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Old May 2nd, 2013, 10:45 AM   #1
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Advice for buying a Semi-Pro Camcorder for Weddings

I'm fairly new to filming weddings having only filmed a few in my spare time since last year. I'm currently using a Canon 600D DSLR along with a zoom H1 mic but looking to move into doing wedding and event videography as a business full time.

Due to the limitations of the DSLR camera, such as the 4GB limit of each clip, it can be difficult to film a civil ceremony or long speeches without a slight jump between clips (using Magic Lantern to restart recording).

I think I might be better with a semi-professional camcorder instead, (maybe using the DSLR as a second camera) however I have no idea which is best. My budget is around 1500 (around $2340ish) for the camcorder at most, but looking to spend less if I can, only buying what I need to last for the next few years or so.

Some of the semi-pro camcorders I've seen:
-Canon XA10
-JVC GY-HM150E
-Sony HXR-NX30E (a bit out of my price range but really like the Balanced Optical SteadyShot)

Also seen a few high-end consumer camcorders such as the Sony handicams which look good for the price, but not too sure on audio quality, lack of manual controls, etc:
-Sony CX410VE
-Sony PJ650VE
-Sony PJ780VE

Any advice would be great, or if there is any other camcorders you guys can recommend for my budget
Thanks, Amy.
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Old May 2nd, 2013, 12:22 PM   #2
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Re: Advice for buying a Semi-Pro Camcorder for Weddings

Don't forget to include the new XA20 on your list, it's a very much improved version of the XA10, and is expected to be available soon. I would not buy an XA10 knowing I could buy an XA20 instead, if I waited, but that's just me. The zoom ability is double on the XA20 from the XA10.

The best camera is purely subjective according to whom you ask. A list of pros and cons is what you need. When shopping for cameras it's best to know what features are most important to you. Your question will produce lots of responses, and may include answers from people who are loyal to their own camera and who will not consider anything else. I am guilty as much as anyone of this attitude.

Most important to me in no particular order: low light performance, manual control of exposure, white balance on the fly, frame rates that will match my other cameras, and a 20x zoom. I have a 10x zoom and it's very limiting, but I get by.

Good luck, you will get more information in this thread than you probably want, and it may confuse you even more. Main thing is to compile a list of what is important to you, than seek a camera that has the features you need, and then start sorting that way.

Your question could have been: What features should I be looking for in a camcorder for wedding and event work? That way you can shop armed with the knowledge you need to make your best decision, and you'll know what you are buying.
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Old May 2nd, 2013, 12:28 PM   #3
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Re: Advice for buying a Semi-Pro Camcorder for Weddings

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amy Lynch View Post
Due to the limitations of the DSLR camera, such as the 4GB limit of each clip, it can be difficult to film a civil ceremony or long speeches without a slight jump between clips (using Magic Lantern to restart recording).
.
the limitation of the canon DSLR - I don't have a problem with my GH2's - if you like the form factor and look of the footage - look around there are other great DSLR's out there
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Old May 2nd, 2013, 01:31 PM   #4
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Re: Advice for buying a Semi-Pro Camcorder for Weddings

i just bought the canon hf g20/25 to complement my canon 7D. it's a different beast but it seems pretty good, although i'm still in the process of checking my shots from my first shoot with it. if xlr inputs are not vital it could be a cheaper option, likewise the hf g30.
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Old May 2nd, 2013, 01:47 PM   #5
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Re: Advice for buying a Semi-Pro Camcorder for Weddings

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Originally Posted by Jeff Harper View Post
Don't forget to include the new XA20 on your list, it's a very much improved version of the XA10, and is expected to be available soon. I would not buy an XA10 knowing I could buy an XA20 instead, if I waited, but that's just me. The zoom ability is double on the XA20 from the XA10.

The best camera is purely subjective according to whom you ask. A list of pros and cons is what you need. When shopping for cameras it's best to know what features are most important to you. Your question will produce lots of responses, and may include answers from people who are loyal to their own camera and who will not consider anything else. I am guilty as much as anyone of this attitude.

