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


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Old October 4th, 2010, 08:56 PM   #1
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Bonus camera?

I'm wanting to get a pov camera for some bonus ceremony shots. I'm thinking about the Sony CX550V or the MC50U.

Any opinions or suggestions?
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Old October 5th, 2010, 02:25 AM   #2
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Dan, your very brief question is probably so brief it'll be difficult for anyone to give you a list or even a single recommendation; for starters, what is your main camera?

Now of course I have no idea what budget you have available or whether you're a pro or not but let me set a cat amongst some pigeons because this is a question which crops up regularly.

The only way to get matched shots is to use matched cameras - not just identical cameras but set up together also - just like broadcasters do. (I know there are exceptions like helmet cams etc but I'm speaking of ordinary, mainline programmes).

Using unmatched cameras (and microphones for that matter) results in varying degrees of pig's ear, so let me pose just a few questions that will help you understand my point.

Which shots are so unimportant that you and your clients will accept a lower quality image?

If they're that unimportant why bother taking them at all?

If you need B roll shots so desperately why not buy a decent stills camera (remember SD resolution is only 720x576/480) and snap some things that will work as stills or which can be rostrumed?

If the lesser camera is adequate why did you waste your budget on the more expensive one - you could have bought two of the lesser ones and saved money and time (see last question)?

Do you use lower quality tape stock in the lesser camera? If not, why not?

How much do you charge yourself for the time taken trying to get images from the lesser camera to look like those from the best camera?

Answer these questions honestly and I think you'll agree that if you need two or more cameras they should be matched.

Hope it helps
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Old October 5th, 2010, 03:58 AM   #3
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Well, In some ways Phillip has a point, a pair of CX550V's make a potent combo, and the CX500V is the same sensor block and electronics, so a 4 cam matched setup is fairly cheap to pull together... depending on the market and shooting style the big cams might not make as much sense <wink>! That setup is easy to match in post as long as you set presets so they all match... takes a minute or two when firing up the lot.

I also agree that if you're trying to match your primary camera you'll probably have better luck sticking within the same brand - it's not always 100%, but generally there are similarities in a "breed", so let's say you're shooting NX5U's or EX1's - the CX550 should give you a pretty decent match (there have been multicam shoots posted elsewhere on DVi which illustrate this). Others have had good luck mixing between Canon Panasonic and Sony... so it's "doable".

I've mixed brands and models, and while I see the differences, most people won't. Since I will see the differences a matched set is my personal preference.

It can be a pain to color match if cameras are too dissimilar, but frankly there are lots of people here shooting multicam with one "big" camera, and several of these smaller cams as additional angles, and getting excellent results. It shouldn't present a big difficulty.

While the difference between say an HC3 and a Z1U was relatively noticeable a few years back, the top end small cameras are pushing the envelope on image quality and have highly developed auto functions. OK, so they don't have as capable manual control, but the image quality difference now between say the CX550 and an NX5U is not going to be 3-5x "better" as the prices might indicate, more like a small percentage "different". People whose opinions I trust here have found this to be true in practical shooting situations, sometimes even preferring the images from the smaller cameras...

To presume that the B/C/D cameras would have inferior image quality just because they are smaller and cost less is just too big a leap. I'd put the CX550V up against Phil's Z1's, and I think it's safe to say the Z1 would lose... I've owned the Z1, but technology marches forward. And I abandoned tape a while ago - the advantages of tapeless were significant, the EXMOR R sensor is astoundingly good, and the CX550 represents a very refined package by most user accounts (did I mention I like mine quite a lot?).

Shooting multicam, either manned or as a "one man show" doesn't always require matched cameras (although it helps), just proper positioning and co-ordination to get the additional angles that will make life easier in post.

To me the difference between the MC50U and the CX550 isn't justified, I've added hoods (a modded A1U and cheap aftermarket), the FV50 batteries last OK, but a FV70 isn't that expensive, and you can add a mic if you wish...

The one other question that bears asking is whether you're going to be wanting a camera that shoots shallow DoF style... in which case a different camera might add that capability to your "toolbox". The VG10 and the new SLT cameras come to mind...

I know smaller cameras don't have the visceral impact, but as long as they can deliver the image quality, they can do the job, and sometimes discreet is helpful.

Hope that helps somewhat!
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Old October 5th, 2010, 04:12 AM   #4
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Dave you're fully entitled to your comparison of a one tiny chip camera with a three tiny chip camera, but since neither of us knows what Dan has in the first place, I'm not sure it's a relevant comparison.

The other point is that the camera you prefer has no balanced sound inputs and in my view only, good sound quality is at least as important as good image quality.
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Old October 5th, 2010, 08:31 AM   #5
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I apologize for my brevity. I should know from years of hanging out here that I needed to explain myself more. Thanks so much for the thoughtful answers, even with my brief question.

