony packages a Wide-Angle adapter lense with the PD-170 kit!
- No lense cap. No more fiddling around with the lense cap in hopes you won't lose it. The PD and VX now have an integrated lense cap in the lense hood that can open and close at a flip of a switch. Also the lense hood is made out of a rubber composite which can take bumps and bangs if need be. I've heard stories about people cracking the stiff rigid lense hood on the DVX.
- The LCD, while it is considerably smaller than the DVX's LCD it's much crisper and easier to lock focus on. Plus it's a "hybrid" lcd (whatever that means) which allows it to be plainly visible even in the brightest direct sunlight.
- Audio controls. Some people may favor the separate dial approach but I actually favor the setup on the 170. You can "lock" both left and right channels so you don't have to fiddle around with two separate knobs hoping to get them matched correctly. The knobs on the DVX are recessed and a bit akward to make fine tweaks on. The PD has a very smooth notchy knob (you feel soft clicking as you roll it) giving it a much easier operation.


If you want I'll be willing to post some stills from wedding shoots I shot on my PD-170. I'll gladly match them against any wedding stills taken from a DVX100. I'll post both bright sunlit images and dark reception footage as well. That way you don't have to take my word for it- and you can draw your own conclusion.
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Old October 13th, 2004, 06:54 PM   #11
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DVX100A for weddings

Glen,

Thank you for taking the time to write such a comprehensive review of the PD170 and its application to wedding videography.

It's always good to hear from actual shooters rather than magazine reviewers whose objectivity may be compromised by advertisers.

One of my concerns is the "stepped" manual iris control. Last month, I shot with the PD150 for the first time. I utterly rely on manual iris for proper exposure in conditions where the light levels are changing...and the 150's stepped iris resulted in jumping video levels. It was jarring.

The PD170, I understand, is still a stepped iris but with twice as many steps as the PD150. I'll have to take a 170 out for a test drive before buying one.

Bob
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Old October 13th, 2004, 08:35 PM   #12
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Well dialing the iris up and down DURING a shot isn't good videography to begin with. It's best to set up your composition and exposure before you start capturing the content your going to use.

I, myself, rely on manual iris, as I do manual focus, manual audio levels and so on.

I suggest you try them both out- you don't have to take my word for it. I have no doubt if you try both your mind will be set. I tried both...mine is. Good luck- keep us informed with your decision.
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Old October 16th, 2004, 10:55 AM   #13
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>> Despite it doesn't have true manual lense adjustments the dials roll smooth as silk and offer a good resistance. Rack focuses are cake.

Glenn, I just don't agree with that. Yes, the rings glide smoothly, but, as an example, when you do a crawl zoom, it just doesn't respond well. And as for rack focusing, it always been a shot in the dark (hoping for the best). Unless of course you know something I don't; in which case, I'd like to know your trick.
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Old October 16th, 2004, 05:24 PM   #14
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You've seen some of my work correct? I often do rack focuses on the fly. I don't have any special technique- I never found any problem doing them.

Crawl zooms are even easier. I feel (meaning this is my opinion) that the fact that the zoom ring is zoom by wire it buffers any shakeyness or abrupt changes in a slow crawl. I found the DVX zoom ring provided practically no resistance, and felt very loose and sloppy. In addition to that it was super sensitive. Loose and sensitive aren't a good combo.
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Old October 16th, 2004, 07:17 PM   #15
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Glen, was that the original DVX100 or the DVX100A?
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