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


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Old November 26th, 2010, 11:17 AM   #1
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What Now?

I'm trying to decide on the next piece of gear I should buy. I mostly shoot weddings. I currently have:

•(3 total) Panasonic HMC150 (HD video camera)
•(2) Canon Digital Rebel t2i (still/video camera)
•Panasonic DVX100B (SD video camera)
•(3) 351 Bogen/Manfrotto w/503 HDV head (tripod)
•Bogen/Manfrotto Monopod
•Sennheiser G3 Wireless combo mic
•Sennheiser K6 (shotgun mic)
•Audio-Technica AT897 (shotgun mic)
•Zoom H4n (audio recording)
•3 foot Slider Track
•Glidecam 4000

Lenses
Canon 50mm, 1.4
Tokina 11-16mm
Canon 70-300mm (although I never use this for filming)
Canon 28-135mm


I'm thinking of getting the Sigma 20mm 1.8 lens since my Tokina isn't as fast. Either that or the Glidecam vest. I've also been wondering about lighting...I don't use anything currently, but I've seen some people on here recommend different things. What would you all recommend?
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Old November 26th, 2010, 09:14 PM   #2
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Jeremy

I notice your message has gone unanswered compared to the rapidity others are often dealt with and fear it may be because your message is all about gear rather than the programmes you make with it.

It takes one gearhead to know another so let me be the first to admit that I have long been able to find "programme" reasons to buy (usually called "investing in") a new piece of kit. However, my heyday was far back so perhaps I'm in recovery but it does worry me that you may be more concerned with your equipment than your programmes.

My simple recommendation therefore is that let your buying decisions be driven by your creative and programme needs rather than a list of gear (unless I've got you entirely wrong and you're a dealer)!

Good luck

Last edited by Philip Howells; November 27th, 2010 at 02:25 AM.
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Old November 27th, 2010, 02:17 AM   #3
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In my area, three or four wireless lav kits is kind of mandatory for good quality audio. Figure on one for the groom and more for the two or three officiants that may be performing the ceremony. I assume that you're using your Zooms for podiums and recording from the board, or dropping them in front of speakers, so if that's working for you then don't worry about using a lav for these purposes.

After that, I would steer you toward making sure you acquire the best gear you can find to make your life easier when hauling your camera equipment around. I think a lot of people buy one rolling box and forget about it, but good transport gear will outlast your cameras...probably.

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Old November 27th, 2010, 02:38 AM   #4
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Why do you feel you need to buy something else? What problems have you run into lately at any stage of production/business?

If you have money you feel you should invest into your craft, it doesn't automatically mean you need to buy more gear. Could you do with a receptionist who can answer the phones and take bookings for you while you are working (or so you can give yourself more time off)? Or maybe you could take out more ad's in local magazines? Hire a designer to re-vamp your website? Or go to a wedding expo? Any purchase or investment you make should always be viewed as a potential for returns - either increased productivity, more clients, better quality product etc. If no single piece of equipment springs to mind that will do any of this for you, then your money should be put elsewhere.
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Old November 27th, 2010, 07:22 AM   #5
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The canon 50mm 1.4 is a great lens. I would buy that.
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Old November 27th, 2010, 10:45 AM   #6
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Jeremy I would look at the age of your gear and consider a total revamp. You have some great stuff listed, but its getting old on you as technology is heading away from some of what you have. The AF100 is going to be a game changer and will make your HMC150s and DVXs real old real quick.

So if it were me and I was sitting in a position to move some stuff around, which I am doing now, I would sell off those cams and move into AF100s with the proceeds. Next the Canons, I'd shuffle those into new GH2s and now you have similar technology all across your cams. At that point you can look at lens selection that can be used on everything you own.
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Old November 27th, 2010, 06:58 PM   #7
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Chip the HMC150's might have a softer image but I would hardly call them old technology. They will continue to be solid workhorse cameras for a few years yet.

Also I don't see any sense in selling all the HMC's to trade for AF-100's - then you'd be left without a camcorder for run n gun situations. And having the GH2's as b-cams with matching lenses etc would be nice but it makes much more sense to cover all your bases and have proper camcorders as well.