Most important to me in no particular order: low light performance, manual control of exposure, white balance on the fly, frame rates that will match my other cameras, and a 20x zoom. I have a 10x zoom and it's very limiting, but I get by.

Good luck, you will get more information in this thread than you probably want, and it may confuse you even more. Main thing is to compile a list of what is important to you, than seek a camera that has the features you need, and then start sorting that way.

Your question could have been: What features should I be looking for in a camcorder for wedding and event work? That way you can shop armed with the knowledge you need to make your best decision, and you'll know what you are buying.
Thanks for the information,
I didn't know about the Canon XA20, just had a look at the specs and it does look like a great camcorder, will add it to my list.

Thinking about it now, I guess I should of worded my post a bit differently, using that question you mentioned instead (What features should I be looking for in a camcorder for wedding and event work?) instead of asking what the best camcorder was.

Also good point with everyone having a different favourite camcorder that they might be biased towards, didn't think about that, so I guess there isn't such I thing as the best camcorder as everyone has a different opinion and it's the features themselves such as "low-light performance" everyone can agree on being good or bad.
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Old May 2nd, 2013, 03:12 PM   #6
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Re: Advice for buying a Semi-Pro Camcorder for Weddings

You will not go wrong with a Panasonic AC90 with your budget.

You've got a DSLR for all the beauty depth of field shots.
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Old May 2nd, 2013, 03:16 PM   #7
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Re: Advice for buying a Semi-Pro Camcorder for Weddings

There is a load of useful relevant comment in this thread in the private area:

8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

n.b. you will need to be signed in as a member to access it.

Big thumbs up for the Panasonic AC90 from me :- )

Pete
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Old May 2nd, 2013, 04:12 PM   #8
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Re: Advice for buying a Semi-Pro Camcorder for Weddings

A couple thoughts from someone who shoots Sony... avoid the lower model #'s - this year, they have smaller sensors than the 7xx series, and I believe that also applied to last years 5xx model. You would want the larger sensor for best low light and image quality, IMO. Second, the NX30 is more or less the PJ760 (IIRC the Euro model was 730?), and there is a CX version sans projector. SO, you might want to look at those, as the "consumer" models would be on closeout with the model year shift (the NX30 will stick around, as the pro division cams tend to do). You'd get the magic eyeball" stabilizer, but no audio block and also less cost! Very nice cameras...

That said, since you're shooting Canon... you may want to swing that direction as each manufacturer tends to have a "look" to their images/footage, and at least from my previous attempts to mix brands, I'd rather avoid the different "looks" - probably "no one" will notice if you mix brands, but it's a consideration.

Personally I'd prefer to have cameras from the same manufacturer, although there are sometimes some differences even within a "brand"! I haven't attempted mixing manufacturers in a while, and I'll admit the new Canons look pretty nice, might have to test drive one one of these days! And I have shot Panny too... very much liked their "vibe"... so you've got some good suggestions, maybe try to get hands on and shoot some test footage with the candidates before you put down the money, but you probably can't go TOO far wrong, and you're on the right track of using a video camera SLR mix - best of both worlds having both in yout toolkit.

To toss in a wildcard, the Sony NEX VG20 is probably outside your budget, but again it's been replaced by the VG30 (might be available on closeout?), and it's a APS-C sensor VIDEO camera... also shoots nice stills!
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Old May 2nd, 2013, 05:26 PM   #9
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Re: Advice for buying a Semi-Pro Camcorder for Weddings

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Manford View Post
You will not go wrong with a Panasonic AC90 with your budget.

You've got a DSLR for all the beauty depth of field shots.
Just had a quick look at the Panasonic AC90 and it seems really good for the price, I'll definitely look in more detail about it when I have the time. One question about it, do you know if it comes with an external mic, if not any that you could recommend to fit the camcorder's mic holder?

Also the depth of field shots was one of the reasons I went with the DSLR in the first place, for filming my short films, so it should work perfectly for my secondary camera.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Riding View Post
There is a load of useful relevant comment in this thread in the private area:

8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

n.b. you will need to be signed in as a member to access it.

