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


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Old March 10th, 2010, 01:34 PM   #1
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Do you use XH-A1s for weddings?

I'm looking at purchasing an XH-A1s very soon to round out my camera needs. I have to stay in the $3000-3500 range for this purchase.

Right now, I use two HV30s and while they have gotten me to this point, I want/need to upgrade.

I'm looking for input from those who use the XH-A1s cameras for weddings. Low-light is of constant concern and I understand these will be better in low-light than the HV30s, but they won't be as good as a camera that costs $6000 or more.

In your honest opinion as an A1s user, how good are they in low light? I know there are manual settings to use and I would assume an on camera light will still be necessary just like with the HV30s. And it seems like the camera is an all around good piece of equipment with great picture, usability, etc.

During ceremonies in dim churches it's not cool to get close enough to the B&G to throw camera light on them. And at receptions, the HV30s do okay at close range with my 55W light - but the backgrounds are darker than I would like just to keep gain/grain out of my shots. Still, the HV30s have been okay.

I don't want to throw down the money if another camera in this range would be better, but I also want to stay with Canon because of the HV30s.
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Old March 10th, 2010, 02:17 PM   #2
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I use the XH-A1 in combo with an HV20. The A1 is a great camera but not exceptional in low light. You'll need some type of lighting at reception time. I would stay away from an on camera light and use a baterry powered reception light or two placed on stands.
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Old March 10th, 2010, 02:22 PM   #3
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I used to use the A1 and it was a great camera, I have sine upgraded to HD-DSLR's however the A1 was always great in low light provided you knew how to use the manual settings. I've have people ask me how my footage looked so great (photographers who also did some video on the side) and I told them it was simply practice and understanding how to use the manual settings the camera.. So the A1 is great, just need to practice shooting in full manual and you'll nail the perfect image every time.
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Old March 10th, 2010, 03:34 PM   #4
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I've used one for weddings, great outdoors/ okay indoors /passable in low light if you tweak the presets...but with their new A1 replacement coming out in the next couple of months, I wouldn't invest in a new A1 at $3500 until you see what the new one can do. If you haven't seen the thread under industry news, it's full of interesting speculations. One thing that seems firm is the new format which I believe doubles the bandwidth of HDV. That alone would be important to anyone having to color correct a white dress passing from cheap church house lights to stained glass windows to cheap church spot lights, etc.. I would think they probably have been able to boost the CCDs' sensitvity since the A1s came out.
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Old March 10th, 2010, 06:25 PM   #5
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I am using the A1s for weddings and other shoots. I have had it now for about six months. I took a lot of time and research buying this camera. Of all of the actual videocams (not DSLRs) out, for me it had the best mix of professional features and still used tape, which I feel is a good medium for at least one camera in your arsenal. I am also looking into getting a Firestore device for it, so I can use files and not have to digitize the tape - just having the tape as backup only.

The presets available for download around the web are great - I downloaded the LowLight and Panalook presets and they are both really excellent. I did a shoot in fairly low light last weekend and everything looked pretty good. I have a 7D as well - and I have to say, if you use the A1s correctly I think it does just as good a job in low light as the 7D depending on the lens used on the 7D. Yes, if you have a 1.4 lens on the 7D it's going to let more light into the cam, but the A1s (used with the proper settings, which is saying something) can definitely work well in low light. I've seen some really surprising low light footage with it.
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Old March 10th, 2010, 08:06 PM   #6
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Bill, you actually lose an F/stop by using the Panalook preset, if you really want to get the maximum use out of it in lowlight you have to shoot in 30f, no preset(or a lowlight preset), you can even try shooting in +6db.
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Old March 10th, 2010, 08:49 PM   #7
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Mike, we've been using A1's for 2 years now at weddings. They are great, solid cameras and their lowlight is pretty good with manual control. We've been really, really happy with them.

That said, we just purchased several 7D's today and will be switching over to those .. as they are more travel friendly for destination weddings. We're going to be selling 2 XHA1s in probably a week or two once the 7D's arrive and we ensure they have no issues. PM me if you're interested in purchasing some very-well-cared-for A1's with some nice accessories. We also have an HV30 which has been babied and we may sell that as well.
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Old March 10th, 2010, 11:58 PM   #8
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The A1 is my one and only camera I use at my wedding jobs. Up until now i've shot all my weddings solo, so knowing the in's and out's of my A1 is a must. Researching presets is a must. The only preset i use now is Truecolor. The lowlight capabilities are very good when shot in Manual mode. The maximum amount of gain i use is +6 decibels. In post i color correct with Magic Bullet which when using the correct settings i can eliminate all grain and produce a nicely looking image.

In regards to DSLR cameras I don't think i could ever shoot a wedding without my A1. While i will be adding a T2i to my collection, the recording length limitations along with the lack of audio inputs on DSLR's is enough to justify you can't safely shoot an event without a steady workhorse like the XHA1.
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Old March 11th, 2010, 05:57 AM   #9
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Hi everyone and thanks for the great replies.

Travis, I checked out your site - are those wedding reels done with the A1's?
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Old March 11th, 2010, 06:35 AM   #10
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almost exactly the same reply as Travis! (except i sold my HV30 a long time ago)

2 x XH-A1's for the last couple of years - never ever had a bad word against them (apart from the small LCD flipout screen). really can crank these cameras in manual mode to suit any situation. and i never use presets, as i much prefer a raw output.

just got my 1st 7D, and will see how I get on with it at weddings, before making a decision about cutting out the XH-A1s. but for the moment, i'm very happy using both.

cheers
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Old March 11th, 2010, 07:06 AM   #11
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Hey Michael,

Yeah, I don't use the Panalook preset for low light situations - it's just one of the presets I really liked. For me, I try not to go above +3db on gain. If I can open up aperture all the way and get as much light into the cam as possible than +3db works most of the time. It keeps the noise level down by not going to + 6 or above.
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Old March 15th, 2010, 05:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Hammond View Post
Hi everyone and thanks for the great replies.

Travis, I checked out your site - are those wedding reels done with the A1's?
Yes, everything you currently see on our website was shot entirely with A1's.
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Old March 15th, 2010, 05:07 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Almquist View Post
In regards to DSLR cameras I don't think i could ever shoot a wedding without my A1. While i will be adding a T2i to my collection, the recording length limitations along with the lack of audio inputs on DSLR's is enough to justify you can't safely shoot an event without a steady workhorse like the XHA1.
I have to disagree with you here. There are a number of studios now shooting weddings entirely with DSLR's and there are ways to do it safely. So I have to disagree on the point that it can't be done.

That said, shooting an event like a wedding is definitely going to be much easier to do with something like A1's versus DSLR's.
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Old March 15th, 2010, 07:07 PM   #14
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Travis, most of these studios have more than one shooter, I think doing a wedding with multicam using DSLR's is difficult for one or two shooters, your recording limitations (12min) along with the lack of audio can be a disaster if you are not prepared.
The best thing to do is to ease into it by shooting with both until you are 100% comfortable with DSLR's.

Mike
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Old March 15th, 2010, 09:07 PM   #15
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Michael, I'm certainly not arguing that it's not a challenge. In fact, I specifically made the point that shooting a wedding would be easier with A1's. The point I was challenging was that a wedding couldn't be shot safely with just DSLR's. It can.
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