My goal for one of these cameras is two-fold, depending on the particular ceremony. On one scenario, I'm looking for another cam to get some shots that I otherwise can't get by setting the camera in tight spaces... such as on the floor in the isle on a beanbag set wide as the bride walks down, or setup behind the unity candle/sand bottles when I can't physically get back there, etc. The second use would be in the back either on a tall tripod or balcony to capture a basic medium documentary shot.

Neither of these shots I think warrant buying another HMC150 or DSLR. I've recently used a little Canon Vixia HF S100 for these shots. While that camera produces a great image, it struggles in lower light churches, so I've used it sparingly at them. I'd like another small camera in the $1500-ish price bracket that would do better in lower light (not PD170 quality, but better than my S100).

I've used many many shots from my HF S100 in my productions, and while it does take a some time to make it look similar to my other footage, the way I edit and drop in shots, and the particular type of edit these shots are for, it works out well without spending more than maybe 5 minutes trying to match. If the light is too low, it's a struggle. But in decent light, I can relatively quickly make it match very closely.

I totally understand that using matching cameras is ideal, and I prefer that myself. But sometimes a shot just isn't worth spending $3300 on an HMC150. And I think that just because it isn't worth another HMC150 doesn't necessarily mean it isn't worth capturing. I've used many shots like these in my documentary cuts, and brides just don't know the difference. I'm not saying it's ok to cut corners just because the bride won't notice. But I am saying that I have to spend money wisely, and I'm sure my brides would rather have a good shot included with a slightly lower quality image than have it completely excluded. And these shots are primarily for my documentary cuts, not so much my short-forms.

So, in summary, the shots from these cameras I'm asking about are either a continuous run back-of-the-church documentary shot. Or, grabbing a single more dramatic shot during a ceremony. Neither of which, in my mind, warrants a $3000+ cost, in my opinion.

I just wondered, after some research with these two cameras, what some real-world opinions are from people that have used them.
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Old October 5th, 2010, 12:32 PM   #6
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Hi Dan,

I am using a Z7u, FX1 and a CX550v on my weddings, and they are all Sony. Im using the CX550v with the Sony GP AVT1 shooting grip/mini tripod, and with this it aids me in better handling the camera with the stabilizer on, it is rock solid. The grip turns into a mini tripod that you can just place anywhere, low mode shot, place it in a table, and so on, this little thing is very handy for me.

Here is a footage of the 3 cameras working together:


Last edited by Rickey Brillantes; October 5th, 2010 at 12:48 PM. Reason: typo
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Old October 5th, 2010, 01:53 PM   #7
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Phillip -

True about the audio, but since I use iRivers and close mics, all I need is a good ambient, which the 550 provides nicely. Second system audio is a given with weddings, so didn't see that as a concern, one of the reasons I'm seriously considering adding in an SLT a55, even though the sound samples I've heard are not so hot... images first.

Dan - totally understand the advantages of having several "eyes" on the target from different angles, thus the multicam approach many of us (including Phillip) use. But having too much performance difference between cameras can be a pain, as you've found with the Canon.

With your $1500-ish price bracket you can probably buy two slightly used cameras with good performance, and perhaps even new ones if you shop agressively. CX550s can be had for sub $1K, the SLT a33 and a55 are coming in under $900 new...


I'm taking the HMC150 reference as your "main" camera? Take a look at the Panasonic TM700 (or one of the other 700 series). From what I've seen they are quite good in low light, and can be had for around $800, debated picking one up for the 60p myself! While I am very happy with the CX550, especially handheld and in bad lighting, from everything I've seen the TM700 is a very close competitor, and perhaps superior in some respects!

You could also look at a GH1 or whatever mirrorless still camera with HD video camera Panasonic has - again, some decent features, and price points for what you're looking for, while staying in the Panasonic brand. Plus would add the DoF aesthetic to your toolkit.
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Old October 5th, 2010, 02:31 PM   #8
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Regarding audio, I would not use a single moment of audio from whatever camera I get. All my audio is covered with misc recorders scattered around the church.

Dave - I never considered the Panasonic GH1. I really like that idea after checking it out. Seems the American models don't have a record time limitation either. I can throw my 16gb sdhc cards in there and get 1.5 hours of AVCHD if needed. That sounds perfect. Although, I haven't found any info on the low-light capabilities. Seems the lens starts at f/4, and I would use it wide for most of my intended purposes. Using f/4 isn't terrible if the higher ISO performance is good. I'll keep looking for high-iso reviews for the GH1.

Thanks everyone for the input and ideas.
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