Big thumbs up for the Panasonic AC90 from me :- )

Pete
Thanks Pete did have a brief look at that thread, gave me a bit to think about, but will have a better more detailed look when I have the time to properly take it all in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
A couple thoughts from someone who shoots Sony... avoid the lower model #'s - this year, they have smaller sensors than the 7xx series, and I believe that also applied to last years 5xx model. You would want the larger sensor for best low light and image quality, IMO. Second, the NX30 is more or less the PJ760 (IIRC the Euro model was 730?), and there is a CX version sans projector. SO, you might want to look at those, as the "consumer" models would be on closeout with the model year shift (the NX30 will stick around, as the pro division cams tend to do). You'd get the magic eyeball" stabilizer, but no audio block and also less cost! Very nice cameras...

That said, since you're shooting Canon... you may want to swing that direction as each manufacturer tends to have a "look" to their images/footage, and at least from my previous attempts to mix brands, I'd rather avoid the different "looks" - probably "no one" will notice if you mix brands, but it's a consideration.

Personally I'd prefer to have cameras from the same manufacturer, although there are sometimes some differences even within a "brand"! I haven't attempted mixing manufacturers in a while, and I'll admit the new Canons look pretty nice, might have to test drive one one of these days! And I have shot Panny too... very much liked their "vibe"... so you've got some good suggestions, maybe try to get hands on and shoot some test footage with the candidates before you put down the money, but you probably can't go TOO far wrong, and you're on the right track of using a video camera SLR mix - best of both worlds having both in yout toolkit.

To toss in a wildcard, the Sony NEX VG20 is probably outside your budget, but again it's been replaced by the VG30 (might be available on closeout?), and it's a APS-C sensor VIDEO camera... also shoots nice stills!
Did have a look at most of the Sony consumer camcorders, but wasn't too sure was sensor size was best for low-light shots, will have a look at some of the older models to see the differences, so thanks for the information. I really like the NX30 for its size, but like you said it is very similar to a PJ760, but not too sure if the on board mic on the consumer versions would be good enough compared to the audio block and external mic on the NX30.

I guess I would prefer the DSLR and new camcorder to match as close as possible, so will have to look into seeing which camcorders would work best to avoid it looking a lot different between shots. Hopefully with a bit of post editing/colour correcting as well as checking the setting are similar on both cameras should help a bit. But will definitely double check before buying to avoid problems later.

Thanks for the information,
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Old May 2nd, 2013, 06:33 PM   #10
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Re: Advice for buying a Semi-Pro Camcorder for Weddings

I have been in the same boat: looking for another camera. I have a VG30 now, and I like it, but I am really looking at XA20 that is coming out mid June. I have been reading about a lot of cameras. This one is cheaper than my VG30 and better low light performance. I will keep my current camera for its ability to change lenses, but the XA20 is loaded with features that will be nice for Wedding Videography like XLR inputs, 20X zoom, and 2 SDHC card ports. The image stabilization looks good too! The VG30 needs an additional $700+ adaptor to add the XLR inputs. Maybe I will sell it after all and get two XA20s. I can use my DLSR for the artsy stuff as you intend to.
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Old May 3rd, 2013, 01:33 AM   #11
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Re: Advice for buying a Semi-Pro Camcorder for Weddings

Just had a quick look at the Panasonic AC90 and it seems really good for the price, I'll definitely look in more detail about it when I have the time. One question about it, do you know if it comes with an external mic, if not any that you could recommend to fit the camcorder's mic holder?

It does not come with an external mic, just the internals which can be set to 5.1, 2 channel etc. The removable external mic holder is cushioned and will take my Rode NTG2 shotgun mic even though from the spec. the holder appears to have a diameter of 1mm too small. The sockets for the external mic are XLR only so if you were to use a mic with a 3.5mm jack you'd need an appropriate adapter.

