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


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Old March 18th, 2005, 08:08 PM   #1
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Which camcorder to start with?

I want to try to do video for weddings. My wife is currently in wedding business but only as a video editor. She used to work for small studio for two years. Now she is freelancing at home using Final Cut. Recently we bought digital SLR for her - may be she would be able to do photography (she is studying now).

So, we're thinking to buy a camcorder for me to practice first and then may be covering whole wedding package including videography, photography and postproduction.

I have a very little experience with shooting video. Iíve made a couple documentaries about 10 years ago using an old basic film video camera. Also I used to do photography as a hobby for a long time.

I've done some research on digital camcorders for weddings and basically I'm in between two of them:
SONY DSR-PD170 and SONY DSR-250

I understand that second one more expensive and I assume better, but does it worth it spending additional $2000 in my case. I have very little money to spend, but if it's really necessary I can find some additional money for 250. I just simply don't know how soon I can start making money, using my equipment.

In addition to that, my wife told me that her previous boss was hiring videographers starting from the question "which camera do you have?". And he would pay $300 for person with DSR-250 and $150 for someone with PD170 only as a second camera. I checked this forum and found out that a lot of great videographers here use PD170. May be it's only in New York PD170 is considered not really good for weddings? What do you think?

And one more point. My wife told me that when she does editing for two-camera wedding, usually camera which use full 184 min DV tape gives much better results than camera with 40 min miniDV tapes. Do you think it's true? Unfortunately she doesn't know models of cameras used. People just give her their tapes.

Thanks in advance to everybody who can help me to decide.
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Old March 18th, 2005, 08:21 PM   #2
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You'll find the PD-170 to pretty much be the accepted standard around here, and for good reason, it's light, very portable, creates superb images, and has good low light performance. You can look at some of these guys sample footage (just dig through posts, you'll find linked footage, and visit some of their website) and see that a miniDV camera gives more than adequate results. I am far from a pro at weddings, but I could not see any reason to justify the extra 2 grand. You'll see (again, if you check out these guys websites) that there are a great many people making a great deal of money per wedding using miniDV equipment. I would find it much more prudent to use the extra money on beefing up on audio than going all out on just the camera. You can have a 35mm Panavision, but if your audio is crappy, the footage will not be worth watching.
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Old March 18th, 2005, 08:27 PM   #3
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Thanks for your reply, Daniel!

I've seen almost all linked samples on this forum and results are great. The question is why my whife's former boss is paying twice more for someone who has DSR-250? And why he takes PD170 owners only as a second camera person?

Thanks again for your time!
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Old March 18th, 2005, 09:00 PM   #4
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I would think he has a mental tick or something...anyway, he's a former boss, so I would just scoot him right on out of my head!

Hopefully one of these great pro's can give you a serious answer, but I feel pretty good about mine. You see, when the results are in, if they are really good, nobody will care what model camera made them.

Maybe you could get the PD-170 and some good audio equipment to begin with, make some money with that....feel it out from the inside for a while, and then if you can justify the 250, go for it.....the PD-170's resale value is pretty dang good....if you can even find em for sale used, and good luck with that...folks hang on to em! Heck, even the old 150's are going for over $2000!

BTW, I am far from a PD-170 pusher... I use a DVX100A.

May the Force be with you! I could not imagine competing from scratch in NYC. I'll be having the luck of being a medium fish in a little ol bitty pond.
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Old March 18th, 2005, 09:52 PM   #5
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PD-170 is THE wedding cam. You will need the extra money for wireless lav, extra wireless lav, tripod, monopod, backup camera, portable light (?), RF music library, marketing, maybe a shotgun mic, extra battery packs, wide angle lens, Glidecam, DVD burner, editing software, DVD software, and more. Don't forget to save some money for educational stuff (books, DVDs, etc) on shooting, shooting weddings, lighting, audio production, editing, marketing, and more.
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Old March 19th, 2005, 09:55 AM   #6
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To throw my two cents in-
I use GL2's and am very happy, as are my clients, with the results. I started years ago with XL1's, then picked up a GL2 as a "backup" camera. For shooting weddings, smaller cameras mean that they are more portable, quick to move, and you can shoot longer without getting tired (simply because of weight)--all issues that are important in the run and gun business of weddings. Its true that the smaller cameras dont have the "thats a big=professional camera" look to them, but normally you'll have a few accessiores on them anyway to show off.

Most prosummer cameras today are producing tremedous footage, and the PD-170 is probably the most used wedding cam, but any manufacturer's rig will do the job. Just make sure to practice your filming skills !
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Old March 19th, 2005, 10:13 AM   #7
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Maxym

I have both the 250 and 150. I don't know how soon HDV will become the standard, but I would be hesitant to invest $5000 into the DV format not know how many years it will be a viable format.

The images from the 150 and 250 are identical. When your wife said she sees a difference in the quality of the large tapes compared to the small tapes it makes me think that the large tapes were from a DSR-300, 370, 570, etc. Those cameras do yeild better results. They have better glass, larger chips, etc.

The PD-170 can yield professional results, no question about that. I would not hesitate to purchse a PD-170.

I agree with the other posters. Purchase a 170 and apply the $2000 difference on a good tripod, wireless mics and or a Mini Disc or IRiver, on-camera light ( Frezzi or NRG) and invest in yourself through training materials and conferences. While the tools are important, it is the talent behind the tools that makes the biggest difference.

