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

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Old July 5th, 2011, 11:22 AM   #1
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New Cam

I am think about buying a new cam to shoot my weddings. I am using sony's vx2100 (DV) now and want to switch over to HD. I had heard the Sony Ultra Compact Pro HXR-MC50U 64GB Camcorder is a pretty good cam under $1500. Has anyone shot weddings with this cam and what are some pro's and con's with it?


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Old July 5th, 2011, 05:05 PM   #2
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Re: New Cam

The MC50 is basiacally a consumer camera with a shotgun mic. I don't know what sort of manual control it has but it lacks the buttons that you need to operate it effectively without digging through touchscreen menus.

If price and size are a concern, I'd suggest looking at the Canon XA10 - it's also an upgraded consumer cam but has a few more features such as 24p/30p/60i switchable, dual XLR's, and a manual focus ring.

For your primary camera though, I'd really recommend stepping up to so something that offers a bit more control. The Sony NX70 or Canon XF100 are the next step up in terms of price, features and size. Both will be far better choices as your main camera. The next step up from them would be the Sony NX5 and Panasonic HMC150 - these are camera's that were made with event professionals in mind and as such are ideal for weddings.
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Old July 5th, 2011, 10:33 PM   #3
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Re: New Cam

First, following up on John's comments, the MC50 is nothing more than last year's CX550v with a lens hood and a proprietary shotgun mic. Both will seem too tiny when compared with your VX2100. If you are interested in the MC50 because of price, I'd suggest you instead consider getting either the Sony CX700 or Canon HFG10 and adding both an XLR adapter and a bracket to hold a shotgun mic.

Second, although now superseded in Sony's model line-up, the CX550v is a splendid little camera which works amazingly well in full auto modes. I have two of them which I use mainly as locked-down "b" cams in multi-cam shoots of events (including weddings). I have been using them for a year now. These are my impressions.

The CX cams (and thus the MC50) are so small that manual modes are ergonomically impractical, at least for me. They mostly make up for that with very-well programmed automatic modes. Really. For a lot of things, you could use two CX cams on auto and get very good wedding footage. There have been a number of discussions of this; I'm recalling comments by Philip Howells and Dave Blackhurst about using an array of small inexpensive (well, relatively inexpensive) cams. If you are delivering on DVD, when you shoot and edit in HD, you may find these kinds of cams make your VX2100 footage look very softly focused. Also, you can pull digital zooms and cropping while you are editing and the footage still looks very good on DVD.

There are some touch-screen functions and white balancing functions that I use, but the cams are best used in auto modes. (Okay, okay . . . .for stage shoots and odd lighting, I generally dial down the AE shift and may set manual focus. There are also spot focus and exposure and face recognition which I've also find very handy.)

Low light is often a question that comes up, though it is sometimes hard to tell "how low is low?" Sony rated the low-light capability of your VX2100 as (if I recall correctly) 1 lux with 18 db of gain at 1/30 sec shutter speed. When the "low lux" feature is enabled on the CX550v, Sony rates it at 3 lux with auto gain (which I think is 21 db) and a 1/30. The picture is pretty clean until you get realllllly dim lighting (better than auto modes with my NX5, I might add.) I've read conflicting opinions about whether the Canon XA10 (higher end version of the HFG10) is or is not slightly better than the Sony's CX cams in dim light. Further research would be advisable if this is a concern for you. That said, I've run into very few situations where my CX550vs did not do a better job than my old VX2000.

The CX550 has been superceded by CX700 and CX560 (basic difference being that the 560 is viewscreen only -- no viewfinder.) The additional functions in the new models include: (a) the ability to shoot true 1080/60p in addition to 1080i and other "p" modes; (b) the CX700 has peaking and zebra functions; (c) the CX700 has 96gb of solid state memory (about 9 hours of 24 Mbps 1080i HD, and about 8 hours of 28 Mbps 1080/60p HD).