The supplied mic holder sits rather high for fitting in a bag so I am now using a Rode mic shock mount in the cam's coldshoe as that is easy to remove:

RDE Microphones - SM3

Pete
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Old May 3rd, 2013, 02:19 AM   #12
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Re: Advice for buying a Semi-Pro Camcorder for Weddings

Hi Amy

One little point about the AC-90 at receptions ..IF you use an XLR mic on them you have no auto control of the channels at all which for me was a total deal killer as at receptions where the audio levels change constantly you just don't have the time to manually ride controls ...I cancelled my AC-90 orders and instead bought two Sony EA-50 shoulder mount cameras. If you do go for the AC-90 just beware of the limitation on XLR audio and also despite what people say, use a video light at dark in dingy receptions...the IQ at high gain looks nice but the noise reduction software tends to smear detail ...if the camera lifts above 21db then turn on the light otherwise people's hair tends to appear to be "painted" on.

Chris
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Old May 3rd, 2013, 02:33 AM   #13
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Re: Advice for buying a Semi-Pro Camcorder for Weddings

I don't do weddings, so these comments are just observations of colleagues and friends who do - from an outsiders perspective.

Only a few years ago when people were shooting professionally on VHS and Beta, the real difference between the amateur footage and the professionals was content. The style, the framing, the overall look after it had been edited, tweaked and polished. It wasn't really technical quality. Fair enough, the pros had their big cameras, with pro audio features, while the amateurs didn't. Now the achievable quality has gone up to frankly amazing lengths - so much so that we often spend ages arguing about really small detail that the end viewer never even notices. We've started to moan and groan about sub-sub-sub menu features and the honest fact is that so few of today's equipment produces poor pictures or sound. DSLRs get slated for bad sound, but compared to what?

The fact is that the style, the framing, the overall look are still what identify the end product as a professional one. The fact that in the hands of a pro, a GoPro clip can be amazing and easily integrated into a product shows how good things are. I have a good friend who has an identical stills camera to mine. He has 'the eye' - and his photographs are stunning. Mine have accurate focus, good exposure, managed colour - and are snaps, his are photographs.

Nowadays for purchases of all technical kit I draw up a list of what I MUST have, feature wise. I draw up another list of things that really have no bearing on my purchase. Then I compare the products available and match features. The short list produced is then checked on the net to make sure there are no hidden snags - which there often are, revealed in web forum posts and reviews. This normally knocks off a few products, and maybe suggests alternatives, which I then research again. Then I quickly jump in, buy, and use. I do not ever wait. Rumours of new models and possible updates don't sway me, because if you wait, you will wait for ever as improvement is continual.

The ironic thing is that if you do not need to buy immediately and can delay purchase by a year, you can save huge amounts of money by buying year old kit from those who must always have the latest. I didn't do this for year - I was always a pioneer, and now I've discovered the benefit of second hand. For the past few years, since HD really, I've held off and bought TWO identical older models second hand and for me it's been really worthwhile.

Good luck!
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Old May 3rd, 2013, 04:56 PM   #14
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Re: Advice for buying a Semi-Pro Camcorder for Weddings

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Riding View Post
Just had a quick look at the Panasonic AC90 and it seems really good for the price, I'll definitely look in more detail about it when I have the time. One question about it, do you know if it comes with an external mic, if not any that you could recommend to fit the camcorder's mic holder?

It does not come with an external mic, just the internals which can be set to 5.1, 2 channel etc. The removable external mic holder is cushioned and will take my Rode NTG2 shotgun mic even though from the spec. the holder appears to have a diameter of 1mm too small. The sockets for the external mic are XLR only so if you were to use a mic with a 3.5mm jack you'd need an appropriate adapter.

The supplied mic holder sits rather high for fitting in a bag so I am now using a Rode mic shock mount in the cam's coldshoe as that is easy to remove:

RDE Microphones - SM3

Pete
Thanks for the info on the external mic, I did read on a few reviews that the mic holder only fits certain mics due to it's small size, but good to know it has enough space on top for a shock mount instead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
Hi Amy

One little point about the AC-90 at receptions ..IF you use an XLR mic on them you have no auto control of the channels at all which for me was a total deal killer as at receptions where the audio levels change constantly you just don't have the time to manually ride controls ...I cancelled my AC-90 orders and instead bought two Sony EA-50 shoulder mount cameras. If you do go for the AC-90 just beware of the limitation on XLR audio and also despite what people say, use a video light at dark in dingy receptions...the IQ at high gain looks nice but the noise reduction software tends to smear detail ...if the camera lifts above 21db then turn on the light otherwise people's hair tends to appear to be "painted" on.

