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

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Old May 27th, 2010, 06:27 PM   #1
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Need HD advice

I'm getting back in the game after a couple of years off (wife and I had our first child) and I need some advice on going HD. I used Sony PD170s in my previous setup with Vegas 7. I am now a proud mac and FCP user, but I've lost track of the world of HD cams. It seems like there are a lot of good options out there. What are the most wedding/event friendly HD cams out there now? What are you all using?


ps: I did a quick search and didn't come up with much so please bear with me if this has been addressed before.
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Old May 27th, 2010, 07:14 PM   #2
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Well I don't shoot weddings, but I do shoot plenty of events. I just finished an extensive search for a pair of new HD cameras. I'm not an impulse buyer and tend to over-analyze my purchases, spending up to two months to make this type of buy.

I ended up going with Panasonic AVCHD cameras. The first being an HMC150 for general use as my A cam, and a GH1 DSLR for my B cam and "beauty shots". I just received my HMC150 yesterday so I haven't done much with it. I have used my GH1 quite a bit and love it, but as a DSLR, it doesn't have a lot of the user-friendliness of a true video camera. It sure does give me great shots and is much easier to use than a video camera with a DOF adapter.

Now I'm a Vegas/Premiere/After Effects user, and I've heard that AVCHD on a Mac can be problematic. One camera that came in as a close second was the JVC HM100U which records in native Apple Quicktime .mov file format directly to SDHC cards.
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Old May 27th, 2010, 07:22 PM   #3
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I won't pretend to know the best wedding friendly camera, but I also use to shoot weddings on the PD-150. When it was time to upgrade I picked the Sony Z5. I could re-use the batteries, the low-light was close in my eyes, and I wanted HDV since my computer is a few years old. I only shoot weddings, and I shoot a lot of them. I have had the Z5 for more then a year and I am very pleased with the results. Again, I can only speak from my experience.
Sony HVR-Z5, Sony PD-150, Canon HV30, Adobe Creative Suite 4
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Old May 27th, 2010, 10:42 PM   #4
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Brian, you lucky man - no history or preconceptions to interfere with your choice - well perhaps that's overstating the case, but you do seem to have a broad canvas on which to draw.

If I was in your place I think I'd be foolish not to look at DSLRs, provided your memory of the PD170 is sufficiently remote to allow you the sort of blue-sky thinking that is necessary.

I suggest this not because I have any misgivings about continuing with my three Z1s, nor any of the cameras that went before. Nor do I believe (on what I know - which isn't a lot) that the DLSR is as developed, as flexible or as intuitive as a video - and audio - camera. It's simply that there's a sufficiently large body of opinion and practice in favour of the DSLR that it would be unwise to ignore, even if you eventually decide to stick with a more conventional camera.

Finally, may I add that I recommend you consider not just your camera choice but your selection of editing software as well, because some simply isn't compatible eg some products don't support AVCHD etc.
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Old May 29th, 2010, 05:33 PM   #5
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My vote is for the Sony AX-2000 and the Canon 7D.

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Old May 30th, 2010, 02:17 AM   #6
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Alot will depend on your budget and personal preferences. For example, If you loved the PD170 when you had it, you might want to stick with Sony for familiarity. Here's my own breakdown of some popular options (though these are only my personal opinions)

A) If you have money to burn/If you'll make no comprimise on quality: Sony EX1/EX3 (1/2" chips, solid state)

B) If you prefer solid state: Sony NX5/AX2000, Panasonic HMC150 (all 1/3" chips, AVCHD)

C) If you'd prefer Tape: Either Sony Z5 or Canon XH-A1s (both 1/3" chips, HDV).

D) If you are on a tight budget or as a second camera: Sony FX7 (1/4" chips, HDV), Canon 7d or 550d/t2i (DSLR's - do your research before buying these), Panasonic GH1 (similar to DSLR's but with a few differences), Sony CX550 or Canon HFS21 (both AVCHD handycams)
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Old June 7th, 2010, 06:03 PM   #7
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I like the HMC150. I recently used a consumer 3mos (tm700 1080 60P) cam for a static shot from behind.

One thing you will notice fast about HD is how critical focusing is. Way less tolerant of a soft focus. If you are outputting to DVD then not quite as bad but on HD output it is very obvious.

Unfortunately, many of the prosumer HD cams had SD LCD's and viewfinders. This drives me nuts. They do usually have focus assist tools but in a wedding situation you aren't always quick enough. (I really wish I at least had an HD viewfinder in the hmc150).

I have yet to have a client ask for a HD output. Some will ask what you shoot on and may even go somewhere else if you shoot SD, but they will always end up asking for a DVD and NOT a BD. Go figure.

One advantage to shooting HD for SD is you can zoom in on the HD footage and reframe, provide extra motion etc.

One note about those 1/4.7 inch 3mos cams. Wide scenic or wide audience shots look like mud. The detail at 0 is too sharp for closer shots. ie they make wet patio stones look like plastic. Turning it down makes wide distance shots look muddy. Not like soft focus, just..odd.
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