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


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Old June 17th, 2011, 08:06 AM   #1
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Opinions Needed, Please

I primarily shoot plays, recitals and choral concerts for my business. Currently, I use a Sony VX2100 and a Canon GL-2. Since I am a "one man show", the two cams are usually side-by-side with the Canon locked down wide, while the Sony picks up my closeups, additional angles, etc.

I am finally to a point where I can purchase an additional camera (mainly because the Canon and I DO NOT get along). I've read through all of the "Which camera should I buy?" threads, but I'm still stumped at which direction to go. Obviously, it makes sense to go HD (even though I only deliver on DVD) and I would like to go tapeless. With about a $2500-$3000 budget, can anyone offer advice that can help me with my situation? I'd love to be able to get two cameras to match up better, but one may be the only viable option.

I have looked at the Panasonic AG HMC-40 &150, the Canon XA10 and the Sony HXR-MC50U. All of which are in my price range and seem to have the features that I need.

Am I better off picking up one of these or going to something like the Canon Vixias? The idea of two new HD cameras is appealing, but I do not know their quality vs. what I am shooting with now. Am I going to run into workflow problems if I shoot with one SD cam and one HD cam?

While the money is not exactly "burning a hole in my pocket", I feel like I need to make a move before something comes up and drains the funds. :)

By the way, just to clarify, I do not currently do weddings and I have my own audio system that is either recorded digitally to a Zoom H2 or fed into the Sony via a 1/8" mini plug. Maybe not the optimal way, but it produces great results for my clients. So while XLR inputs would be great, it's not a deal breaker.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Old June 17th, 2011, 08:58 AM   #2
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

If you are doing this for paying clients I would not recommend mixing the footage from a HD cam and an SD cam. I recently did just that for a wedding shoot and I regret it. The HD footage-even down rezzed is so much sharper. I know others have had different experiences but I can only speak for myself.

About a year ago I sold my two Canon Gl2's and made enough money to pay for one Panasonic HMC40. Perhaps you could sell your two SD cams to buy one HD camcorder and use the $3000 you have to supplement that so you end up buying two matching HD camcorders. Of course the pool of money you end up with would help determine which camera you could afford to purchase.

I have the HMC40 and it is great in good light, but not so good in darker venues. I will admit however that you can add a lot of gain without it looking too grainy, but there might be other cameras out there that do better in low light settings.
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Old June 17th, 2011, 09:16 AM   #3
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

I agree with Tom too!!

Choice is more than often going to be a personal one!! I'm a Panasonic person so I shoot the same as you do but with two HMC82's (I laso love shoulder mount cameras!!) With an ENG support rod I can get free shots off the shoulder almost as good as a tripod which makes life a lot easier as a one man band.

It's pointless me saying "get 2 x HMC40's" if you don't like Panasonic but trading in what you have and trying to get two matching cameras (whatever brand takes your fancy) is the way to go!!!

Chris
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Old June 17th, 2011, 09:18 AM   #4
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Tom,

Most of my events are those that we show up, tape for free and count on DVD sales to pay off. It works for us.

Selling off the two SD cams is exactly what my wife wants to do. My issue with that is firstly, I love my Sony. I purchased it new and would really like to have a backup on hand - just in case. Secondly, the Canon was purchased used a few years ago. Considering the issues I've had with it (a couple of times, it recorded nothing on the tape - probably a loading error). It is also noisy. So much so that you can hear it through it's mic, making the audio unusable except for low level reinforcement. Just a mechanical whine that has always been there. It could be inherent to the model as far as I know, but it makes me uncomfortable and I'd really hate to be the guy that passes off a problematic camera to someone. It just wouldn't feel right. I'm vigilant now about checking it closely before a show and doing test shots, but it worries me to no end. Hence, my push for at least one new cam.

Thanks for the opinons on the HMC40. I deal with a lot of dark venues, so that may indeed pose a problem.
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Old June 17th, 2011, 09:27 AM   #5
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Say I were to go the route of selling off what I have and buying new. Am I better off to sell outright and hope for the best, or trade the equipment into B&H for store credit?

Obviously, I'd probably get more from a private sale, but it seems like less of a hassle to turn it over to the guys at B&H - no angry calls if there is a failure whether it's the fault of the buyer or the cam.
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Old June 17th, 2011, 10:02 AM   #6
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Sounds like you already know the answer to your dilemma. On one hand, if you go with B&H, you're pretty much guaranteed to get rid of your gear with very little hassle. The downside of this approach is that you likely won't get anywhere near as much money as you would with a private sale. Of course with a private sale you'll get more for your gear but now you have the hassle of "selling" it somewhere. You could always list your gear in the Dvinfo classifieds and see what happens.

When I tried to sell B&H a wide angle lens adapter, they quoted me a price of $75.00. Just a week before getting my quote they had a used one on their site listed for $250.00...so as you can see...their mark up was quite high, but I guess that's how it works in retail sales. In the end, $75.00 wasn't worth it to me so I'm still trying the private route.
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Old June 17th, 2011, 10:10 AM   #7
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Thanks, Michael.
The automated quote from B&H on the Canon is around $500. I paid $1600 for it used about three or four years ago, so that doesn't sound too bad - all things considered. Of course, that still leaves me with the problem of one SD and probably just one HD camera (if I go with a $2000-$2500 range model). Just not sure of what to expect there in terms of workflow and quality of the end product.
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Old June 17th, 2011, 10:50 AM   #8
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

I'm not sure what the value is on a Canon GL2 but looking at eBay, they seem to be averaging 500-800. Perhaps B&H has a fair price in your case.