Chris
Shame to hear about the AC-90 having no auto control on the XLR mics, so might be a bit of a problem, apart from that the specs for the camcorder look really good. Never used a video light before so might have a good look into that to see if I need one or not depending on the camcorder I buy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
I don't do weddings, so these comments are just observations of colleagues and friends who do - from an outsiders perspective.

Only a few years ago when people were shooting professionally on VHS and Beta, the real difference between the amateur footage and the professionals was content. The style, the framing, the overall look after it had been edited, tweaked and polished. It wasn't really technical quality. Fair enough, the pros had their big cameras, with pro audio features, while the amateurs didn't. Now the achievable quality has gone up to frankly amazing lengths - so much so that we often spend ages arguing about really small detail that the end viewer never even notices. We've started to moan and groan about sub-sub-sub menu features and the honest fact is that so few of today's equipment produces poor pictures or sound. DSLRs get slated for bad sound, but compared to what?

The fact is that the style, the framing, the overall look are still what identify the end product as a professional one. The fact that in the hands of a pro, a GoPro clip can be amazing and easily integrated into a product shows how good things are. I have a good friend who has an identical stills camera to mine. He has 'the eye' - and his photographs are stunning. Mine have accurate focus, good exposure, managed colour - and are snaps, his are photographs.

Nowadays for purchases of all technical kit I draw up a list of what I MUST have, feature wise. I draw up another list of things that really have no bearing on my purchase. Then I compare the products available and match features. The short list produced is then checked on the net to make sure there are no hidden snags - which there often are, revealed in web forum posts and reviews. This normally knocks off a few products, and maybe suggests alternatives, which I then research again. Then I quickly jump in, buy, and use. I do not ever wait. Rumours of new models and possible updates don't sway me, because if you wait, you will wait for ever as improvement is continual.

The ironic thing is that if you do not need to buy immediately and can delay purchase by a year, you can save huge amounts of money by buying year old kit from those who must always have the latest. I didn't do this for year - I was always a pioneer, and now I've discovered the benefit of second hand. For the past few years, since HD really, I've held off and bought TWO identical older models second hand and for me it's been really worthwhile.

Good luck!
Thanks I agree, if the person behind the camcorder is professional and knows what they are doing, the quality should show no matter what the camcorder is. Of course having certain key features does make the job a little easier.

The way you pick your own camcorder sounds like a really good way to do it, narrowing down your choices based on what features you need, think I might do the same. I'm in no rush to buy the new equipment, so with a few new models coming out soon, might be a good idea to check out a few used older models, might find a bargain. Thanks again for the info
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Old May 4th, 2013, 11:15 AM   #15
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Re: Advice for buying a Semi-Pro Camcorder for Weddings

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amy Lynch View Post
Thanks for the info on the external mic, I did read on a few reviews that the mic holder only fits certain mics due to it's small size, but good to know it has enough space on top for a shock mount instead.



Shame to hear about the AC-90 having no auto control on the XLR mics, so might be a bit of a problem, apart from that the specs for the camcorder look really good. Never used a video light before so might have a good look into that to see if I need one or not depending on the camcorder I buy.



Thanks I agree, if the person behind the camcorder is professional and knows what they are doing, the quality should show no matter what the camcorder is. Of course having certain key features does make the job a little easier.

The way you pick your own camcorder sounds like a really good way to do it, narrowing down your choices based on what features you need, think I might do the same. I'm in no rush to buy the new equipment, so with a few new models coming out soon, might be a good idea to check out a few used older models, might find a bargain. Thanks again for the info
The alternative to the AC90 for you is to sell the DSLR you have, and with the complete budget buy a Sony EA50. Amazing camera, that will do both the work of the AC90 and DSLR beauty shots.
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