These little cameras only zoom in to 10x, which may or may not be a problem for you. On the other hand, they will seem very, very wide at the other end of the zoom. Your VX2100 had something like a 72 lens while the CX and NX cams are rated at 30 which is much wider, obviously enough. Add in the widescreen format of the HD footage, and you can go very wide indeed.

While all of these little cams advertise that they can shoot in SD, I would not recommend doing so. The SD they shoot is an mpeg2 stream that, to my eye, does not look anywhere near as nice as the DV your VX2100 shoots. Far better to shoot in HD and adjust in editing or transcoding.

There is no lens ring on these little cams. Instead, there is a combination knob and push-button on the front of the camera. (This goes back to ergonomics). However, the Canon, HFG10 does have a lens ring for manual focusing should you be so inclined.

Coming from the VX2100, you will find the viewscreens amazing. The CX700 has an "expanded focus" button which basically does a zoomed in view on the screen so you have see much more clearly when manually focusing. I believe the Canon HFG10 also has this.

These cameras also have what Sony calls "active steady shot" mode which is an enhanced optical image stabilization function. It can be very helpful for handheld shooting. Canon has a dynamic steady shot. I've heard mixed views about this, but have no first hand experience, so can say only that it bears researching.

I've had some issues with white balance. Because these are tiny cams, things like white balance have to be re-set using the touch screen menu. This can seem unduly cumbersome when trying to navigate menus under the stress of a getting "the shot" at a wedding reception.

Now, if your budget is a bit larger than the $1200 range of the HFG10 & CX700, you may want to consider Canon's XA10 and Sony's NX70. Both of these cams build on the consumer platforms with the addition of a larger form-factor, XLR inputs, and more accessible manual controls.

The NX70, from the Sony Broadcast ("Pro") Division, builds on the CX700 with a larger body and more buttons and switches for manual controls, including a lens ring. It also has dual XLR mic/line inputs built into the camera, a detachable mic mount and a detachable handle. It comes with a short Sony shotgun mic that runs off phantom power from the camera. I think it is the same model of microphone that came with my NX5, and it is a decent unit. The NX70 also gives you the option of recording audio in "uncompressed" Linear PCM format which is a mroe robust format, especially when shooting musical events. (Note that if you are shooting 1080/60p with LPCM audio, the only editing programs that read the audio are Edius 6 and Vegas Pro 10e. If you have another program, you either switch to AC3 Dolby audio or drop down to 1080i where pretty much everything seems able to read the LPC audio.) There is no manual switching of neutral density filters and gain. The camera handles these functions automatically. This camera has only been out for a few weeks now, but it has its own forum here at DVinfo and there is useful information and images there.

In size and price, the Canon XA10 seems to fall about halfway between Sony's CX cams and the NX70. It is larger than the CX cams but smaller than the NX70. It is priced (I think) at about $2000 ($US) where I've seen the NX70 bouncing between $2600 and $2800. If you want manual controls, the XA10 seems to have a bit more than the NX70 but, for my fat fingers, the smaller size of the XA10 presents me with an ergonomic issue. The XA10 also has its own forum here a DVinfo and there is a lot of useful information there.

If memory serves, Gerald O'Connor has had both the XA10 and the NX70, and has posted some comparisons. (Sorry that I cannot find them; right now the search engine is telling me that there are no postings by Gerald O'Connor and no information on the NX70. Maybe you will have better luck.)
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Old July 7th, 2011, 12:39 PM   #4
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Re: New Cam

You might look at the Panasonic HMC40. Its a great camera ad can be found used on ebay for a pretty good price.
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Old July 7th, 2011, 01:24 PM   #5
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Re: New Cam

Originally Posted by Adam Haro View Post
You might look at the Panasonic HMC40. Its a great camera ad can be found used on ebay for a pretty good price.
I second the recommendation for the HMC40. I use two of them at weddings, and they're great.
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