There comes a time when it's necassary to overhaul your systems and get new cameras, but upgrading/buying new gear for the sake of it is not good business logic. Maybe you can afford to buy 3 new camcorders at $6000 a pop every time something better comes out, but that's a lot of money each year which could've been spent on better things - or even better, gone towards your retirement!
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Old November 27th, 2010, 10:10 PM   #8
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Maybe it's just my old age but before I'd go dropping say 10 to 20 grand on the "newest technology" IE the AF100 and lenses plus any other anncillary gear needed for those cameras I have to ask myself "can I justify the cost" IOW, if I'm putting out 20K how many weddings do I need to do to make that money back and don't say "well if you charge 2K per then it's just 10 weddings" cause that ain't how it works. There are other expenses that come off the top before the money for the camera so lets say it's 40 weddings. Do you do 40 in a year? Is all your other gear paid off, will you do 40 weddings next year to start showing a profit from your investment into the new cams?
We all feel we need the newest, latest, greatest cameras and gear but in reality we don't really need it but we do WANT it, big difference. Hell man with the gear you have right now, you're good to go for probably a couple of years yet. I mean think about it. The 150s aren't exactly old technology and with 3 of 'em and the T2i if it were me, I'd sit tight on the gear side and concentrate a bit more on advertising or paying off the gear I have. It's great to be able to spend the bucks on new gear but you gotta ask yourself, "can I justify it and will it really help me make more money". At least that's what I always ask myself. Or at least most of the time.
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Old November 27th, 2010, 10:45 PM   #9
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Here in the states the AF100 can be bought for under $5000. This ad was on the page of this thread so sharing the link as it may be gone:

Panasonic AG-AF100 Micro 4/3 Pro HD Camcorder DEPOSIT :: Compact HD Cameras :: Cameras :: Equipment Sales :: Abel Cine Tech

The HMCs are fine cams, but Panny introduced them and there they sat. There's been no updated version, no HMC160 or HMC200 or anything like that. What Panny did was dump all their R&D into the GH1 then GH2 and AF100s as they obviously see that as the way the industry is going to go.

As far as technology goes, the 3 chip CCD of the HMC 150 isn't going into anything new any more. Everything has come out with one version or another of the MOS sensor, each version improved on the last.

When you compare image quality available between an HMC150 and the GH2 with the kit lens that costs half as much, the GH2 touts 24p at 24mbps compared the the HMC's 21mbps.

I hadn't checked HMC retail pricing in a while but see that now it is way off of it's price point of a year ago.

BH (Links)

That price that B&H is quoting is similar to where DVXs were after the HMC150 was brought out. If one follows Panny's pricing policy much at all, that drop indicates a nearing of end of life for the model.

As far as being able to switch up cams every time something new comes out, that wouldn't describe me as I just baled on my DVXs and SD cams 3 months ago. I hung on to SD as long as I could because of the extensive costs/hassles of upgrading. When I switched I looked hard and critically at what was out there and the trends I that I could see. Everything pointed to interchangeable lenses be it DSLR or camcorders.

What I bought after dumping my SD cams, a GH1 that could be hacked. I tried it out and played with it, it definitely is different to shoot. I liked it and decided it was where I wanted to go, so bought two more used ones. I have since sold all of those, plus a few more and kept all the lenses as I have GH2s on order for the improvements they offer right out of the box.

The thing with cams, they are a commodity that depreciates daily in value. My DVXs I purchased very reasonably this past spring, and was able to recoup all my investment back. Right now today, 3 months later, I could replace both of them for $500 less than I sold mine for. During my "selling off" period, I sold a cam every week to 10 days or so. The last to go were my consumer grade GS500s, and each of those brought me about $100-$150 less than similar ones were sold for around the time I began to sell off gear.

The changeover to interchangeable lens gear will be as dramatic and costly as going to HD was for many. IMO it is inevitable, as I see everything pointing that way.
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Old November 28th, 2010, 07:34 AM   #10
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First off my post was not specific to anyone but speaking in general terms about buying the newest, latest and greatest everytime it come out which seems to be about every other week now.

Yes you can buy the AF100 body for bout 5K but batterys and lenses will add to that so instead of 10K per camera say its 7500. What's the difference. The point is, is that if one doesn't have the work coming in to justify the cost of the new gear then one will go broke quickly. So make sure the work is there and the gear is called for and will actually make a difference before spending the cash.

As for the HMC150 even though there have been no updates to it, that doesn't make a bad camera. Just a bit old. Frankly for weddings (I do 50 to 60 a year and have for about 25 years) unless you promise or sell based on using the newest, latest and greatest (which I have found doesn't really mean much to wedding type clients) there's nothing wrong with it.