All My Best,
Mark Von Lanken
Picture This Productions, Inc
www.TulsaWeddingFilms.com
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Old March 19th, 2005, 06:56 PM   #8
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I use Canon cameras. A GL1 and a XL1s. Love them both. Lots of things I like about Canon Design and the "look" of the video they produce.

When I'm slow I sub my services to a collegue whose primary focus is TV advertising. All of his cameras are SONY.

No miniDV or DVCAM camera will beat a SONY for low light capability.

The smaller cameras are a dream to use. So many possibilities! So little headache! Still, after four years with a little GL1 I chose the shoulder style XL1s as my next camera. I really missed the stability they offer.

Your wife's boss probably pays more for the 250 camera person because the 250 is a more expensive camera. A portion of that $300 fee is apllied to the "rental" of the camera, based upon what it can produce in terms of video quality. Personally, i think that is a perceived value. I've compared my miniDV Canon tapes to SONY DVCAM and BETACAM SP. Not much difference between miniDV and DVCAM on a 700 line studio monitor. BETACAMSP leaves both in the dust.

What to do?
I think I would first look at audio systems and find the best UHF wireless system I could afford, a good shotgun mic, 2 or 3 decent hand mics, a four channel audio mixer, and an IRiver digital recorder.
Add to that the necessary cable adapters to make everything interconnectable, and then...

choose either a PD-170 or a VX-2100.

It has been saide here before...how you sound is 70% of how you look!

sorry to add the additonal confusion.

Good luck!
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Old March 20th, 2005, 06:29 PM   #9
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Thanks everybody for your answers!

I thought that DSR-250 replaces DSR-300 but looks like they are in different price category.

So, most likely, I'm going to choose PD170 which cost around $3000. Approximately how much should I consider to spend extra on audio equipment, tripods, lights etc? I have everything for editing - computer, software, monitors, DSR-11 deck.
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Old March 21st, 2005, 07:45 AM   #10
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<<<-- Originally posted by Maxym Rumyantsev : Thanks everybody for your answers!

I thought that DSR-250 replaces DSR-300 but looks like they are in different price category.

So, most likely, I'm going to choose PD170 which cost around $3000. Approximately how much should I consider to spend extra on audio equipment, tripods, lights etc? I have everything for editing - computer, software, monitors, DSR-11 deck. -->>>

That's totally up to you. I spent $450 on wireless(AKG PT/PR 81), $500 on a tripod(Manf/Bogen), $50 on a light(Don't need it too often with the pd170). Also, don't forget a GOOD shotgun microphone. I have the AT897 and love it.

If you look around you can find the pd170 for much cheaper than $3000. I just picked up 2 of them for $2650 each and there is a $300 rebate from Sony till the end of the month.

We use 2 wireless microphones and a Iriver/Minidisc at each ceremony.(officiant, groom and crowd ) We also use DVRACK and tape as a backup. It so nice not to have to capture all the tape, just transfer to editing pc and go. Saves us lots of time since we usually shoot with 3 or 4 cameras at the wedding. I would really like a firestore fs-4 but I just cannot justify spending $1100 yet. The firestore is small enough to mount on camera and almost eliminate tape transfer. One time I actually wore a backpack to hold my laptop and used dvrack for the whole shoot. I have a really small Dell laptop that weighs nothing. Note: I only did it once :)

Good luck on your new venture. It's a lot of work but it's also alot of fun and each wedding is a new adventure!

Jon
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Old March 21st, 2005, 10:54 PM   #11
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<<<-- Originally posted by Jon East :
If you look around you can find the pd170 for much cheaper than $3000. I just picked up 2 of them for $2650 each and there is a $300 rebate from Sony till the end of the month.

-->>>

Is it $2650 after the rebate or before? I work in retail store and we sell PD170 so I can buy it for the "cost". But our "cost" price is more expensive than price stated above. Where is that nice place, where I can buy camera for $2650?
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 11:03 AM   #12
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I would spend the least I could on equipment until I was sure I wanted to do this seriously enough to warrant the investment.
I would buy one of the new 3 CCD consumer cameras or a second-hand XM2/GL2. They would be good enough to practise shooting and editing. They would also be good enough for a second or backup camera. Get the shots right and then buy a better camera only when you feel the camera is limiting you. Hire a pd170 for the first few gigs, if you feel the need. Put money into things that last longer like tripod and lights and mics.
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 11:08 AM   #13
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I purchased them online from a&mphotoworld. The price I was originally give was $1990 but they bait and switch you it and the final price was $2650. A buddy of mine picked up a pd170 for $2550 on ebay the other day. It was delivered brand new in the box.

I know that b&h sells them for $3200 minus the 300 rebate is $2900. That is still a great deal for such a good camera.

Jon
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 04:34 PM   #14
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I'm surprised no one's said anything about the Sony FX1 yet. Depending on your circumstances and willingness to deal with cutting-edge technology, it's a heck of a camera. The only reason I would say to consider anything else at this time is because the FX1 apparently isn't quite as good in low light as a few of the most sensitive DV cameras, but it's not too bad in that regard either. Something to think about, since a year or two from now it may become difficult to sell professional wedding videos that aren't shot in high-definition format.
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