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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old December 26th, 2009, 06:35 PM   #1
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How many pros here are still shooting weddings primarily with the FX1?

I'm curious how many pros here are shooting primarily with Sony's HDR-FX1?

With the economics of shooting wedding videos, professionally, being generally pretty tight for generating profit sufficient to earn a decent living, for the hours worked, the FX1 strikes me as the most cost-effective camera to shoot with, when you look at the whole picture from a business perspective, except perhaps for those who are cutting costs by using tapeless acquisition quite effectively, in a manner that saves significant money over the long-haul.

From an image quality perspective, since the overwhelming majority of wedding videos are still delivered in SD, on DVD, I don't really see much point to using more expensive cameras (aside from perhaps better low light performance from some newer, but much more expensive, cameras). Low light performance aside, an EX1 (for example) just doesn't yield a tremendously superior image, when downsized for DVD.
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Old December 27th, 2009, 01:17 AM   #2
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As a pro I would never consider the FX1 simply because it has no pro sound facility. There are other serious drawbacks but that's the main one. Whilst you can mix-and-match images with the Z1, the security of interchangeability that having three identical cameras gives is worth the small investment.
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Old December 27th, 2009, 01:55 AM   #3
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We use mainly FX1s (for the moment, we' ll soon move to higher specs). I wouldn't complain about the sound, since we've got some non-XLR mics that work very nice when needed. Generally it's truly a very cost-effective camera (and very-very well built), but as the time passes you'll see the drawbacks, like the low-light sensitivity which compared to the EX1, is not that good. But Andrew, an EX1 may have other extras besides low-light. It does True Progressive for example, and this is one of the most important aspects, at least for me.
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Old December 27th, 2009, 02:49 PM   #4
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Robert, I think much depends on the background behind the question. If you are already using the FX1s and aren't unhappy with them, there's probably no reason to switch. No camera is as cheap as one you already own.

If you are looking at acquiring new or new/used cams, there may be better solutions for not too much more money. I loved my FX1s with a passion, but once I saw the footage from the FX1000 I was blown away. I used several of both side by side and there was really no comparison in terms of sharpness and low-light ability, as well as zoom range. And now, with used FX1000s coming on the marketplace, they can be had for only a few hundred more than used FX1s.

For me the sound issue was a non-issue. An external XLR box works just as well, or better, that a more expensive cam would, and I record audio to an external recorder anyway. I recently sold my FX1000s and moved to the Z5s for different reasons.
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Old December 27th, 2009, 03:11 PM   #5
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Do you really see a noticeable difference though, once you've downsized the image for SD DVD delivery to the client?
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Old December 27th, 2009, 03:25 PM   #6
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I did a quick search of the classifieds here. Didn't find many used FX1000s. It looks like you had the last one for sale - for about $1K more than used FX1s are typically going for these days.

I've actually been looking at perhaps shooting a few weddings for cash (casually and enjoyably - not intending to make it anything akin to a career), and using an FX1 (along with XH-A1), rather than selling it off. I kind of find it difficult to part with an FX1 that's basically mint, with almost no wear on the heads (mostly recorded directly to PC with it), for well under $2K. Might as well get some miles out of the heads, and pocket a few bucks first, while adding something to life experience (doesn't seem to impact typical selling prices much at all).
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Old December 27th, 2009, 03:49 PM   #7
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To be honest I haven't done a side-by-side of downconverted footage, as my primary criterion is the Blu-Ray quality. The difference in the raw footage is quite noticeable. But the FX1 with the Canon should be a better match, as their CCDs are both much softer than the FX1000's CMOSes. My concern had been that the difference was apparent when mixing the FX1s with FX7s and FX1000s -- even the FX7 (hell, even the HC3) was much sharper.

As you know, I just recently sold both my FX1s as well as my FX1000s. On average, there was about a $700 difference in selling price, but I suppose the market can be quite volatile.

All in all, I'd say you're in great shape with the cams you already own and I can't think of a good reason to switch. How do you find those two cams intercut with your HMC40?
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Old December 27th, 2009, 03:55 PM   #8
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There will always be a better camera. No matter what you have, you will always be tempted by better ones. With that said, the FX-1 is a good workhorse. The lack of XLR input is easily overcome with an external box as Adam says.