I agree with Tom however, that I would not want to mix SD with HD. Maybe others have good luck doing that but I think it's a big pain in the arse. I know that everyone's budget is different, but if there's anyway you can match cameras or at least use two HD cams vs mixing HD with SD, you will have a much easier time in post and likely a much nicer looking product.
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Old June 17th, 2011, 11:39 AM   #9
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Some thoughts on this.

If you go with a trade to B&H you are locked into being their customer for your next purchase. That is limiting your options to only what B&H has to offer. If you sell your cameras yourself, you are then in a cash position and are ready to pounce on the best offers available anywhere. The HMC 150 is not the newest thing going and I have seen some very low hours used ones starting to show up for sale.

The best route is always MATCHED cameras. If you can't duplicate the cameras, then for heaven's sake try to at least duplicate the manufacturer !!! When you bounce between manufacturers you leave yourself open to variations in color etc.

If you are shooting two cams side by side, you might want to consider the switch to dslr. The shooting style is a tad different than a video cam but $2500-$3000 buys a lot of camera and lenses.
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Old June 17th, 2011, 12:03 PM   #10
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Don't bother trying to mix SD and HD... plan for two cameras.

Sell the camera that's finicky on eBay AS-IS, with full disclosure, it'll bring what it brings. People buy stuff to fix all the time... just be honest about condition.

Here's a way around your budget... lets say you go with the MC50U... buy a CX550 for the second camera - less $$, but SAME CAMERA (I'm biased, I use a pair of CX550s). Similar situation on the XA10 - they make a consumer version. Panasonic may be similar, but you could prolly match a TM900 with the bigger cam.

Get creative with the budget, get cams that can share accessories (or maybe re-use ones you've got already if you're lucky) so that budget isn't stretched.

Hope that solves your dilema!
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Old June 17th, 2011, 03:06 PM   #11
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Thanks, Dave. I'll look into the models that you suggested. I've always bought Sony equipment and even use Vegas Pro, so I'm a little biased myself.

The Canon has been a great camera and really seems to have no problems aside from the noise (again, not sure if that is just inherent to that model) and the one time it did not record correctly (it has had NO hiccups since that night back in January and I have shot about 20 events since then). I just hate the idea of selling used equipment to an individual. The "as-is" route may be the way to go, however.

Just an idea of what these two cams are still able to accomplish together:
https://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!...ns/35765855876

I guess I have some thinking and additional researching to do!
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Old June 17th, 2011, 04:41 PM   #12
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

If you can't replicate the problem, I'd suspect "user malfunction", the dreaded "double punch", or as you suspect, a bad tape/head clog. There's always the DVi classifieds too, that way you avoid the unknowns of eBay.

You might want to take a quick look a few forums up at footage shot with a Sony DSC HX9V... it's a $350 P&S camera that shoots 1080/60p video too... has it's limits, but honestly there are some pretty inexpensive ways to get a very acceptable image for a paltry sum... the magic is in the skill of using the camera and the edit, the price of the "acquisition" equipment is becoming darn close to inconsequential...

If you're going new, you also might consider the NX70U, though it's at the top of your range, but it's a "go anywhere in any weather" camera, looks pretty good so far, especially if you like to shoot in a downpour! The CX700 is the consumer version (sort of) of the NX70, but honestly a lightly used CX550V is a bargain, sub $1K, you can tack on a good mic and a hood if you really want the MC50 "look". I prefer the 3.5" touchscreen over a 3" one that Sony for some strange reason went back to for the 2011 "consumer" CX series...

There are ways to stretch your budget and still have plenty left for a couple tanks of gas even with today's prices! Once you go over to non-tape cameras, there's less to go wrong, so buying used is just a matter of finding a clean sample that is working as expected.
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Old June 17th, 2011, 05:14 PM   #13
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Dave,
You may very well be correct in your assessment of the malfunction. It happened after quick tape change in the dark while the stage was being reset during a play. The first half (tape 1) was beautiful. After the tape change (tape 2)....nothing. The tape ran through, but with only a blank image and no audio to show for it. Luckily, I wasn't feeling well that evening and was shooting with the Sony in a lazy fashion that lent itself well to a single camera shoot. A quick disclaimer on the DVD just before the video and not a single complaint in return! I would have not been so lucky had it been a choral concert I was shooting as they require quicker movements. :)

Since you mentioned it, I do like the idea of a lower end pro cam, coupled with the consumer version as the wide angle lockdown (i.e. Sony HXR-MC50U @ $1499 + Sony HDR-CX560V @ $1098), or even two MC50Us at a lower price after trade in of the present cams. Again, lots of research to do.
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Old June 18th, 2011, 03:56 AM   #14
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

I agree with others that you should not mix SD & HD, especially because both your current cameras shoot 4:3 video whereas a HD cam will shoot 16:9.

Your best bet is going to be a low-end pro/prosumer camera and a small consumer camera. That way both cams will be HD and, if you get them from the same brand, somewhat similar when it comes to matching the footage in post. It will also make life easier if both your camera shoot the same format to the same media, rather than having a seperate workflow for each camera.
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Old June 18th, 2011, 06:15 AM   #15
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Re: Opinions Needed, Please

Aside from the looks I may get walking into my events with what (at least appears to be) one consumer camera alongside a more "pro" looking one, is there any drawback to using these cams compared to something like the Panasonic HMC150? I'm talking quality of the video. I am fully aware that features such as XLR inputs will be missing. I just don't want our quality to suffer in any way.

Espcially if it comes down to purchasing two of the Sony HXR-MC50Us. I'm still going to need the manual adjustment features for lighting changes and dimy lit staging. The idea of geting back into weddings at some point will be an issue too.

Am I painting my self into a corner with this move?
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