For corporate work yeah you might need to upgrade but then it's the clients choice as to what format is shot and frankly if the corporate client needs something I don't have I don't buy it I rent it and the client pays for it (invoiced out to them)

I'm not saying not to upgrade/update but the OP has 3 decent cameras plus the Rebel not to mention the DVX which is long in the tooth, but 3 HMC150s for weddings IMO the OP is set for the next couple of years. Of course if he wants to of feels the need to spend some money go ahead.
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Old November 28th, 2010, 12:36 PM   #11
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Don, your advice of letting your business dictate when and what to upgrade is rock solid common sense, something I can't argue with.

In another area we all participate in, our cars, there are two different schools of though on how we purchase and use those.

In one people go buy a new car and drive it and drive it until it is just plain wore out and won't go any further and is worthless. They then go buy another new car and start the process all over again.

The other school of thought is people go buy a new car and drive it. But instead of keeping it forever, after a few years they either sell it for its depreciated value and upgrade to another new one with its new amenities, or trade it in on a new one for its current value at that time.

Neither school of thought is wrong. The first scenario is the most cost effective. The second keeps a person closest to the latest and greatest.

The OP's gear is nothing to sneeze it, a very fine collection that as you say will function perfectly for some years to come. My suggestion to look to the upgrade is because the OP is looking at filling out his current gear, adding to his somewhat dated and depreciating investment. If the OP is able to bring these latest purchases forward into his next round of cams and gear, well he's in like flint.

What I am seeing from my experiences with the GH1 and soon the GH2 is the bodies are the cheap part of the investment. Like Gillette razors, they just about give away the bodies, but the lenses, oh those you PAY for !!! :-)

When my GH2s arrive, I am done buying cams for a while. I will continue to fill out lenses, as those I can use across whatever Panny brings forward that uses their micro 4/3. Unlike everything about my SD cams, I am bringing forward about $1500 in lenses collected from the GH1s for the latest and greatest GH2s.
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Old November 28th, 2010, 01:20 PM   #12
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Chip I agree about the upgrade. Not saying the OP shouldn't not saying you shouldn't not saying anybody that is in the position and can jusstify the upgrade shouldn't. I guess I've just seen too many poeple upgrade when they got the latest greatest bug and spent money needlessly. I've seen some of those same people struggling and a few close shop because the bug bit them. I hate to hear about that happening.
Anyway just throwing out another POV about upgrading. Man it was a lot easier years ago when tthe new stuff came out once a year and you knew it would be a good thing to change. Maybe I'm just too old school.

I hope both you and the OP enjoy your new gear and make lots of money with it.
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Old November 29th, 2010, 10:11 AM   #13
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I envy all that gear. I'm still using tape. When I started my business, I bought a used Canon XHA1 to go with the two consumer Canon HV30s I already had. I added some mics, some lights, gear bags to carry stuff, had a thousand business cards printed, and dove in full time. (And started swimming like mad!)

Now 17 months later, the business is growing, in fact, I'm getting busy enough to start occasionally turning down jobs because of being already booked. I have one of the few businesses in my area that's actually growing.

Skill counts for more than gear. And I have a LOT of room for improvement in skill using what I've got. But even more than skill comes MARKETING your services.

The biggest key I've found to marketing success in my area of the world is customer service. Give the customer what THEY want. Find out what they want. Give it quickly. Make them feel happy about hiring you. Then they tell others about you, and you start getting busy. No bailouts here. Just opportunity. It didn't knock either. I've had to work hard to find the work.

Not to say don't buy new gear, but think about cost vs. benefit. Will it pay off? I didn't think that way when video was an expensive hobby. It was like other hobbies I've had, scuba diving, bass fishing, both of which you can go gear crazy with. But if diving or fishing becomes a business...

As for your question of WHAT to buy, you mentioned not having any lighting. I'd get the lighting. I bought some portable LED lights that mount to either camera or stands, and some stands a while back. Total price was about $300 or so and the very first job I used them on more than paid for them.
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Last edited by Roger Van Duyn; November 29th, 2010 at 10:16 AM. Reason: lighting comment
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Old December 1st, 2010, 10:24 AM   #14
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Great advice all the way around. I'm still not sure what I'll do yet...but I appreciate everybody's input!
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