If you have a tight budget, a used FX-1 can be a good buy. If you have a bit more to spend, a used Canon XH-A1 is worth serious consideration. It's low light performance is slightly less than an FX-1 but not enough to matter. It has two distinct advantages. It has built in XLR inputs and a 20X zoom lens which can be very useful for event shooting.
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Old December 27th, 2009, 04:14 PM   #9
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How do you find those two cams intercut with your HMC40?
The HMC40 just smokes either an FX1 or XH-A1 (with adequate light). The HMC40 image is so sharp, that with 1080 line footage, shown on a big screen, there would almost assuredly be a visible difference, cut with HDV footage from any camera, simply due to HDV compression artifacting and softening of the image, if nothing else.

The HMC40's resolution is about as sharp as it realistically can get for 1920x1080 images, and there is a viewable difference between full bore AVCHD (24Mbps) and HDV compression. HDV is reasonable for viewing, but (first generation) AVCHD is within reach of visually lossless compression.
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Old December 27th, 2009, 04:21 PM   #10
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For Blu-Ray delivery, I wouldn't want to cut HMC40 footage with footage from either an FX1 or an XHA1 - would have to dumb down the HMC40 footage (usually - would depend on the shots of course).
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Old December 27th, 2009, 04:35 PM   #11
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If you have a bit more to spend, a used Canon XH-A1 is worth serious consideration. It's low light performance is slightly less than an FX-1 but not enough to matter.
For practical use, I don't know that the XH-A1 is any lesser camera in low light (at all). It's a different beast. Gain is cleaner on the FX1, but you can smack A1 footage harder with a denoising filter, since it's image is sharper. (You can also do a heck of a lot of tweaking with the A1 image, in-camera, to compensate for less than ideal lighting.)
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Old December 27th, 2009, 05:04 PM   #12
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As you know, I just recently sold both my FX1s as well as my FX1000s. On average, there was about a $700 difference in selling price, but I suppose the market can be quite volatile.
I put up a listing for the FX1 a few weeks back, asking $1950 and then dropping the asking price to $1850. Didn't get a single nibble even. I just couldn't see dropping the asking price further, to compete with other FX1s that have a lot of hours on the heads (maybe in real good shape still - but compared to mine, just can't have nearly as many miles left in them).
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Old December 27th, 2009, 05:24 PM   #13
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I own a FX-1. If I had it to do over again, I would pick the XH-A1 over my FX-1 for the reasons I mentioned above. That's not to say that I don't like my FX-1. I have recently done some 2-camera shoots with the other camera being an XH-A1. I find the low light performance to be about one f-stop difference between the two cameras with the edge going to the FX-1. The last shoot I did was a low light shoot of a play. My FX-1 was set to +9db and the XH-A1 was set to +6db yet the visible grain was less from the FX-1 at +9db. As I understand it, the FX-1 adds some in-camera softening to offset grain. If that's true, you can de-grain the XH-A1 in your editor with a filter (read soften) or get it out of the camera (FX-1) with less grain but slightly softened. I guess it's better to get it from the camera with more grain and slightly sharper and decide what you want to do in your editor. If you decide to degrain in your editor, the end result will be essentially the same.

I like the slightly flatter color from the XH-A1. I find that I have slightly more color adjustment latitude with it in my editor compared to the FX-1.

These differences between the output of these two cameras are very small but discernible to the critical eye. You can do a great job with either camera. I have found that the footage from each intermixes well.

As for the differences between CMOS based HDV cameras versus CCD cameras, I think this is overplayed. I have mixed footage from my FX-1 with footage from the Z5, Z7 and Canon HV-30 cameras with no difficulty. The key is that these are all HDV cameras.
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Old December 27th, 2009, 06:16 PM   #14
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You definitely have more grain with the XH-A1 (even at 0dB gain), unless you start tweaking the infinitely adjustable image settings. I've never done it, but you should be able to reduce grain from the A1 image, in-camera, to likely get real close to matching the level of grain from the FX1 (also probably winding up with the lower resolution though too). Frankly, I'd rather get the sharper image and degrade it in post if really needed.
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Old December 27th, 2009, 06:32 PM   #15
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Frankly, I think it's a little nuts to opt for a camera that shoots a noticeably softer image, simply to be rid of the banding effect you get, when a flash goes off, with CMOS. Sure, it's really noticeable when you carefully step through the footage one-frame-at-a-time while editing. It's an entirely different thing when viewing in-real time, relaxed in your easy chair in the living room sipping a cold one. Then, to most typical viewers watching casually for entertainment, it just looks like a flash.
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